Freak Week

Mother in London last week unveiled one of the stranger Cola-Cola spots we’ve seen in a while. It involves a hipster-vagrant, Pied Piper-type dude who lugs a box up a hillside and unpacks it to reveal a nifty magical organ powered by the singing of tiny, Coke-fueled gremlins. When they begin to play, the sound attracts hippies who traipse o’er hill and dale from miles around to join the rave, where bottles of Coke are now sprouting up from the ground. Whatever’s in the Coke they’re drinking at Mother, we’d like to order some, too.

Also disturbing, though a whole lot less artful, was a local car-dealer commercial from Florence & White Ford of Smithville, Tenn., which presented as its new spokesman a little boy with an adult’s mouth digitally (and poorly) grafted on to his face. The man-child extolls the prices and inventory at the dealership, and then gratuitously refers to his mom, who sits grinning nearby, as a “mothertrucker.” Reaction was mixed. Wrote one reader: “No wonder the U.S. auto industry is in trouble.” Added another: “When an agency like Crispin does disturbing, weird and creepy commercials, they win awards. When a local car dealership does it, they get scorn and derision.”

How to sum up the latest H&M TV commercial over in Britain? It’s just your average surreal smorgasbord of sex, meteorites, creepy dolls and pink ponies. The spot, released last week, celebrates the clothing chain’s launch of a new collection by designer Matthew Williamson. All the weirdness of your typical fashion print campaign, now on TV.

Meanwhile, in fast food, White Castle (and agency Zimmerman) found themselves in the awkward position of having to introduce a new pulled-pork sandwich in the middle of a swine-flu scare. But they made matters worse with a mind-boggling choice of plot for the TV commercial. The ad shows a female pig dancing exotically on stage for the pleasure of a smattering of Whitey’s-eating young men; she eventually pulls a lever, drenching herself with a giant splash of tangy sauce from above. A sexualized pig putting on a striptease show to celebrate her imminent destruction and conversion into a sandwich: It’s onion-like in its various layers of wrong.

It wasn’t all disfigured kids and unearthly creatures last week. The team at Unknownlab, consisting of executives laid off from TBWA\Chiat\Day, tried to lift the spirits of the newly unemployed across the industry with, a Web site that collects images of people’s old business cards marked up with messages of hope for the future (as well as new contact info). A bit hokey? Perhaps. But the goal is to help these people and “connect them with new opportunities from potential employers, business partners and people who make the effort to look on the bright side of life.”

BEST OF TWEETFREAK: Lessons from Romeo the Cat Twitterer

Everyone wants to know how advertising will fit into Twitter. Clues can lead to unlikely people and places-and yes, even pets. Last week on TweetFreak, we had a look at Romeo, a cat who’s been Twittering since February. (His owner, Caroline Golon, who works at Paul Werth Associates, a PR and marketing agency, helps him a bit with the typing.) Romeo has amassed more than 4,000 followers from all across the world (from the U.S. to Australia and New Zealand to Spain and Great Britain), gotten ink in USA Today (and dozens of pet publications) and cut endorsement deals with a number of brands: among them, Feline Pine cat litter, the FURminator grooming tool, Wellness pet food and Clean + Green pet products. The brands pay Romeo to meow enthusiastically about their products on Twitter and on a new blog Golon has set up. The Twitter shout-outs are pretty subtle. Sometimes Romeo holds contests to give away a sponsor’s product. So far, he has raked in $12,500 of donations for animal rescues, Golon says. (She offered to make a 5-cent contribution to the Humane Society of the United States for every person who becomes part of Romeo’s community.) “I think this shows that if you find the right community and have the right message, you can make some things happen,” she says.