|VCR FX glitch on screen.||VCR initial playback noises thump and scratch before settling into a whirring hum.|
|Omega Mart ad fades in beneath the VCR overlay. People stand in a grocery store with Willie Nelson’s face glitching over theirs. The yellow Omega Mart logo appears in front of a blue background.||The voiceover begins: “There’s an interesting new grocery store that opened last year in Las Vegas: Omega Mart, an immersive art experience that you can visit, if you dare.”|
|Cut to the MeowWolf YouTube webpage.The cursor clicks on the “Omega Mart” playlist, then uses the scroll bar to slowly scroll down the playlist.||“MeowWolf, the art collective behind the mysterious store, released a series of fake advertisements on YouTube beginning in January of 2021.”|
|The playlist fades to black, a screenshot of the primary ad on YouTube fades in. A red semi-translucent arrow highlights the title of the video as the voiceover reads it.||“In the description of the first ad titled: ‘PSA: Mislabeled Lemons at Omega Mart,’ MeowWolf describes itself as: ‘An Immersive Experiences Company’ with a longer description of what they do below.”|
|The title of the video fades into a slow scroll of the video’s description box, where the words are highlighted in blue as they are read aloud.||“‘Meow Wolf is an arts production company that creates immersive, multimedia experiences that transport audiences of all ages into fantastic realms of storytelling. Our work is a combination of jungle gym, haunted house, children’s museum, and immersive art exhibit. This unique fusion of art and entertainment gives audiences fictional worlds to explore.’”|
The description fades into a clip of another Omega Mart Ad: a lemon with an eyeball is surprised to see a hand reach for it before the Omega Mart logo and slogan beneath (You have no idea what’s in store for you!) roll.
|“Thus, Omega Mart is an intriguing art installation meant to tell a story through nonlinear means and interactive methods. We know what Omega Mart is, by technical definition. Even still, its existence raises many questions, not the least of which is…”|
|The logo and slogan fade into a clip of a woman in a red coat sitting in her car. The camera zooms in close to her face. She looks out the window and raises her hand questioningly. A cigarette rests between her fingers.||Woman: “Hey! What’s Omega Mart?|
|Camera cuts to and zooms in on the confused face of a teen in a jean jacket standing in front of a chain link fence.||Teen: “Huh? Omega Mart?”|
|Camera whip pans to a farmer holding a pitchfork in his field.||Farmer: “What’s Omega Mart?”|
|Camera whip pans again to the interior of a grocery store. A man stands with his two daughters in the produce section.||Family (in unison): “Yeah! What is Omega Mart?”|
|VCR “STOP” appears in the top left corner. The screen glitches and then darkens slightly.||Voiceover: “What IS Omega Mart? Well, isn’t that obvious?”|
|The words “It’s a commentary” appear on screen synced with the voiceover.||“It’s a commentary.”|
|Fade to black, with the word “commentary” lingering behind a second longer. A video of scrolling through the Omega Mart YouTube playlist fades in. The scrolling stops and the video zooms in on one title in the playlist called “Freestyle Rap…”||“The Omega Mart advertisements reveal the nature of the commentary through absurdist comedy, cosmic horror, and whatever this is.”|
|The previous advertisement resumes as “Willie Nelson” reaches into a grocery fridge and pulls out a half-gallon carton of “Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilk” that freezes in space as he moves it, like a glitching paint computer program. The VCR STOP effect returns, the advertisement freezes in place, and the words “Canned Romance” appear in sync with the voiceover as the paused advert fades to black.||“One such advert utilizes principles of visual design to astounding effect, making it an exemplary case study.|
Introducing ‘Canned Romance.’”
|The Canned Romance advertisement begins with the yellow Omega Mart logo on a blue background.||A female voice sings the start of the Omega Mart jingle with upbeat music.|
|The video cuts to a table with a wine glass, cutlery, and a massive blue can on a silver platter. The torso and arms of a waiter dressed in a black and white suit can be seen as he uses a can opener to open the massive can.||Cheesy romantic music plays in the background. The can opener makes a scraping noise.|
|The video transitions to the waiter lifting the now-open can, flipping it over, and dumping out the contents onto the silver tray: a chunk of yellow-beige gelatin in the shape of the can.||Female voiceover: “Love is in the air at Omega Mart. Romantic Dinner in a Can, back in stock.”The gelatin mass slurps out and thumps on the table.|
|The camera fades to a close-up shot of the gelatin mass. It spins slowly. A spoon, fork, knife, wine bottle, candle, and rose can be seen contained within the gelatin as it rotates. The text “Romantic Dinner in a Can 365 oz.” can be seen in the upper right corner. The “365 oz.” text fades into “$4.99 per can.”||Female voiceover: “Spoil your special someone for just 4.99!”|
|The camera fades to the previous shot and begins zooming out as the waiter lights the wick of the candle poking out of the gelatin. The waiter’s bowtie, then head become visible, except his head has been replaced with a violin playing by itself.||Female voiceover: “That’s true love. That’s Omega Mart.”|
Violins fade in.
