Friday, May 18, 2012

Drew Does a Close Reading of the Zoobooks Commercial From His Childhood

Flipping through channels tonight, I saw an ad for Zoobooks. No, scratch that. I saw the ad for Zoobooks — the one that I distinctly remember seeing during the cartoons I watched when I was a kid. I’ll place my experience with it around 1991, during the Tiny Toons and Darkwing Duck days. You may likely remember it as well. Please, watch it and then report back.


Now, a few thoughts:

Zoobooks are still being advertised. Therefore, Zoobooks still exist. No, really, they do — I checked. So newspaper circulation may be plummeting and Encyclopedia Britannica may cease publication, but Zoobooks somehow endures. Zoobooks apparently has a spinoff publication, Zoobies. See?


I don’t understand what Zoobies are, but just based on the name, I’d guess it features exposed cow udders and floppy simians mammaries. Yes, I realize that it’s probably about something else. I’m just saying: That’s what it sounds like.

Jungles or no jungles, I would not encourage my children to visit anywhere that the adjective steamy had been affixed to. That’s just me.

What the hell is wrong with the boy in this ad that he’s reading a copy of Zoobooks when he has a monkey perched on his couch?


Nothing in any issue of Zoobooks ever will be as interesting as a monkey in your house. Nothing. Either the commercial lies or the boy is blind and cannot see the monkey, in which case WHY IS HE READING ZOOBOOKS IF HE’S BLIND?

Let’s talk about the kid. How old you do you think he is? Twelve? Fourteen? If I am remembering correctly that I saw this commercial back in 1991, then he today would be easily old enough to have a child who could be old enough to be reading Zoobooks on his or her own. That makes me feel ways.

On a similar note, most of the animals pictured in the Zoobooks issues featured in this commercial are long dead by now.


Is it to the elephants’ credit that their issue is free? Is it, like, “If this isn’t a tempting enough offer, we’re throwing in a special issue on a species so great you just can’t say no: ELEPHANTS. Come on, prospective buyer — trunks and tusks and shit!” Or is it kind of insulting to elephants that they’re a free throw-in offer?

Also, after all these years, the elephants issue is still the special offer? Doesn’t the passage of twenty years render it significantly less special?


Did you own the complimentary tiger poster? Did you have it up in your room? If your answer is yes, then I either would have really wanted to be friends with you or I really would not have wanted to be friends with you, depending on the year we’re talking about.


I would also discourage my child from interacting directly with the mailman. That’s just me, but then again the juxtaposition of this thought at the “You must be 18 years or older to call” warning adds up to something sinister.

Note: I will be re-reviewing this commercial when I see it again in twenty years. Stay tuned!

12 comments:

  1. I love how it's referred to as the elephant issue, as if it's world famous. Although, I suppose it might be since it's the only issue mentioned by name and the commercial has been going on so long.

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    1. Maybe it's just the elephant issue in the sense that it's the only one they will ever produce.

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  2. I never understood if there were only a dozen or so issues in existence and everybody got the exact same ones regardless of when they ordered, or if it was actually an ongoing magazine.

    I think after a while I assumed that everybody got the same old books. But THEN I didn't understand if you got them all at once or once a month. I guess I hate to think that, instead of trying to publish new content, there is a worker in a warehouse full of these things somewhere going "Okay, it looks like Billy in Wisconsin is getting the Camel issue this month." It's just so arbitrary and sad.

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    1. If I could just find one person who was actually given these as a child, I could clear all this up. Only I can't. How the hell has Zoobooks stayed in business if none of the smart, geeky kids were buying them?

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    2. Did libraries ever buy them? I remember seeing them at the doctor's office, but it was pretty much always just the elephant issue.

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    3. Explanation: Elephants are nature's doctors.

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  3. The Elephant Issue is Zoobooks' equivalent of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Except they don't usually give that away for free, as far as I know.

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    1. I want a centerfold with a lot of exposed trunk.

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    2. I think they should also throw in a phone shaped like a tiger and a video of animal bloopers.

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  4. They are still in circulation because they are for children (still the same) and they refer to animals (never change). They're up-to-date any time you take them.

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    1. So, like, they update old articles as new info comes out?

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    2. Yeah, elephants haven't changed that much, but our knowledge of them has. I believe it was after my own childhood (in which Zoobooks existed) that it was determined there are actually two distinct species of African elephant, for instance.

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