We're Not Exactly Comfortable Giving Out All These Stars Lately

And No Thanks to La-Z-Boy, We're Still Feeling Generous (Sigh)

By Published on .

Four stars last week. Three and a half the week before. Three before that, and three before that. The AdReview staff is well aware we've been handing out stars like fliers to an Eighth Avenue strip joint. This doesn't sit well, eroding as it does our hard-won reputation for curmudgeonliness.
Title: Dance
Marketer: La-Z-Boy
Agency: Rubin Postaer Associates, Santa Monica, Calif.
La-Z-Boy's infuriatingly wonderful series of spots remind customers that every stick of furniture inside its stores are really, really comfortable. | ALSO: Comment on this review in the 'Your Opinion' box below.
Please. Someone. Stop us before we're kind again.

The temptation is to go out looking for a big fat target, such as BBDO's ridiculous throwback of a celebrity campaign for the Gillette 30-blade razor. ("I'm Tiger Woods, the golfer, so I know shaving. Plus Procter & Gamble is giving me millions of dollars. So strap on your Tag Heurer, jump into your Buick and buy the razor brand that proves you're the pathetic sap the ad agency takes you for. Loser.")

It is, after all, a ubiquitous, big-budget campaign just begging to be put in its place. But then, sigh, we ran across something else, something infuriatingly wonderful, for an advertiser with a fraction of Gillette's spend. It's a campaign from Rubin Postaer Associates, Santa Monica, Calif., for La-Z-Boy furniture galleries and -- ugh -- three more stars.

The campaign consists of four spots: two pieces of perfection, one piece of adorable weirdness and (thankfully) one piece of crap. But the advertising's genius begins with the strategy. The goal is to remind customers that La-Z-Boy is a full-line furniture store (not just recliners), and every stick of furniture inside is really, really comfortable. Not beautiful and comfortable. Certainly not hip and comfortable. Not even inexpensive and comfortable. Just plain comfortable.

"Comfort," the tagline asserts. "It's what we do."

Not that the stuff in the ads looks bad or particularly classy; it looks just fine. But if you've got brand equity based on your trademark item -- and your trademark item is the poster chair for Middle American unsophistication -- why not squeeze it for all it's worth? These ads do that, and three of them do so hilariously.

Our favorite is called "Dance." Like all of the spots, it's set in a La-Z-Boy store. One guy is lying on a leather sofa, giving it a test drive. His stocky pal is a couple of feet away doing silly gyrations -- something between a belly dance and a seizure. But no matter how he shimmies his groin or butt, the friend doesn't flinch. He's just chilling.

"Am I making you uncomfortable?" the dancer asks.


Next the dancer is doing some bizarre, repulsive and very funny hula hand action. "Now?" But the friend is unfazed.


Then the big guy turns to the salesman. "That's a comfortable sofa."

In a second spot, titled "Mr. Fidget," an extremely nervous guy walks into La-Z-Boy, riddled with tics and tremors, like a junkie six days without a fix. Then he lounges on a sofa and is rendered instantly tranquil. A fly lands on his nose. He doesn't swat it. On the contrary, he's ready to make a new friend. "Hiii, buddy!" he says. LOL.

There's another funny one, advertising a (phony) trade-in promotion, showing a guy outfitted in a "personal hot tub." ("I got it online," he says sheepishly, to his wife's obvious disgust.) The comedy is swell but somehow not as pure as the La-Z-Boy-focused others. As for the fourth spot, it's not only too absurd by half and clumsily unfunny, it's just plain creepy: a head emerging from a sofa. It belongs to a man who lives there because the sofa is so comfortable. But the effect is most uncomfortable; in fact, it's creepy.

There. That feels so much better. Just leaning back and finding fault.

Disapproval. It's what we do.
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