Freak Week

Our plan for this page is to recap the best (and often worst) of the previous week’s posts at, Adweek’s daily blog. Since this is the first installment, we’ll also go back and relive the glory, heartbreak and humiliation of December’s Freakiest Ad of 2008 contest.

Giving the kids a Scare: “Tales of the road”
Not many modern ad campaigns channel Edwardian poets, or intentionally try to scare the pants off children. This pleasantly creepy road-safety effort from Leo Burnett London, which we highlighted last week, does both. Two ads-“The Boy Who Didn’t Stop, Look and Listen” and “The Girl Who Didn’t Dress Bright in the Dark”-illustrate the consequences of being oblivious to motorists. “Direct and disturbing in that totally delicious way,” wrote a commenter. Burnett group ecd Jonathan Burley says of the work: “I’m nearly as proud of its creative ambition as I am of its potential to keep children safe on the roads.”

A Monstrous job search: The Ladders

We also featured Fallon’s new spot for job site The Ladders, which showed small-fry Japanese monsters failing to wreak havoc on a city. Suddenly, a giant creature appears and shows them how it’s done-an ideal client for The Ladders, which only deals with “the big talent” (those making $100,000 or more). Viewers who make less might take offense. But it was hard to resist the behind-the-scenes videos showing one of the small monsters, a bitter, sloppy, drunken English thespian, complaining about his treatment on the set.

The Freakiest Ad of 2008: “Evil Dead”

We started out our Freakiest Ad of 2008 contest with 32 contenders: 21 TV spots, seven print ads, two Web sites, one street-marketing effort and one ad agency video. The field included major advertisers (Skittles’ piñata guy, Old Spice’s centaur) and minor ones (an Israeli bookstore, a Swedish juice maker). More than half of the ads came from outside the U.S. And as a group, they could be divided into five basic categories: nudity, violence, creepiness, grossness and Gary Busey.

After four initial votes, we had four finalists: a gory/comic spot for Evil Dead the Musical; a Doritos spot with a haywire, spicy, disembodied tongue; Converse’s sloppy smooch-training site; and a Dutch Socialist Party political spot with an 86-year-old woman who completely disrobes on camera. In the four-way final, the Evil Dead ad, from Saatchi & Saatchi Toronto and Spy Films, bloodied the competition, winning the contest easily with 49 percent of the vote.

Our winner from 2007, a viral for Showtime’s Dexter, also centered on mock violence, suggesting that a sinister element always helps when you really want to wig people out.

Visit and click on the “Freakiest Ads of 2008” box in the right column to see all the ads from the contest.