The 30 Freakiest Ads of 2012The year's goofiest, spookiest and most bewildering spots
Agency: JWT, Melbourne
Killing cute creatures is an odd advertising plot choice. Yet Ford Australia went there anyway with this weird "Cane Toad Road" spot for the Ford Falcon and its six-cylinder EcoBoost engine. Cane toads may be a dangerous, feral, much-disliked species in Australia. Still, we get to know a pair of them quite well in this 90-second spot. And while they're not exactly sympathetic characters—one of them spends much of the time licking his own toxic secretions—you sort of end up liking them. So, when one of the toads is mercilessly run over, it's an awkward moment. Not everyone took it well. "Fuck ford cars for killing Raphie," reads the top comment on YouTube.
Agency: DDB, Amsterdam
Country: The Netherlands
Three words: quivering butt cheeks. This whole Dutch insurance commercial is pretty quirky. But it's the moment right around the 0:12 mark, when the suave speedboat driver quakes in his red Speedos, that takes it to another realm. Even the guy's date is suddenly horrified, perhaps wondering if she should jump overboard. She needn't worry—she'll be in the water soon enough. The spot, which has a nice unexpected ending, carries the longtime tagline "Just call Apeldoorn," which is the Dutch city where Centraal Beheer is based.
Agency: Barton F. Graf 9000, New York
It's a bizarre premise for a pasta-sauce ad: A boy walks in on his parents having sex in the afternoon, then needs a hearty meal as fuel to begin the arduous mental work of burying the traumatic images as far from his conscious mind as possible. The spot for the Unilever brand caused a stir during the Olympics, and was part of a larger campaign about the difficulties of being a kid. The tagline: "A long day of childhood calls for America's favorite pasta sauce."
Agency: George Patterson Y&R, Sydney
It's hard not to get sucked in by this strange LG commercial—much like the plus-size model it features, whose flesh is disturbingly pulled trim and taut by the impressive suction power of a Kompressor vacuum cleaner. The sound effect of her body returning to normal after the shoot, when the Kompressor is turned off, can only be described as gross as hell. Yet almost 2 million people sat rapt in front of the YouTube video. Thankfully, comments were disabled.
Agency: Heimat, Berlin
Hornbach, a German home-improvement chain, has done a slew of weird commercials over the years. Most notable was "The Infinite House" from 2010—nine of the most sublimely odd minutes in advertising. "Festival," a surreal, cinematic 45-second spot from this year, upholds the client's quirky traditions nicely. We get fluttering, laughing cherubs; creepy gazing deer; and a whole festival of fans ready to cheer a do-it-yourselfer's perfect hammering of a nail into a deck. Great slow-motion visuals and evocative sound design capture that quiet, euphoric feeling of doing one's own home projects. Now, our hero just needs to repeat the epic process a few hundred more times, and the deck will be done.