WASHINGTON, August 22, 2014 – My esteemed spouse has come to dread those weekday evenings when, after an exhausting day of frying our brains in an endless wrangle with life in this Obamanation, we head down to the media room to fire up the Samsung flatscreen. When not streaming Masterpiece Theater reruns via Netflix, we typically end up watching true crime shows on third-rate cable channels. Which is where the trouble generally begins.
Invariably, during each show’s interminable and incredibly repetitious commercial breaks, we are inundated with an endless parade of Trivago commercials that brag about that company’s allegedly unique, superior online hotel and travel search and reservation tools. Each of these commercials prominently features the company’s apparently one-and-only pitch dude: The Trivago Man.
When I first caught sight of this strange dude God knows how many months ago, I immediately sat up and took notice. And still do. For a pitch man, the Trivago Man is an absolute visual mess, a walking, breathing fashion disaster, the kind of poozer whose sketchy dress code suddenly makes the well-worn and nondescript clothes hanging off the cheap racks at your average Goodwill store look like the kind of swanky designer apparel you might wistfully ogle whilst wandering the aisles of Bergdorf Goodman.
Upon this initial sighting I immediately launched, without prompting, into stream of consciousness invective. I’d share my standard rant with you here along with its basket of colorful metaphors. But this is more or less a family web site.
In any event, the spousal unit by now can repeat most of these epithets of opprobrium verbatim, authoritatively decreeing them to be “boring,” which is her moral equivalent of sending you to bed without dinner and without an iPad. This is precisely why she dreads the thought of enduring this writer’s litany of hate night after night whenever the Trivago Man appears on the screen. Which these days, alas, is early and often.
The fact is, I can’t help it. I am powerless to make it stop. The reaction is virtually autonomic. There are two main reasons why this is so.
First, if you’ll take a look at the adjacent screen capture, grabbed from one of Trivago’s endlessly re-running commercials, you’ll immediately note the incongruity of the Trivago Man’s hideous garb, the worst single outfit in the history of televised advertising bar none. Let’s explore.
The initial wardrobe malfunction you’ll notice is the Trivago Man’s apparently unwashed, or at least un-ironed gray work shirt. It’s a complete and utter mess. It’s not exactly shapeless. But its shape has not been attended to for quite some time.
Worse yet, its sleeves are haphazardly rolled up by one or two turns, almost as if the action were an afterthought. Additionally, at least in some current commercials, the shirt’s collar curls up, down, or any way it wants to. This does not speak well to the Trivago Man’s self-image to say the least.
We have to assume this tired, gray shirt this was the closest shirting at hand after the Trivago guy got up in the morning and pulled it out of his Safeway shopping cart. Or picked it up off his messy bedroom floor. Whatever the case, without a moment’s reflection, the Trivago Man simply put it on, buttoned it up (mostly) and never looked at himself in the mirror at any point after that.
A bit later in the commercial, the camera pans down to the Trivago Man’s pants and shoes. We quickly note that the Trivago Man’s monochromatic fashion disaster continues apace and is not limited to the gray shirt alone.
Following its limp outline and two-thirds of the way down to the family jewels, the gray shirt is abruptly interrupted by a pair of black work pants. These are worn lower on the waist than inner-city gangsta wannabes generally hang their billowy shorts on a hot summer’s day.
We pause, gazing upon these mutant pants with initially mute fascination and considerable puzzlement. What are they and what are they made of? Are they jeans? Rumpled and well-aged corduroy? Lands’ End work chinos well past their useful half-life? I choose A, I think, because of what appear to be tell-tale metal rivets in the belt and pocket area.
At any rate, probably due to the Trivago Man’s low-riding non-fashion preferences, these slim-cut or boot-cut slacks bunch up from the knees to the ankles, at the bottom vaguely recalling the high class but low class “stuff cuff” trousers that once distinguished that 1940s fashion debacle known as the “zoot suit.”
Again Trivago Man gives us the impression that these were probably the first pants he dug out of the laundry pile in the a.m. after after he’d wriggled into any readily available, ripe, well-aged, and likely unwashed pair of tighty-whities. It’s unclear when he might have acquired these Wrong Trousers−no offense to Wallace and Gromit−figuring they were more or less his size which was good enough for him, perhaps as he whipped through the bargain racks at Kohls. And it shows.
Finally…okay, my eyes aren’t what they once were, but just what kind of black shoes is the Trivago guy wearing in our photo? In at least one of the Trivago commercials, they look a bit like brushed pigskin shoe-boots. Other times, maybe black leather work shoes that have never seen a day of actual work. (Note the apparent dull shine in the adjacent photo)
But whatever. We must conclude that the shoes, slacks and dreaded gray shirt are all part and parcel of the Trivago Man’s endearingly casual “I could really give a s__t” look.
The main incongruity here, though, is the Trivago Man himself. Clearly, he’s middle aged, in observably good shape and, in fact, is astonishingly trim and likely far fitter than you or me. You figure, he must go to the local Gold’s Gym at least once a week. Maybe that miserable shirt trailing haphazardly down his lanky frame and endless waist is concealing seriously shredded six-pack abs.
But why would a guy who apparently cares for his physique dress so horrendously? Why is his badly tousled, tastefully-graying hair (which in at least one of his commercials is suddenly dishwater blonde) such a mess? And why didn’t he shave this morning? Or yesterday. Out of Bic razors? We thought he was supposed to be a prototype veteran traveler booking a hotel.
Aha! Maybe he actually is a “traveler,” in the British-Irish sense of that word. Or not.
Let’s face it. On a day-to-day basis, running into this guy on the street wouldn’t really be exceptional. After all, who dresses up for a quick run to the CVS for a tube of fast-actin’ Tinactin?
But the Trivago Man is the one and only TV pitch-guy for an actual online travel company that advertises on cable TV A LOT. Why would any travel company, or any company for that matter, want to employ such an obvious walking mess, a contemporary adult version of Charles Schulz’ Pig-Pen, to serve as their chief spokes-dude? That question was really the one that bugged me.
However, wondering if my wife was right about my possibly overreacting to this existential visual mash-up, I took to surfing the web. The objective: to see if anyone else had an opinion one way or the other on the Trivago Man.
Voilà! EVERYBODY does. And they’re almost all negative.
Ranging from Facebook entries, to millions of Tweets daily lighting up the Twitterverse, to article after article in both online and dead-tree newspapers and periodicals, the Trivago Man, along with his ghastly lack of fashion taste, has gone viral on virtually all existing social media sites. No one, it seems, lacks an opinion on the Trivago Man. And here’s the good part: Fortunately and statistically, they pretty much all agree with moi. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
Maybe I’ll get dinner after all.
So what’s going on here really? What’s up with the Trivago Man, the most irritating commercial character in the history of TV besides Charmin’s Mr. Whipple and the dreaded Flo, the unendurable pitch woman for the suspiciously named “Progressive” Insurance outfit?
Don’t miss our next installment, because we’re going to tell you.
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