Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Why Does Every Brand Have To Be A Goddamn Comedian?

Illustration by Sam Woolley/GMG
Illustration by Sam Woolley/GMG
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag.

Your letters:


Why do basic instructions have to be funny and/or witty these days? My Cup O’ Noodles paper lid explained the 3 steps to make shitty ramen this way. See picture. Same with ATM’s making you press a button that says “No Thanks” instead of “No” or “Exit”. I’m an old crotchety 39-year-old but Jesus, it’s annoying. Is this a sad attempt to appeal to millennials?

Illustration for article titled Why Does Every Brand Have To Be A Goddamn Comedian?

To a degree, yeah. But, as a former ad copywriter, I can tell you that I pushed to make EVERYTHING jokey and annoying if I had the chance to. You want to put your own personal stamp on an otherwise dull assignment, and that’s how a basic noodle lid ends up reading like an Evening At The Improv. If you just keep it straightforward, you can’t submit it for ad awards (which are very much the driving ambition of virtually every ad agency, no matter how dumb those awards may be), or put it in a portfolio to show potential new employers. So you have me and other AD WIZARDS to blame for this.

Also, humor is an easy shortcut for brands to appear human. It signals to the customer that there’s a real human being behind the copy who GETS you. Companies pour millions and millions of dollars into studies and focus group research on the habits and interactions of nearly every American so that they can essentially replicate that emotional pull on a grander scale. And that’s how you end up with brands being coy on Twitter, and Method kitchen cleaner labels that read like a blog posts, and the ENDLESS Virgin America safety video where the lady looks into the camera and says, “For those of you who still don’t know how to operate a seat belt… REALLY?” That safety video lasts 124 minutes when it could last 30 seconds.

(Being funny is also cheap, by the way. Much easier for Tide to do a mock tutorial with Gronk telling kids not to eat Tide pods instead of, you know, redesigning their product so it doesn’t look like a fucking breath mint.)

All of this gets exhausting after a while. If you’ve been on the line with an automated operator who goes, “Sorry, I didn’t quite get that!” you know how enraging it can be when companies do their best to feign being human, because so many of these stabs at humor and/or compassion land squarely in the uncanny valley, where everything seems human but is off by a degree or so, which is enough to make it unsettling. Also, if every NFL team is catty on Twitter, then no one is catty, you know?

But it’s too late to go back. Once one company sees another company go viral because they gave a dude a $50 gift card because his tweet about Ball Park hot dogs got 5,000 retweets, they all want in on the viral economy. I know that we tend to be strident here about brands, but most people don’t really give a shit. They’re not gonna pooh-pooh a funny ad just because it’s an ad. We are well past the point of people welcoming brands into their lives, and I’m no different. One time Dairy Queen tweeted at me and I was like OMG! THOSE ARE THE PEOPLE FROM THE BLIZZARD ADS! And guess who helped write the jokey copy for the pop-up asking you to turn off your ad blocker on this very site? That was me. Don’t turn that shit back on. We need the money to replace Marchman.


I got an alert a while back from my phone, and the alert said, verbatim, “You have a new memory.” Past brands being funny, it’s unsettling to know that I’ve let a brand so deep into my psyche that it can be like, “Hey, here’s a memory,” and I can be like, “Oh, that’s nice.” It’s not nice. It’s creepy, and I wish my phone would have at least made a joke about it beforehand.


Do you see Jeff Fisher getting another head-coaching gig and if so, where? I say “yes” and “the Bengals” once Lewis’ new extension expires in two-years. It’s a great fit: cheap owner gets a new coach who will stick around forever and continue a reliably mediocre team.


