Freak Week

Nails on a chalkboard: Microsoft Songsmith
Last week truly was a banner week for the bizarre on AdFreak. At the top of the heap was a wonderfully terrible long-form ad for Microsoft’s Songsmith software. The program generates music to match a singer’s voice; the ad was a twisted wreckage of bad acting, worse singing and even worse music. Was the spot intentionally campy, or just plain bad? Hard to say. But it was, as one commenter nicely put it, “the Cop Rock of ads.”

A fishy rebranding: PETA’s ‘Sea kittens’
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals received a typically bemused response from the blogosphere when it announced that it would start referring to fish as “sea kittens,” in an attempt to get people to stop eating them. Among the more sarcastic responses, several folks on Twitter suggested a counter-campaign in which cats could be known as “land fish.”

Join me in my study: Aussie awards video
Parodies of the ad industry usually feature your typical clichéd characters: the scruffy creative, the anal account executive, the overbearing client. This video, titled “The Importance of Awards in Advertising,” featured a brand-new character: the German-Indian bisexual dandy who hosts gay orgies in his study. Released by the Australian Writers and Art Directors Association, it’s by far the most disturbing industry video we’ve ever seen. And we’ve seen lots.

Sore spot: Aussie skin-cancer PSA
Staying on the depraved isle of Australia for a moment, this skin-cancer awareness video was likely the first PSA of its kind to feature a giant, red, cancerous sore who raps about the dangers of the sun. Great makeup work to go along with the incomparable hip-hop stylings of the Aussie rapper star Al Bino. Viewers ended up humming to themselves for hours afterward: “It’s a beautiful day … for cancer.”

Your customer, the idiot: Healthy Choice ad
We also looked at a new campaign last week for Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers, a new set of quick-serve meals that require a few extra steps before microwaving. How does the company portray the guy who has just bought one of the meals? As a bumbling dolt who’s baffled by the whole process. Way to butter up your target market.

Vagina monologue  Lactacyd commercial
You didn’t ask for it. You really didn’t want it. But you got it anyway: a commercial from Grey Amsterdam for Lactacyd vaginal cream, shot from the point of view of a vagina. Oh, goody. Without going into the gory details, the idea was to show the various travails the vajayjay is forced to endure in a given day, with Lactacyd offered as the savior at the end. Thanks for that, GlaxoSmithKline.

Biology of object lust: Very evolved
Marketing is all about getting people to want things. But what’s the biology behind it? A site called Very Evolved last week tackled the issue of “object lust.” “We’re still walking around with the same brain that evolved during the Stone Age,” the writer says, “so the question becomes even more bizarre: why would a caveman fall in love with a shiny new toy like the Lotus Elise?” Hint: It involves dopamine and reinforcement. []

Director of the month: Scamp
U.K. ad blog Scamp started a new feature last week: reviewing a director’s reel once a month. “Partly,” Scamp says, “it’s because I feel like championing some new talent this year rather than just slagging everything off, and partly it’s to get us talking about the craft of making ads, and not just reviewing the actual ads themselves.” []

Emerging careers of ’09: The Social Path
We’re admittedly biased here again, as The Social Path is penned by one of AdFreak’s writers, David Griner. But he’s got a good series of guest pieces posted that offer predictions on the emerging careers of 2009. Includes a cameo by Leigh Householder, author of the Advergirl blog. []