The new ad campaign by Nashville-based Captain D’s restaurants has won praise from an unlikely source: The New York Review of Advertising, a prestigious trade journal.
In an article titled, “Beyond Irony and Beyond the Cutting Edge,” writers Stanfield Smerdley and Irving Edwards, who hold advertising doctorates from Harvard and Yale, respectively, hail the current Captain D’s “100-percent flavoriety” campaign as “representative of a wholly new paradigm in the presentation of a restaurant chain to the public.”
The commercial, which features the typical deep-fried sale-priced menu items that are the stock-in-trade of downmarket fish joints such as Captain D’s, appears to have little that is unique or “beyond the cutting edge” about it. But to Smerdley and Edwards, the featured menu items are merely a setup for the final shot of the ad, which shows a bespectacled narrator intoning that the menu represents “100-percent flavoriety,” then making a bug-eyed zany face.
“The pedestrian presentation of the menu items, followed by the faux-serious tone of the announcer, functions to lay the groundwork for the truly innovative facial expression of the actor at the spot’s conclusion,” they write. “In fact, the dullness, the predictability, the sheer ennui-producing small-timeness of the Captain D’s ad sets it apart from its peers.”
Their critique notes that having the announcer shamelessly mugging at the camera is a signal to sophisticated viewers that the commercial’s producers are in on the joke. “The cringe-worthy, lowest-common-denominator aspect is taken to such an extreme that it can only be read as almost post-post-ironic. In short, we find it brilliant.”
Officials at Captain D’s were taken aback this week when told of the praise the ad has generated. “We just want people to enjoy the 100-percent flavoriety of our menu, and we just laughed a lot at that goofy face at the end,” said one source at Shoney’s, which owns the fish chain. “We’re glad those guys from New York like it.”
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