This Ad For An Ad Agency Is More Honest (And Funnier) Than Most Ads For Actual Products

If you think you’re sick of seeing the same types of stunts, buzzwords, messages, and gimmicks showing up in TV ads, think of how it must be for the folks paid to come up with advertising ideas. Even when you have fresh ideas, the client might be too timid to take a chance, choosing instead to opt for whatever has been shown to work before. But one Toronto-based agency is doing its best to undercut annoying ad trends, all in the name of promoting itself. has the story of the agency, john st., which has been creating its own promos over the last few years with the simultaneous goals of poking fun at the beaten-to-death advertising trends of the day and trying to get new clients.

In 2011, it swiped a huge paw at the cats-on-the-Internet trend by declaring itself the first Catvertising firm and scored a couple of million views on YouTube:

Then last year, it announced a new, completely fake service called Buyral, “a vast network of professionals, working day and night, constantly clicking on your videos,” an obvious stab at the obnoxious trend of advertisers creating deliberately bizarre commercials with the sole purpose of having them go “viral,” even though that does nothing to actually move product.

The latest self-promo (see it at the top of this post) from john st. is their best thus far, going further in its mockery of viral videos by specifically targeting shock ads that supposedly lure in real people, scare the bejeezus out of them and then sell them a product.

In the spot, the agency promotes its new “Exfearience” ads, in which they do things like sneak into family’s home in the middle of the night while dressed as robbers, only to reveal they’re in a beer ad, or the ad where a mom’s baby is kidnapped in the park and no one seems to care… except the too-calm police officer who reveals that it’s all a setup for a deodorant commercial.

“Fear releases adrenaline, which is directly related to memory,” explains an Exfearience Planner, “so we’re literally searing your brand into their minds.”

“We don’t really do flash mobs… we prefer to create actual mobs,” says a creative director with the agency. “Most ads are dramatic. We want them to be traumatic.”

And our favorite line from the clip:
“You’ve heard about sending people into space? We’re gonna do that, only we’re not gonna bring them back.”

So the question remains as to whether or not john st. is any good at selling other companies’ products. On that, we have absolutely no idea. But if there must be advertising for advertising agencies, at least let it be as self-aware as these spots.

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