June 20, 2006

"Happy Mornings!"

First, go watch this new commercial for Folger's coffee. The Anchoress just pointed that out and said "it's just…really, really odd... I can't think of a thing to say…."

So, come on, there must be something to say. I mean, wake up, what are you, a corpse?

I'd like to see this on TV, preferably HDTV, widescreen, to get the full effect, but even just looking at that YouTube-ish rectangle, I'm going to give this commercial the Althouse Seal of Approval... and not just because it's cleverly creating web buzz. I approve because it's hilariously engaging and entertaining -- enough not only to prevent fast-forwarding but to inspire replaying and even conversation. And that conversation is engaging and entertaining: What the hell was that? How is that a commercial for coffee?

Yeah, go ahead and stretch your brain over this. And have a nice, stimulating cup of coffee before you start. It will help. Me, I just consumed a big, frothing cappuccino, so I can get you started on the extraction of meaning from this rich, satisfying blend of advertising brew.

We begin with a gray, nothing scene. That's the man's dream. We see the man in bed. He's sluggish, clinging to sleep. In the dream, scintillating, lively old folk arise from the sea, dancing absurdly. They sing to him: Happy mornings. You'll sleep when you are dead. They are the smell of coffee, rousing him from that sleep. You don't want to be sleeping now, in that gray limbo. You need to get up. Get the hell out of this dead place, sleep. You think we're scary and creepy? We're dead people! Do you want to stay in this dream? You're with the dead! Wake the hell up!

These strange folk on the boundary between sleep and wakefulness remind us of the choice we must make between life and death -- and the crucial role played by coffee.

UPDATE: A better clip of the ad can be seen on the official site, "Tolerate Mornings." Click on the TV.

54 comments:

Danny said...

I love how the director gleefully lifts scenes from classic horror movies and replaces the killer with, well, shiny singing yellow people.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Ad directors easily forget that the point of advertising is to sell stuff, not ads. I'm sure the clip will generate buzz, but it seemed a little too cutesy and pleased with itself. It broke through the clutter, all right; but I'm pretty sure it's made me much less likely to buy Folgers.

On the positive side, though, it did remind me of a great old Weird Al song:

I may as well be hyper
As long as I'm still around
'Cause I'll have lots of time to be laid back
When I'm six feet under ground

I'll be mellow when I'm dead
I'll be mellow when I'm dead
I'll be mellow when I'm dead


Maybe they should have used that as a theme instead.

HaloJonesFan said...

But where do tattoos enter into this?

Oh, god--what would happen if you got a tattoo of a coffee mug?

You'd immediately be possessed by Satan. That's the only answer I can figure.

HaloJonesFan said...

Also, now that I've heard the song: That sounds an awful lot like the Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-Four".

Drew W said...

After watching that Folger's ad, I now realize what became of all those "coffee achievers" from the '80s -- they died!

And not only did they die, they've decided to remake John Carpenter's "The Fog" (yet again), but this time as a musical.

As for their song, it makes want to repeat the word-verification word in the style of Danny Thomas spitting out a mouthful of java: rbpsbggl!

(Personally, I'd rather listen to Bob Dorough's "Too Much Coffee Man.")

SteveR said...

.. the best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup...

Senescent Wasp said...

I'm so glad to see this discussion here. I saw this "commercial"(?)a few days ago and actually replayed it a couple of times just to savor the weirdness and look at detail; the guy with the melodian for example.

On one level it's a straight commercial and at quite another it's it disturbing in a way you couldn't quite put your finger on.

I agree with Ann, I'd like to look at it frame by frame on HDTV and I couldn't tell you exactly why.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I love the growling dog. Since he obviously doesn't drink coffee, he is NOT amused by the annoying happy morning people.

Verification word hhzao. What I say after my first sip of coffe in the morning.

Matt said...

