There’s this ad for Dannon’s Activia that’s in heavy rotation on the Game Show Network. (That’s right, I have no life.) I feel queasy every time it comes on, yet I cannot turn away. At first, it seems like your typical commercial setup, with a couple of women roommates discussing the health benefits of the product, which is apparently a lowfat yogurt that contains “Bifidus Regularis,” a “probiotic culture that can help regulate your digestive system.” Now, “Bifidus Regularis” itself sounds fishy, but that’s a bit off point. It’s the numbing, robotic stylization and fusion of messenger and message that sets my teeth grinding. These two women (apparently students, as one mentions “exams”) deliver their lines like digestively unregulated Stepford wives. The dialog seems out of sync and disconnected. One of the women complains she’s “made” to eat pizza and Chinese food. Who makes her? What exams? The women smile at inappropriate times, sharing a secret only they understand. Their tacky, Three’s Company-style bungalow, brightly lit but blurry around the edges, enhances the sinister mood. At the spot’s close, there’s just one roommate, happily regulated, all dressed up to go out. It’s as if they’ve morphed into a single person, making Activia consumption the ultimate act of conformity. Either Activia (which Dannon admits is “alive”) has taken over their minds and will one day regulate the entire world (like The Stuff from the ’80s cult movie), or else I’ve given this far too much thought and really should stop watching GSN and get a life.
—Posted by David Gianatasio