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Midseason Thoughts, or IN DEFENSE OF THE RED ROOF INN GUY

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Tonight, I wanted to do a post on my thoughts concerning the first half performance of the Washington Nationals. They lost earlier today, 10-9, entering the all-star break in excruciating fashion. John Patterson was lost with everyone's favorite malady, the dreaded forearm strain. Khalil Greene inflicted a special form of torture, homering again off of Chad Cordero. And then Mike Piazza hit what Charlie Slowes described as roughly a 780-foot homer for what proved to be the winning score. Now, I'm not going to run with the banal "microcosm of the season" theme, but it sort of was: today stunk, and this team stinks. I was going to write about all of that, but I decided not to.

For one thing, I plan on a pretty comprehensive statistical summary for tomorrow night, when Baseball Direct updates its stats from today's contest. For another, there's not really all that much that needs to be said. This time last year, the Nats were 52-36; now, they're 38-52. If they surge this season as much as they collapsed last season, that means they'll rocket all the way to . . . .500. And, honestly, there's something more pressing on my agenda for tonight: a defense of the Red Roof Inn guy.

I'm pretty sure you know who he is, this guy named Bill, so he needs only a short introduction. He's the guy who joyously intones "MULLLL-TEE-TASKING!" and announces "Whoa, that deal's HOT!" He also distinguishes between "wired . . . wire-LESS" and impersonates computer beeps, though I can't really provide an adequate quote for that. Simply stated, he gets dumped on a lot, and I find it incredibly unfair.

The Red Roofs ads are summarized decently---at least in a material sense---by this blog:

They are horrifying and delightful, and look like they were shot in a country whose currency valuation is pegged to Safeway coupons. In one, a fellow is limbo-ing on his hotel bed, and crows, "How low can you go?!" Apparently referring to the relative inexpense of staying at a Red Roof Inn, but only highlighting the relative inexpense of creating the ad itself. In another spot, a fellow is watching TV, and says, "The chances of working tonight are . . . remote." And he holds up a remote control and gives a big fake laugh. It's like watching student films made by the bongmeisters at Delta Rho, and they are about as funny as infected hangnails.

No. They're much funnier than infected hangnails---or at least I'd imagine so, thankfully never having had an infected hangnail. But that's a good summary of the commercials themselves: they're cheap, and they're kind of idiotic. Some people dwell too seriously on the idiotic part and castigate my man Bill (the ". . . remote" guy, not the limbo guy), and that's a damned shame.

For instance, check out the vitriol from this blogger---whoa, this vitrol is HOT:

Memo to Red Roof Inn Guy: You need your ass kicked.

The new line of Reality TV-based commercials from Red Roof Inn prove three things: one, the actors are probably getting paid minimum wage; two, the guy who sings ?Multitasking? also needs his ass kicked (on top of the one who goes ?WHOA, these deals are HOT!?); and three, the rooms in the commercial are the size of a closet. It?s incidences like these that make me wish Martin Mull was still the official spokesman of Red Roof Inn.

Yes, for the halcyon days of Tom Bodett. On second thought, that was Motel 6.

At any rate, I strenuously object to this anti-Bill rhetoric, and I don't think I'm being overly presumptuous in pointing out the possibility it is born of a certain ignorance. Take the claim that Bill is an actor working for minimum wage. Ah! According to the advertising agency (the same one with the Motel 6/Bodett account, by the way), it would appear that Bill is not even an actor:

The five 15-second TV spots feature real hotel guests reacting to the new improved rooms, specifically designed for the business traveler. The unscripted commercials are meant to appear as if they were a promo for a fictional reality TV show about people staying at Red Roof Inn. One of the spots, "Renovation," features a guest staying in a renovated Red Roof Inn room, mixing business with pleasure ? lying on the bed, primping in front of the mirror and playing a video game while talking on the phone. . . .

Red Roof Inn is in its second year of a $200 million national property renovation that seeks to position the brand at the upper end of the economy segment. "We wanted to promote the 'Redesigned. Rededicated.' effort of Red Roof Inn and make travelers think of us in a whole new and positive way," said Carol Kirby, chief marketing officer for Accor North America, Red Roof Inn's parent company. "Instead of actors, we used real guests and captured real moments in the rooms ? reacting to the amenities, having fun and, of course, getting work done."

"We saw an opportunity to use the reality TV format to create a new kind of advertising for Red Roof Inn, one that had never been done in the hotel category before ? we set out to use real people's experiences at Red Roof Inn," said Mike Malone, creative group head for The Richards Group.

Not bad for a regular guy, eh? Still think Bill needs to be punched "square in the nose"? From this pugulistic blogger:

Neither of these guys in the commercials seems to be married. No phone calls home to the wife and kids for them. Neither guy seems interested in a quality restaurant or room service (which is a good thing seeing how it is Red Roof and all). Neither guy seems interested if the hotel has a lounge or in the local nightlife. Nope - the only thing that interests these guys is the in-room video games.

Red Roof is targeting to the loser market.

Part of me thinks that the guys are so happy that there are video games in the room because now they won't have to risk leaving the room and have a run in with one of the truckers who are always staying at Red Roof. I also wonder if these guys know that the in-room video games are charged separately on the bill and that their company probably won't reimburse them for the charges.

Okay, I really don't get this hatred. It's not the loser market; it's the hoi polloi. That's Red Roof Inn. Guys who stay at Red Roof Inns when they're traveling probably don't fly first class or eat at fine restaurants or find much time for r&r. They're probably a bit tired and downtrodden and plainly a bit pissed that they have to stay at a place like Red Roof Inn. And these ads try to brighten these guys' days! Here's a video game and a remote and, just in case you go somewhere with the wife and kids (and I believe that Bill has some of both), hey, here's some cheap rates to remember us by. Those deals are HOT!

Is this really so complicated?

Another criticism I see commonly is the logical tension between the status of business traveler's haven with which Red Roof wants to portray itself and Bill's statement that the chances of him working are . . . remote. Why is Red Roof Inn advertising that it's a place where people slack off? I've seen hyper-literal freaks ask. Is this really how far America has sunk? Do people also believe that, in the commercial with the doctor and the medical students discussing treatments for something or other (wherein the doctor inevitably leads the discussion to the wonders of the sponsoring drug), the doctor is really a doctor and the medical students are really medical students? Suspension of disbelief, people.

Bill's a normal guy who likes kicking his feet up---and to answer the pressing issue of " . . . remote"---he likes making stupid puns. Get it? He's holding a remote! Ha!

Really, it's just a fun little fifteen-second spot. It's meant to be campy. He's not even an actor---or at least I don't think he is. He's just a regular dude. He's not so bad. Stop dumping on him.

I can see why Nats (or O's) fans might find him increasingly annoying, seeing as his ad is one of like three that is featured during Nats games on MASN (or O's games on ComcastSportsNet), but those are the breaks, folks. See the humor in Bill's schlocky ways. He's harmless.

If you want a real villain, I point you to PNC's Number One Nationals Fan, Yeah Baby!