I'd generally agree with Ann's analysis, but the lyric is actually "You can sleep when you are dead," which I think marrs the life/death parallels she tries to draw. The people aren't dead; they're just saying, "Get up, man. Mornings don't have to be all that bad."

Jonathan said...

. . . the choice we must make between life and death -- and the crucial role played by coffee.

What about the alternative: less caffeine and more sleep? I feel a lot more alive after adequate sleep than when I awaken tired and hit the caffeine. But I suppose it's difficult to sell sleep, except maybe for those Holiday Inn ads.


"aujee"

Joan said...

My kids thought it was very weird. I did, too, but I loved it nonetheless. Maybe it has something to do with my fondness for musicals (in fact, I watched High School Musical with my kids just yesterday), but I can't be bothered to be embarrassed by that at this point in my life.

I, too, would like to see the ad in all its glory. I'll be looking for it now when I'm fast-forwarding through commercials on the TiVO.

(Oh, too bad Folger's coffee tastes like dishwater no matter how strong you make it...)

Townleybomb said...

Oh man, I was wondering why those guys kept coming into my bedroom. They kind of freaked me out at first, but I've gotten used to them, except for the melodica guy. Also, I'm pretty sure they're the ones who kept dumping the can out in the garbage when I bought Maxwell House. Watch out for that.

binkley said...

I believe the yellow people represent "Morning People", and the groggy coffee drinkers are you normal types.

I recognize the effect of coffee on my wife to allow her to tolerate my intolerable bright, irrational cheerfulness in the morning.

Marghlar said...

"Too much caffeine is not good for you, and I know it's SO easy, because, well, you know I myself was up to 63, 64 cups a day...."

The commercial is excellent and pleasing. It encapsulates everything I hate about mornings.

And it will never, ever get me to buy Folgers. But at least I am reminded, once again, yet again, of their brand.

But I wonder: how many here who enjoy commercials like this drink Folgers? The two traits seem not the associated for me (note Ann's comment refers to an espresso drink, not freeze-dried coffee crystals).

Abraham said...

I believe the yellow people represent "Morning People", and the groggy coffee drinkers are you normal types.

I agree, that's the interpretation I made, but also that they represent that part of your super-ego which is making you get up out of bed, seemingly against your will! It's that voice that says (in my case, sometimes audibly!) "Come on, you have to get up. It's time to wake up. Get up. Get up." The message is, what ultimately causes us to tolerate that command? Coffee (or Foglers specifically, they want you to think).

Palladian said...

I love this commercial. Agreed, the dog growling is hilarious.

At least we know what happened to Up With People...

Pat Patterson said...

This ad simply proves that New Zealand film industry should stick to LOTR and The Quiet Earth.

tiggeril said...

I don't think this had the desired effect because I think I need to lie down after watching it.

P. Froward said...

In the Grim Future of Folgers, There Is Only War.

That commercial is the most horrible thing I've ever seen. If those screeching incandescent lunatics got in my face in the morning I would snap. Hell, it gave me the creeping horrors at 3:00 pm.

Tonight I will install a police lock. But that won't stop the nightmares.

P. Froward said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

"But I wonder: how many here who enjoy commercials like this drink Folgers? The two traits seem not the associated for me (note Ann's comment refers to an espresso drink, not freeze-dried coffee crystals)."

Surprise! The only coffee I have in the house is freeze-dried instant. I like to go to caf├ęs, not fool around with beans and machines at home. Not Folger's though. This stuff.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I quit drinking pre-ground coffee years ago after reading a Wall Street Journal article about the amount of foriegn matter allowed in the coffee. At least if I grind my beans each morning I KNOW what is going into the coffee. I try not to think about it when I have coffee at a restaurant.

Link is not for the squeamish.

http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/mpm-3.html

Marghlar said...

Ann, you surprise me, although my dad has a similar tendency (fancy coffee out, instant at home).

For me, view things beat making really good coffee in my own kitchen. I don't do it that often, because of the time involved, but if I'm going to have coffee at home, it has to be drinkable.

