I caught this new spot from Booking.com during a “Portlandia” commercial break:
The ad is cleverly plotted and well acted (the expression on the face of the teenage girl as she schleps down the hotel corridor is pure bershon), and the multiple payoffs at the end are satisfying. What stands out, though, is the repeated appropriation of the company name as an almost-expletive:
It doesn’t get any booking better than this!
Look at the booking view!
This is exactly what you booking needed!
Bask in the booking glory!
As a general principle, associating your brand name with an obscenity is a bad idea. But as AdFreak says in its review of the commercial, “the fact that it's vaguely explicit makes it just self-deprecating enough to not be too abrasive.”
Here’s another thing about booking: it’s a Britishism that’s infiltrated American English only in the last 20 years or so. (Americans have traditionally preferred to reserve restaurant tables and make reservations for theater seats and vacation travel.) When Ben Yagoda wrote about book (tickets, table, room) in an October 2011 post on his Not One Off Britishisms (NOOBs) blog, he noted that the usage started surging in the US around 1993, “the sweet spot for NOOBs.”
Booking.com is owned by Priceline, an American company, but it’s based in Amsterdam; the ad agency that produced the spot is the Amsterdam office of Portland-based Wieden + Kennedy. That European perspective may have influenced the choice of the company name and the push to fully Americanize booking.
Speaking of euphemistic expletives and brand-name dropping, a play I saw last night at Berkeley Rep is gloriously full of both. Troublemaker, by Dan LeFranc, is a live-action adventure comic featuring a posse of 12-year-olds who speak an idiosyncratic lingo filled with invented profanity. The play’s subtitle—“The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright”—gives you a taste; two minor characters are listed in the credits as A-Hole #1 and A-Hole #2. Tween tough-gal Loretta Beretta (great name!) snarls some of the best lines: “I’ll rip off your breadstick and shove it up your Olive Garden.” “Shut your St. Francis and move your Assisi.” “You’re lucky I don’t break your banana, remove it from your republic, and shove it up your gap.” In his review for Theater Dogs, Chad Jones wrote that it’s “pretend swearing taken to such an outrageous level that it’s actually beautiful in its own poetic way.” The play ends its Berkeley run on Sunday; if it shows up in your city, go see it.
Ha! That works pretty well, especially because of the URL match. Reminds me of a funny commercial last year where a woman says to a family member, "Shut the front door!" I don't recall the product, so I guess it wasn't that effective. Have you ever done a posting on frickin', frikken, freaking, F'n, F'ing, fragging (which was the euphe-cuss used in the old "Lobo" comic books), - you know what I mean - with the spread of fracking we're due for an analysis of that one.
Lobo also used the colorful epithet "Bastitch", which I thought was a good one, as it's a two-fer.
Posted by: Mark Gunnion | January 31, 2013 at 11:07 AM
Mark: I'm guessing you don't watch "What Not to Wear." "Shut the front door!" is one of co-host Stacy London's favorite catchphrases.
Posted by: Nancy Friedman | January 31, 2013 at 11:18 AM
Also loved the language in Troublemaker! Booking.com commercial gets it right--there's always that moment of relief/terror when you turn the key (or insert the card). So much hinges on what's behind that door.
Posted by: Risa | January 31, 2013 at 01:48 PM