Player piano

There is an obnoxious commercial for Glad ForceFlex garbage bags that has been running for what seems to be an eternity. I think it’s supposed to be funny. I am not amused. Every time it airs, I whip around and glare at my husband. He is tired of hearing about it, so I am taking to the internets to vent my annoyance.

In the spot, a couple of moving guys fail in their attempt to hoist a piano into a client’s apartment via an inadequate pulley system. It breaks, the piano smashes, and they are able to fit the shards of the piano into a Glad bag. They bring the bag up to the client – a thin, old white woman – and deliver the punchline: “Where do you want the piano?” Har har har. [slaps knee]

Let’s leave aside the obvious narrative incongruities. The guys are idiots, but they don’t know that they’re idiots. Often, this = humor. Ricky Gervais has built a career on characters in this mold. So what’s not working here? I think that part of the issue is that we don’t have another character in the ad to help us “read” these guys. We see the client briefly before the punchline, but don’t get to see her reaction. So are we supposed to sympathize with her? Or – as was my impression – are we supposed to sympathize with the blue-collar guys working for the piano-owning elite white lady? I see this commercial all the time on Bravo, the demographic for which is a lousy fit for the latter interpretation.

Look, I realize this is – in the words of my husband – just a commercial. But if Clorox wants my trash bag-buying dollars, they’re going to have to work a lot harder to engage me. And it turns out I’m not the only one who is annoyed by the ForceFlex campaign…

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