What's that horrible sound? What are those horrifying images supposed to mean? Oh, right. It's the latest creepy ad from Quiznos.
This one shows a trio of kittens ("Singamals") in a rhythm-challenged brass band, singing very badly about the joys of the fast-food franchise's Value Menu. The ad "is worse than one can possibly imagine," according to Eater.com.
"Five-four-three," the kittens screech to the tune of Three Blind Mice, referring to the fast-food franchise's salads, soups and sandwiches priced at five-four-and-three dollars apiece. There are no mice in the commercial, by the way, despite the Three Blind Mice tune, but that is probably supposed to be part of the, uh ... is "humor" the right word? It makes the Dramatic Chipmunk look like an Oscar winner.
With "Singimals, Starring Kittens: Take 1," Quiznos continues its unparalleled brand tradition of obnoxious ads, many of which star creatures that resemble brain-damaged rejects from karaoke night. For me, however, there is an upside. The new series of ads -- created by WangDoody, a Seattle-based ad agency that came on board at the start of 2010 -- gave me an epiphany.
Now, at last, I think I understand the whole Quiznos thing.
Like most sensible people, I wondered about the target audience for these sophomoric ads. Perhaps Quiznos was trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. One blogger speculated that the ads were aimed at "babies."
Not at all! These ads are aimed at pot smokers!
It's all so clear to me now.
Pot smokers get the munchies and are likely to hit the fast-food joints early and often. But you don't have to literally be high to recognize the stoner sense of humor. I guess I didn't recognize it at first because, while watching the older "Spongmonkey" ads ("We love de subs!"), I was thinking that wild-eyed rats shouldn't be shilling for food you put in your mouth.
Once I saw the wretched singing kittens, though, I realized how far superior the Spongmonkeys were (in their own special way). At least those ads had the courage of their convictions: They were way, way out there, not afraid to be wacky, gross, grating and just plain nuts. The rats even sounded a bit like Cheech & Chong, those legendary champions of the "stoner movie."
Although the Spongmonkeys resembled rodents, their design was based on an eerie-looking member of the primate family: the tarsier, a tiny nocturnal thing sporting gigantic eyeballs. ("Spong," according to some, is slang for "adding oversized eyes to an image." They're not "sponge" monkeys after all!)
To see where Spongmonkeys originated, check out rathergood.com, the web site of commercial animator Joel Veitch. The creatures look like "graphically edited tarsiers with human mouths," according to a Wikipedia entry (probably written by Veitch himself).
In the context of Veitch's website, off-key animals and singing cats make sense. He's got a raw chicken singing Don't You Want Me, by The Human League, and plenty of singing kittens, if that's your thing.
Now that I can finally appreciate the Spongmonkeys, I can also report that I still don't like the new "Singamals." Maybe it's because I'm not high at the moment.
Other Quiznos ads that still don't do it for me:
"Raised by Wolves," a 2003 ad in which a businessman (Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory) flashes back to suckling at the teat of a Siberian Husky (not a wolf).
"Toasty Torpedo," in which a Quiznos employee is sexually harassed by a toaster oven that comes on to him in a deep Barry White voice.
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