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Life Alert's New Ad is Terrifying, and People Are Not Happy About It Brand says the end justifies the means

Life Alert now takes its marketing very seriously. Maybe too seriously.

Rather than just have its old commercials be the laughing stock of anyone who's ever seen them, the company is doing its best to scare the living crap out of everyone who watches TV.

The new ad below ditches the brand's trademark testimonial cheesiness for straight up creepiness, with an old lady lying unnoticed in a heap at the bottom of a flight of stairs, screaming. It's quite disturbing, and a lot of viewers are leaving pissed-off comments on the brand's Facebook page.

"My own grandmother fell and cracked her hip and we brought her to the hospital immediately, but this just makes me feel so awful inside I start crying," writes one. "I'm 17 years old and this is way too scary. I don't want to see anyone in that much pain and crying when I'm just trying to enjoy my day. Please take it off the TV."



In fairness, some people are praising the commercial for driving the point home with a realistic depiction, and helping to convince their stubborn elders to buy the product.

Life Alert's response is basically that the whiners should suck it up, because it's sick of hearing them go on about how bad its prior ads were.

"We consistently hear horror stories of how families procrastinated in getting a Life Alert only to discover their loved one had fallen and was on the floor for hours (sometimes days) before someone found them," reads part of a statement posted over at Consumerist.

"They have even complained that our commercials are corny, and NOT SERIOUS ENOUGH, and that our message doesn’t get through. The guilt and fear these families feel after a preventable tragedy is very real and far worse than any commercial."

Of course, punishing a mass audience for the unreasonable griping of a few who wouldn't take responsibility for their own failure to act doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Even if the old ads weren't effective.

Also, says Life Alert, it's the good guy. "Our goal is to wake people up to the realities of what is going on with the elderly and to get a medical alert system as a PREVENTIVE measure, not a reactionary result to a tragedy," it says.

As reasonable—and somewhat noble—as the for-profit company's intentions may be, its posturing also kind of misses the point. There might be some middle ground between an ad that is an unintentional self-parody, and one that terrifies children. A less ham-fisted approach might persuade even more consumers, or at least alienate fewer.

Then again, when demand for your product is based on the ample supply of consumer anxiety about death, it's not surprising they're leaning in.

August 27, 2014, 9:48 AM EDT

See the Painfully Funny Science Museum Ad That Was Too Violent for Canadian TV Man takes a licking, keeps on ticking

The guy in this sublimely sophomoric spot for a Vancouver science museum should be in a world of hurt.

Yet he smiles and shrugs off a nail through his shoe, a bitey dog, a neighborhood kid's expertly executed kick to the crotch and a couple of even more potentially painful (probably deadly) indignities. His resilience throughout his 30-second odyssey, promoting for Science World at Telus World of Science, is explained at the end with a little scientific factoid. (The wimpy Walmart clown could learn a thing or two from this guy.)

This latest installment in the client's "Now You Know" campaign from ad agency Rethink was deemed too violent for TV by the Television Bureau of Canada. Of course, that's the perfect formula for maximizing press coverage and interest on the Web.

Among the campaign's many notable past efforts, you might recall these racy ads from 2012 that promoted a "Science of Sexuality" exhibit and scored significant media exposure.

After 15 years on the business, Rethink's got this stuff down to a science.

Credits below.

Click to Read More →

August 27, 2014, 8:56 AM EDT

Joe Buck and Troy Aikman Are Telenovela Foes in This Insane Ad for Fox Sports Ay, dios mio

What would happen if football didn't exist? Well, for one thing, Fox Sports announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman would have very different jobs.

The two hombres star in this perfectly executed spot made in the style of a Latin telenovela. And it's glorious. While their Spanish is downright remedial, they make up for it with absurd soap-opera melodrama. (Fox Sports seems to be going full comedy this fall, having also rolled out the "Sorry About All the Football" campaign.)

You could take issue with the premise, though. It's highly doubtful, outside of football, that these two guys would have ever ended up in the same room. Unless baseball still existed, and Aikman played on the Red Sox.

