Sunday, July 20, 2008

For the perfect balance of fuel efficiency...

For those of you who haven't been watching the Tour de France on Versus, the title of this post is part of the first line of a SAAB ad, repeated three tedious times each time the ad is aired.

The ad tells us (three achingly boring times) that SAAB's turbocharger recycles energy from the exhaust but fails to mention that every turbo in turbo history has done that same thing. It's how they work. The Corvair Monza turbocharger did it 40 years ago.

If you ever doubted that advertising is the trumpeting of the ordinary, witness the SAAB ad. Or just watch Tour broadcasts and let the SAAB ads prove it to you.

It's Sunday so the Tour is on CBS, not Versus. I watched, meaning I watched maybe 30 or 40 commercials so I could see four minutes of coverage of today's first Alpine mountain stage.

I watched twice as many minutes focusing on the publicity caravan as I did of today's stage, when the yellow jersey changed hands. Better I would have beaten on my fingers with a mallet.

If you watched the Tour coverage, I hope you chose to stay tuned for the broadcast of the MotoGP motorcycle race, also today, from Laguna Seca Raceway, near Monterey, California.

If you did, you will have watched no lingering shots of the Monterey countryside. You would have seen no interviews with winemakers or local young women riding on floats and hawking household goods. You would not have seen any pre-race wastes of your time.

When the cameras found the race, the riders were on the grid. Fifteen seconds later, the race was on. The on-board camera shots were brilliant. You could watch the edge of Valentino Rossi's rear tire as it (1) shredded from the heat of trying to maintain traction, or (2) picked up bits of rubber from the track.

You watched the two class riders of the field, or the two class riders who had good tires, duke it out lap after lap, both riders leaving the track at one point or another, both bikes momentarily losing traction, both young men, Rossi and Casey Stoner, banging on one another, neither on a home track, neither with a significant mechanical or power advantage...and no one else close.

I love bicycle racing and I love the Tour de France. But watching the MotoGP today was such a superior experience. And I can hardly remember who the advertisers were...

Does SAAB understand that the Tour lasts THREE WEEKS? I didn't want a SAAB, or not a newish one, but I would not buy one now - they've insulted us. I can forget that TV is merely a device that lures us to our screens so we'll watch the ads, but I remember all that when I listen to the oily voice-over repeating the SAAB litany over and over and over.

The ad sounds glorious and tells us nothing. Nothing.

What do you think? Is it harder to ride the Tour...or watch it on TV?

I don't know why racers dope. Helps them over the mountains, I guess. They must know they'll get busted. I can understand why TV viewers might dope. Helps them through the SAAB ads.


cyclotourist said...

In years past, it was the Michelin adds I couldn't stand...

Just wait till the Olympics and the crap-for-coverage on NBC. I would love to see some of the events, but you really only get to see touching back-story and exhausting commentary.

Another four years down the drain...

Anonymous said...

It's as if the ad men and the producers don't want to know how often their products are viewed, and the absolute revulsion that this repetition engenders.

I watch the tour from the live feed almost exclusively. I wake up early, okay? This Sunday was no exception. I like the coverage and I do agree that the "up close and personal" is too much. But someone is doing the bean counting and it seems to be working for them.

I did see the motor bike race too. Truly these people are on a different plane vis-a-vie nerve endings.

Khal said...

That Saab ad is pretty stupid.
That Saab ad is pretty stupid.
That Saab ad is pretty stupid.

There. I'm even.

Of course, so are the ads for erectile dysfunction. Makes you wonder who the ad men think are watching the Tour.

My wife asked whether Shimano components really are the difference between winning and losing races. We decided it probably had more to do with who had the better team pharmacologist.

Helped out with the Tour de Los Alamos yesterday. Was going to race, but they ran short on volunteers and so they rounded up the usual suspects. That was actually way more interesting than le Tour coverage, which Patrick O'Grady equated to going to a Weight Watchers conference to pick up girls.

bill said...

The problem is of course repetition, but as one who watches obscure sports (f1, MotoGP, cycling, biathlon) I am HAPPY that there are advertisers, so I get to see them, so I am torn on the repetition (but your point is correct - they are doing themselves a disservice by degrading their own brand value by frustrating us).

To your point about not even noticing the commercials during MotoGP, I wonder if part of the problem is the content itself. Much of the TdF is, lets face it, boring. MotoGP is 2x 45 minute sprints, lots of passing, danger and strategy. Most TdF coverage is 3+ hours per day for 3+ weeks. It's hard to keep that kind of enthusiasm day x day.

Versus should offer the full live coverage in the morning - anyone wanting to see that could Tivo it or watch it live. The evenings should be a 60-90 minute Bob Roll narrated encapsulation of the race of the day - edited such that you are really engaged, even in a relatively boring flat stage.

I applaud Versus for the coverage we get, but maybe it causes some frustration and boredom, as well as the issues with poor communication from their advertisers.

Corey said...

My solution is to digitally record the event using the box from the hated cable company and then watch the recording, fast forwarding through the car, rum and herbal penile enhancer commercials. You can even start watching the recording while it is still recording so that you don't have to wait three hours for your Tour coverage to end before you watch; just give it a 30-60 minute head start, begin watching the recording, FF through the commercials and it will be a while before you catch up. The Rossi/Stoner battle was epic. A real nail biter almost until the end. Great stuff. Not a single word about it in our local newspaper this morning. Not one.

Nick S. said...

Great, I read this now I have that song from the mojito ad in my head for some reason!