Freak Week

Animals, as they so often do, played a starring role in advertising last week. At the top of the beastly heap was a neat outdoor ad by Deutsch for Tylenol PM that projected images on the blank side of a building showing sheep bouncing gleefully off a text-mattress which read, “Sleep tight.” (A pair of Flickr users posted a video of it to their page, and we then posted it on AdFreak.) The execution was part of a bigger projection campaign. Another ad cast images of apartment windows, with the Tylenol PM users’ dwellings dark and the others bustling with insomniacal activity.

Snickers broke a new campaign called “Snickers speak” last week that featured ads with goofy words (like “Nougetaboutit”) spelled out in the familiar Snickers-logo font. The digital agency Poke, though, felt that the Web site was lacking, so they made their own:, which allowed visitors to make downloadable words themselves. Snickers took swift offense, and forced Poke, sadly, to take the site down.

Following its well-received Super Bowl spot with Alec Baldwin, Hulu returned last week with a second spot from Crispin Porter + Bogusky starring actress Eliza Dushku of Fox’s Dollhouse. The setup was essentially the same — she’s an alien jonesing to eat your brain, which has been Hulu-ed into a soft and mushy mess by too much Internet television. But the ads are instant winners. That’s just the way they roll.

The nerdiest marketing story of the week, this one also involving an animal, came out of Baltimore, where a guy at the local tourism group initiated a bizarre challenge on Twitter. Tom Rowe, who runs the @BaltimoreMD Twitter account, said his friend Ryan Goff  (aka @tweetbomb) would get a tattoo of Twitter’s famed fail whale if he could get past 3,000 followers that day. Within hours, he reached that milestone, and Goff got etched with the whale’s image (on live Webcam, for all to see) The stunt got lots of play on Twitter and around the blogosphere. And if nothing else, all these new followers of Baltimore tourism’s official Twitter feed know which city is worth a visit if you’re really intent on getting a seriously silly tattoo.

Commercial parodies are a dime a dozen, but Upright Citizens Brigade’s sketch comedy team The Midnight Show put together a doozy last week starring Andy Richter. In the spot, ostensibly a Nissan ad, Richter gets into a pissing contest with a neighbor over their respective new cars. As they talk, it becomes obvious that Richter has bought the crappier vehicle. Eventually, his anger overwhelms him, and he disposes of his rival with help from about a dozen shots from a handgun. “Wow, Andy Richter, you just went from being Conan’s bitch to American Hero in one quick film,” wrote Jalopnik.


Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis Tower?

The excrement was just beginning to hit the fan at the end of last week over the impending renaming of Chicago’s Sears Tower as the Willis Tower, in honor of the landmark 110-story building’s big new tenant, Willis Group Holdings. AdFreak’s sister blog, BrandFreak, relayed Willis CEO Joseph J. Plumeri’s significant excitement over scoring the naming rights, which Sears had claimed since the building went up in 1970. “What Plumeri forgets is that few people outside his business have known or cared about Willis Group Holdings. Now, everyone will hate them,” BrandFreak pointed out. Readers were split. “Why don’t we try welcoming a new company to the community instead of trying to whip up something to be upset about?” wrote one. Another replied: “If Willis were to go to Paris and rename the Eiffel Tower the Willis Tower do you think Parisians would mind? Likewise, if Willis went to China and renamed the Great Wall of China as The Willis Great Wall [that] the Chinese would mind? Of course they would! It is disrespectful. Period. … It’s purely an egotistical marketing ploy attempting to put Willis’ name out there in a high profile way to make a buck. Everyone recognizes that. And no one respects it.” Read more at