Tibore said...

Oh, dear Lord! If that commercial ever came on TV, I would open fire. And I don't even own a gun!

The ending line - "Tolerate mornings" - comes waaay too late. They need to chop the commercial in half, maybe more, to be effectively irritating enough without being too irritating. As it is, it reminds me of Saturday Night Live in the past 5, 6 years or so: They beat a joke to death, then prolong the agony for a good 5+ minutes longer than they should. Same thing here. Less folks, shorter commercial, then *BAM*; it's punchy enough to be effective, the aggravation of the yellow people can be sort of held at arms length, and everyone still gets the punch line.

But in it's present state? Too long. Just too long.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Has anyone watched that commercial frame-by-frame to see if Mel Gibson is hiding in it like in his "Apocalypto" trailer?

Gimmicks and buzz.

Ann Althouse said...

Marghlar: Well, if it makes you feel any better, I rarely make it into a cup of hot coffee. I normally dissolve it in a glass of cold skim milk. It's an austere breakfast that suits me. If I want something hot at home, I make tea, nearly always this.

Marghlar said...

The skim milk thing sounds like an acquired taste, but interesting.

The tea just sounds fantastic -- at work, I have merely adequate coffee, and I can never remember to bring decent tea in.

Sol said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sol said...

The commercial had a shining yellow dude playing melodica. That alone would make it of my favorite commercials this year.

Has a melodica ever even appeared on US TV before? (Not to be confused with the melodeon, which is an entirely different free reed instrument. Though we do have Hohner models of each in the house right now.)

For what it's worth, I don't drink coffee at all.

John said...

Please. Someone. Anyone. What was the name of the movie (TV show) that had the blonde, Beatle-do, zombies that look like these little rays of sunshine? Was it a Star Trek episode or some psychedelic '60s sci-fi flick? I'll be up all night and really need coffee in the morning!

Edmund said...

The shiny, yellow people reming me of a group I saw open for David Bowie a few years ago, The Polyphonic Spree. (The band website is being redone, there is info at WikiPedia.) Imagine if your high school band and choir joined "Up With People" and then decided to make modern versions of Donovan songs. While dressed in robes.

Bissage said...

John: I couldn't find confirmation on the web, but I think you're remembering the episode of Star Trek where a landing party beams down to find a bucolic, peaceful culture that exists to service their god called "Vol" who is a computer or something in a cave.

Vol perceives the landing party as a threat and instructs the native flower children to commit their first acts of violence by murdering the landing party (by smashing their skulls with tree branches) as they sleep.

Something like that.

John said...

Bissage. Thanks! I can sleep!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

John: Village of the Damned

http://www.scifimoviepage.com/villageof.html

Joan said...

Marghlar, I like tea and there are even some teas I could say I love, but drinking Lapsang Souchong is like sipping the water you used to rinse out a used ashtray.

(It could be just me.)

Bissage: The Apple; it was rocks, not tree branches! And while it was a computer, it had this huge Tyrannosaurus Rex-like head that the natives were terrified of, even though it was laughably bad.

"Village of the Damned" doesn't quite make the comparison cut, because 1) the glowing folks were all kids and 2) those kids were never anything but deathly serious.

Bissage said...

"But we must feed Vaal."

(Vaal drinks Folgers, apparently.)

Ann Althouse said...

Feeders of Vaal! I found a picture.

katiebakes said...

The scene that shows the mirror swinging over to the maniacally perky yellow face with bowl cut is pure genius.

Bissage said...

Akuta rocks!

And so long as we're on the subject of the "maniacally perky yellow face with bowl cut," I might as well mention that the "Happy Mornings" commercial reminded me of the tentative stab I took at acting and my own little, personal hell: Forcing myself to enthuse, simply because some idiot told me to.

I hated it. And it showed. And I got canned from a local production two weeks before opening because the director told me to do something bogus during rehearsal and I refused.

