Month: July 2014

Girl Drink Drunk

Girl Drink Drunk is a regular column that features your host, an adult male who prefers bourbon and beer, exploring the sugary, sweet world of “girly drinks” for your edification and entertainment. He promises not to barf on you. Enjoy.

Marketing to people in their early 20’s has got to be just the worst job. I mean… no, it’s not cleaning up a parking lot after a country music concert (SO MANY EXPLODED DIP CUPS) or working 50 hours a week in a telephone call center (you can only get hung up on so many times before all the rejection makes your soul implode like a decommissioned sports stadium), but still. Having to design advertisements that specifically attract men and women in their early 20’s is awful, because you’re trying to market to a group of people who don’t even know who the hell they ARE. Think back to your early 20’s… what kind of person were you? What were you into? What did you stand for and/or believe in?

If you were anything like me, the answers to those questions are, respectively,  “an awful person,” “whatever, man,” and, “my right to party.” HOW DO YOU MARKET TO THAT??? Early 20’s men and women are emotionally malformed, half-humans who are still trying to figure out how you do adulthood. Everything is exciting! Everything is terrifying! Everything is the best it can possibly be, and the worst it has ever been, all at the same time. Trying to figure out what those people want, and how to make them buy it, is akin to killing the Rancor in Return of the Jedi; sure it CAN be done, but you basically have to be a Jedi to do it.

(For the non-nerds reading this, the above translates to: “Doing something impossible, but only because you’re a person who is literally magic”)

So when you market to people in their early 20’s, you basically have to take the scatter-shot approach. Spray the bullets in a wide enough pattern, and surely you’ll hit SOMETHING that draws blood. And so what you end up with is stuff like… say, an AXE body spray commercial that star an anthropomorphic armpit. Or endless ads that feature a DJ as a lazy shorthand for THIS IS WHAT’ COOL LOOKS LIKE. Or, if you’re Kinky Liqueur… the subject of today’s Girl Drink Drunk… you cram a whole bunch of Sex and the City-style sexual innuendo into a bazooka, then fire that fucker at a laptop fully loaded with Photoshop capabilities. What you get is this:

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Flirty, lingerie lady with bottles of booze in her hair? SURE LET’S GO WITH THAT. This will make the young ladies want to drink our cartoon beverages, surely! This girl is what ALL girls aspire to be!!! Look at her! She’s having SO MUCH FUN!!! Just livin’ life, putting liquor bottles in her hair, for some reason. Probably SUPER FUN reasons! CAN I MIX YOU UP A KINKY-TINI???

Anyway, what Alcoholic Medusa up there is trying to sell you is this:

The Girl Drink(s)

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Kinky Liqueur and Kinky Blue… booze that looks like liquified Snorks, shown here with a quarter for scale. I really don’t want anyone to think I actually bought whole bottles of this stuff. This is what they purport to be:

Kinky Liqueur (the pink one): It’s a little bit of vodka… distilled 5 times, the copy says, because THAT fucking matters after you dump an entire sand dune of sugar into it… as well as a lot of flavoring, dye, chips from a hunk of radioactive uranium, ground-up members of the Tinkerbell family, and, of course, pure, uncut, CLASSINESS. This one supposedly tastes like, again… deferring to the copy… “succulent mango” (as opposed to shitty mango), “blood orange liqueur,” and “passion fruit.”

Kinky Blue (the blue one): Same thing with the vodka… they are VERY proud of their distillation process, which is a bit rich, seeing as how their product tastes about as filtered and distilled as a piece of Laffy Taffy, but WHATEVER. This one is going for a “tropical and wild berry flavor,” because… I don’t know… that’s what blue flavored stuff tastes like now? Back in my day, blue meant razzberry (not raspberry; spelling is key) and that’s how we liked it!

Anyway…

Taste Test – Straight Up

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It became pretty clear, after doing shots of Kinky Liqueur and Kinky Blue that I was really not supposed to do that. These are mixers… drinking these straight is like throwing your french fries in the trash and just squirting ketchup in your mouth. However, doing shots of Kinkys Liqueur and Blue DID give my tongue an up-close, TMI look at what, exactly, they taste like. Surprisingly, I only hated one of them! Kinky Liqueur (the pink one) is sweet… god, so sweet… a Capri-Sun times a million… and it packs a wallop of synthetic fruitiness that is unmatched by even the most engorged Gusher… but it kind of didn’t taste all that bad. Maybe it’s the subtle tartness from the blood orange liqueur that makes it a little more palatable… maybe it’s the fact that the predominant flavor is passion fruit, which I happen to tenderly love (TASTES LIKE HAWAII, BABY). Whatever the case, Kinky Liqueur wasn’t the worst.