I don’t think Jeff Fisher will be the head coach of an NFL team ever again. Like, you can already kinda tell it’s over for him because his agent will leak out reports like “Jeff Fisher WILL consider Giants job if offer is right!” As much as the NFL loves its retreads, there are times when it really is over for a failed NFL head coach like Fisher, Rex Ryan, Herm Edwards, etc. Herm had to wait a decade for another head coaching job and A) It was a college job, B) He only got the job because his former agent is the AD, and C) It’s already an embarrassment. No pro team was ever gonna hire him again to stand in front of a meeting and be like MEN WE HAVE TO PLAY FOR 60 MINUTES OUT THERE.

I know Josh McDaniels and Pat Shurmur are about to get jobs again, but teams usually hire former head coaches when they feel like they didn’t have that first job long enough to realize their head coaching potential. There is no such doubt with Fisher, who coached for a million years and went 7-9 for 999,999 of them. If word got out that a team was even CONSIDERING Fisher for the job, there’d be a fan revolt so nasty it would make the Schiano shit at Tennessee look like kindergarten. One of the most amusing subplots to the NFL season was watching former teams and players under Jeff Fisher flourish because they were no longer working for Jeff Fisher. It’s over for him. He should fulfill his destiny and run a NASCAR pit crew already. I’d absolutely cheer for him if he did that.



The team you cheer for only gets one championship win in your lifetime. What age do you want that to come? While you’re young and the championship is won by your heroes, etc. In your 20s so you can party and really enjoy it? When you’re a dad and can share it with your kids? Or when you’re 65 or 70 and you’ve suffered through enough sports heartache to really enjoy it?


You don’t wanna win it when you’re a kid. I live in the D.C. area and I can tell you firsthand that grownups around here are not exactly thrilled to know that they are decades removed from their team’s best days. You’ll even hear DALLAS fans bitch about this. MEW MEW MEW I WAS ONLY FIVE WHEN THE TRIPLETS WON EVERYTHING AND FUCKED EVERYONE MEW MEW MEW. Can it, redneck! I don’t give a shit.

As for sharing the moment with your kids, I had a very good night Sunday night, but there is no way in hell I’m watching the NFC title game with my children. None. Kids are wonderful but they are also a terrible distraction. I want my mind on the GAME. My eight-year-old spent the entire second half of the Saints/Vikings game playing with a remote control car in the basement that sounded like someone eating spaghetti off a chalkboard. It was not soothing. I’m getting away from these people and going to a goddamn bar. Children are at their loudest when you need them to be at their quietest.


I think your 20s would probably be a good time to see your team win it all. That’s when you are at maximum PARTY STAMINA and can stay out till 5 a.m. after a title and suffer little short-term damage as a consequence. I can’t even imagine how many sloppy hookups came out of the Cubs’ World Series victory. Just scores of horny 23-year-olds on the North Side crying out WE’RE ALL GONNA GET LAID in unison.



What’s the over/under for how many pairs of pants were shat in after the incoming ballistic missile alert that Hawaiians received? My money is on at least 100 pairs of underpants that needed to be changed.


I’d take the under. I have no evidence to back this up, but I think literally shitting your pants in fear is probably an overstated threat. There’s too much tension and adrenaline to shit. You’ve got sheltering in place to do. Shitting is a release. You don’t shit before the bomb hits. You shit AFTER it hits. Does that make sense? Shitting comes when you stop tensing up and your body goes into full shutdown mode as the nuclear fallout sets in. That’s when I would fill up my boxers with used eggs.

On a related note, I can’t live like this much longer.


With the Winter Olympics coming up, what would the level of hysteria be if a gold medal-winning American athlete took a knee on the podium while the national anthem played?


I think it would be a small step up from when Lindsey Vonn very carefully denounced Trump. Like, all an athlete has to do is voice mild disapproval of Trump at this point for all the online sewer people to coalesce and be like DURRRRR I GUESS YOU DON’T SUPPORT OUR MEN IN BLEW DURRRRR GO BACK TO ICELAND!!! This has all become ritual now. So if Vonn or some other athlete takes a knee on the stand, it would be a “big deal” and get a shitload of coverage, but the cycle of takes would pretty much be the same as it has been for Colin Kaepernick, Michael Bennett, and the like. Feuding over the anthem is practically a tradition at this point. I could see this news cycle playing out the exact same way 30 years from now, provided we aren’t all dead by then.


