Freak Week: Freakiest Ads of 2010

December is when our blog lives up to its name, as we assemble the year’s 30 freakiest ads. This year we had a bumper crop, with themes ranging from death, sex, zombies and farting to car accidents, domestic abuse, cancer, clowns and lesbian CPR demonstrations. It’s also a geographically varied list, with contributions not just from the U.S. but countries including New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Argentina, Mexico and all over Europe. The No. 1 spot went to a devastating National Domestic violence hotline video from Young & Rubicam in Chicago (and director Dave Meyers) featuring a battered woman whose wounds heal and bloom anew in an endless cycle of abuse. Chilling.

A more rewarding celebrity endorsement comes from the new Logitech Revue spot from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners featuring a movie fan who’s obsessed with Kevin Bacon. Humorously, the creepy shut-in is played (expertly) by Kevin Bacon himself. He makes some hilarious allusions to Kevin Bacon movies, even offering, in meta fashion, his own impression of a classic line from Tremors. Thankfully, they didn’t work in a “Thank you sir, may I have another?” reference from Animal House. But a spike through the neck, à la Friday the 13th, would’ve made a decent ending.

In bizarre celebrity—endorsement news, Julia Roberts was reportedly paid 1.2 million euros (more than $1.5 million) just to look pretty in a 45-second Italian coffee ad—she doesn’t have a single line to speak. Appearing opposite famous Italian entertainers Paolo Bonolis and Luca Laurenti, Roberts plays Botticelli’s Venus, but refuses to smile for the painter until she takes a sip of Lavazza’s A Modo Mio coffee. She probably just had to think of the paycheck to break into a genuine grin. European coffees seem to have a stranglehold on A-list Hollywood talent, with George Clooney starring in another long-running campaign for France’s Nespresso.

The most amusing design controversy of the week involved a sneaker maker called Gravity Defeyer and its sperm-shaped logo. No, it’s not a tadpole—it’s explicitly referred to on the Web site as the “Slick Seed of Life Logo.” Some retailers, apparently unimpressed, have pulled out of agreements to stock the shoes. But the company is committed to keeping it. “Our logo is deliberate. … There’s no shame, there’s pride,” they write in a press release. In our opinion, there’s a big gap between not being embarrassed by sperm and wanting to have it all over your shoes.

Best of BrandFreak: Michael Bay’s lingerie sequel

Victoria’s Secret last week unleashed its second annual Christmas commercial directed by superstar Hollywood filmmaker Michael Bay. As our sister blog reported, it’s more of what the leering Bay loves to do—slide the camera all over the ladies’ gorgeous, scantily clad bodies, lingering on the hair tosses, the lascivious looks and the stilettos. Lots of slow-mo and wind machines—you get the picture. This time, there’s architecture and cityscape as backdrops, with none of the explosions that inexplicably dotted last year’s holiday spot and made it look like a Bay action flick. There’s still a surreal touch thrown in, though. At the 1:00 mark—yes, Old Spice fans, there’s a woman on a horse! Last week was a banner week for the lingerie retailer, with its annual special on CBS drawing 9 million viewers, up 17 percent from the previous year’s telecast. Looks like they’re on to something.