Kinky blue, however, WAS the worst. They had a good thing going with the Kinky Liqueur, and they got greedy. “LET’S MAKE ANOTHER ONE! The kids like blue… I’ve seen ’em wearing jeans!!! OUR NEW PRODUCT IS KINKY BLUE!!! PASS ME THAT STILETTO FULL OF COCAINE.” Despite what the copy would have you believe, this junk tastes nothing like anything remotely tropical, or any sort of berry that grows in the wild. It tastes EXACTLY like grape Bubblelicious. To the point where I feel like there’s some kind of weird, corporate synergy going on here. Bubblelicious is the shadow hand behind Kinky Blue! YOU HAVE TO READ BETWEEN THE LINES, YOU SHEEP. YouTube conspiracy theory video forthcoming!

Oh, and acid reflux. Kinky Blue also has subtle notes of acid reflux on the back end. I get why they don’t mention that, though. The word “vurp” rarely appears in packaging copy.

Taste Test – Mixed

I also thought it would be fun (using the loosest, most free-form definition of the word) to try the two Kinkys mixed together, but otherwise straight-up. I was wrong, of course… as I always am about these kind of things… but learning from your mistakes is for DORKS.

First off, it came out the same color as the bruise you get after taking a softball to the thigh:

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I’ve put a lot of unpleasant-looking liquids in my mouth (which probably explains why MY early-20’s remain kind of a messy swirl of colors and lights), but this has got to be a Top Ten finalist. Anyway, the Kinky Mix tasted like total sensory overload. Imagine watching a Japanese anime on Adderall that you washed down with a tumbler of 5hr Energy Shots. That’s as close as I can get to pinning down the flavor.

Mostly, it just tasted like bad choices.

Taste Test – W/ Soda Water

I was too strung-out on the Kinky Mix to remember that I was supposed to be photographing everything, so you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. Imagine slightly less pink and slightly less blue liquids in larger glasses with some ice. You’ve got the idea.

These were a little better. Not so much a head-on collision of flavor; more like minor fender-benders. The fizziness helped cut through the sugar, and the neutral mixer made them not taste like you’re drinking cotton candy barf. They did, however, taste pretty watered down (SHOCKING)… kind of like how Vitamin Water ALMOST tastes like something fruity, but not quite.

Pretty uninspiring, frankly.

Taste Test – W/ Clique Vodka

Clique Vodka is thing I bought for a future installment of Girl Drink Drunk, mainly because it looks like this:

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I feel like if you replaced the word “vodka” with the word “eyeliner,” you could use the exact same packaging for make-up. Smaller bottle, of course. Anyway, I bought it because it looked SO CHICK-LIKE, but then I tried it and… well, it just tastes like vodka. Not very exciting.

However… seeing as how one of the (many) suggested uses for the Kinky brand is the aforementioned “Kinky-tini,” which is a word (?) that makes may teeth itch when I say it out loud… I figured we could just fold the Clique vodka into the mix here.

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The Clique vodka… or ANY vodka, I’m sure… is the code-breaker. THIS is how the Kinky line of beverages is meant to be consumed. The vodka mellows out the harsh acidity of the Kinky beverages; it makes them smoother, and more drinkable. Despite looking like a set dresser’s idea of a “futuristic cocktail” from the kind of cheap-o, sci-fi schlock you used to see on USA’s Up All Night, the Kinky-tinis (ugh, I’m dizzy now) aren’t total garbage. The pink one, anyway. The blue one still tastes like grape Bubblelicious, but without that swallowing-lit-matches reflux taste. Honestly, the Blue Kinky-tini (ouch, my pancreas!) tastes like what a 10 year old would drink after a hard day of playing Freeze Tag and kicking ass on the monkey bars. The pink [brand name martini]… sorry, can’t say it again, I’m starting to go numb below the waist… with the inclusion of the vodka, just tastes kind of mildly fruity and, well, girly. A good starting point, adult beverage-wise, if that’s the kind of life you want to lead.

