Jimmy Dean “Spaced Out”

The latest heliocentric commercial for Jimmy Dean makes me feel a bit guilty. Its oddball humor (via TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif.) gives 30 seconds of genuine pleasure. But since I feel no more likely to buy the product after seeing the spot than before seeing it, there’s also the sensation of being a freeloader: taking the entertainment Jimmy Dean provides, but without meaning to give Jimmy anything in return. The spot’s vignette is hilarious as the “sun” copes with a solar system beset by mid-morning slump — Mars sinking to the floor, another planet collapsing onto a table, etc. After confessing that they didn’t have their Jimmy Dean breakfast this morning, the planets dig into some Jimmy Dean Croissant Sandwiches (filled with sausage, egg and cheese), and cosmic order is restored. It’s a treat to watch. Trouble is, we’re so habituated to regarding sausage as a guilty pleasure that it’s hard to turn around and see it as something invigorating. This campaign may be one of those cases where viewers wonder whether the commercials are better than the products. Or maybe it’s just a sense that there isn’t anything intrinsically Jimmy Dean-ish about the spots, which could as easily (or, indeed, more easily) be built around a number of other breakfast foods. –Mark Dolliver