|Cut to a blue screen with the yellow Omega Mart logo animating on screen. The slogan appears as the jingle sings. “BUY TICKETS NOW” flashes onscreen in yellow letters.||A drum fill begins the omega mart jingle.Female singer: “O-o-o Omega Mart! You have no id-e-a what’s in store you you-u-u.”|
|The VCR “STOP” overlay returns with a glitch. The frame freezes on the Omega Mart logo.|
A red arrow appears, pointing to a horizontal glitch in the advertisement. A still image of the gelatin appears on screen with a slow zoom effect.
|Soft glitching noise and white noise. The lounge music returns. The primary analysis voiceover returns: “Notice the 1970s aesthetic. That catchy jingle so reminiscent of that time gets stuck in my head for days on end. This ad has it all, from the square aspect ratio and 480p resolution to VCR imperfections, a cheesy catchphrase, and a tongue-in-cheek canned product.”|
|Cut to a screenshot of the MeowWolf website that zooms out beginning from the company logo in the top left. Screen then fades into another Omega Mart ad that plays silently. Many squares each play the same footage of scissors cutting the word “prices” on repeat.||“All these choices are intentional design elements the build the Ethos of the creators, MeowWolf. They know early post-world war 2 commercialism well enough to parody it effectively.”|
|Products and their prices appear in boxes only for a katan to slice the prices in half. A new box appears with arms holding a saxophone.||“This approach is reliant on the connotative, or implied meaning of these elements. The literal, or denotative meaning of these elements would be that of an outdated presentation of a nonsensical product.”|
|The video fades to old footage of a river coastline with blurry skyscrapers on the far shore.|
The words “nostalgia,” “reminiscence,” and “Simpler time” appear on-screen in tandem with the voiceover.
|“But because of connotative meaning, we mentally classify this ad as old-school – the connotation being nostalgia, reminiscence, a simpler time with less inflation and civil unrest.”|
|The old footage cuts to a different section of the rive with small boats sailing by. The phrase “Pathos or Emotional appeal” appears in tandem with the voiceover.The old footage cuts to an airport. The words “Old,” “Friendly,” and “Nostalgic” appear in tandem with the voiceover. The footage fades to black.||“These connotations build a pathos, or emotional appeal. The artists are saying, ‘Look at us, we’re old and friendly and nostalgic!’ Additionally, the ad builds ethos through the crisp presentation of these familiar old-school elements.”|
|The “Canned Romance” ad plays silently. The phrase “Anders Fagerjord’s Projection” appears in tandem with the voiceover. The video fades to black. “Projection” is the last element to fade.||“But before we transition to the ethos of the advertisement itself, I quickly want to mention the narrator. The narration is a clear example of Anders Fagerjord’s “Projection” principle. In an essay on multimodal analysis,”|
|A photo of the text referred to in the voiceover appears on-screen. The text read aloud is highlighted in blue in real time.||“Fagerjord defines Projection as ‘when a person’s inner feelings are projected onto a landscape photograph.’”|
|The “Canned Romance” ad plays back silently.||“For the purposes of this analysis, we can apply the projection principle like so: the narrator attaches feelings of romantic affection to the product by telling you how to feel and act. Building on the pathos. “Spoil your special someone,” she says while the complete dinner package, encased in gelatin, rotates on screen. The narration attempts to get the audience to agree with her that the inner feeling of their romance applies to the visual of the product.And with good ethos, we might be inclined to believe her.”|
|A sky blue background fades in and three graphics appear on screen: the MeowWolf logo, the canned gelatin product from the advertisement, and a dark red arrow. The arrow points to either the MeowWolf logo or the canned product depending on if the voiceover refers to MeowWolf/the real world or OmegaMart/the internal world of the art. The phrases “Internal World” and “Our World” fade in in the lower left corner in tandem with the voiceover. All elements except for text hover around. Everything fades to black.||“Note that the ethos of the creator and the ethos of the advertisement are two separate entities. There’s the internal world of the ad, a universe where the story of Omega Mart plays out, that the creator wants you to step into. In our world, the ad serves to drum up interest in the art installation. However, in the ad’s world, it wants to sell you a product. It establishes a solid ethos with crisp presentation and familiar elements. But the advertisement’s ethos erodes as new elements are introduced.”|
|The part of the ad where the camera pans out to reveal the waiter’s violin head is shown. Everything fades to blue.||“For example, the camera pans out to reveal the fancy waiter’s head.”|
|The word “Revealing” appears. The words quoted from Fagerjord appear on-screen in real time as the voiceover reads them.||“This is a prime example of Fagerjord’s principle of Revealing, which he defines as ‘when an [the frame moves and] reveals something important that was hidden at first,’ usually something that recontextualizes the rest of the video.”|
|The clip of the ad where the waiter’s violin head is revealed plays again. The Omega Mart end card appears before fading to blue. |
Three question marks pop up.
