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Anyone else know what I mean by “dip”?

(Alternate title: “Meet our new corporate sponsor”)

Advertisements fascinate me, mostly because I think they’re the most authentic cultural artifact (“art”) our society produces. Unlike more spontaneous forms of production, such as painting, novels, music, and some television, advertising is first and foremost a business proposition: each instance represents an investment that’s expected to produce a return. If this return is measurable, and especially if the creating firm has data on its likely extent before the world even sees the ad, all the better. The focus group, among other less glamorous techniques, makes advertising more scientific than most forms of art — in the sense that their results are, by necessity, evidence-based, to as great an extent as it’s in their power to make them. In a culture where consumerism is elevated to patriotism or activism, advertising is unique in its ability to efficiently track the zeitgeist.

I watch essentially all my television shows on either Netflix or Hulu, so I don’t see what a normal television audience does in terms of ads, neither in quantity nor quality. Hulu only shows you one 15- or 30-second ad during a program’s normal commercial break, which amplifies the effect of each ad since there’s less competition for my attention. Hulu also knows a lot more about my viewing habits and demographics than a cable operator, which in theory allows them to target me with laser precision. Whether or not they’re doing this effectively is hard to judge objectively, but it does seem to be the case.

They’re currently running a series by Frito-Lay about chips and dip during The Daily Show, and it has been effective enough in my case for me to mention it here and to ask a couple friends when was the last time they had dip, and if their definition of dip matched mine (Marc’s did). There are several spots, but this one struck me the most:

I don’t even agree with the central theme (outward conformity is desirable, eat chips and dip to fit in!), which might be why it stuck with me. Damned if it didn’t get me thinking about eating some chips. Whether their angle is as straightforward as to appeal to the universal need for acceptance or something more subtle that I can’t detect, it appears to have worked. Well played, Frito-Lay.

Posted in Advertisements.


One Response

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  1. mckellister says

    My sister asked me this weekend, “what do you call that white dip you put on chips? You know, the kind you put on plain potato chips?” I think you have another sympathizer.



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