Freak Week

The short week after Memorial Day was long on absurdity in the ad world. And Gillette led the way with a set of instructional videos for men that included one about how to properly shave one’s private parts. “Trees look taller when there’s no underbrush,” the comically metaphorical copy suggested. “This is possibly the most ridiculous serious commercial that I have ever seen,” wrote one AdFreak reader. Added another: “I wonder how long the copywriters lamented over the line ‘Consider the unique topographical features under your hood.’ … I’m just quietly impressed with the whole thing!”

NBA playoff season saw an advertising controversy erupt last week, as Orlando’s Dwight Howard publicly bristled about the ubiquity of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James’s playoff-themed ads for Vitaminwater and Nike. Writing on his blog, Howard complained that it was “really disrespectful that everybody seems to be pulling for LeBron and Kobe to get to the finals. … It’s like nobody is even giving us a shot at winning this series.” (At press time, the Magic were up 3-2 against James’s Cavaliers.) “Aiiight, ya’ll,” Howard continued, “I guess I gotta go watch another one of these LeBron and Kobe commercials on TV. Naw, just kiddin.”

The disturbing advertising sight of the week came from the new round of Boost Mobile “Unwrong’d” spots. Two new commercials feature racing star Danica Patrick. In one, she signs a zealous, chubby überfan’s man boobs at the track; in another, she is tended to by a male pit crew in drag. “You think that’s wrong?” she says in both ads, before telling the viewer what’s really wrong-getting rooked by one’s mobile carrier. The agency, 180LA, waxed philosophical about reversed gender roles, but the campaign’s really just about comedic shock value.

The most offensive foreign ad of the week came from Australia, where the Advanced Medical Institute, which treats sexual disorders, again found itself in hot water. The new TV ad for the company, which earlier upset folks with a giant billboard urging people to “Bonk longer,” appeared to suggest premature ejaculation is a crime. It shows the “bedroom police” threatening to issue a speeding ticket to the man unless he calls AMI. One viewer complained: “Essentially [the ad is saying] you are not a real man unless you can last hours and hours and hours having sexual intercourse, and your relationship is not a real relationship unless you are having hours and hours and hours of sexual intercourse. Do we have to hear about this?” The ad was banned.

Finally, the best ad parody of the week arrived courtesy of a comedy group called Magic Hugs, which put together a ShamWow spoof celebrating the wonders of the ordinary paper towel. “Stick it in the water, and it soaks up all the water!” Amazing.

Best of TweetFreak Twitter throwdown: Jaffe vs. Marchese

Last week featured an epic battle of two Twitter heavyweights in Manhattan. In one corner: Joseph Jaffe, the “chief interrupter” at Crayon, who just hit the 10,000-follower mark (which, depending on whom you talk to, is somewhere between hitting .300 in tee ball and Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak). Jaffe was planning to host a Tweetup last Wednesday to celebrate. In the other corner: Joe Marchese, president of Social Vibe, a company that runs cause-marketing programs for brands in social media. He was holding a Tweetup the same night, just for the heck of it. Naturally, your typical fun-seeking, savvy social-media observer was torn. Which party to attend? Marchese seemed to have the edge in terms of location: the Lower East Side, vs. Jaffe’s Upper East Side. Marchese also had an open bar, while Jaffe was promising just one free drink per person. And yet Jaffe had the edge in terms of openness — to attend, you just had to follow him (@jaffejuice) and the bar on Twitter; Marchese’s party, meanwhile, was invite-only — you had to follow him on Twitter (@joemarchese) and send him a message to get a message back with details. On Thursday, when the dust settled, we put it to a vote: Whose party ended up being better? Marchese ended up winning almost 2-to-1.