|“In the ad, we discover the waiter doesn’t have a human head. The creator wants to give the audience the feeling that there’s more to Omega Mart than our initial impression. And they succeed. The ethos of the invisible creator increases as the unsettling surrealism builds, and the ethos of Omega Mart is called into question. What a genius way to draw the audience in.”|
|The footage of the MeowWolf YouTube page returns. The cursor clicks the playlist titled “Omega Mart” and then scrolls slowly through the playlist.||“Upon stumbling into one of these ads on YouTube a viewer might begin to think this is an odd advertising campaign from the past, or a present campaign to save a dying local grocery store. But as the drama of the ad unfolds, it becomes clear that Omega Mart is not a typical grocery store, and our curiosity is aroused. Upon reading the YouTube description we discover that Omega Mart is meant to tell a non-linear story, a story revealed piece by piece with each advertisement video, webpage, and visit to the physical store.”|
|Fade to blue. The phrase “Kress & Van Leeuwin’s Visio-linguistic Heuristic” appears on-screen in tandem with the voiceover. The phrases “Center & Margin” and “Ideal & Real” appear in tandem with the voice over, appearing from center to corner and top to bottom respectively.||“Finally, let’s examine this commercial with Kress & Van Leeuwen’s Visio-Linguistic heuristic, specifically with Center and Margin, Ideal and Real.”|
|The cover of Reading Images slides to the center of the screen, then back off the way it came.||“These terms, as defined in the book Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design, mean the following:”|
|The phrase “Center & Margin” appears again, from the center to the corner of the screen in tandem with the voiceover before cutting to the quoted text. This text remains stationary and centered.||“Centre / Margin – ‘For something to be presented as Centre means that it is presented as the nucleus of the information to which all the other elements are in some sense subservient. The Margins are these ancillary, dependent elements.’ – Kress & Van Leeuwen.”|
|The phrase “Ideal & Real” appears again, from the top to the bottom of the screen in tandem with the voiceover before cutting to the quoted text. This text remains stationary and centered.|
Everything fades to black.
|“Ideal / Real – ‘…what has been placed on the top is presented as the Ideal, and what has been placed at the bottom is put forward as the Real. For something to be ideal means that it is presented as the idealized or generalized essence of the information… The Real is then opposed to this in that it presents more specific information, more ‘down-to-earth’ information, or more practical information.’ – Kress & Van Leeuwen.”|
|The spinning gelatin from the “Canned Romance” ad fades in. It then fades to the camera panning out, revealing the violin head. The clip then reverses, then reverses again once the spinning gelatin returns to the screen for a few seconds.|
The footage comes back to the pan out to reveal the waiter’s violin head. A red arrow moves from pointing at the center (where the gelatin is) to pointing at the top margin (where the violin is).
