Bubble Tape Commercials

Last week my wife randomly asked, “What was that gum that came in a tape measure case?”

I couldn’t remember the name at first, but the commercials came back instantly.

Gum, for you! Not them!

-Bubble Tape

I hate the idea that advertisements have a direct impact on my wants. But there are a handful of ads I know have influenced my buying habits.

This commercial from the 90’s is one of them (there are a few versions). Unfortunately, this one is a recording of a television screen, but you still get the idea.

There is something about the imagery used that grabs my attention now and even more as a child. It reminds me a little of Terry Gilliam’s animation from Monty Python. It is the surreal look with the use of collage.

Also, it is important to note, the message of the commercial itself is a bit of a characterization.

Most kids both love their parents and are embarrassed by them. The commercial captures this by saying “weird” things the parents have not done, followed by an unusual thing they supposedly due.

As a kid, I saw this as a statement about parents in general. It fed my want to rebel, but only by buying candy and watching cartoons.

This is the same for our bus drivers and principal.

This video’s quality is a lot better than the first.

As a generalization, kids dislike their principals and bus drivers even if they really love them. They know the characterization that this commercial is displaying isn’t the viewer’s actual bus driver and principal, who they may (or may not) care about. These people are cartoons/caricatures of authority figures.

An excellent way the commercials’ creators accomplish this was through the mouth movements. They used the animation style of pixelation and purposefully misaligned the mouth sync to the words.

This is why the mouth closes at times when words are still coming out.

If the commercial showed a close-up of the principals mouth talking, it would be scary for a kid. Our principals are supposed to support us and watch over us. If they didn’t want us to chew a specific gum, many of us wouldn’t have tried it.

Knowing that it is a characterization allows an understanding that this principal is not a representative of our principal, we feel safe (and excited) to try the gum.

Here we see another exaggeration of authority characters in my life as a child. They are uncool because of their responsibility of serving and taking care of us (as children). We are all taught as kids that most adults are not cool and for the most part, we were correct.

Here is an easy way for the young us to rebel without getting in trouble. We are going to chew the bubble gum that is for us (not them).

It is very smart, and it worked.