The single most tone-deaf marketing campaign in recent history commences, in any number of commercials that have wallpapered TV coverage of the 2012 NCAA hoops tournament, with the following cornball flourish: "Is it 'March monotony'? Is it 'March more-of-the-same'? No-ho-ho-ho! It's 'March Madness,' people!" The campaign arrives courtesy of LG and current pundit/former college and pro star Greg Anthony, who attempt with no small measure of corporate gusto to link enjoyment of the games with the quality and character of surrounding appliances. It is overplayed and underthought, and I hate it with the unbridled heat of a thousand off-brand convection ovens.
I hate everything about it. I hate its desperate alliteration and the faux-chumminess of its "hey, fella!" approach. Mostly I hate the utter absurdity of its premise: The NCAA tournament is the single sporting event that appeals to aficionado, office-pool casualist and decrepit gambler alike. Nobody has ever suggested that it is monotonous or more-of-the-same, nor that it has downswept vulnerable fans in a maelstrom of monochromatic melancholy.
The campaign has already become a running joke among my sports-rageaholic friends: "Is it 'peanut badder'? Is it 'pea-not terrific'? No-ho-ho-ho! It's 'peanut butter,' people!," etc. Which is why it gives me a pathetic, sadistic jolt of pleasure to announce that the campaign's online components are even dumber and more misguided.
As opposed to the omnipresent TV spots, which assume some kind of wondrous halo effect owing to LG's NCAA sponsorship, the "Do March Right" online clips attempt to sell viewers on the merits of LG appliances. They note specific features and benefits, and linger on the products just long enough to highlight their shininess and curves.
Unfortunately, they also saddle Anthony with a script that engorges itself at the trough of pun. The triple-capacity refrigerator, we're told, is ideal for those occasions "when you need to feed your entire home team!," while the 3D television should be "your number-one recruit!" Elsewhere, Anthony conflates ownership of up-market appliances with domestic tranquility, noting how "LG's innovation in mobile phones, appliances and home-entertainment products bring [sic] families together," not unlike holidays or conjugal visits.
"Do March Right" similarly promotes LG's laundry machine and infrared grill as vital cogs in the delicate machine of family harmony: "You can spend less time on your family's laundry and more time watching NCAA basketball with your family"/"You can spend less time cooking for your family and more time watching NCAA basketball with your family." Throw in a spot of sponsor-to-organization sucking up - I'd direct anybody who buys LG's rhapsodic paean to the NCAA to read Joe Nocera's recent New York Times columns chronicling the organization's lawlessness and casual arrogance - and you've got a company that's far worse off than it was before it decided to throw a bunch of money at its bland brand.
Think about it for a second. Prior to "Do March Right," did anybody really have any major pro- or con- feelings vis-à-vis LG? Me, I had a positive impression of its products - not because of some carefully cultivated brand aura or an affiliation with the professional blimp racing tour or anything like that, but because they worked and were a good value for the price. Now, I think LG is a bunch of hams. No branding trumps bad branding.
(Thanks to ChannelMeter for assistance with research and whatnot)