Sunday, March 25, 2007

Howard Finkelstein Coke Commercial

Are you one of those small-minded individuals complaining about the anti-Semitic "Howard Finkelstein" Coke commercial that gets played ad nauseum on American Idol? Shame on you. You clearly don't appreciate the marketing genius that is Coke.

If you haven't seen the commercial, here's a synopsis:

A man and a woman are having dinner in an elegant restaurant. He puts a surprise gift on the table in front of her. She looks down, excited, only to discover it's a Coke cap.

"I should have married Howard Finkelstein," she says, disgusted.

Then the commercial cuts away to a shot of an ugly, dorky, frizzy-haired guy wearing braces and 70s-style glasses, grinning like he stupidly thinks he's hot stuff. For the slow, the name "Howard" flashes on the screen.

The not-so-subtle subtext here is that if the woman knew her husband was going to be so cheap, she may as well have married the Jew-boy. The sub-subtext is that Jew-boys are ugly, frizzy-haired geeks.

But the commercial has a happy ending, as the bottlecap magically morphs into airplane tickets to an exotic locale. The woman then throws her arms around her husband in inappropriate sexual abandon, happy that she didn't marry Howard Finkelstein, who they cut away to again for comic affect. He's so clueless he's still grinning. Hahaha. Those Jews. They really don't get it. What a kneeslapper.

Only the brilliant minds behind today's edgiest young ad agencies could have produced something this stunning in its visual impact, entertainment value and subtle poke at cheapass Jews. Here's the scene I imagine as the crack creative team at Young, Younger and Dimwad conceptualized these 30 seconds of historic genius ...

Dramatis Personae: BRAD YOUNG, agency founder, age 25; MADISON YOUNGER, VP/Account Executive, age 22; TY DIMWAD, copywriter, age 15.

BRAD: Coke wants us to come up with something funny and edgy for their new bottlecap promotion.

MADISON: And it has to like, rock? They're like our biggest account?

TY: I've been tinkering with some ideas to get across how big the prizes are and how little you have to invest.

BRAD: Brilliant!

MADISON: You're like a genius?

TY: I didn't tell you my idea yet.

BRAD: We're listening.

TY: (He closes the Nintendo DS he's been playing, then gets up and starts to pace. BRAD and MADISON follow him with their eyes.) So I think we want to say that with this giveaway, even a tightwad can win a great vacation.

BRAD (steeples his fingers) Go on.

TY: So there's woman, we'll call her Shirley Finkelstein, and she's having a birthday party. Her husband comes in with a present and as she opens it she says, "It better not be something cheap like last year, Moishe." Of course, she's all pissed off when she sees it's a Coke bottlecap, but then she looks inside and ... it's two plane tickets to Hawaii!

MADISON: I love it! It's like way cool!

BRAD: Me, too, but ... I don't know. The whole Jew thing could be touchy.

MADISON: I hadn't thought of that?

TY: Okay, what if it's not Shirley and Moishe, but some other woman who almost married Moishe?

BRAD: What religion is this woman?

TY: (Looks at the ceiling for inspiration) She's no religion, all religions, she's ... everywoman.

BRAD: (Leans in) I like. Talk more.

TY: So her husband--who's clearly not a Jew--gives her a Coke cap. Are you with me? I mean, it's not anti-Semitic if the cheap guy's not a Jew, right?

(BRAD and MADISON nod. TY continues ...)

So she's so disappointed when she sees the bottlecap she says, "I should have married Moishe!"

MADISON: (Jumping from her chair) Rad!

BRAD: Love it! But I don't know if the name Moishe will play in Middle America.

TY: (Waves his concern away) No prob, boss. We can change it to whatever you want, like Donald. Donald Finkelstein.

BRAD: (Sucks air and looks worried) Coke's chairman of the board is named Donald.

TY: It's doesn't have to be Moishe or Donald. It can be any name. Pick one.

BRAD: (Excited) How about Howard? I had a Jewish roommate once named Howard.

MADISON: Howard! Howard! Oh, that's just so cool? Maybe we can get Howard Stern to play the Jew!

BRAD: (Looks at TY) What do you think?

TY: We could try. If not, we could always get a lookalike.

BRAD: (Stands and pats TY on the back.) Excellent. You did it again, Ty. I love you, man.

TY: (Goes back to playing his Nintendo DS) Love you, too, boss.


Don't you feel all warm inside now, filled with hope for America's future? Let's all join hands and sing ...

I'd like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love,
Grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves.
I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,
I'd like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company

UPDATE: Thanks to vp's blog, you can now view the commercial online.


Myfanwy Collins said...

You are brilliant, Ellen!

Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Ellen, love, we all know you can do literary. Literary is in your bones. But damn it woman, you're FUNNY. Like...stand up funny.

I laughed until I almost peed.


Ellen said...

Myf, thanks! Hee! I felt very naughty letting my snark out.

Jordan, you make me glad I posted it! (I almost didn't.)

Anonymous said...

Ellen, you are one funny lady.

Talent, talent, talent.

I didn't pee my pants, but when I read that Jordan nearly did, that made me laugh, too.

Stephanie said...

I hope you wrote to Coke, and American Idol.

Ellen said...

Thanks, Jennifer!!

And Ms. T ... I haven't written to Coke or American Idol, but I should. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll keep you posted.

RobinSlick said...

Oh. My. God.

I am so glad I dropped by today and read this. I'm laughing my ass off.

And this seriously needs to be published somewhere other than your blog. Somewhere really cool.

Do it!


Anonymous said...

They could remedy the ad by putting a Star of David on the woman's necklace and a beanie on the man's head... there's nothing so wrong with this ad that Industrial Light and Magic couldn't fix!