Freak Week

There’s nothing like a rogue ad from Asia to muck with a big American brand’s marketing image at home. It happened to Burger King last week, as this distastefully suggestive execution, running in Singapore, made the rounds online. (Body copy: “Fill your desire for something long, juicy and flame-grilled.”) Gawker made the problem worse by lazily crediting Crispin Porter + Bogusky, when in fact a local Singapore agency was to blame. “Next time take 30 seconds to check the facts,” Alex Bogusky wrote on Twitter, as BK released a statement saying it “values and respects all of its guests” and that the ad supports “a limited promotion in the Singapore market and is not running in the U.S. or any other markets.”

Also making few friends last week was the Portland, Ore., ad community, whose awards show, The Rosey Awards, came out with a self-promotional campaign consisting almost solely of trashing other cities’ creative work. Its concise views on San Francisco: “Goodby this. Goodby that. Fuck Goodby.” Denver, meanwhile, “has everything a great creative city should have. Except great creative.” And Tuscon is “where great creatives go to retire.” It was all in good fun, of course. Rosey’s ambassador Kim Bratner said Portlanders are just “tired of being the best-kept secret in the United States.” A secret if you don’t count Wieden + Kennedy, perhaps.

Also last week, we got to experience a grisly new road-safety commercial from New Zealand agency Clemenger BBDO in Wellington. This is a country that likes to scare people into driving responsibly (it once produced windshield decals that showed children’s heads smashed into the glass), and this new drunk-driving spot is no exception. It shows a pair of drunk guys careening off a road. Only one survives. The other one flops around a bit, his corpse eventually coming to rest on his buddy’s lap. The none-too-subtle tagline: “If you drink then drive, you’re a bloody idiot.”

Only slightly less gory was the new Carl’s Jr. spot starring Hills babe Audrina Patridge, unveiled last week by Mendelsohn Zien. Our own Barbara Lippert reviewed the ad for us. “One of my biggest fears in life is that I will stain my gold lamé bikini with teriyaki sauce while eating a big fat burger on the beach,” she admitted, adding that the spot was actually less off-putting than some of the brand’s previous work. “I appreciate that it’s a somewhat more natural setup than having Paris Hilton hose down a luxury car while sucking and licking the burger on all fours,” she wrote.

Finally, we got our bizarre-infomercial fix last week thanks to a product called the Kush: a cylindrical breast-support product designed to help women sleep better and prevent the appearance of cleavage lines and wrinkles. It’s not quite as weird as, say, the Comfort Wipe (a stick that one uses to wipe oneself) or even the Body Snake (a giant sponge that one uses to wash oneself), but readers were still nonplussed. Wrote one: “If people will buy a pet rock, they will buy anything.”

Best of BrandFreak: Coke commercial lifts spirits in Mexico

Things haven’t been so great down in Mexico lately. They’ve been suffering through the recession like everyone else. They’re dealing with renewed drug violence. And they were the epicenter of the swine-flu outbreak. In light of all that, could a sappy Coca-Cola commercial really make much difference? Maybe not on a large scale, but a new spot from the brand, posted on AdFreak sister blog BrandFreak last week, is meant to function as a kind of small national salve for a country in crisis. The ad uses the song “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie, sung in Spanish, to great effect. The spot is moving and effective, as people from all walks of life step up and sing: students, factory workers, a weatherman and a cute little girl with a great set of pipes. This spot follows a similarly inspiring Coke ad from Spain that showed a 102-year-old man traveling across the country to witness the (real) birth of a baby girl, the newest addition to his family. (Companion outdoor ads beckoned people to take pictures of themselves in their own moments of happiness.) Coke’s English-language ads may not be striking the chord they used to, but in Spanish, they’re doing just fine.