ad analysis: the 3 phases of pomplamoose fatigue syndrome.

If you have a TV, you’ve seen them. Holiday-themed ads for Hyundai featuring Pomplamoose, a musical duo who first gained buzz on YouTube before being thrust into this ubiquitous campaign. And if you’re like a lot of people, exposure took you into one of the three phases of Pomplamoose Fatigue Syndrome.

Phase 1: Intrigue. At first, I thought they were quirky and almost charming. A couple of indie musicians seeming to have fun with a vaguely catchy sound. Chris Martin captured this general spirit with this recent tweet:

But after a few viewings, many people move into …

Phase 2: Dislike. We get irked by the guy trying too hard to act silly, the waifish vocals, the basic disconnect between the concept and what it’s trying to sell. Andrew Careaga encapsulated this phase with measured criticism:

Phase 3: Full-on Pomplamoose Fatigue Syndrome. The ads can go from dislikable to detestable to downright maddening. Amy Mengel, ever the trendsetter, may have been among the first to document Pomplamoose Fatigue Syndrome way back on Dec. 5:

Do a search for “Pomplamoose” on Twitter (but send the kids out of the room first) or check the blogosphere and you’ll find similar sentiment everywhere. But why? Here are a few possible theories.

Familiarity breeds contempt. Overexposure begets outrage. When you can’t watch any given program without seeing some guy cavorting across your screen trying to appear goofy while an odd-sounding holiday tune plays, you’re not likely to welcome the repetition. Many acts, through no fault of their own, encounter backlash with overexposure (cf. Blowfish, Hootie and the), but it can be worse when …

Quirky gets old quickly. OK, we get it. The guy in the band is supposed to be wacky. But he’s trying too hard. And the singer’s voice is not everyone’s cup of tea — it’s a bit off-key, and gauzy, and twisting a holiday classic — thus not helping the situation. Let’s face it, if you have really quirky friends, you can only stand them for so long. And they’re not constantly on your TV trying to sell you a car.

The “sellout” theorem. We expect rampant commercialism from mainstream artists ranging from Lady Gaga to Moby to Bon Jovi, sure, but if a band that has worked on establishing indie cred suddenly appears in ads, there’s an element of betrayal — not only to fans of that band, but the genre itself and the basic indie ethos. Reading this news release on the campaign made it all seem even cheaper.

So what do you think? Have you experienced Pomplamoose Fatigue Syndrome yet?



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4 responses to “ad analysis: the 3 phases of pomplamoose fatigue syndrome.

  1. I must have taken the vaccine.. I still dig their stuff on YouTube…maybe I don’t watch enough television?

  2. Tim Nekritz

    Not watching TV enough is never really a bad thing.

  3. Fashioniser

    I hated it the first time I saw the ad. Now I completely dig the female lead for Pamplemoose.

    A million times more enjoyable than that insipid “HOLIDAY, IT’S THE HOLIDAY … THE BEST ONE OF THE YEAR” Vampire Weekend Toyota ad.

  4. Fashioniser

    BTW, “sellout theorem” sounds quaint and it takes me back to my halcyon mid-90s youth.

    However, how many of these “indie” bands would bite the hand off whoever offers them a national ad gig like this? When Death Cab For Cutie can help market a crap tweenage movie and Pearl Jam can rock out with the Target logo unironically behind them, then we know that this DIY ethos exists only in theory and not in practice.

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