Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Pregnancy Test commercial that NEVER was, or was it?

 My mom just cleaned something out to store more of the insane stuff she collects on Ebay, and she came across some of my Advertising work that I had done in my Creative class in college.  This was supposed to be the "fun class" in advertising, but instead of the instructor being some hip, agency burnout from Chicago, he was this unbelievably outdated Monolith of a man who used references that they use on Mad Men as examples of Ad Campaigns.  "I remember this brill cream ad that was just spectacular!" he would drone on.  I wanted to kill myself.  What a disappointment.  He played favorites, like every teacher at UK did, and surprise, surprise, I was not one of them.

We were often given really inane projects and mine were always far fetched and inappropriate so I always received a "B" or "C", accompanied by comments like, "Don't really see what you are driving at" and "Who is your target audience, here?".  My "tongue-in-cheek" off-color humor was not welcome in the conservative University of Kentucky Advertising atmosphere.

In the packet of stuff that my mom found were story boards of ad campaigns.  These were not done on a computer, they were hand drawn by me and the copy underneath each frame was written out.  Who is the Monolith now, I ask you?  Anyway, I remember vividly the project we were assigned to do, and it was to decide an entire ad campaign around a commercial.  Mine was for a home pregnancy test, natch.

My commercial began as a young father is carrying a laundry basket with two small children in diapers tugging on his pants leg and the other running wildly throughout the house.

Cut to the wife/mother anxiously smoking cigarettes and visibly nervous and then you hear a timer go off in the distance.  The husband/dad drops the basket and the woman stabs out her cig and they both rush into the bathroom where the pregnancy test clearly shows no line in the window.  Cut to the "unexpectant" father  (since apparently "we" get pregnant now) as he makes a large "v" in the air with his fists and shouts, "Yes!"

Cut to pregnancy test package with copy superimposed over the still.  E.P.T home pregnancy test, so easy your husband can do it."  I then, hand drew billboards accompanying media in the campaign and the art is of a man's ass and he has a Blank home pregnancy test sticking out of his jean's pocket.  "C work.  Don't really understand the message."  is scrawled at the bottom of my billboard, by the first man to ever write an advertisement. 

Now, we were required to make a presentation in front of the class, complete with storyboards and product shots.  Mind you, most of the other presentations consisted of Tide detergent or McDonald's new value meal, which were heralded by my ancient teacher for their "uniqueness and cutting edge creativity".  Apparently introducing a new and improved Tide was pushing the envelope in his book.

So, I decided to bring my boom box with me and I recorded a mix tape to accompany each of the scenes in my commercial.  I wanted the audience to feel the stress that a young, overwhelmed couple were experiencing in that cramped apartment, as they anxiously awaited the consequences of that fateful night, when they foolishly decided to open that second bottle of red wine.  

I remember practicing in front of my sorority sisters and they all LOVED it.  I think the music was the magic touch, FOR SURE.  So I finish my presentation to the class, all nervous excitement and expectations, and all I saw before me, were twenty or so wide eyeballs and crickets chirping outside the dingy windows.  I had bombed.  The teacher said, "That was very interesting, Johanna, (no one can ever get my name right).  You may be seated now.  Don't forget your, ahem, music."  The class snickered. 

Ok, so to my credit, Saturday Night Live did a similar, albeit, funnier parody, of a home pregnancy test, many years later.  It is attached above.  I consider SNL the gold standard for commercial parodies.  Wrong genre, wrong audience.  Story of my life...until NOW, of course!

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