Advertising Parodies Honest I Was Only Kidding

There is a great debate in broadcasting about advertising parodies. Some agencies feel that a spoof degrades the real spot. Others, more sophisticated about humor, are flattered and claim the listener will pay more attention to all commercial spots, not knowing which ones are supposed to trigger a laugh. Unfortunately, many real commercials do that even when they're trying to be serious.

Matt Neuman specializes in advertising satire and has written ad parodies for a number of network comedy shows. His comedy spots mirror the style and texture of the original ad. One of his favorites is a spot for the product "Same," which has only one redeeming benefit: it leaves the consumer completely unchanged. His take-offs have also included a nun doing a testimonial for a "genuflect cross your heart bra," a spot for "Porn Flakes," one for a car called "The Vulva," and one for Washington's Watergate apartments, "where you are never alone and there are copy machines on every floor."

Faithful rendering is the key to effective parody. The best take-offs sound so real, using the calculating copy of the advertisers, that listeners don't know until the pay-off line that they're being twitted.

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