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John Oliver’s Fake Home Depot Ad Pits Nick Offerman Against Couple-Fights

This is why robots don’t belong in hardware stores–they’re not trained to step in just before one half of a couple says something they can’t take back.

“Self-checkout aisle” sounds like a jokey euphemism for shoplifting, but we’ve mostly gotten used to it. So far, that’s about the extent to which most people seem comfortable interacting with robots while shopping. The hardware store Lowe’s, however, is testing out something called the OSHbot that is intended to duplicate the customer service experience. On the most recent episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver explained why a hardware stores is an especially bad place for the inevitable robot uprising to continue.

“Home improvement stores are a lethal combination of everything that can ruin a relationship,” Oliver says during the desk portion of this segment. “Spending money, reconciling tastes, long-term planning, and fluorescent lighting.” His theory is that robots would make terrible sentient information kiosks at Lowe’s because robots aren’t equipped to defuse a tense couple situation, which is something that happens in these kinds of places constantly. In order to demonstrate the point, Last Week Tonight premiered the ad its writers feel Home Depot should run against the robot-lovers at Lowe’s.

Nothing is more calming than the dulcet tones of Nick Offerman’s voice, which is why he would be the perfect person to soothe the cresting anger of adult lovers fighting about appliances. In the mock Home Depot ad, a man played by Archer’s H. Jon Benjamin keeps getting into fights with his wife that ultimately have very little to do with copper sinks and tiled floors. Every time things start to heat up, Offerman appears, orange apron cinched just so, with paint swatches to mull over. The ad seems like the result of life experience from inside Last Week Tonight’s writers room, and is certainly plausible enough. Now if only there were some Offerman-like figure that could pacify couples through the stress of actually assembling whatever they bought.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. He has also written for The Awl, Rolling Stone, McSweeney's, and Salon.