Freak Week: Blasts From the Past

Cloying jingles. Ridiculous dancing. Shameless overacting. You can smell an ’80s ad from across the room. And yet, within the Dagobah of that decade’s commercial output, a few spots manage to shine through the gloom. Last week, AdFreak collected 21 such ads — not necessarily the era’s best, but some diamonds in the rough that made us smile. Michael J. Fox staring down the world’s least scary biker gang for Diet Pepsi? Check. The Nescafé Gold Blend couple and their cheesy sexual tension? Check. The yum-yum fun of Hasbro’s Snoopy Sno Cone Machine? Check. These ads may not all be winners — some are lovable losers. But all are worth revisiting, for the glimmer of nostalgia alone.

Sure, it’s easy to spot a bad logo. But how easy is it to make one? Now’s your chance to find out, thanks to the “How Low Can Your Logo?” contest. Dreamed up by Charleston, S.C., creative studio Fuzzco, the contest asks designers to “willingly create that which you spend your entire life trying not to create: the worst logo ever.” The client is Excellencico, a fake company that “harnesses evolving, dynamic e-technologies to provide unparalleled levels of synergistic e-products to a heterogeneous set of unperpendiculated e-applications.” The grand prize? A Laserdisc player! You have until Dec. 8 to enter. Are you good enough to be truly terrible? Get cracking.

Old TV spots starring celebrities when they were kids are a dime a dozen. But a newly unearthed Shake ‘N Bake spot, circa 1997, starring a 3-year-old Taylor Momsen is a special case. First, the now perpetually surly Gossip Girl actress is adorable in it. And second, it ruined her life. As she tells Revolver magazine: “Everyone’s like, ‘Wow, why is she upset, and why is she so miserable about things?’ My parents signed me up with Ford [Modeling] at the age of 2. No 2-year-old wants to be working, but I had no choice.” See, that cute little breadcrumbs ad wasn’t so cute. It crushed an innocent little soul!

Los Angeles is the proud home of this “Christmas just got gayer” billboard, advertising Treetopia’s “gay,” rainbow-colored Christmas trees. You can argue the product’s merits — the whole point of a Christmas tree is to humiliate it with lights and ornaments, none of which will be as noticeable on a multicolored tree. Still, Treetopia is going all out with this fabulous holiday offering, even inventing a hilarious origin story for it — how it was banished from a bible-school classroom only to resurface in San Francisco, where it was “paraded up and down Castro Street” and burst into tears at being accepted. It may be artificial, but its feelings are real.

Best of BrandFreak: Geico loves the Stooges

While other brands are still wondering what to write on their Facebook pages, Geico has produced an Onion-esque bit of social-media noodling that’s likely to keep its fans happy until the next caveman commercial. As AdFreak’s sister blog reported last week, a Fredricksberg, Va.-based Geico claims adjuster named Brenda Shaw posted a hilarious item on Geico’s blog considering in detail the insurance implications of “Brideless Groom,” a Three Stooges short. Would Geico cover all the stuff that gets broken in the skit? What about the harm done to each Stooge? “The bureau drawer that Moe smashed over Larry’s head, that’s an intentional act,” Shaw writes. “But one of the fine distinctions would be, did Moe intend to cause injury or was the action taken for a different purpose?” The whole thing is great. Next, we hope a Pfizer rep will outline what sorts of psychotropic drugs the Stooges might need to chill out a bit.

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