I love it when commercials try to manipulate me. It's not that I enjoy being manipulated per se, but it's the thought that I'm worth manipulating, that some company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to figure what makes me feel warm and spendy inside, somehow makes me feel, I don't know, important. Real. Valuable. Luck for them, I'm super easy to manipulate.
I knew that something was happening back when Quizno's came out with the singing tree rat commercial. All of a sudden, obscure bands that made me cool were doing commercials for Chevron and Outback Steakhouse. The random pop culture quirkiness that had always kept me on the fringes had become mainstream--and, surprisingly, it didn't bother me. Instead, I felt validated. There were times, more insecure, high-schoolish times, when I would freak if one of my beloved bands, actors, or what have you became popular. It was as if I identified myself through this penchant for obscurity, and mainstream popularity, by definition, negated the individuality that these bands, actors, or what have you provided for me. Now that I am older and wiser and have evolved to a place where I am defined by my beliefs and values and views and other decidedly more grown up things, hearing a favorite obscure band like Pavement in the soundtrac of a major network sitcom (coughhowimetyourmothercough) makes me squeal with delight. It's like the producers knew that I would be watching, and they knew that they had to win me over into their viewership, so they all sat around a big wood laminate table, sent the intern out for Starbuck's, and proceeded to brainstorm about how to get ultra cool urban 30 something professional females to watch their show--and they had a picture of ME up on the their white board. I am honored that you want so very much for me to watch your show or buy your product.
But like I said, I'm pretty easy to manipulate. There's no need to sit around the big wood laminate table or spend hundreds of thousands on the marketing campaign. Want me to watch your show? Pop a They Might Be Giants song in there. (note: I was already a huge fan of this show long before this episode. I mean, a show with Kristen Chenoweth and Audry from Little Shop of Horrors? Come on. Besides, I love Chuck's wardrobe.) Want me to buy your product? Make me feel smart, clever, in the know. And all that takes is a pop culture reference so witty, so obscure that anyone not living under a rock would get it. And I, my friends, do not live under a rock. Now, where's the nearest Hallmark store?