Because of a poor installation job and a chain that likes to hang, my garage door sounds like the lead guitar riff in Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” every time it opens. My wife thinks I am an idiot, but it really gets me pumped up to run inane errands.


That is awesome. I can actually hear your door clunking in cadence to that in my head. THUNK THUNK THUNK-THUNK-THUNK, THUNK THUNK-THUNK-THUNK. You better believe that, if my garage door did that (if I had a garage, which I do not), I would bust out a tasty air guitar riff before hopping into my Sienna and driving to the CVS for pantyliners. THERE MUST BE SOME KINDA WAY OUTTA HERE…


Since I can remember, I have been using body lotion for post face shaving. It works perfectly fine and makes my mornings slightly more efficient. Is BIG AFTERSHAVE a scam?


I thought aftershave died sometime in the 1980s with those Jack Palance Skin Bracer ads (they still hold up!). That was back when dousing your face in pure rubbing alcohol was the manly thing to do. Since then, aftershave has been rebranded by artisanal grooming folk as post-shave “tonics” and/or “skin treatments” laced with coconut oil and fresh baby extract. I actually used one such oil for this assignment and liked it, but immediately stopped using it after I found out the retail price was north of $100. That shit could give me Tom Hardy’s face and I’d still blanche at the price tag.

If the body lotion you use for your face works, I say keep at it. I think I used body lotion on my face once and my wife reacted in abject horror, breaking open a glass cabinet and dousing me in emergency face cream because she believes that moisturizer miscegenation is a federal crime. But everyone has their own specific skin tone and complexion, and it’s actually hard to find a product that won’t irritate you or make you smell like you just took a shower in pure menthol. Use whatever makes you happy. Or, if you’re like me, use nothing at all because you are lazy and forgetful. I’m gonna really regret not treating my face better when I turn 45 and end up looking like Al Davis.




The bathroom is a safe space to fart even in the presence of a significant other right? Like if I’m brushing my teeth and my girlfriend walks in to get a tissue or something, in my opinion I shouldn’t have to hold it in.


Of course not. It’s a bathroom. I have said this before, but the whole POINT of being in a relationship is to fart with impunity. What are you gonna do, spend your whole marriage worried that your spouse is gonna leave you if you fart? Only freaks think that way. This isn’t Victorian England. You’re allowed to be human around the people you love. I say let it rip. I am confident and secure enough to pull DAILY dutch oven gags around my wife, and she loves it! Right, honey?


Hey, where’d she go?


Tacos are an undeniably good family dinner. But is there a worse day-after meal to try to reconstruct for your work lunch? Either you have to take eight containers in for the cheese, onion, bits of tomato, shredded lettuce, shells and meat or you create a slurry of meat, tomatoes and cheese and appear to be eating fancy dog food.


I think your folly was in trying to reconstruct a taco at work to begin with. That was always gonna be an uphill battle. Just make a taco salad instead. Make a bed of lettuce, then dump all the other shit on top, then break up the shells and put those on top too. PRESTO. You’ve got yourself a one-container work meal. I guess you could microwave the meat separately if you really feel like it, but I’m not above eating cold taco meat for the sake of expediency and/or gross impatience. If I were working in an office and saw some poor bastard try to recreate Taco Night step for step at his desk, I wouldn’t know whether to laugh at him or kill him.

Or make a burrito. There’s a reason that burritos have become the official lunch of the office drone. They’re both portable AND they can kill you. It’s a win-win. The ideal work lunch is always something that comes in a bowl, is sandwiched between bread slices, or is encased in a bread-like product. It’s not the time to have rack of lamb, you know? Save dinners for dinner. You’re not gonna fully enjoy those homemade tacos if you’re eating them on top of a competitive analysis report.



