Bear With Me: The Sound And The Furry

For Valentine’s Day, I’m fantasizing about receiving a huge, closet-sized, stuffed bear getting dragged into my apartment by my love interest as he makes lewd jokes about his penis size and winks to an unseen bro about “getting lucky.”

Boy, will my friends be jealous!

Then again, my gifter will probably have to double-park the van he used to deliver the thing. And given that he’s a thrifty type who also likes to save time, his vehicle with the permanently fogged-up windows will probably be filled up with those other “friends” he tends to collect on the way. (And then enslave in his basement. )

And they get restless, so perhaps he’ll have to leave early.

Sorry, but this commercial for the “Big Hunka Love” Bear from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company is so staggeringly bad, like homemade-porn-from-the-‘80s bad, or weird-fetish-video-from-beyond-our-time/space continuum-bad, it seems like the company was trying to be in on the joke.

And what humor it is!  It’s about size. Let us count the ways.

 It opens with a tank-topped young woman shown holding up a 12-inch ruler. If that’s not enough of a giveaway, the announcer says the word “big” 15 times in less than two minutes. Still not clear enough?  We get two upward arrow graphic effects bearing the words “4  1/2 feet!”

The look and tone is so cheap, sad, and misogynistic that by comparison, ads for Levitra and Viagra seem like the epic works of  Kurosawa.

Even the stuffed bear is shamed, from the toxic copy when he hears that he is the greatest gift because you can’t give your lady love chocolate. (Show local anorexic teen porn model here throwing her red, heart-shaped box, still filled with chocolates, into the garbage. Because then she will eat too much, ask if she looks fat, and “you don’t want to go there.”)

Plus, we keep hearing about the “big reaction, big reward,” that the guy who sends this incredibly overpriced $99 Humunculus will receive. But rather than suggesting any sort of consummation action, the writers keep throwing the bear at this poor woman as some giant soft sex substitute, or future threesome partner. The announcer tells us that you’re supposed to leave the bear on her bed so that “when you’re not around, your bear will be there to keep her company, and thinking about you.”  Meanwhile, she’s shown in her red negligee, jumping on the fake fur and snuggling with the moot snout.

Sadly, the company is grossly overcompensating for something -- and it takes about four seconds of sleuthing on You Tube to get to the bottom of it. There is deception afoot, similar to the indignity of Cookie Puss. You remember the classic Carvel cake that was discovered, when turned upside down, to be another cake completely? (Was it Fudgie the Whale?)

Well, in holidays past, this same big stud-bear dude was sold as a Mama Bear, part of a three-bear set, to delight children raised on the myth of Christmas Morning. This bear is the medium one in the group, with the triple-digit BMI, so it would take at least 10  penis jokes to man up this furry lady.

At the same time, perhaps the company wanted to keep the gender open and fluid; it could be a bachelor bear or a mama bear. (Or perhaps a completely asexual and all-business bear, as when the giant poignant thing is shown sitting in an empty office on a leather chair.)

Could it be any worse? As a gift, I guess this big hunka dead Elvis bear beats the original Valentine’s Day gift offering to women, according to Wikipedia: “The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide.”

After seeing this spot, I understand why Stephen Colbert, who famously despises bears (as a kid, other kids made fun of him as "Cole-bear"), describes them as "godless killing machines without souls."

And while we’re at the Olympics, there’s the whole angle of the Russian bear who roared during the Cold War. He’s warming up now, but still a ridiculous but scary joker. On any level, this rather pricey passive aggressive bear is, to paraphrase old Goldilocks, “just wrong.”

So guys, if you’re looking for a gift with less of  a “Silence Of The Lambs”-effect, I’d go for the drunken frog balloon that says “Kiss me!”

At least he’s being direct, warts and all.  

