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One Smokin’ Commercial
By: David Soyka
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Now, this is funny. General Mills, a company that doesn’t exactly immediately bring to mind the phrase “cutting-edge,” has released a short video called the “Magic Brownie Adventure Movie.” It’s a take-off on the drug humor of the Cheech and Chong comedy duo and specifically their stoner flicks such as “Up in Smoke," which date back to the 1970s. The idea is that Cheech and Chong are trying to transport “magic brownies” (and here you’re supposed to assume marijuana-laced, a popular form of ingestion in lieu of smoking, or so I’m told) to a sort of Burning Man festival. It turns out, though, that the magical qualities are that the brownies are fiber-rich and low calorie.
Okay, this works on a number of levels, beginning with that it has humor; it pokes fun at an aging generation that, indeed, is less interested in getting high than avoiding high cholesterol and fat content, though I suppose it is kind of sad that icons of the counter culture are shilling for corporate paychecks. Then again, what else is new in a world where Bob Dylan provides soundtracks for Victoria’s Secret and Cadillac?
According to AdAge, the video was premiered on YouTube and then on the General Mills Facebook and micro-sites and so far has a little less than a 16% open rate, or about 83,000 viewers. 
Interestingly, the product itself doesn’t appear until late in a 2:34-length video (as it would have to, or else it would ruin the joke). I guess if you're already on a General Mills site, as opposed to just YouTube, it isn’t hard to figure out the joke. But that’s a fairly long time (at least in Internet time) to expect to hold someone’s attention before the pay-off. 
The question here is whether this will actually translate into increased sales, which, of course, is the whole point of advertising. Or whether, as if this were just a sort of Saturday Night Live skit (back in the late 1970s when SNL was actually funny and Cheech and Chong were still cutting edge), people are laughing at us, not with us.

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About the Author
David Soyka is freelance copywriter who has conceptualized and developed a range of strategic advertising, marketing, training, and technical communications for  advertising agencies and Fortune 1000 companies in print, web, and broadcast formats. A former newspaper reporter and English teacher, he is a published author of ficiton and non-fiction, and a DJ at WTJU-FM. Find him online here.

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