Live From New York, It’s Fake Ads!!

This past Sunday, February 15th, Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40th anniversary with a live special. In celebration of the anniversary, and inspired by Ad Age’s article “SNL’s 13 Best Fake Ads as Chosen by Real Ad Execs“, we decided to make our own list. So, here are five of our favorite SNL faux-mercials and how they relate to real advertisements. Enjoy!

1. Taco Town

Does this look familiar? Almost every fast food restaurant has some intense “multi-food” menu item. Take Taco Bell’s Cheesy Gordita Crunch for example, a hard taco wrapped in a soft taco wrapped between a layer of cheese and a flatbread.. Or even KFC’s Double Down Sandwich that has chicken filets in place of the buns. Taco Town is a representative of the products being advertised, as well as, the structure and tone of most fast food commercials.

2. Totino’s Super Bowl Activity Pack

This commercial addresses both gender roles and the institution of marriage. Within the institution of marriage, there is the ordering of roles. Each person in the relationship has a specific role in making the relationship successful. In this case, the wife is ecstatic to be serving her husband and his friends, almost like it’s what she lives for. The husband typically has a reaction of “Thanks honey, now go back to the kitchen, we’re watching the game.” The Super Bowl Activity Pack gives the simple-minded wife fun activities to complete while she waits for her husband’s next request.

3. Shimmer

This commercial, like the Totino’s Super Bowl Activity Pack, addresses gender roles. The woman has her mind on cleaning and using the product as a cleaning supply, and the husband has his mind on eating and using it as dessert topping. In most commercials, women are typically the ones doing the cleaning while men are usually featured in snacking commercials.

4. Red Flag

Think of the perfume ad that usually airs around the holidays with the woman walking intensely through a hallway, with a serious look on her face, and then at the end whispers the line “J’adore Dior.” Perfume ads have a reputation for being dramatic and intense, with an announcer describing what kind of consumer uses the product. There is typically a group of people dressed up and looking at her. “Red Flag” keeps these themes but with a not so serious message. Instead of her being the amazing and classy woman, the “Red Flag” woman is crazy.

5. 39 Cents PSA

PSAs typically use pathos, logos, and ethos to persuade consumers to donate to the cause. This “PSA” starts out that way, with slow and sad sounding music, video of the people in need, a spokesperson telling the viewer the impact a donation could make, and how little the amount is. For example, “Just 39 cents, thats less than a small cup of coffee.” And then the PSA would go on to tell how to donate, etc. However, this one turns into the needy people saying, “Ask for more. Ask for more money, don’t start so low.”

Each of these faux-mercials parallels a real advertisement. This is part of what makes these fake ads so funny. The structure of these SNL commercials is similar to that of real commercials for the respective products. As consumers of advertisements, we are programmed to recognize the structure of certain types of commercials. Although the commercials featured on SNL may not be for products that are actually available for purchase, structuring them in a way that parallels real advertisements creates humor.

-Kelli Hall, Mallory Brayman, Morgan McCleaf

6 thoughts on “Live From New York, It’s Fake Ads!!

  1. What a clever and well needed jab at the structure of our advertizing strategies. In each of SNL’s parody commercials we see an incredible amount of overlap with what is presented in ACTUAL ads. The first commercial for example, has a central theme that we see in almost every ad concerning food. There is a “combo”, a “more for your money”, a “bonus” mindset. You aren’t just getting one product, you are getting a combination. And not just a combination, but a bonus, better than you can believe deal. Similarly, in the last commercial, they use slow speaking, sad music, “eye-opening” images, and so on to create an enormous sense of pathos in the viewer. This is just like every donation ad we see these days for people or animals alike.
    So why is it that we seem to really take the ads seriously and buy into it? When we watch the parodies we see what we are really buying into in a very humorous way, yet we still seem to fall for the advertizing strategies we are so used to seeing.
    After watching these ads I feel, as a consumer, I need to have a more keen awareness of when a commercial is playing off of the ideas that more is better, or gender roles, or manipulating pathos. In this way I can be a more educated and alert consumer who will not be duped by the strategy but better understand the motives behind them.

  2. I really loved the analysis you all did on the fake ads that SNL creates, mostly because we all know how they are based off of real commericials we see everyday. Even more than that though, I think it’s so interesting and funny how they tie in issues such as gender roles or public service announcements that are relevant to today’s culture to get the attention and laughter out of their audience. Loved reading this, and especially loved getting to watch these fake ads again. Great post!

  3. These fake ads from SNL really show you how ridiculous actual ads are! The fake ads show you how absurd it is that we feed into the real ads that we see every day on TV commercials. Yet, we still watch them and they still work by convincing us to buy there product. I like how they SNL made fun of gender roles that are in a lot of commercials, but we just don’t noticed them because they are thrown in our face with comedy like on the SNL skits. Watching these fake ads from SNL will definitely make me take a closer look to real ads today and see them as just as humorous.

  4. SNL’s fake ads humorously bring to light many of the questionable and ridiculous technique’s we see in real ads. This article highlights various different aspects of ads including gender roles, exageration, and overdramatization. Watching these fake ads really makes me stop and notice real ads a bit more and wonder why advertisers use the techniques they use. SNL has done a hilarious and great job of showing consumers they should pay a little more attention to the advertisements they see evryday.

  5. As a huge SNL fan and loyal viewer, the fake advertisements are always one of my favorite parts of each episode. It makes you realize how simple and silly real ads are. We immediately recognize what product they’re making fun of, or even which celebrities they’re making fun of. For example, SNL does a parody of Matthew McConaughey’s car commercial (Buick I believe). Before watching SNL’s ad, I didn’t think anything of how McConaughey was portraying the car company. After watching how they made fun of it on SNL, however, I realized how ridiculous the original advertisement was.

  6. SNL uses postmodernism often on the show within their fake commercials, skits, and other methods of comedy. These commercials are the perfect example of this. The fact that they are so similar to actual advertisements found on television is what makes them so funny. They re-make existing ads and dramatize them for the sake of comedy and America loves it. The “Red Flag” advertisement is poking fun at the almost absurd intensity of perfume advertisements and I think SNL nailed it. The real advertisements have a message that seem to say women who wear their perfume are sophisticated and sexy. Right, because ripping off expensive clothes and jewelry in order to get straight to the perfume we’re wearing is something women do all the time. SNL saw the potential in this one and ran with it.
    If anything, I think these fake commercials allow the every-day consumer to see a glimpse of the reality behind the advertisement. This could stimulate the consumer to pay attention to real advertisements and possibly make connections. If they can begin to see some truth in their products, they are likely to grow and become more informed consumers. Informed customers are smart customers and this will challenge product advertisers to evolve their marketing strategies. Fake ads for real products are a good example of these evolving marketing strategies. I’ll be waiting for the inevitable SNL spoofs on those as well.

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