The YouTube page says this is "the first of a series of videos featuring NFL on Fox talent, so it will be fun to see what happens next as the "drama unfolds."

A world without football is, of course, inconceivable. But a world with more of these ads?

Si, por favor!

Via Awful Announcing.

August 26, 2014, 4:02 PM EDT

Belize Thanks Journey's Keyboardist for Visiting by Recording 'Don't Stop Beliezin' Salute to Jonathan Cain, who wrote the original

Photo: Getty Images

You can't make this stuff up.

Jonathan Cain, the keyboard player for Journey and writer of perhaps the band's biggest hit, "Don't Stop Believing," vacationed in Belize recently—and tweeted about what a fantastic experience it was.

The Belize Tourism Board got wind of this, and with help from its ad agency, Olson, orchestrated an elaborate thank-you to Cain—in the form of a cover song, "Don't Stop Belizein." Popular local Belizean group The Laru Beya Boys recorded the song, which you can hear below.

Olson and the Belize Tourism Board have collaborated on quirky campaigns in the past. Last year they offered free vacations to Vince Gilligan and eight members of the Breaking Bad cast—after the phrase "taking a trip to Belize" was used on the show as a euphemism for getting murdered.

August 26, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT

DJ Samples Thousands of Sounds From GE Machines for a Track Called 'Drop Science' Matthew Dear is the brand's second musical collaborator

GE doesn't just do whatever it is that GE does. It makes beats, too.

Last year, GE brought you an electronica song featuring the sounds of shipping containers, as interpreted by Reuben Wu of Ladytron. Now the engineering brand is back with a sequel that graduates to samples from a broader range of GE's heavy machinery—thousands, we're told, including a jet engine—as assembled by artist Matthew Dear.

Created with The Barbarian Group, the campaign essentially argues a natural alignment between GE and music, focusing on the brand's use of acoustics to test that its equipment is functioning properly. Andrew Gorton, an acoustics engineer for GE, worked with Dear to record sounds at a GE research facility in Niskayuna, N.Y., a process documented in a video produced by m ss ng p eces. A package of the loops Dear created is available to download via BitTorrent so that anyone can remix them.

While the symbiosis might seem like a stretch, it's hard to fault GE for not wanting to bore regular people with too much geek talk about turbines and who cares what else. The resulting track, titled "Drop Science," is certainly worth a listen.

That is, if you like the electronic music genre in general, it's fun. If you don't, you might think it sounds like a bunch of beeping machines. 

August 26, 2014, 3:07 PM EDT

How Do You Advertise to an Ad Agency? Put Up a Billboard Right Across the Street Small shop goes big near Ogilvy HQ

Here's one way to pitch your design studio directly to an ad agency: Buy a billboard right across the street from the shop.

Intridea, a D.C.-based product design and development consultancy, did just that this month by buying a billboard for a week right near Ogilvy & Mather's headquarters at 636 Eleventh Ave. in New York with the headline, "Ogle this, Ogilvy."

The board included the URL oglethis.co, which featured goofy GIFs along with the text, "Made you look. Now hire us. AngularJS, Rails, UX/UI and more."

It's a little blunt, but it seems to have gotten Intridea in the front door. The agency says it got a call from Ogilvy New York CEO Lou Aversano and OgilvyOne managing director Dimitri Maex—and will be meeting with them on Sept. 3.

"This was the first time our team has ever spent any money on outdoor advertising," says Intridea co-founder Yoshi Maisami, "and we've been very happy with the results."

August 26, 2014, 2:13 PM EDT

This 99-Pack of Beer Is Real, It's Glorious, and It Will Get You Very Drunk Just don't try to fit it in the fridge

When you're preparing to party, naturally you need to make sure there's enough beer. And what's worse than grabbing a bunch of different six-packs and trying to accommodate everyone's annoying snobby beer palate?