|“The center of this advertisement in the first half is the canned romance, emphasizing its importance until the frame pans out and then we cut to the end brand logo. The auxiliary information in the margins becomes the information with the most salience when the frame pans out. This is an intentional subversion of audience expectations, as noted previously with Fagerjord’s Revealing principle. But the principles all work in tandem to build to that final reveal. We, the audience, notice the center of attention beginning to shift as the revealing takes place, subverting the traditional weight placed on the center and moving our attention to the margin.”|
|The ad cuts to the end card with the Omega Mart logo. The slogan appears beneath the logo.||“Then comes that oh-so-frustrating cut. What’s up with violin? Post-cut, the store logo becomes the central information with the slogan, call to action, and street address in the lower margin.”|
|A dark red arrow appears, pointing at the Omega Mart logo. The arrow slides down and points at the address of Omega Mart at the very bottom of the screen.||“This plays off of ideal & real – the promise and essence on top (Omega Mart) and the expression of it on the bottom (How to get to Omega Mart). Standard TV advertising stuff.”|
|The screen fades to sky blue. The phrase “What are we left with?” appears on screen in tandem with the voiceover, popping up in real time from top to bottom. The words cut out.||So what are we left with?|
|The word “Pathos” appears before everything fades to an Omega Mart advertisement end card logo. This fades to a picture of a two-legged colorful upright worm-like creature costume, standing in a grocery store aisle. This fades into a slow scroll of the bright blue Omega Mart website. This fades into another Omega Mart ad, this time of a large cube of the cutting scissors clip from earlier as it spins and is consumed by a line of Omega Mart logos before the final logo appears on a black background.||“Pathos – an emotional appeal to peel back the layers of Omega Mart and discover what we don’t understand. It unsettles us and intrigues us by overturning old-school expectations and twisting the initial pathos into a dread-filled curiosity. Our nostalgia for ‘simpler times’ is at once called into question and subverted.”|
|Cut to blue and the word “Ethos.” The “Canned Romance” ad plays in slow motion, beginning with the waiter dumping the contents of the can on the silver platter. The ad cuts to the close up spin of the gelatin, before once again showing the pan out that reveals the waiter’s violin head.||“Ethos – Judging the quality and efficacy of the commercial, I trust the creator with my curiosity. The high quality makes me think they wouldn’t create this – and a plethora of similarly high-quality commercials – without an end in mind. The efficacy and intentionality of the style coupled with the quality tells me they know the source material they’re riffing off of. They know how to tug the nostalgia strings, then morph those feelings into odd curiosity.”|
|The VCR “STOP” overlay returns the the advertisement footage freezes. The phrase “1 – Commentary 2 – Story 3 – Sell tickets” appears, each word being “typed out” onscreen in real time with the voiceover. Everything fades to black.||“Their end goal is threefold: commentary, story, and selling tickets.”|
|Omega Mart logo on a blue background fades in. The slogan appears word by word.|
A screenshot of another Omega Mart ad fades in depicting a cyborg pig standing on a silver platter in between a golden omega mart logo with three sparklers sticking out of it and a bucket of ice with a champagne bottle resting inside. The phrase “HAPPY NEW YEAR 3099” is written in bold along the top. Quick fade to another screenshot of an Omega Mart ad that depicts “Glorbox,” a glowing blue head contained within a translucent floating cube. The phrase “Glorbox $10.99” can be seen in the lower righthand corner. Quick fade back to the Omega Mart end card.
|“Omega Mart’s absurdity stops us in our tracks and begs the question: what are we nostalgic FOR? How is it that advertisements for products that range from absurd to actively harmful can evoke nostalgia within us?”|
|Fade to the Omega Mart website as the frame slowly moves down the page.||“Was it products, or was it the feeling of youth, security, and ‘simpler times?’ that we are nostalgic for?”|
|Fade to the Omega Mart advertisement with the lemon that has an eye as it looks around. The words “Please return this product to Omega Mart immediately,” and “For your safety, this product had been removed from our shelves and will be carefully disposed of” appear on the top of the screen. The words “Or for assistance please call: 1-800-808-4194” appear at the bottom of the screen.||“Should we be nostalgic for consumerism, however old it might be?”|
|Cut to a slow frame zoom on the MeowWolf YouTube landing page.||“MeowWolf asks the questions, and we are left to answer them.”|
|Cut to a slow frame zoon in on a picture of the physical Omega Mart location. The store logo stands above a wall covered in bright Omega Mart advertisement posters.||“But more than anything, we’re left with a desire for more of this bizarre retailer.”|
|Cut to the Omega Mart end card. A red arrow appears, highlighting the blinking yellow phrase mentioned in the voiceover. Fade to black.||“The most grounded part of this advertisement is the phrase ‘buy tickets now’ as that is a thing you can do in real life.”|
|The Omega Mart ad YouTube playlist fades in, then fades to black.||“After watching this ad, I want to watch the rest of them.”|
|The Omega Mart website fades in. The frame scrolls down the page past many brightly colored ad spots, then it all fades to black.||“I want to browse the websites and uncover the story hidden there. I want to know why strange things happen at Omega Mart,”|
|The DramCorp website fades in. The frame scrolls down the page past black and orange icons. It all fades to black.||“and I want to know about the company behind Omega Mart: Dramcorp. And that was the point of the advertisement all along.”|
|The MeowWolf ticket purchase portal on their website fades in. Images of the art installation scroll by below the words “Admission Tickets” and above the description of the art installation.||“The final layer is this: the creator wants the audience to buy tickets and uncover the rest of the story in store.”|
|Fade to an image of the physical Omega Mart storefront as the frame pans sideways to reveal the phrase “You have no idea what’s in-store!” painted in bold white lettering beneath a large yellow omega symbol. The camera zooms in as the screen fades to black.||“After all, you have no idea what’s in store for you.”|
The lounge music finishes with a light piano melody.