That would be a rock-solid “no” for Trivago, the German-based online hotel search site that has broken through to the American market with simple TV ads featuring a memorable, if slightly creepy, spokes-dude, The Trivago Guy.
Speaking directly to the camera, the guy usually opens with a “Did you ever?” question and then shows that he can actually talk and swipe at the same time.
In a heavy media spend over the past couple of years, the spokes-dude, played by American actor Tim Williams (who stars on a German soap opera as an aging rocker), has become something of an Internet heartthrob.
Indeed, Trivago Guy’s scruffy, slightly disheveled presence and silver-haired bad-boy vibe attracted so much attention (both from women and men) that the question of why he wasn’t wearing a belt with his jeans in the first spot actually trended on Twitter.
So that’s why this recent one, “Kicked Out” is so offensive and unfathomable to me. Perhaps the strategy was “At a time when the gender wars have been painfully reawakened by this election, how do we alienate our core audience and suggest that our hotels are low-rent fleabags for cheaters, while simultaneously aligning ourselves on the side of taunting, hostile, possibly violent, male creeps?”
Oh, I can see the marketing men responding, “But it’s light and funny! And the woman was the strong one and threw him out! Can’t you women take a joke?”
Funny, but it took the latest lows of this election for women to figure out that we’re not just fed up with the harassing language and behavior itself, but with the resigned, hugely uncomfortable feeling that it engenders: the attitude that this is just the way things are, and we’d better get used to it.
No more. We are seeing with fresh eyes!
So let’s take another look at the spot.
In a production that has the quality of a low–cost Web series (or maybe porn?), we see the man with a misbuttoned shirt (a nod to the belt controversy?) wearing his boxer shorts, carrying an annoying, hot-dog-shaped, hastily packed bag. “Has your girlfriend ever kicked you out of your house, just because she checked your browser history?” he shouts. Then he tells us that fortunately, with Trivago, you can always find a hotel nearby. The kicker that he screams out of frame: “with WiFi!”
Notice that he says “your house.” Meaning domination. Meaning, “the nerve of the old ball-and-chain to have to ride me this closely for doing the natural stuff that men do!”
Wink, wink, this is for you, imaginary locker-room boys and/or Newt Gingrich!
Why not turn men against women, and put females in the position of being shrews and harpies, screaming and forcing their providers out on the street without their pants?
Most people would naturally think that what the “girlfriend” found on the man’s browser was porn.
A porn habit is a hugely complicated issue, and most couples figure out how to deal with it to their mutual satisfaction. It should not be diminished in a leering commercial for hotels.
There are enough concerns with some of the outgrowths of Internet porn—like its effects on teens and tweens—that over the summer, Donald Trump actually agreed to "give serious consideration to appointing a Presidential Commission to examine the harmful public health impact of Internet pornography on youth, families and the American culture and the prevention of the sexual exploitation of children in the digital age."
That’s serious stuff. But while we’re trivializing it as a joke, even worse, this whole attitude feels very 1995, like the guy fired up the old Commodore and found some desperate chick in a chat room.
Yes, she could have found him on dating sites, but even the women attracted to this type of guy knows that he’s not the type to put that much “wooing” work into his Internet visits.
If anything good has come from this pitiless political season, it’s that increasingly, there is no room for bully boys and locker-room talk. It’s out in the open. And over. And done.
This commercial is stupid, disrespectful, and dated—and, if nothing else, terrible for business.
And the nature of it is such, that if “girlfriend” is discerning enough, maybe the sickening, objectionable, deal-breaker of a thing that she found on his browser was, actually, um, this spot. Who could blame her?