Freak Week

New Zealand continues to produce some supremely wacky PSAs. When it’s not using gruesome imagery to horrify its populace into driving safely, it’s creating cinema-quality pro-bono ads starring 7-foot-tall animatronic yetis. We posted one such ad last week from Colenso BBDO for LandSAR (Land Search and Rescue). It shows a yeti rescuing a guy named Dave, who’s been injured while climbing in a remote area. The creature carries him to a camp, and they get comfy by a fire. But then the yeti vanishes, and Dave is back on the mountain. “In reality, we’re your only way out,” says the on-screen copy. Seems like a pretty lavish production to address an issue that surely affects only a tiny segment of the population.

We also came across some odd candy commercials last week. One, for Mentos Aqua Kiss by BBH in London, featured a pair of well-known beatboxers — Neil Thomas and Killa Kela — battling outside a gas station, “Dueling Banjos” style, for the heart of a pretty young honey. It’s a pretty even contest until one of the guys pops a Mentos Aqua Kiss, causing his mouth to enter floppy beatbox overdrive. The ad’s creators said they pointed a compressed air gun at the actor’s face while he was beatboxing to distort his face. No animatronics necessary.

The other goofy candy spot last week was the latest in the long-running Skittles freakfest campaign from TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York. This new commercial features a pair of roommates, one of whom has disobeyed orders and eaten Skittles from a giant hourglass owned by the other guy. Somehow, the roommate’s snacking has sped up time for his friend, who’s transforming before our eyes from a hip young man to a confused and doddering old fool. Which serves as another reminder that you can’t leave your enormous, Skittles-filled hourglass just lying around the apartment.

And speaking of gruesome ads that horrify people into driving safely, yes, we did see another one of those last week. This spot came from Australia — specifically, from Grey in Melbourne and Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission. It shows a guy smoking dope and then getting behind the wheel, with his wife in the passenger seat. After running over a curb and swerving a bit, he realizes he’s in no shape to drive and pulls over so they can switch. But as he exits the car, he gets flattened by a passing truck. The ad doesn’t skimp on the brutality but is lacking some logic. Why does the guy get destroyed immediately after he decides to do the right thing? As one reader wrote: “If you take the literal message of the story, it’s ‘Once you take the wheel stoned, don’t get out of the driver’s seat.'”

Finally, are your dog’s insides so ravaged that he becomes a living flamethrower when he urinates? If so, the folks at WebVet can help. Their new online video from McCann Erickson in New York shows just such a conflagrating canine — a condition (along with scores of others) for which WebVet can apparently offer some advice. WebVet liked its burgeoning YouTube count, writing on its blog: “This puppy’s going global.”

Best of BrandFreak: A naked Terrell Owens irritates L.A.

AdFreak’s sister site BrandFreak last week reported on the aversion in parts of Los Angeles to naked images of Terrell Owens. The NFL star went au naturel on a billboard to promote his new VH1 program The T.O. Show, but not everyone was impressed by his muscular physique. In particular, some were unhappy that the ad, on the corner of La Cienega and Olympic, was very close to a private Jewish elementary school. The poster does not reveal anything that isn’t kosher, but it was swapped with another shot showing the athlete’s upper back and arms spread like eagle wings. The sexier shot ended up on Santa Monica at Palm — in way-gay-friendly West Hollywood.

BrandFreak also looked at a project that landed Asics in the Guinness Book of World Records. To promote its GEL-Lyte III shoe, Asics depicted the colorful sneaker in an 11-by-15-foot Lite-Brite picture using more than 300,000 pegs. The work of art is now touring the country this summer. Hasbro’s Lite-Brite has illuminated homes with its colorful pegs and lighted backgrounds since 1967. So, rather than view Asics’ project as a waste of time and money, let’s call it a nostalgic pop-culture relic.