Suicide—even if it’s performed by a robot, and then only in a robot’s nightmare—just doesn’t move products. People don’t respond to suicide. Or football players acting all grossed out by seeing two straight dudes accidentally touch lips. Or a digitally reanimated zombie Redenbacher with skin so lifeless you’d swear he just climbed out of a casket at the funeral home. These were among the big losers picked by Stuart Elliot at the New York Times this year as he reviewed the advertising world’s more unconventional spots of 2007.
There were some successful campaigns, too, but we’re not AdWeek, so we’re just going to focus on the failures. They’re more fun anyway:
- Suicide-themed spots from G.M., Volkswagen, and Washington Mutual. The suicide bit was edited out of later airings of the G.M. spot.
- Orville Redenbacher’s CGI doppelganger, which has almost put me into therapy. Pulled after six months, and the agency responsible for it was fired.
- The Snickers ad that “showed two lugs harming themselves after they had kissed by mistake.” Many people claimed the controversy was intentional, but Snickers aired the ad only once and then pulled both it and the related website, which included more clips of straight guys freaking out.
- Virgin Mobile used neighborhood-specific posters throughout New York City (where every neighborhood has a distinct name and personality). Unfortunately, the ones that made fun of the Upper East Side were put up in the Upper East Side.
“A Year for Quick Hits and Fast Flops as Campaigns Broke New Ground” [New York Times]
“GM changing robot suicide ad” [CCN Money]
“Let’s let Orville rest in peace” [AdFreak]
“Snickers yanks ad campaign” [Canada.com]
“Virgin Mobile Installs NYC Neigborhood-Specific Ads In Wrong Neighborhoods” [Medaibistro Fishbowl]