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Freak Week

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Slap in the face: U.K. stroke awareness ads
The British have a talent for creating PSAs that scare the trousers off viewers.
The safe-driving ads are usually the worst, but last week it was a public-health effort that gave us the chills. With the help of CGI, two new spots showed people suffering a stroke -- a graphic depiction meant to help people recognize the symptoms. The primary reaction online was a mix of shock and off-color humor, as some Britons wondered if they’d be able to tell if a friend had had a stroke or just a few too many pints.

Fountain of youth: Viagra in Mexico
E.D. ads get ridiculed a lot, and rightly so. They tend to be embarrassing, to say the least. But a new Viagra spot from Z Publicidad in Mexico proves it doesn’t have to be that way. With its narrative of older lovers literally growing younger before our eyes, the spot adds a touch of class to the often-mortifying genre.

Creature comforts: Belgian mass-transit ads
Advertising for public transit also tends to be embarrassingly bad, or else overly preachy. But Belgian agency Duval Guillaume manages to liven things up with a pair of light-hearted animated spots showing why, in the wild, traveling in groups is the wisest thing. When in Belgium, do as the animals do.

Hitting the fan: British glade spots
Back in the U.K. for a moment, we found another set of ads to be assaulting the public sensibility over there: SC Johnson’s spots for its Glade Touch’n Fresh air fresheners. The latest one shows a boy who utters the phrase “do a poo” no fewer than three times. This follows an earlier spot that opened with a kid sitting on the toilet, waving his hand and shouting, “Pwahh, it stinks!” Wrote one YouTube uploader: “How weird is this advert? I mean WEIRD. Sometimes I think I should get a job in advertising just to stop stupid crap like this being made.”

Pit stop: Boost Mobile gets gross
Hey look, finally, a freakish campaign that’s not from Europe! It’s the Boost Mobile work from 180LA. In one new commercial, a coroner drops his breakfast burrito inside a corpse during an autopsy, then plucks it out and continues eating it. In another, a bicycling woman shows off her long, flowing locks -- the ones growing from her armpit. Neither of these things is wrong, the characters insist. What’s wrong is cell phone companies charging hidden fees. A bit of a stretch? Certainly. But we can’t leave all the disgusting and disturbing sales pitches to the British. Not everyone was impressed. Wrote one of our readers: “Seriously 180LA, would a little subtlety kill you?”

BEST OF THE REST -- TOP POSTS FROM OTHER MARKETING BLOGS:

Snubbing Don: Cinematical
Cinematical was hopping mad last week that Don LaFontaine, the movie-trailer voiceover king who died in September, was not honored in the Oscars’ “In Memorium” montage. Erik Davis wrote: “This has to be one of their biggest snubs ever. And I don’t care if the guy didn’t belong to the right club or organization in order to have his work recognized by the Academy -- fact is, his voice helped sell the biggest (and smallest) movies of our time. He is (and always will be) a Hollywood legend. The Academy should be ashamed.”

Pardon the interruption: @bmorrissey
We also draw your attention to Adweek digital editor Brian Morrissey’s blog, @bmorrissey. Last week’s posts included one about interruption: “Display ads have mostly behaved, staying in their little areas off to the side where they can be safely ignored. Facebook, the new darling of the digital world, treats advertising as a necessary evil. The concept of interrupting users appears abhorrent to its executives. As a user, I applaud that. I also think it’s stupid. The economy sucks. Display ad rates are in the toilet. It’s probably time publishers treat their users like grown-ups. That means interruption.”