I just got back from my brother’s wedding weekend in North Carolina. We all got down there Friday (family, friends & wedding party) and hung out all weekend. During the wedding ceremony, I was going to make the best man speech, and graciously allowed the maid of honor to go first. Ladies first and all that. She accepted, etc. Well, lo and behold, instead of a normal speech she did a performance of HAMILTON, rapping her speech with the entire bridal party (and a hype man) helping her out. I had to follow that! Everyone said I handled it really well, but should the maid of honor: A. Told me she was going to do some insane elaborate performance sometime between Friday and Sunday or B. At least told me to go first because she was going to do this Hamilton thing?


Damn. DAMN. Damn, she really hung you out to dry. I guess I could see her not telling you because she didn’t want to appear arrogant. “Hey buddy, let me go last because my toast is gonna be the absolute shit.” But yeah, it seems like she could have given you a heads up, or even offered to rope you in on the action.

Overall though, I think you handled it the gentlemanly way. The best thing a best man can do at a wedding is NOT make an ass of himself or the groom, and you performed your duties admirably. You even did it without using a Chris Brown song playing in the background. You may have been upstaged in the process, but that’s fine. Take satisfaction in the fact that you didn’t go bitching about it, and quietly formulate a contrarian take wherein YOUR toast was actually superior and underrated because you didn’t turn the rehearsal dinner into some Holderness family jamboree. ARE THOSE MARRIAGE JAMMIES?!!!



Do you think they purposefully made the Mars rover so dang adorable? I’m stuck watching Mission to Mars, and this rover is cute as hell. Am I being weird, or did NASA plan this?


I’m sure their priority was making the craft functional. But yes, ever since Steve Jobs, the engineering community has been saddled with the added burden of making EVERYTHING beautiful. A refrigerator can no longer just be a fucking refrigerator, you know? It’s gotta be a statement piece. Fascist tech bros sit in design meetings and demand every phone have Italian frescoes painted on the INSIDE of the casing. Everything has to look sleek and desirable now, and I’m sure NASA is proud of the fact that the Rover does, indeed, look adorable. Perhaps they didn’t intend it that way, but they also weren’t gonna send a rover to Mars that looked like a balled-up cocktail napkin. They even have the Rover send out cute tweets. Again, everyone’s gotta be a jokester now.


I almost always have my phone charged. My wife almost never charges her phone. Invariably we are out somewhere, and she will ask to borrow my phone because hers is dead. I am always reluctant to do it, because (a) now she’s using my battery, and she should’ve planned ahead; (b) she sometimes forgets to give it back, which means I am now out my phone; and (c) she somehow seems to screw up my settings, so that when I do get it back apps have been removed or deleted or a website I had opened is now closed. But when I hesitate to hand over my fully-charged phone because of the above reasons, she gets mad because she thinks I’m hiding something (I’m not. I’m a middle-aged, balding, slightly pudgy boring-ass mini-van driving dad). What should I do?


I, too, do not like handing my phone over to people. The second they take command of it, my inner micromanager kicks in. What if they send out a tweet from my account? What if they download malware onto my baby? What if there’s a picture of my dick in there? I didn’t take a picture of my dick, did I? GERMS!!!! THEY HAVE GERMS!!!! I am screaming on the inside when you borrow my phone, even if you happen to be someone I love. It’s like when I want to show someone a video on my phone and they go to grab it. Dude, I didn’t say you could TAKE the phone. STARE AT MY HAND TO ENJOY THE VIDEO GOODNESS.

I think you should have a sit-down with your wife and tell her that she needs to charge her phone more often. And if she blanches, then just charge it FOR her overnight. And then fart a lot. That’ll learn her. There have to be natural consequences for such electronic negligence.


