Freak Week

For better or worse, last week was all about the female anatomy on AdFreak. The oddest example was a 12-minute Tampax video by Leo Burnett in which a 16-year-old boy named Zack wakes up one morning having suddenly switched genders down below. He spends most of the long-form ad sulking, freaking out or both-until the end, when he gets his period during French class, and Tampax comes to the rescue. It’s some of the most bizarre work we’ve seen this year, and all the more surprising since it came from Procter & Gamble.

Just as odd, though half a century old, was the series of vintage Wilkins Coffee commercials that we posted last week. Created by Muppets genius Jim Henson way back in 1957, the 10-second spots depict two characters, Wilkins and Wontkins. Wontkins keeps refusing to drink Wilkins coffee, so Wilkins maims him or outright murders him in various horrible ways. Apparently, the ad where Wontkins gets shot in the head from a mysterious arm that appears from the left aired for the first time on the day JFK was assassinated. (That’s bad luck.) The ads provoked plenty of nostalgia from readers. Wrote one: “Awesome. From a time before we all became a bunch of ninnies.”

As advertising trends go, this one’s pretty inexplicable. Last week, for the second time this year, we stumbled upon a commercial filmed from the point of view of a woman’s vagina. The first ad, which we posted in January, came from Grey Amsterdam and promoted GlaxoSmithKline’s Lactacyd vaginal cream. This new one is from Cossette in Vancouver for the B.C. Cancer Agency, and urges women to get screened for cervical cancer. The squirm factor for the viewer is mitigated somewhat by the clever placement: in cinemas, where the curtains part, the 15-second ad plays (mirroring the brevity of the exam itself), and the curtains close again.

Also last week, we ran across one of the more unusual diaper ads we’ve seen. Created by Gerry Graf and Harold Einstein at Saatchi & Saatchi for Luvs, the two-minute clip dramatizes “what it feels like for a child to be told they’re getting a new sibling.” It shows a woman informing her husband, after some light buttering up, that a younger, more attractive man is moving in and will be getting a share of her affections. The hunky dude then appears, much to the dismay of the husband, whose bewildered protestations fall on deaf ears. “Luvs understands what it’s like to be a child,” says the on-screen copy. “For more information on raising a happy, healthy child, go to luvsdiapers.com.”

Rounding things out was a questionable Oreo commercial from Draftfcb in New York, showing a cow’s udders straining and moaning to reach a child who’s taunting them with cookies. “Milk’s favorite cookie,” says the tagline. Not our favorite spot of all time.

Best of BrandFreak: Spam livens things up in animated ads

AdFreak sister site BrandFreak last week posted a trio of great new stop-motion-animated commercials for Spam (the Hormel lunchmeat, not the junk e-mail). The ad, created by BBDO in Minneapolis and produced by Laika (the studio that worked on the film Coraline), shows various food like eggs, bread and macaroni and cheese sleepwalking through their boring old lives-until Spam arrives on the scene, when suddenly the disco ball starts spinning, the bass starts pumping and the food starts grooving to a tasty beat. Laika also put together a lengthy behind-the-scenes video, showing the always-fascinating process of how the stop-motion came together.

Also last week, BrandFreak posted about the addition of Homer Simpson to the roster of voices available to users of TomTom GPS devices. The news was met with much rejoicing on the part of Simpsons fans, though a few wondered if the devices would still work properly. Said one reader: “I think Homer would direct you straight to Moe’s Tavern.”