My "20 Questions" columns, which poke fun at advertising, marketing and the media, have been a holiday favorite for many years, first at The New York Times and now here at MediaVillage.com. Here's a fresh batch of queries to ponder over your Thanksgiving weekend festivities.
* Can Outback Steakhouse get a refund for a commercial during a recent episode of This Is Us, promoting its "Steak & Unlimited Shrimp" special, because the spot ran immediately after a scene in which a dieting character is caught binge-eating?
* Isn't the point of a commercial for Prego, which shows how toddlers prefer the pasta sauce to its rival, Ragu, completely undermined by a phrase superimposed in tiny type onscreen, which reads "Taste test ages 6 and up"?
* Every time employees from We Are Unlimited say the name of the new Omnicom Group agency, which is dedicated to the McDonald's account, will they hear in reply a snappy rendition of the "We are Farmers, bum ba dum bum bum bum" jingle?
* Now that Excedrin has returned to advertising on television, how long will it be before we start to see spots for other vintage analgesics such as Anacin and Bufferin?
* Are the folks bringing out Muuna cottage cheese hearing from British expatriates that the brand's slogan -- "The new way to cottage" -- reminds them of "cottaging," a U.K. slang term for anonymous sex between men in a public lavatory?
* Did Simply Orange get a discount on its commercial during a recent episode of Designated Survivor because the brand's voice-over talent, Donald Sutherland, is the father of the series' star, Kiefer Sutherland?
* Is it a coincidence that the packaging for the Whole Blends line of haircare products from Garnier, which includes varieties such as Honey Treasures, resembles the packaging for Werther's Original candies?
* When the Publicis Groupe decided to merge its agencies SapientNitro and Razorfish, did anyone in charge realize the combined name, SapientRazorfish, evokes a creature from a horror movie, a sentient razorfish?
* Why did T-Mobile run its commercial featuring the Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper well into the baseball playoffs, long after his team had lost, making him look foolish every time he appeared in the spot asking, "What if I just hit a walk-off bomb?" because first he didn't and later he couldn't?
* Will upscale consumers who get confused between Black Goose, an upcoming private air travel service, and Grey Goose, the vodka, find themselves flying in a way they perhaps hadn't intended?
* How successful was a New York Post subscription offer carrying the headline "Get the Post delivered. No sweat," which was illustrated with a photo of a young woman on the subway, a pained expression on her face, wedged next to a man with a prominent underarm sweat mark staining his shirt?
* If you wanted to buy the former big-league pitcher Tommy John a gift, would it be Tommy John underwear, Tommie Copper compression apparel or a certificate for Tommy John surgery?
* Has a recent Trump Hotels ad, carrying the headline "Subtlety is not our strength -- indulgence is," taken on a whole new meaning since Election Day?
* Likewise with another recent Trump Hotels ad, carrying the headline "Expand your horizons by looking at new ones"?
* Was a magazine ad from the National Pork Board, urging consumers to "Make Monday Fun Day!" with dishes such as pork Milanese and pork sliders, a poke at the international Meatless Monday movement or just a coincidence?
* Has there been a more appropriate endorsement deal lately than the one by which Johnny Depp became the spokesman for the new Dior fragrance Sauvage?
* Was a scene in an episode of Empire, when Lucious Lyon tells Freda Gatz, "You know you broke my heart, Freda," winking at the classic moment in The Godfather Part II when Michael Corleone says: "I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart"?
* If AARP really means all those warnings it makes to members to be careful with misleading-looking mail pitches for money, why does it send solicitations for donations to the AARP Foundation in envelopes with the word "REMINDER" in big red letters as if they were follow-up bill payment notices?
* As much as I hate to keep picking on the mistakes in the 2016 Keep Calm and Quote Movies Daily Desktop Calendar, which recent mangling is worse: the page for July 30-31 that attributes the "I'm mad as hell" quote from Network to Napoleon Dynamite (misspelled as "Napolean," to boot), or the page for Sept. 28 that misquotes the famous line from All About Eve -- "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night" -- as "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride"?
* Will shoppers staggering into Thanksgiving weekend after an election so divisive that they'll be looking for Black and Blue Friday sales tell a columnist, "You ask a lot of questions for someone from Brooklyn"?
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