Once again, I find myself looking at ads on television and wondering why I just don’t get them. Are they getting dumber and I’m getting smarter, or is it the other way around?

Take, for example, the commercial for the Lincoln MKZ, in which actor Matthew McConaughey walks out of his palatial home to the side of his pool at midnight, clothed in a snazzy suit. At least I hope it’s his home and his pool, because the next thing he does is turn around, close his eyes, and dreams of driving the car — whereupon he leaps backward, still fully clothed, into the pool.

I’m not sure why some advertising agency thinks we’re going to rush out and buy an expensive luxury car because we’ve watched Matthew McConaughey being really, really high.

Only slightly less strange are the Lincoln Navigator ads in which McConaughey is taking his dogs for a ride, and basically being a jerk to them about asking them where they want to eat out.

“We’re not eating barbecue again,” he smirks as the dogs look crestfallen. “Why? Because I have two legs and I’m drivin’. Sushi it is.”

Which raises a couple of questions. One, are there actually sushi restaurants that will serve dogs along with their people? Two (as asked by faithful column reader Lesia Miller Schnur), who the heck feeds sushi to a dog? I at least know the answer to No. 2: someone who has people back home to clean up the mess when the dogs ralph those green dragon and eel rolls up all over the floor later.

Speaking of faithful readers, I crowd-sourced this one a little on my Facebook page and got this puzzler from reader Deci Reynolds, who asks about the Redd’s Apple Ale commercials that always involve someone getting nailed in the head with an apple: “What about getting a concussion is supposed to make me want a drink?” Good question, Deci.

Reader Chris Hamilton sent me a link to a particularly disturbing Kmart ad in which a nice, normal-looking lady has been swallowed by a bat. Yes, you heard that right. A bat. And she spends her final moments before being digested alive informing us about the specials at Kmart. Not sure how something this horrific is supposed to sell us on Kmart, but I guess that’s why I’m not in advertising.

One of the most disturbing ads I’ve ever seen, bar none, is the Skittles ad with the two awkward teenagers are standing by the fence, and the male half of the duo has Skittles stuck all over his face. “It’s Skittles Pox,” he tells the girl — who then plucks one of them off his face and eats it. Only then does she ask, “Is it contagious?” as she also breaks out in her own Skittlish lesions. I’m sorry, is likening your candy to an infectious pustule supposed to make it more appealing?

It seems that Apple has made a new iPhone that’s so tough that the ad for it features a guy sticking one onto his bicycle, grimly strapping on his heaviest foul-weather gear, and getting ready for a long ride into one of the most apocalyptic-looking thunderstorms ever committed to video. Bicycle Guy doesn’t seem to realize, however, that he may not be as tough as the iPhone, a fact underscored by the soundtrack: the AC/DC classic “Thunderstruck.” The phone may survive a lightning strike, but I’m thinking Bicycle Guy won’t.

Really, folks, don’t try this at home.

Pharmaceutical ads are always good for some real head-scratching moments. For instance, there’s the one where a middle-aged fellow is gearing up for a zipline ride and discussing the risks of pneumococcal pneumonia. Is pneumococcal pneumonia supposed to be a particular risk of ziplining?

Never fear, though, protection is available through a shot of something called Prevnar-13, which frankly sounds like a Captain’s Log entry on “Star Trek” (“Stardate 2344.7. We are in orbit around the planet Prevnar-13, where we wait to see which will malfunction in some bizarre way and try to kill us all this week, the transporter or the holodeck”).

As always, though, the warnings over possible side effects often take up more time than the actual ad: “Side effects may include shortness of breath, nosebleeds, gigantism and lycanthropy. Consult your doctor if you develop an insatiable craving for the taste of human brains. Stop taking this medication if you go into convulsions and die.”

As weird or off-putting as some of these ads are, however, we can console ourselves with this: They’re better than the barrage of nasty political ads we’re suffering through now. Be of good cheer, however. After Tuesday, the mudslinging will be over and we can go back to ads that, instead of making us angry or disgusted, just make us go, “What the heck did I just see?”

 

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