Tuesday, March 23, 2010

There's Got To Be a Better Way!

What if I told you I had an idea today that could make you literally tens of dollars? The setup is simple: take a new product that you want to sell, say it’s an iPad, and then give this product to me, let’s still say it’s an iPad, and I will then give it to some Chinese high school students I know (but only for a little bit; it’s an iPad, after all) and they will make a commercial for it. This commercial will either make the company millions of dollars, or it will make them absolutely nothing. Possibly less than nothing. On occasion, I have actively avoided products my students have recommended (pork floss, meat-flavored pastries of all kinds, lead paint).

But I could also see this working, especially if my students continue to ride the balls-to-the-wall surreality train which they rode all the way to (this metaphor is getting away from me) infomercial junction, where every morning you eat your cereal out of an EZ Crunch Bowl (real tagline: “A New Way to Eat Breakfast Cereal”) full of self loathing. Which never gets soggy in an EZ Crunch Bowl, because of its rubberized grip and unique two-level design.

EZ Crunch Bowl

See? Look how much fun those hands are having with their white walls and reflective breakfast table! I wish I had an EZ crunch bowl. Or some orange juice. Oh god I just remembered there’s a papaya in my bag. It’s been there for hours. Hold on.

With my papaya now in the fridge, my students are going to be working on advertisements all this week. The students have about half of the class period to write ad spots for objects I give them. As for the objects, I’ve chosen the most beautiful, precious things I can find around the apartment, like this candle holder Gristle gave us for Christmas.


I think it might have actually been a birthday gift for Gus, but I want it real bad. I gave this to a group today, and after twenty minutes of preparation, they stood up, held the candle holder up to the class and said, loudly and excitedly, “Will you just look at this gnome?!” They then spent twenty to thirty seconds marvelling at the gnome and nodding vigorously to each other in silence. Then they sat down. Another group put the gnome on the desk at the front of the class and said, “Why not imagine you and your lover?” (Reason #1: I don’t want to cry in class, Reason #2…oh wait, this was rhetorical?) They then told a touching story of how a romantic dinner was saved after a power failure by a gnome statue with votive candles in his water buckets. Sounds like more than one romantic dinner I’ve had past. Mostly the water buckets. I really like waterparks. Plus most of my dates look a lot like the gnome.

The last group just said that if you bought the gnome “then you get Jon’s hug free.” Unsurprisingly, this generated a lot of interest in the class. Surprisingly, I was totally OK with the idea of my body being sold alongside a gnome’s. Expect to hear a lot about the gnome this week as more classes try to find a way to market this lovely, tasteful, Christmasy gift.

(By the way, if any of my readers actually own a gnome like this, bear in mind that I’m not criticizing your gnome. I’m sure it looks great in your house. It just doesn’t work well with our decor, which doesn’t happen to be Travelocity themed.)