Why Nick Shell is a Big Fan of Boost Mobile’s “Is That the Talking Dog?” Commercial (Because It’s a Lot Like “Portlandia” with Fred Armisen)

Weird people who are subtle and seemingly familiar are wonderfully entertaining.

There must be a certain off-beat frequency that both old people and residents of Portland, Oregon are evidently tuned in to.  It apparently causes them to bring up the most bizarre and irrelevant conversation topics.  I believe that specific strangeness is characterized in Boost Mobile’s “Unwronged Pet Carrier” commercial which is simply recognized by most of us as “that weird cell phone commercial with the Dave Grohl wannabe pulling the luggage cart and the sort of half-Venezuelan looking guy that says, ‘Is that the talking dog?'”

I am constantly subconsciously trying to figure out: What talking dog? The guy uses the word “the” instead of “a” as the article referring to the dog.  It’s not just any dog; it’s one particular famous talking dog.  So what famous talking dog is he referring to that I somehow missed on my facebook feed?

Some could say that this mysterious reference to a talking dog would be a cause for me to be annoyed by the commercial.  But no; I recognize this as a clever marketing technique which I feel is a successful effort to relate to people who appreciate subculture-acknowledging commercials.  For people who include Garden State in their top ten list of movies and The Office in their top ten list of TV shows.  And who blocked Farmville within the first two weeks of its existence.

For those of us who appreciate the talking dog commercial (which coincidentally are the same kind of people who found this post and are currently reading it now) I think it’s safe to say that most of us could easily picture one of our grandma’s actually saying “Is that the talking dog?” during dinner.  The talking dog commercial is subtle yet memorable.  Granted, I’ve been with Verizon Wireless for 10 years now and have no intentions on ever switching, but I definitely want to publicly thank the cool people at the whatever marketing agency who gave us the talking dog gem of a commercial.

What is “Portlandia”?  Now’s your chance to find out…

After These Messages… We’ll Be Riiiiight Back!

I am a marketing department’s worst nightmare.  Because while I completely appreciate good commercials, they never influence me to buy the product.  Kudos to McDonald’s for their retro “Give Me Back My Filet-O-Fish” commercial, equipped with a Ford Ranchero and a catchy 8-bit sounding song via text message.  And those guys in the Sonic commercials, what’s not to love about “get those taste buds going, danga-langa-langa-langa-langa… Mornin’ Gents!” or “YOU’RE A CHEAP DATE!”

Yet I never buy from or eat at McDonald’s or Sonic.  I respect their commercials, but they’re just entertainment.  That’s all.  Completely ineffective as far as getting me to actually spend money.

Which causes me to think about this question:  When is the last time I bought a product or service based on an advertisement, of any kind?  Through a TV commercial, radio commercial, or magazine ad.  Any sort of marketing ad.

And I’m not counting the times I was already searching for a general product and came across a website.  That doesn’t count. 

I’m talking about this situation:  I never heard of the product.  I see an advertisement.  I buy it.

The last purchase I made was a food purchase.  I bought some cupcakes from Gigi’s Cupcakes.  Because my wife heard about how awesome they are from some people at work.  So I bought the cupcakes through word-of-mouth.

Other than other mundane purchases like groceries and gas, the only other item I purchased in the last few weeks was a Rubik’s Cube, which I knew of through years of word-of-mouth.   

Three years ago I bought an i-pod, but not because of the commercials.  Because my friends had them.  Then I bought mine from amazon.com.

Same thing with my GPS. 

Same thing with choosing Verizon Wireless as my cell phone company.

And my subscription to Details magazine. 

And going through wordpress.com to get my own website.

And my town house.  My wife’s friend already lived in that neighborhood.

And my Wii.  I was sold on it well over a year before it even came out.

Even when I see a commercial for a movie, I won’t go see it or rent it or even watch it at all until I’ve talked to someone who’s seen it or until I’ve read a promising online review.  Word-of-mouth.

As for buying music, I may buy a new CD if I hear it playing on the radio or at Borders, but that’s not advertising, that’s exposure. 

So there’s the pattern.  I only buy things based on the recommendation of a person I trust.  And of course they’re never the ones actually selling me the product.

Okay, I can finally remember a time when I bought a product based on a commercial or ad.  It was high school.  My freshman year: 1995.  I bought a Trix t-shirt because I looked through a t-shirt magazine my friend gave me.

Oh wait, nevermind.  I only got the magazine because a friend gave it to me and said that I would like it.

So the last time I bought a product directly because of an advertisement was probably back in the early ‘90’s when I would buy Ninja Turtle action figures.  Toys.  When I was a kid. 

As an adult, I guess I kinda like the idea of outsmarting the advertising departments of companies.

Bottom line:  If a product or service is worth purchasing, word will get around and eventually get to me.  That’s the only advertising that honestly matters to me.