And if you DO want to lead that kind of life… that VERY SPECIFIC kind of mid-20’s lady life… I guess you could do a lot worse than the Kinky line of products. They’re better than, say, Smirnoff Ices, because at least they’ve got a little punch to them, and they’re not as of yet directly linked to the assorted frat parties and bro-downs that happen at that stage of the game. But… and this is just a little free advice, from someone who’s already walked down that weird, scary road… don’t let the branding of products define who you are. Don’t aspire to be a lady with liquor bottles in her hair, or an anthropomorphic armpit (or whatever those images represent in the real world). Your early-20’s are ridiculous enough on their own.

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Let’s Talk About The Movie Poster for Sex Tape

I generally try to be a positive person about stuff… there’s a lot of hate on the internet, and hate is icky in the very same, specific way that those large wads of hair you pull from the shower drain are icky… but sometimes, stuff floats by my eyeballs that I kind of can’t let slide. Stuff like this:

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That is the movie poster for an upcoming movie called Sex Tape. It is something that someone worked very hard on, and I’m sure that person is, at the core, very decent, and donates to charities, and treats his or her mother kindly. However, it… the movie poster for Sex Tape… just SUCKS. It sucks out loud. It sucks so badly, it might set off your smoke alarm. It is to sucking what USMNT goalie Tim Howard is to blocking Belgian shots on goal; phenomenally talented but still technically a loser.

So let’s dig deep, here…

Clearly the worst thing about the movie poster for Sex Tape is the “text quotes,” but I can’t talk about them yet. Like, I’m not in a place, emotionally, where I can handle discussing why they are in front of our faces, and the evil that is rotting the souls of the men…  women… probably men… who put them there. I’ll cover it in a minute, but I need to shotgun another couple of beers first.

So let’s talk about what this movie poster is selling us: Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, and how it is funny that they are fucking. Because it is SO FUNNY. Don’t you see the wacky props? There’s some roller skates, and also a sombrero. The implication is that they were wearing those when they were fucking! And… AND… they broke the bed! WITH THEIR FUCKING! In the sex tape! THE TITULAR SEX TAPE. [hits you over the head with several million dollars worth of promotional material, including billboards, again and again until you are a broken mass bleeding on the floor]

Look… no matter how hard Hollywood tries… sex tapes aren’t funny. At most, they’re kind of awkward-giggly, and even then it’s just because you feel SO BAD for the people that are doing these things to each other on your computer screen. It is a weird paradox that watching real, actual people have real, actual sex is terribly unsexy. They’re into it, so… by all logic… YOU should be into watching them. But it doesn’t work out that way. It’s a lot of bad angles, and disconnected moaning, and unflattering expressions passing across faces that are not very expressive. DO IT LIKE THE PORN STARS DO IT, you scream at your computer. Fake sexy is real sexy because it’s acting. Actual sex, when you’re not the one doing the sexing (key difference), is just uncomfortable and often gross. And here’s where the problem lies with making a Hollywood movie about a sex tape… it’s not going to be like what I just described. AT ALL. It’s going to be, at least minimally, artfully shot. It’s going to be flattering to its stars. It’s not going to be any semblance of real. It’s going to be fake sexy… ACTOR SEXY… which is essentially what porn stars do… which is not a sex tape. So why the hell are we here? Flawed premise, Sex Tape… flawed premise.

Not helping matters is that we’re being asked to accept the idea that Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel are a couple. Okay… so here is where I admit that I have what might be considered a teeny, tiny bias against Cameron Diaz. I do not care for her. At all. Sure, she had a little something going for her back in the days of The Mask, but… last decade or so… she’s morphed into that next stage of Famous Ladyhood where they just look like they smoke a lot and are mean to waiters. Rich and Mid-40’s go together shockingly poorly for ladies; it’s not fair at all, and I hate pointing it out because I don’t like painting with such large strokes, but… you know, all the evidence. Rich ladies in their mid-40’s have to work really hard to overcome that stereotype (which is a THING, right… I didn’t like just make this up?), and some of them do, OF COURSE, but a lot of them just lean into it like it’s the sea-salted breeze coming over the railing of a private yacht in St. Barts. Or whatever horseshit rich ladies like leaning into. I don’t know. Not my world.

