The 30 Freakiest Ads of 2012The year's goofiest, spookiest and most bewildering spots
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Agency: Fitzroy, Amsterdam
Country: The Netherlands
When a commercial is titled "Upskirt," you know it's going to be a sleazy affair. And so it is with this Hyundai spot from Holland, created by the dirtbags at ad agency Fitzroy. There's lots of hot weather, drippy ice cream, perspiring women, and yes, fluttering skirts—as a bunch of overheated ladies get even more worked up by the Hyundai in their midst. The slogan is "New thinking. New possibilities." But of course, this is the oldest auto marketing trick in the book—just taken to extremes.
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Paris
Oh look, more sweaty people. An oppressive heat wave is enveloping Earth in this fantastical Perrier spot, directed by Swedish music-video director Johan Renck. Who can save humanity? A beautiful model in a futuristic gold space suit, of course! How? By climbing into a translucent orb and shooting off into space to tackle the source of the problem! With a anxious world watching, our heroine arrives at the sun, intending to douse it with Perrier, but she's so parched that she drinks the whole bottle herself. But wait, no. All it takes to cool the sweltering star is a single leftover drop flicked from the woman's lips. Perrier: So refreshing, it can solve global warming.
Agency: Mother, New York
Relentless, angry, piercing screams aren't generally the best way to endear people to your brand. And indeed, plenty of people had issues with this dystopian JCPenney TV spot in which customers screamed in horror at the chaos of retail shopping and the endless vagaries of sales and promotions. The point? JCPenney was lowering prices across the board, and ending its weekly sales advertised in Sunday newspapers. Many viewers just wanted the screaming to end. "This is the worst ad of all time," wrote one woman in an official complaint. "Stop it immediately!" Say what you will, but people took notice of the spot—for the right reasons or not.
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Terry Crews has been perfecting the role of amped-up spokesfreak for Old Spice for years. This year, he added an extra element of surprise by crashing a pair of commercials for Procter & Gamble sister brands Charmin and Bounce—delivering an ear-splitting pitch for Old Spice body spray. "It's so powerful, it sells itself in other people's commercials!!!" he screams after driving his jet ski through the wall of a suburban mom's home and into her laundry room. She tries to respond, but his twitching pecs silence her. For an exit, he smashes through the ceiling. Easy come, easy go.
Director: David Lynch
Hollywood auteur David Lynch, a renowned coffee hound (he used to throw back 20 cups of instant per day), recently developed his own line of coffee. And, no surprise here, he's been making strange and disturbing ads for it. Last year, we had the super-creepy spot in which Lynch made breathy small talk with a clenched Barbie head. He followed that up this year with a more shadowy spot—with ominous sound effects, brief flashes of light illuminating scenes of the coffee-making process, and shots of dusty espresso powder, dripping brown liquid, and a woman with blood-red nails drinking from a mug. "Oh yeah," a distant female voice echoes. To which one can only reply, "Oh no."
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