By the way, I am the de facto I.T. guy in this house, which is a mixed blessing because while I get to go into Full Dad Mode and make every network outage a teachable moment (“Now as you can see, the router does NOT have a signal... are you taking notes because this is important”), it also means that everyone comes to ME if the wifi goes out, or if they find themselves utterly stumped by a failed Bluetooth connection. Must I do everything for you people? You should see these kids when there’s a tech problem. There are REAL tears. It’s the worst.


In the NBA, if a player takes a shot that is blocked, the player is not credited with a missed shot attempt. In the NFL, if a kicker’s kick is blocked, the kicker is credited with a missed attempt. Shouldn’t these stat policies be reversed, since a basketball player is more at fault for taking a blockable shot while a kicker has essentially no ability to alter a kick in danger of being blocked at the last moment?


Hell yes. In fact, Shots Blocked should be its own stat, like Blown Saves, just to emphasize the shame and guilt that ought to come from having your shit blocked into the concourse. Did you really think you were gonna get that shot over Kevin Durant? We’re gonna have to note that on your permanent record, young man. There should be more stats that single out players and make them feel bad. That would be healthy.

Email of the week!


About 10 years ago, I was working as a bicycle mechanic in a fairly industrial area. But the area was slowly improving. I guess you could call it gentrifying, but they only built strip malls with franchises in the area. One day at work we noticed they cleared the site across from us. And we watched them break ground on another strip mall. A few weeks later we saw the sign appear announcing all the coming soon stores: Dunkin Donuts, Cold Stone Creamery, Pizza Hut/Wing Street and Arby’s. ARBY’S! My favorite place to eat in all of the world. I absolutely love Arby’s. My mom used to take me every Saturday afternoon. My mom’s house is still filled with Arby’s collectible glasses. Nothing gets better than an Arby’s roast beef sandwich with horsey sauce. ARBY’S!!!!

So every day for 6 months I watch them build the strip mall across the street. The whole time dreaming of the Arby’s that is being built less than 100 yards from my work. It’s going to be Arby’s for lunch. And Arby’s for dinner! Whenever I want! ARBY’S! Everybody at work knows how excited I am for the Arby’s. My girlfriend is completely fed up with hearing about the progress of the Arby’s. But she knows how excited I am. I come into work one morning and there is a big stack of Arby’s coupons in my locker. My coworker informs me they dropped them off the night before. Arby’s is opening in two weeks. Two weeks! ARBY’S!!!!!

Finally, the big day arrives on a Friday! I go with my coworkers right at noon as they open, We are the first customers ever! My coworkers let me go first. I’m the first customer ever! I tell the story above to the cashier who just stares at me. I use my 5 Roast Beef sandwiches for $5 coupon. And I get an extra large curly fries with an extra large Dr Pepper. The guys are cheering me on as I make each sandwich disappear. Greatest lunch I have ever had.

4 hours later, I am finishing my shift at work while denying what I am feeling. I have a strange feeling like there is a balloon partially filled with liquid in my stomach. Every now and then I let out a massive burp that smells like diarrhea. As I am driving home from work, I fart and immediately begin the debate: was that a shart, or did I actually just poop my pants? The smell overwhelms me. I then vomit all over the steering wheel, myself, the driver’s seat and the passenger seat. As I am vomiting all over the car, I can feel the blast of diarrhea shooting out the back door. Possibly the only moment of my life in which I was acknowledging that I was shitting my pants, but I was not that concerned about it.

At the time, I lived in a fairly densely populated area that is fairly professional. So I was stunned to find myself with parking spot just 20 feet from my house. So it is not a super long walk from my car to my house past all the lawyers and business people heading home on a Friday at 5:30. I get into the front door and there is my girlfriend with a giant smile on her face as she asks me, “HOW WAS ARBY’S?!?” As she slowly notices I am covered in vomit and poop.

God bless her soul as she spent the next day cleaning out the car while I spent the weekend on the couch crying.

P.S. I never told the guys at work what had happened. So I would still go back to that same Arby’s maybe once a week. And ended up faking a diet for a while just to avoid going.



Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.