So what they’re asking us to buy is this: A lady like that… a sender-back of multiple entrees and a devotee of Virginia Slims… is married to, and actively fucking, a guy who is basically a man-sized Muppet, so much so that he has LITERALLY BEEN TURNED INTO A MUPPET? That is a large, unwieldy pill to shove down our throats.

Now… I will concede that I haven’t seen the movie yet. Obviously. Maybe their chemistry is balls to the wall. Stranger things have happened. Look no further than this summer’s A Million Ways to Die in the West… a so-so movie that featured bizarrely excellent emotional and comedic chemistry from, of all people, Seth MacFarlane and Charlize Theron (I know… I watched the movie with my own baby blues, and I still don’t understand how they pulled it off).

But I feel like I’m hitting the mark here. Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel don’t go together, like a tuxedo and flip-flops.

That dearth of chemistry is mirrored in the way they’re presented on the actual poster itself. SO FAKE. Heads photoshopped on casting-call bodies… necks weirdly twisted and strained… faces exaggerated, yet dead behind the eyes. The only thing this image truly represents is the exact feeling two cousins have when they are forced to hug each other at a family reunion. It’s so poorly crafted, it bleeds the color out of the rest of the poster; we’re basically looking at grey flannel after we really take in what Diaz and Segel have been digitally manipulated into doing.

Which brings us to the “text quotes.” [slams down beer can; takes a long pull from a bottle of rotgut bourbon, makes peace with his God]

Who…?

I mean, how… right…?

Like… I GET IT… texting is… it’s 2014, for fucks sake… EVERYONE does… texts…

Oh god, I can’t even talk about them as a whole entity. They’re just so… shit-mouthed… so FALSE…

Okay, new tactic… one by one…

“This is def going viral!”

THAT IS NOT HOW PEOPLE TALK. That is how guys in the advertising business think people… the youth of today… talk. All of this is them, speaking at us like they ARE us. “They shorten their words! Everything is going viral all the time now! Reflect that in this new account, or you’re out on your keister! Bring me another in an endless parade of highballs and pastrami sandwiches!”

“What did your boss think of it?! [Smiley Face]”

“Mackenzie… are kids still doing the smiley face thing? What? Emoticoins, sure whatever? Is that still a thing? It’s NOT? What do YOU know, Mackenzie? I’ve been at Schweiber/Mellon Advertising since 1981! I know what’s hip! Now here… peck daddy on the cheek, and you can take out the Benz. Be home by midnight! Don’t do any weed, young lady!”

“Can’t wait for the sequel!”

“See, what we’re doing here is using synergy to integrate the idea of sequel right into the brand’s advertising message. These are the kind of ideas that have kept me in my position here at Schweiber/Mellon for 30 years. I’m an innovative thinker, even when we’re doing… what’s this about…? A SEX TAPE? Well, whatever kids like doing with tape during sex… as long as a movie about it makes us that moolah, am I right, gentlemen? Who want’s a cigar???”

“Was that yoga??!!”

“I don’t know what it means either, but the girls down in the bullpen thought it was a scream. My little girl came up with it! She keeps me young… through Mackenzie, I’m always in tune with the kids and what they want to see in the ads. I love that kid; should probably tell her that one of these days.”

“Best. Spam. Ever.”

“What the fuck does lunch meat have to do with… DAMN IT, MACKENZIE… have you been messing with daddy’s work stuff again??? One good idea about yogurt doesn’t make you an ad exec, missy! I HAVE THE PARKING SPOT AT SCHWEIBER/MELLON, NOT YOU.”

Oh god… what if I can’t get Advertising Executive Guy out of my head. I feel like he’s just squatting on my brain now. Waiting… synergizing… getting wet pastrami all over my occipital lobe…

Anyway, the movie poster for Sex Tape is an insulting rats nest of bad ideas, clueless actions, and mediocre design skills, is all I’m saying. People in Hollywood should try to not make movie posters like that, because it’s way too easy for wise-asses with websites to goof on them on the internet. Also… Sex Tape looks like garbage! Let’s all not go see it! SPHERE OF INFLUENCE!!!