This kind of thing has long confused me. Let me explain why.
When I interview for a job, I take it pretty seriously, and I’m sure my employer does too. If I were the kind of person who was routinely frozen in terror when my alarm went off, or the kind of person who has trouble brushing my teeth, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be taken very seriously at work. That’s why commercials like this are so confusing and annoying.
Let’s take “Tyler,” for example. The man is brushing his teeth while wearing a dress shirt and tie. He has an anxious and frankly dull look on his face. Yet he is apparently the head of HR for the same “medium-sized” company as “Marcie” the cartoon character who is probably still motionless and staring at the ceiling.
Then there’s “Whitney,” who is texting in the shower with the same amphetamine-fueled look on her face as Marcie. What is this commercial trying to say? Are these people lost? Mentally ill? Paranoid?
I realize commercials like this are supposed to be light entertainment. The narrator’s alliteration, the silly looks on everyone’s face and the “plodding towards mediocrity” soundtrack are all rather obvious in their intent. We’re not supposed to take these people seriously. But that’s really the problem, isn’t it?
Why are office employees always portrayed as borderline incompetent, terrified adolescents in popular media? It’s not funny. It’s not entertaining. It’s like a fast food commercial where a customer is served a dead rat in a rat-shaped styrofoam container. It shatters verisimilitude and makes us question how any of these people got hired in the first place.
How can we expect anyone to invest tens of thousands of dollars and years of their lives earning an education, gaining marketable skills and acquiring the experience and qualifications to get a good high-paying job if this is what our society thinks of the average office workplace?
“Marcie” is a “masterful marketer,” yet she can’t get out of bed. “Tyler” apparently plans to spend most of the morning grinding the bristles off his toothbrush and “Whitney” is going to need a second job to pay for a replacement for the phone she’s trying to destroy in her shower. The commercial tells us they all need “a little help.” No, what they need is a psychiatric evaluation and a weekend or two at the Happy Home.
Then we switch to a scene with Marcie and her boss where a grown man is jumping around the room and making alarming gestures while the “masterful marketer” is sitting at a cafeteria table in an enclosed office. Meanwhile the “head of HR” has a line of people (who are ostensibly on the clock with benefits and accumulating paid vacation days) lined up at his door while he taps a pencil eraser on the desk and has a slow motion conversation with a mental patient. Then there’s Whitney, who is still popping speed and can’t manage her e-mail.
Now I may be overthinking this, but these people are being PAID to work in the glass-walled offices at this company. Commercials like this make hard-working, well-educated and competent people doubt themselves and our whole society. If these three clowns have jobs and paychecks, with executive titles no less, what’s wrong with you if you can’t find employment? If I were a college student in 2018, and I saw this commercial and then attended even one job interview that didn’t become an offer, I would have a long list of questions starting with “can I have my money back?”
How can someone get hired and paid to work a full-time job and not be able to handle their e-mail without throwing themselves on their desks? I can understand the problem if the man auditioning to wear a gorilla costume in the circus really is the manager of this company.
What I object to in commercials like this is the infantilization of grown men and women with jobs and careers. Hiring managers far and wide complain at exhausting length they can’t find qualified candidates, yet this is the result? The people in this commercial aren’t qualified to dress themselves in the morning. The proof is the pattern of toothpaste stains on Tyler’s shirt that were obviously CGI-ed out of the later scenes.
This portrayal is the workplace equivalent of the “incompetent dad” character that has been a staple of family commercials for the last 20 years. Here’s Bob. He weighs 275 pounds and is five feet eight inches tall. Bob can’t change the liner in the kitchen trash can without two people helping him, yet somehow Bob pays the mortgage on this fabulous five-bedroom house and makes the payments on the $40,000 SUV parked next to the Mercedes in his 1800-square-foot driveway every month. Don’t you wish you were Bob and got paid every two weeks despite that frozen puffy blank look on your face?
The audience for these works of 90 IQ entertainment is being made to believe these people are not only gainfully employed, but “masterful” high-ranking executives who are “wizards” of arcane skills like “project workflow,” whatever that is.
There’s another one of these commercials somewhere on YouTube where employees are running in circles and screaming because they can’t make their business software work. I’d look it up but I just ate. If the soundtrack were added to video of toddlers engaged in a food fight in a daycare center nobody would be able to tell the difference. Again, how did these people get interviews and job offers? How does this company stay in business?
Our parents didn’t work in places like this. My father was a newspaper reporter and my mother was an award-winning features editor. When I visited their offices, everyone in the building was a full-fledged grown-up. They covered important news stories and put 90-page newspaper editions out every day. The Los Angeles Times had a circulation of close to two million readers (who all got a newspaper every morning) when I was in elementary and junior high school. There was simply no such thing as people jumping around and crying and screaming at work. It simply didn’t happen.
I think I speak for more than a few people when I say I wish we could see examples of professionals in commercials for a change. While we’re at it, let’s throw in a real dad too. Because I can guarantee you there is no woman alive who would marry or even date Bob the talking beach ball. Black out.