Tags: ad campaign
Recommend (8)
14 comments about "Bear With Me: The Sound And The Furry".
  1. dave alpert from pmd , February 12, 2014 at 2:38 p.m.
    Jeez. Sounds like Vermont TB is out to destroy their entire market identity. Weren't they warm and fuzzy and all Vermonty? Guys - leave the sex jokes to me and my crew of NYC ... intellectuals. PSA: I recently bought my daughter a tremendous bear - bigger than the one described here - at the Long Island Costco for.....$19.99! People actually stopped us on the street when we got off the LIRR and asked where we got it. When we told them Costco for $20, they went berserk. So there VTB! Put that on your ruler and measure it! Or, as my CD said this morning, "Pour yourself a nice warm cup of shut the hell up!"
  2. Jonathan Hutter from Garrand , February 12, 2014 at 2:57 p.m.
    This is what happens when you let direct response drive your brand strategy. You end up without one. I'm sure they'll call it a success because it generated calls. The return on investment is probably great, because they not only repackaged the product, they did the same with the copy (which had the same use of "big" and at least one repeat actor). This puts VTB right up there with Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man. http://youtu.be/6GznhT__PXs
  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , February 12, 2014 at 3:31 p.m.
    This seems more like it should be a gift for a heterosexual man. It's a bear blow-up doll (popular as well as pillows in Japan). There was a series (off hand, I can't remember the name of it but I tried watching it a few times pre on demand) about plastic surgeons who were visiting a plastic doll with realistic parts to sell. One of the doctors tried it out and got happy.
  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , February 12, 2014 at 3:32 p.m.
    PS: A gift for your male ex.
  5. Janice Cuban from Janice Cuban , February 12, 2014 at 4:02 p.m.
    OMG don't know if I should laugh or cry. Surprised no brand tie in to "Ted"; half-expecting Mila Kunis to kanoodle with bear.
  6. Claudia Caplan from MDC Partners , February 12, 2014 at 5:52 p.m.
    So I can't really hate on the Vermont Teddy Bear folks and here's why. A couple of years ago, they ran a Valentine's Day contest with JetBlue in which you had to write about why you wanted to go see the person you loved. I won! I got a roundtrip ticket on JetBlue from LA to DC but the catch was, I had to fly with the humongous bear sitting next to me. When I got to DC, I donated the bear to the Children's Inn at NIH where sick children and their families stay while they're undergoing treatment. He is much loved there. So while VTB may be doing nasty, smarmy commercials, I can't be a hater.
  7. Edmund Singleton from Winstion Communications , February 13, 2014 at 5:50 a.m.
    Every Easter the trash is filled with giant Easter Bunnies the day after, size does matter, I think?
  8. Barbara Lippert from mediapost.com , February 13, 2014 at 10:36 a.m.
    So are they trying to appeal to gay men? Do they know whom they are trying to appeal to?
  9. Debra Wurzel from AAR Partners , February 13, 2014 at 12:06 p.m.
    VTB - this spot is an embarrassment. Please go back to the "go see a person you love" contest. I remember when Claudia won that. What a terrific promotion. And think about getting a new agency. I can help you with that!
  10. Erik Sass from mediapostpublications , February 13, 2014 at 1:20 p.m.
    I…. wow. That's an amazing, amazing ad. Where do you find these? And no, I don't think this ad, or product, would appeal to gay men (although I did once see two 30-something guys wearing matching teddy bear sweaters on a plane, which had me reaching for the air sickness bag).
  11. Erik Sass from mediapostpublications , February 13, 2014 at 1:23 p.m.
    P.S. speaking of length/size, one of the most remarkable things about that ad is that is goes on for SO LONG. It's like a Norse saga of smarm.
  12. Ruth Thomas from Second helping , February 13, 2014 at 3:56 p.m.
    try as i might, once i read that Cookie Puss and Fudgie were the sweet version of Clark and Superman, you lost me - i am inconsolable -ohhhh the humanity! is there nothing we can believe in? and BTW -Vermont Teddy Bears as a Valentine's gift are for the same romantics that are sending the Hoody Footie Pajamas-
  13. Tom Messner from BONACCOLTA MESSNER , February 13, 2014 at 8:12 p.m.
    I saw the commercial for the first time on Fox's Red Eye at 3 in the morning, Eastern Time. Its audience, I am told, is principally college students, women in their 80s, and nursing mothers. It seemed to be a two-minute spot, a length popular in the early 80s with DR companies and Time-Life subscriptions in remnant time (a concept that probably doesn't exist any more). I resisted the urge to buy, but at the next break bought a speed stick endorsed by Vijay Singh.
  14. Jim English from FJC , February 16, 2014 at 11:06 a.m.
    What's with the bears? Super Bowl featured Beats Music (DeGeneris' Goldilocks) and Chobani. Saw lady at 86th St. struggling to carry Vermont bear through subway turnstile. Like the commercial itself, the effort proved quite awkward.