I Smell a Rat - An Uncaged and Curious Rodent-Based Doppelg
If you live in the United States and have your television hooked up to something besides a rabbit-ear antenna, chances are you've seen a few thousand horrid commercials over the last month or so for a cell phone ringtone/wallpaper service called Jamster.
Well, this weekend I had the ol' boob tube on one of the networks appropriate for my demographic when a new spot for this company came on. Now, usually I've reacted with a scream of anguish whilst simultaneously curling up into the fetal position, but somehow... in some way... this Jamster spot was different.
I've seen it before, and not in my nightmares.
From all the Jamster spots I've been cruelly subjected to, I've come to the conclusion that most of their ringtones and cell phone wallpapers were either grabbed right off the web, taken from a clip art collection, or created in a rushed session in a d-list sound studio with Jamster employees providing the "hi-larious" voice bits - except for a bizarre remake of "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot (Hey - he probably needed the work). However, the spot I saw this weekend had a few things not going for it...
For one thing, they were offering the Hamster Dance song for a ringtone - a song which I'm sure none of us internettish people ever got too much of over the last half decade. (By the way, the Hamster Dance clip is actually a sped up sample of Roger Miller's "Whistle Stop" song from the excellent Disney animated movie Robin Hood. Later, a group called The Cuban Boys took the sample and remixed it into a UK hit called "Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia" - Go fig.) Unfortunately, knowing the unwashed masses, it will become one of Jamster's best sellers - that is, until Disney gripes.
Well, since it was a television commercial, they had to show some kind of visual, right? And what did they use? One of the most crudely-animated rodents in the history of humanity. Animation that, by comparison, makes Terry Gilliam's work for Monty Python's Flying Circus look like it came right out of Pixar.
"Awwww, it's adorable!" I hear a few of you saying. If you're one of those people, flog yourself right now.
(Ok, first of all, it's a goddamn guinea pig, not a bloody hamster, but I won't nitpick.)
For me, it was "Ahhhhh.. I've seen that before."
Hop back in your flashback machine to 2002. Blockbuster Video, being a big ol' chain, had a most magnificent campaign created by Doner Advertising, Tippett Studio and Complete Pandemonium featuring a rabbit and guinea pig named Carl and Ray. They even showed up in a Super Bowl spot where Ray danced to Flashdance's "Maniac" song. Perhaps you remember them? If not, here's a screen shot from another one of the spots entitled "Kung Fu"...
Hmm... Well, I'm not one to jump to conclusions, but I think I see a bit of a similarity here.
Let's go for a side-by-side comparison of a portion of the two screen shots...
Oops. Sorry, everyone. I must have been mistaken, for the Jamster "hamster" has much, much more prominent front teeth. And a microphone in front of him. And he casts a perfectly oval shadow. My bad. Jamster must be an OK outfit after all.
Besides, everybody knows that all guinea pigs/hamsters look alike.
Anyway, if you've got Adland SuperAdGrunt status, check out the two commercials and judge for yourself.
International trivia bit: Jamster in Germany is called Jamba.
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