Ad of the Day: eBay

The auction site makes it easier to shop. But are its new ads hard to love?

If you're the type of oaf who can't help but interrupt your child's school play by shouting inanely from the audience, eBay will still take your money.

So says this ad, the fifth in a new series from Venables Bell & Partners for the online auction brand. The spot opens on a stage, and cuts quickly to a glassy-eyed, gaping-mouthed man, presumably a father, dozing off in the seats. The grade-school performers, wearing period costumes that evoke 19th-century westward pioneers (read: the Oregon Trail), begin to sing a vanilla rendition of "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain." But the dad, apparently bored out of his senses, hallucinates an alternate scene in which a yellow sports car spins donuts while, in the background, the kids dance like pistons and chant strangely about the specs of "Kevin's awesome car." Unable to resist the impulse, Kevin uses his smartphone to buy, from his seat, a new set of wheels. Then, rather than quietly savoring his rudeness, he makes an ass of himself by jumping up and loudly shouting about the purchase. Cue the obligatory awkward silence, and even more cringe-worthy apology.

"When it's on your mind, it's on eBay," offers the tagline—a not entirely satisfying explanation. Sure, the commercial makes its basic point clearly enough—buying stuff on eBay from anywhere is easy. The difficult-to-relate-to character, though, hinders the message. And, it seems, he's not alone in the task: An earlier spot in the campaign, "Left Out," features a conference room full of tablet-touting jerks ganging up on the one guy who dares to wield a pen. As Copyranter noted this week, the commercial has a painfully lopsided dislikes-to-likes ratio on YouTube—at last count, more than 7,000 of the former, versus just 250 of the latter.

Good news for eBay: YouTube commenters have deemed the "Mom Jeans" spot to be actually funny. Bad news for eBay: It can't quite replace the less-popular concepts with the swipe of a touch screen.

Client: eBay
Spot: "School Play"
Agency: Venables Bell & Partners
Executive Creative Directors: Paul Venables, Will McGinness
Creative Directors: Lee Einhorn, Tyler Hampton
Art Directors: Greg Wyatt, Will Geddes, Lee Einhorn
Copywriters: Mary Hernandez, Brad Phifer, Tyler Hampton
Director of Integrated Production: Craig Allen
Agency Senior Producer: Emily Moore
Production Company: Arts & Sciences
Director: Matt Aselton
Director of Photography: Toby Irwin
Executive Producer (Arts & Sciences): Marc Marrie
Managing Director (Arts & Sciences): Mal Ward
Line Producer: Eric Sedorovitz
Editorial Company: Arcade Edit
Editors: Geoff Hounsell ("School Play," "Mom Jeans," "Pest Control," "Salon"), Patrick Griffin ("Left Out")
Assistant Editor: Will Hasell
Producer (Arcade): Amburr Farls
Telecine: Mark Gethin, MPC
Sound Design: 740 Sound Design
Sound Designers: Eddie Kim, Andrew Tracy
Music: Beacon Street Studios
Mix: John Bolen, Play Studios
VFX, CG, Online: The Mill, Los Angeles
Executive Producer (The Mill): Sue Troyan
Senior Producer (The Mill): Arielle Davis
Lead Flame: Narbeh Mardirossian
Flame: Gavin Camp
Assistant Flame: Dan Lang, Greg Park
TV End Animation: The Mill
Executive Producer (The Mill): Stephen Venning
Producer (The Mill): Angelo Mazzamuto
Lead Designer: Tom O'Neil
Designer: Greg Park, Justin Sucara
CG Artist: Robert Kim