At its core, sports on TV is simply a prop for beer sales. The viewer essentially must answer the question: What's more important to you, Coors Light's "cold-activated can" or Miller Lite's "taste protector lid"? This marketing malarkey reminds me of another reason I stand proudly with the good folks at Pabst Blue Ribbon -- they don't advertise.
Alas, Couch Slouch remains America's Viewer and, thus, America's Commercial Viewer, America's Slogan Buster and America's Product Tester, which brings us to our annual fall survey of the vast wasteland of ads littering televised sports:
DiGiornio: "Fresh Delivery Taste Without the Delivery Price." They call it "DiGiornomics." Well, here's "Slouchonomics": I'll have a salad for dinner.
Sears: "Life Well Spent." Wouldn't it be better spent not dragging a room air conditioner into your car through a Sears parking lot?
Dr Pepper: "Drink it slow." Actually, I don't drink it at all -- is that slow enough?
Taco Bell: "Why Pay More?" OK, the chicken ranch gordita is 89 cents. Once you consider the costs involved -- raising the chicken, processing the chicken, shipping the chicken, packaging materials, cooking the chicken, purchasing other ingredients (bread, lettuce, dressing, seasoning, et al), restaurant equipment, commercial rent, insurance, labor and, of course, advertising -- if you're paying only 89 cents, exactly what type of quality meal are you expecting here?
Walmart: "Save money. Live better." It seems to me that the folks running Walmart are the only ones living better.
New York Life: "The Company You Keep." You don't want to know the company I keep.
Fidelity Investments: "Turn here." If I make one more wrong turn, I'm going to be selling refrigerator magnets out of the back of my Smart Car.
Subway: "Where Winners Eat." Where do losers eat, the bus station?
(Column Intermission: My Player of Destiny, teenage wunderkind Matt Barkley, has been, well, wunderkinderful. USC is 5-0 when he plays and 0-1 when he's hurt. If he doesn't win the Heisman, they should just change the name of the award to the He's Not The Best Player In The Nation Trophy. The freshman quarterback was 19 of 29 for 380 yards Saturday against Notre Dame. Plus, he's doing EXCEEDINGLY WELL in classes.)
State Farm: "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." I have no good neighbors -- I live in L.A.
ING: "Your future. Made easier." I have no future, so how hard could it be?
John Hancock: "The future is yours." Trust me: In 1979, maybe -- maybe -- I had a future.
KFC: "Unthink." Geez. Taco Bell always tells us to "think outside the bun." KFC wants me to "unthink." Can't do both, folks. Why don't you all just give consumers a lobotomy and be done with it?
GMC: "May the Best Car Win." I guess that's why we're all driving Hondas.
Sprint: "Any Mobile, Anytime." I remain a telecommunications throwback: I don't want to talk to anybody anytime, and when I do talk to somebody, I want it to be on a rotary-dial desk phone.
Lowe's: "Let's Build Something Together." Let's not.
Domino's: "No. 1 in Customer Satisfaction." Really? I assume none of its customers actually eat. These people now offer chocolate lava crunch cake. Heck, they can't make pizza that well, now they're branching out to desserts?
Papa John's: Fresh Dough Cinnapie. Ibid.
Coca-Cola: I am a lifelong Coke fan, but, come on, do they really still need to advertise? Even a billion Chinese know about the stuff by now. Sure, there might be a handful of Jehovah's Witnesses who don't drink Coke, but they don't own TVs, so why bother? Best I can tell, if Coca-Cola eliminates its ad budget, it can reduce the price of a six-pack by 25 cents.
Southwest: "Bags Fly Free." Amen.
Outback Steakhouse: "Live adventurous." I do, any time I wander into Taco Bell with 89 cents in my pocket.
Q. Now that the NBA is allowing teams to sell ad space on practice jerseys, will PBR logos soon be appearing on The Slouch's warm-up pajamas? (Kevin Bakley; Strongsville, Ohio)
A. Actually, I wear velour sweats around the house.
Q. You spend a lot of time in Las Vegas -- ever see anyone make more bad decisions in a five-year period than Al Davis? (Joe Peta; San Francisco)
A. I believe Howard Hughes ordered room service at the Desert Inn every day between 1966 and 1971.
Q. You are funny on the poker show and I really enjoy your column, but I was wondering if you ever had a real job? (Bob Miller; Pittsburgh)
A. Before cable TV lured me to the couch, I was a freelance paleoanthropologist.
Q. Given your personal history and your current seemingly perfect arrangement, are you being asked only to "manage" the marriage? (Phil Sorensen; Ashland, Wis.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.