Freak Week

In our age of CGI, it’s nice when agencies use good old-fashioned animatronics to bring creatures to life in ads. JWT Sydney did so on a major scale for Allen’s Confectionery, teaming up with Oscar-winning animatronics expert John Cox to build a 30-foot-tall doll for a new spot in which the puppet blows giant, colorful oblong bubbles that explode and rain down Allen’s candy. The doll resembles a similar giant puppet created in 2006 by French theater company Royal de Luxe. Pediophobes (people who have a fear of dolls) would be advised to steer clear of both.

Our series on ad-agency Web sites continued last week with a look at BooneOakley, whose URL now redirects to a YouTube channel, where a series of interconnected videos showcase the work, partner bios and more (and include a sad tale about a marketing director who hires a big agency and is eventually murdered). Reaction to the new approach was almost all positive, with only a few gripes about navigation. One reader wrote: “The advantages of originality far outweigh the navigation issues. The site itself is, arguably, their best piece of creative — which is not a criticism on my part at all. It’s a very smart move.”

Louis Vuitton reached for the stars in a new campaign unveiled last week featuring legendary American astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Sally Ride and Jim Lovell. The three are seen gazing at the moon in a new print ad shot by Annie Leibovitz, and will talk about their space travels in an upcoming companion video. The campaign, by Ogilvy & Mather, celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, during which Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first human beings to walk on the moon. The only somewhat discordant detail: The ads promote the $1,530 Icare travel bag, named for the Greek hero who flew too close to the sun.

Somewhat less inspiring was a new campaign by Bohan Advertising & Marketing for the Fazoli’s restaurant chain. One new spot breaks a cardinal rule of the category: If you want your food ad to be appetizing, refrain from showing a disembodied, disgruntled talking stomach mouthing off (so to speak) at the dinner table. Bohan ignored that advice, and for good measure added a talking wallet, which gets physically assaulted by a pepper-mill-wielding waiter. Internal organs plus violence: everything you’ve been looking for in your dining experience.

The least likely product benefit of the week was put forth by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, which suggested that Emerald Nuts can keep you from falling out of an airplane. (The exit door and bathroom door can look the same if you’re low on blood sugar.) In retrospect, though, it probably wasn’t the best commercial to be airing in the wake of a major aviation accident.

Best of BrandFreak: A bogus TV show promotes a real film

AdFreak sister site BrandFreak last week looked at some amusing videos that appeared to promote a new NBC show called Yo Teach!, starring an actor named Mark Taylor Jackson as an inspirational teacher who leads a classroom full of misfit kids from the wrong side of the tracks on a journey of self-discovery. A few clues, though, hinted that the promos might not be on the up-and-up. First, the concept seemed a little too cheesily familiar-and ripe for parody. And second, Mark Taylor Jackson looked a whole lot like Jason Schwartzman. As it turns out, Yo Teach! was part of the extensive campaign leading up to Judd Apatow’s new movie Funny People. Schwartzman’s character is peripheral in the movie itself, but judging by these clips, he might need a movie all his own.

BrandFreak also wrote about some unlikely iPhone apps from Coleman, the camping company, a marketer that would seem as far from technologically savvy as you’d get. But its Creepy Campfire Tales has proven popular in the book-app category. And its Coleman lantern app (a digital version of the iconic lamp) has been downloaded 80,000 times and ranks 18th on the most-popular list. The apps are part of Coleman’s new campaign from Doner that positions the campfire as “the original social-networking site.”