Freak Week

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Gross and disgusting seemed to be the general theme on AdFreak last week, and no ad was more revolting than the Pfizer advisory from the U.K. warning people not to order prescription drugs through illegal Web sites. You never know what you’re going to get, the spot says — it could even contain rat poison. This is horrifyingly illustrated in the cinema spot with a man who takes a pill and suddenly feels a dead rat lodged in his throat, which he then yanks painfully out by the tail. Dozens of people complained about the spot to the U.K.’s Ad Standards Authority, but the regulatory body refused to condemn it, saying its goal “justified the use of hard-hitting imagery.”
Much more lighthearted was the spoof PSA from poking fun at the recent alarmist spot about gay marriage from the National Organization for Marriage. In the parody, the dark storm clouds are even darker, the threat of gay unions even more threatening, and the wooden, dubious testimonials even more stilted and moronic. The spot’s celebrity actors include Alicia Silverstone, Lance Bass and the great Jane Lynch, who asks for help at the end of the spot in building a Giant Gay Repellent Umbrella to protect humanity against the rain of gays coming from the dark and stormy clouds.
The French don’t mess about when it comes to grand advertising visions. A Lipton ad, for example, doesn’t just have to be your typical boring old tea commercial. It can feature a giant female-only swimming-pool orgy with ladies feeding giant fruit to each other. That was the thinking at DDB Paris, which did just that in a trippy commercial for Lipton Forest Fruit tea. The capper was the choice of music for the soundtrack: the equally hallucinatory Willy Wonka song about the “world of pure imagination.”
When the ShamWow guy got arrested a couple of weeks back for punching a prostitute, we felt sorry for the whole infomercial category, which prides itself on activities that are undignified but usually not illegal. Well, our faith in the genre was restored by a spot we discovered last week for the Body Snake, a serpent-like sponge for people too rotund to wash themselves properly otherwise. It’s casually offensive in that typical late-night way. And the company wisely cast several actors in the ad-insurance in the event that any one of them ends up incarcerated.
Finally, the feel-good story of the week involved a copywriter with a dream: the dream of dressing up as Welchy, the mascot of Welch’s grape jelly, and dancing for strangers. That copywriter is Amos Goss of Via. Last fall he arrived dressed as Welchy to a meeting with senior Welch’s executives and proceeded to show off an impressive array of dance moves. Either impressed or frightened, the client agreed to have Via shoot a dance video, which played all season long on the Jumbotron during Boston Celtics games — and turned Welchy into a cult hero in the process.
BEST OF TWEETFREAK: John Hodgman on Apple’s New Ads
Each day on TweetFreak we post Tweets of the Day from advertising and marketing people. Our favorite last week came from @hodgman, aka John Hodgman, the author and humorist who plays the PC in TBWA’s “Get a Mac” campaign. Hodgman and Justin Long, who plays the Mac, appear in a raft of new ads this month, including one in which PC travels to the year 2150 to check on the state of computing. When he arrives, Future Mac and Future PC greet him with an odd two-fingered salute. Hodgman wrote on Twitter: “Justin Long invented those weird ‘futuristic’ hand gestures in the new television ads. I really hope they are not secretly something dirty.”

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.