Ad of the Day: Virgin Mobile

Wayne Coyne and Colonel Meow retrain your brain, or at least mess with it

I usually have at least one question for our intrepid Ad of the Day candidates. But I have several for Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne. First, why did you make me play that one album on four different boom boxes sitting in the corners of my living room? Also, what in the world is going on in your new Virgin Mobile commercial?

Coyne is in this ad (following his and the band's recent turn for Hyundai), telling us to retrain our brains, and it feels a lot like watching one of the weirder Flaming Lips songs (like this cover of "If I Only Had a Brain," for example). My favorite moment here is the "cat video" of a person playing with a ball of yarn, apparently filmed by Colonel Meow, not to be confused with Chairman Meow. The brain leaping off the reverse-exploding couch is also quite effective, as are the red-suited interpretive dancers who swirl the giant Kleenex through the air.

One of the most solid axioms of copywriting is that if you don't have anything to say, say something funny, and that is exactly what this spot does. Honestly, pay-as-you-go cellphones don't really seem like that great of an idea anymore, but Virgin is sticking to its guns and Coyne is convincing enough to make you go, "Wait, why was my cellphone bill $95 last month, again?" It might not make you switch, but it makes you laugh, and that keeps the ad's subject on your mind.

I'm also not convinced it's not forcibly inserting itself into your brain in some weird way. This is the kind of thing I watch and then expect to start clucking like a chicken an hour later solely to amuse people like Coyne and agency Mother.

The New York agency has done a great job on this one, too. The casting is great, and it's got a solid Adult Swim vibe. To be honest, it feels most like something from the late, lamented Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, which is a little weird, since Tim Heidecker usually works for Weiden + Kennedy. Maybe it's just the Flaming Lips effect.

Also, Wayne, is this part of a new direction for the band? Why did you put out your last record exclusively on vinyl for two months? Does not having a turntable make me a loser? Cluck cluck cluck cluck cluck … !


Client: Virgin Mobile

Agency: Mother, New York