Anyway, those perky yellow folk must all be good actors. There's no way to fake that.

tcd said...

For brewed coffee, I prefer to make it myself at home. For espresso, I go to the cafe. Freshly ground Kona beans (always one more spoon than cup of water) + cold running water + a Krups coffee maker w/ a carbon filter = perfectly brewed coffee. Never fails.

Christy said...

Speaking as someone who hates coffee and as someone who does wake up cheerful and laughing in the morning (much to the dismay of those around me), I wanted that dark haired hunk drinking his coffee at the counter to pull an M-16 out from under that counter and blast all those yellow people.

Folks, you see cheerful yellow people; I see invaders trying to tell us how to live and what to feel. Those were marching bands of progressives!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PatCA said...

Hey, let's have a rap session about coffee!

I think the yellow people were ghosts of eras past, like boomers who have already gone on to that big hootenanny in the sky.

I guess they're trying to say Folger's is hip, or Folger's is just like Starbucks... if you dropped some acid.

Steven said...

Christy, an M-16 is not the answer.

After all, the 5.56mm bullet was designed to wound opponents to render them unable to act; it's relatively poor at killing.

An M-14 is what he needs.

Ann Althouse said...

"Folger's is just like Starbucks... if you dropped some acid."

Nice slogan. Acid is sort of like MSG.... apparently.

johnstodderinexile said...

If you want to get your brand name in front of the public, this commercial says you have to go completely over-the-top, so anyone who sees it will literally grab people and say, "Watch this!"

The big brand name beers have pursued this strategy for a long time. I laugh at the ads, then buy some fussy microbrew. But I think they do work among the young -- the kind of people who don't know from good coffee or good beer, they just want the buzz.

cathyf said...

For some reason it reminded me a lot of Leonard Nimoy's The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins. (Although that might have been because it didn't display very well in my browser.)

cathy :-)

Synova said...

I don't think it's for young people. It's for old people.

I was at SAM's yesterday and I noticed that all the Folgers containers had really big groove things in them, which I assume is to that hands crippled by arthritis can hang on to them and twist the caps off.

Plus, all the rays of sunshine are old people tormenting the young.

Kev said...

I agree with Edmund--the yellow people reminded me of the Polyphonic Spree on steroids.

They're from here in Dallas, and the basic gist of what they do is "happy, happy, happy." Still, how many times can a French horn player get a gig with a rock band?

Ann Althouse said...

"Still, how many times can a French horn player get a gig with a rock band?"

John Entwistle.

heldmyw said...

No. No. No.

Sorry, but transgendered sparkly lemon oompa-loompas gorking about the landscape and telling me to "sleep when I'm dead", is just DAMN creepy!

Coffee? No. Sleeping pills? Sure! Anything to get the weirdness out of my mind for a while!

Thanks Folgers! Thanks for another fear, when I just got over that 'clown' thing from my childhood!

Kemper said...

Heh, Chill out. Folger's spent a ton of cash on this and it is pretty neat. Question, Anyone have any idea where this was filmed? That building next to the beach looks a lot like Manhattan Beach, CA, but the suns coming up on the wrong side. CONTEST! Free Yellow people to walk your dog for first correct answer, er, how are we going to know the correct answer? Aonther good question. Kemp

B. Durbin said...

I thought the happy yellow people were sunbeams. You'll notice the reaction to everybody upon encountering them: Gaaaah! It's in my eyes!

My personal favorite was the guy in the shower. There's these people looking in through the skylight...

Anais 9000 said...

They're sunbeams. They're sunbeams! Don't you get it? They come over the ocean in the first scene. Over the housetops. They open up the flowers. They have no shadows -- unlike the guy that pulled the all-nighter. They're not ironic, they're simply joyous nature, waking up to a new day. You humans must be witless.

Zen Wizard said...

Uhhh--kind of ruins my---ummmm--"favorite morning activity" with Mr. PupTent, knowing these Shiny Nerdy People are watching me...