Advertising is all about optimism, aspiring to a better tomorrow that’s just a barcode scan away. So just because the economy is in the tank doesn’t mean we stop selling dreams, it just means we have to pimp a littler harder, together. For America. Common among this year’s best ads, in my view, is that they acknowledged the retardedness of their medium, and then got really real, or completely ridiculous. Here’s the top 10!
Americans don’t have time for baloney these days, they’re too busy making it at home. So GEICO distilled their message down to “here’s a pile of money. You want it. We can give it to you.” Brilliant. Download the song.
AMEX “don’t take chances take charge”
This ad cleverly used images of objects with naturally sad or happy looking faces to convey how it stinks when bad things happen to your stuff but if you bought it with Amex you’re cool. It sounds dumb when I write it literally because it’s all in the (flawless) execution. Download the song.
A stupid and bizarre ad for an equally stupid and bizarre product. Oh boy, a blanket with sleeves! The kitsch factor made it an internet sensation and somewhere in the minds of people vaguely concerned about their heating bills they thought this backless fleece robe would help. Having experienced its unadvertised fleece-shedding properties in person, from when we hooked up with Consumer Reports and did our own science test and video about it, I can tell you that this is a great buy if you want to test out how effective the lint catcher in your washing machine is.
Denny’s – Nannerpuss
This ad came out during the Superbowl and featured, atop a pile of pancakes, a singing banana peel puppetted by visible strings. At the end you were told that Denny’s was giving away a free breakfast tomorrow. These two elements virtually guaranteed a one-two combo of mass-viewership blitz and viral sensation. It also resulted in lines out the door of Denny’s across america as bargain-hunting breakfasters swamped the eatery, prompting shortages and turnaways. And people made their own nannerpuss videos, because it was so stupidly hilarious it was Michael Jackson bad.
Sony PS3 Slim ad – Nigerian Millionaires
This ad got a lot of attention for making fun of Nigerian phishing scams, but I was fonder of how it mocked gadget bloggers. Also, even though this guy is supposed to be a SONY PR guy, I keep thinking of him as a Best Buy VP. I don’t know why.
Verizon’s island of misfit toys, aka pwn you harder iPhone
Coming out at Christmas-time, this Verizon ad took the “Island of misfit toys” scene from the holiday TV classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and made the darling device of its rival, a sad iPhone, an inhabitant. This was another iteration of the “There’s a MAP” for that ads where Verizon compared its map of 3G coverage to AT&T’s and said the latter’s was rather inferior. AT&T got all crazy legal on Verizon and even came out with its own counterattack ads, but wait BA-BOOM, Verizon says GTFO and comes back with this super-snarky rebuttal saying the same stuff they were getting legally attacked for before, just funnier! In yo face, AT&T!
Domino’s oven bakes Subway’s cease-and-desist letter
In another legal squabbling, Subway sent a cease-and-desist letter to Domino’s, demanding they pull their ads saying that Domino’s sandwiches beat Subway’s two to one in a national taste test challenge. So Domino’s put its CEO in an ad. “I was going to burn the letter,” he says, but everything’s better when it’s oven-baked.” Then he puts the letter in the oven and it catches fire. Advantage: Domino’s.
Dos Equis – The Most Interesting Man In The World
When this older man does things, he does them in a way that is far more exciting than normal people. For instance, the gravely voiceover informs us his blood smells like cologne, and he once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels. Stock-looking footage of eccentric 60’s scenarios (in an earthy James Bond kind of way, not a hemp footwear kind of way) plays in the background. Hilarious and awesome. These spots were seen regionally in 2008 but since it only went national in 2009, I’m allowed to include them.
HTC – You Are Different From You
This ad earnestly shows many of the emotional human scenarios you rely upon a cellphone to get through. A throbbing track in the background reflects the beat and tug of modern life. This is a cellphone that will let you do all the normal stuff you want your cellphone to do and you won’t even think about the fact that no one has an HTC Hero phone. Very honest and real. I got misty the first time I saw it. Download the song.
Slap Chop – the autotune remix
An autotuned remix of the Slap Chop infomercial featuring disgraced, and possibly de-tongued, spokesman Vince Porter, set to a driving breakbeat. It was a parody effort by DJ Steve Porter, but it got so popular that the Slap Chop folks are using it as a real ad. However, they had to replace the sweet clips of 80’s breakdance classic Electric Boogaloo with stock video footage of two white idiots trying to breakdance. I never get tired of watching this ad, because, deep down, in my heart of hearts, I am easily amused. Download the song.