Okay, so we’ve already made our moral objections to Gruen painfully clear. Someone has to: a few days ago we heard an ABC radio host describe Gruen as a show that “hates advertising”. Yeah, it hates advertising so much all it does is show ads. This is a show where a panelist can say with a straight face “future advertising is not false advertising… it’s a clever use of our own imagination” and not get stabbed on live TV. It’s a disgrace.
Something else it also is, is boring. Really, really boring. It’s a 35 minute show where for at least 20 minutes a bunch of tosspots sat around a desk discussing ways to advertise the NBN. It’s a show so boring that when a pathetically poor joke about a NBN commercial slogan is made – something along the lines of “Hey, the real slogan should be ‘Can’t someone else do it?'” – the audience cheers so loudly the show comes to a halt. Maybe they thought Wil Anderson was announcing his resignation.
Look, we all know the formula here. Show a commercial, Anderson makes a dad joke – seriously, lines like “Love the NBN logo, it’s like their coverage – spotty!” are the kind of shit jokes other characters roll their eyes at in shit sitcoms – the panelists throw around buzzwords like “branding problem” and “comprehension issue” to make the audience feel like insiders, and eventually things stagger to the sole other segment this show has, where advertising firms get to advertise themselves by working to some lame comedy brief. We often crap on about how Gruen is one long ad for advertising, but “The Pitch” is a literal ad for the agencies involved; if anyone still gave a fuck about the ABC charter this would get them taken off the air.
Occasionally the show seems dimly aware that they’re promoting one of the nastier and more evil industries in our society. A panelist discussing sales strategies will say something like “In advertising we call it aspiration, but it’s envy”, thus risking the audience’s realisation that yes, this is a show that celebrates an industry based around exploiting a real life Deadly Sin; while discussing an commercial sneering at hipsters Anderson will say “How do you decide, as an industry, on a hate group” and there’ll be just the slightest pause before everyone goes on about how mocking people is all in good fun and they’re really in on the gag and it’s basically celebrating their targets anyway. Oh ho ho ho. We can’t wait until they explain some of the dodgier “No” campaign ads for the gay marriage referendum as “basically celebrating their targets”.
But yeah, mostly it’s just boring. What kind of entertainment are we meant to extract from Wil Anderson saying “I checked when my area is getting the NBN and it’s not until 2019”? That sounds pretty good considering it’s got to go all the way across the Pacific Ocean to his place in LA. Which, we’ve got to assume, is where he’d live the whole year round if he didn’t have to come back here to record Gruen.
Even the one single line you’d expect us to enjoy – Russel Howcroft saying “Someone is finally putting some comedy on air” after a mildly amusing commercial for burgers – only reminded us of how smug and pointless this show really is. Of course he has no idea that comedy – actual decent comedy – was occupying his timeslot just a week earlier, because that comedy was on the ABC and the ABC doesn’t run commercials and commercials are the only thing on television he cares about. It’d be like us making some wry observation about sport: a total waste of everybody’s time.
And then Todd Sampson said with a straight face “It’s not hypocrisy, it’s advertising”. Like there’s any fucking difference.