The dudes at Austin Beerworks have considered your feelings and made it easy for you. They've introduced Peacemaker Anytime Ale, which they describe as a "sessionable" beer (meant to drink over a long period of time, anytime) and have packaged it in the world's first 99-pack of beer. 

Yes, this miracle of beer actually exists. From the website: "It's not only real, it's an amazing deal: ninety-nine beers for $99. That’s 82 pounds of craft beer! Over seven feet of crisp, flavorful Peacemaker!"

Find out if it's available in your area on the website and using the #AnytimeAle hashtag. And take a look at the promo video below. I'll be reconsidering my religious beliefs, as my prayers were just answered. 

Via Gizmodo.

August 26, 2014, 1:27 PM EDT

New Yorkers Try to Quiet Union Square From a U.S. Open Umpire's Chair in Heineken Stunt Shhhhhhhh!

Chair umpires in tennis have a thankless job. Sure, they have real work to do, but they spend much of their time babysitting the crowd—and sometimes even babysitting the players.

As part of its sponsorship of the U.S. Open, which began Monday, Heineken recently gave New Yorkers—like it or not—a chance to feel like a real tennis umpire. It set up a U.S. Open umpire's chair in the midst of the always-hectic Union Square, and dared people to climb up and try to silence the crowd using the microphone.

As you can see below, it wasn't easy. And it has a bit of a twist at the end.

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, New York.

August 26, 2014, 1:19 PM EDT

Together at Last: Richard Branson and the Most Interesting Man in the World Debonair duo unite for Virgin Hotels (not Dos Equis)

What do you get when you bring together two of the world's most interesting men? A hotel ad, apparently. 

To promote the upcoming reveal of the first-ever Virgin Hotel, located in Chicago, iconic billionaire Richard Branson has created an ad that also features actor Jonathan Goldsmith, best known as Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man in the World.

Of course, Branson never refers to his costar by his nom de meme, but the creative concept's not too far off from the usual Dos Equis fare. Branson pontificates on rumors about his long-awaited, frequently delayed hotel launch, with mythical tidbits like, "The beds are so springy, they had to lift the ceilings 16 inches."

It's not the most cinematic or flawlessly performed ad. But for a one-city hotel promotion, it's a pretty clever combination of two epic marketing personalities. 

Starting Wednesday, the hotel will also be displaying similar "rumors" outside the building at 203 N. Wabash Ave. If you tweet a rumor of your own from the Virgin Hotels website, you could be entered to win a two-night stay at the hotel.

Click to Read More →

August 26, 2014, 12:07 PM EDT

John Malkovich Makes a Pretty Damn Good Vampire in This Fun French Ad Sink your teeth into Buzzman's spot

John Malkovich plays a vampire in this amusing, cinematic spot from Buzzman promoting French streaming video service Canal Play. His character is also a bank manager. The fangs work either way.

You don't need to understand French to get the message: This toothy dude loves movies and TV shows, and Canal Play delivers them via mobile or desktop.

The Oscar-nominated actor's bald pate, pale complexion and powerful yet goofy presence lend themselves well to his prince of darkness portrayal, though he seems to have no qualms about stalking around in broad daylight. What joie de vivre! Or perhaps, joie de la mort!



His résumé includes Shadow of the Vampire, an art-house/horror hybrid from more than a decade ago, though he didn't play a Nosferatu in that one.

Canal properties have produced some notable ads, most famously "The Bear," a 2012 Cannes Grand Prix winner from BETC. The new 90-second spot doesn't quite rise to those comic heights. Still, a campy script, glossy effects and the star's idiosyncratic turn really bring this sucker to life.

August 26, 2014, 10:36 AM EDT

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AdFreak is your daily blog of the best and worst of creativity in advertising, media, marketing and design. Follow us as we celebrate (and skewer) the latest, greatest, quirkiest and freakiest commercials, promos, trailers, posters, billboards, logos and package designs around. Edited by Adweek's Tim Nudd. Updated every weekday, with a weekly recap on Saturdays.

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