Monday, January 10, 2011

If You Love Tacos, You Should Probably Get AT&T

Something about the holidays really makes me want to pick apart commercials.  Combine that with my love of tacos, and breaking down this latest AT&T commercial was a no-brainer for me.  I'm sure just about everyone has seen it.  The basic premise is this black guy gets pissed, because everyone is having a taco party without him.  At the end, he realizes he was invited, but his phone is just slow.  Damn, he must have felt stupid.  For those unfamiliar with it, here is video for your enjoyment:

First off, let's break down the basic demographics of this commercial.  The advertisers really went out of their way to be inclusive in this commercial, and I really think they nailed the demographics.  They put in three men and three women, so excellent equality there.  Further breaking it down, the women are white, Asian, and black, while the men, are two blacks and a white.  That gives us three black people, two white people, and one Asian.  Why is there no one of Hispanic descent?  They are already the center of our story, as they are represented by their most beloved food, tacos.

In the commercial, the angry black guy accuses his buddy of thinking Eric, the awkward white guy, is weird.  Let's face it, the white guy had to be the weird one, otherwise this commercial is racist as shit.  If there was only one black guy, and they called him weird, you would just assume that the white character hosts Klan meetings during his time away from work.  Even if you focused on the white woman as being weird, the underlying message would be that he thinks she's weird because she's ugly, or more likely, a lesbian.  But just because the white woman isn't weird doesn't mean she isn't essential to the commercial.  Imagine if the white woman was replaced by a Hispanic woman.  Then, we have a group of minorities all calling the white guy weird, that's reverse racism and has no place in advertising.

In the previous paragraph, I referred to one of the character as the "angry black guy."  That sounds like a horribly racist stereotype, and it is, but it works in this commercial.  Let's look at a quick snapshot of the commercial.
As you can see, this is where it becomes a necessity to have three black people.  The two normal black people are positioned on the opposite side of him.  Without saying a word, the layout of this commercial is positioning him as different than the other black characters in this commercial.  Another technique they use to show how he is different is that he is always the only face that you can see when he is focused on. 
Meanwhile, when they focus on the group, there is almost always two people's faces in the frame. 
This establishes them as part of the normal group, and him as an outlier.  Because of this, he doesn't represent the black community, the two other black people do.  Instead, he represents the outlier; that is why his behavior is erratic.  It's also why he doesn't have AT&T.  Within the parameters of this commercial, I think AT&T does a very good job of subliminally telling you things that you probably did not understand at first glance.  It's telling you to sign up for AT&T, be part of the cool crowd, and have all the free tacos your stomach can handle.  I'm so glad I have AT&T.


P.S.  I totally understand why the angry black guy was pissed.  I'd be pissed too if people were having a taco party and were too lazy to stop by my office (if I had an office) and tell me.  Don't text me important information, just stop by and tell me like a human being.

P.P.S.  There's a lot of creepy things on the internet, Muppets with People's Eyes ranks right up there with any of them.

1 comment:

  1. What you have just stated is my EXACT view on this commercial! Weird....