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I'm just on the wrong beer team

I like beer. On occasion I will even drink a beer to celebrate a major event such as the fall of communism or the fact that our refrigerator is still working.

So you'd think I'd be receptive to TV beer commercials. Most of these have the same plot: Some guys open some beers, and instantly the commercial is overrun by friendly seminaked young women resembling Barbie but taller and less intellectual. If you just got here from Mars, you wouldn't know, from watching these commercials, that beer is meant for internal consumption. You'd think it was a chemical Hot Babe Attractant, similar to what moths use to locate each other so they can mate.

What bothers me is, in more than 20 years of opening beers with guys, I have never seen the Swedish Bikini Team show up. Almost always, the teams that show up in beer-drinking situations consist of guys who have been playing league softball and smell like bus seats. Maybe the beer manufacturers should be required to make realistic commercials:

(Some guys are sitting around in the woods, holding cans of beer.)

First Guy: You know, guys, it just doesn't get any better than this.

(Nothing happens.)


(Nothing continues to happen.)

Second Guy: There sure are a lot of moths around here.

Third Guy: This beer tastes like llama spit.

Speaking of realism in advertising, Michael Jordan should be required to make a commercial in which he tries, and fails, to jump over the pile of money that Wheaties pays him to pretend that breakfast cereal has something to do with basketball ability.

And while we're at it, I want somebody to explain the current magazine ad campaign for Timex watches. You probably remember the old Timex ads, starring John Cameron Swayze, in which professional watch-abuse technicians would strap a Timex watch to a boat propeller, or a jackhammer, or a British soccer fan. The watch would then be subjected to a severe beating, after which the technicians would hand it to John Cameron Swayze, who would hold it up to the camera and say dramatically: "It broke." At least that's what I assume happened the first 35 or 40 times. But eventually they'd get a watch that was still working, and John Cameron Swayze would say: "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking!"

That was an advertising campaign that I could understand without the aid of narcotics, in stark contrast to the current Timex campaign, samples of which have been sent in by a number of alert readers. These ads consist of photographs of people wearing Timex watches; superimposed on each photo is a paragraph telling you about some horrible thing that has happened to the person. One ad features a photo of a woman, with the following paragraph:

"Louisa Murray was eating a sandwich when a bowling ball fell off a ledge three stories above and hit her in the head. Doctors gave her a one in a million chance, but she fought back and last spring graduated from college. The ball did leave "a little dent' in her head. Louisa is wearing a striking Timex women's fashion watch. It costs about $50."

When you read this, a number of questions naturally come to mind:

There was a bowling ball on a ledge?

Was this a suicidal bowling ball?

Or was she eating the sandwich at some kind of new theme restaurant? ("The Eat 'n' Get a Skull Dent Cafe.")

The ad offers no explanation. Other Timex ads feature a rock climber who "fell 85 feet and landed on her tailbone" and a scuba diver who "was sucked into an offshore water intake pipe for a nuclear power plant." Each victim is modeling a Timex watch. I don't know about you, but the message I get from these ads is: "Wear a Timex watch, and SOMETHING VERY BAD WILL HAPPEN TO YOU." At the drugstore, I find myself edging away from the Timex display case, which I figure must be a powerful disaster magnet.

I don't mean to suggest here that all advertising is misleading or incomprehensible. There are many informative ads for excellent products, especially the products advertised in this newspaper, all of which I personally recommend and endorse and use in my home. So do my frequent houseguests, the Swedish Bikini Team.

1992 Miami Herald