Freak Week: Our Sincere Regrets

As the United Nations climate talks opened last week in Copenhagen, Greenpeace offered a dose of pessimism via an ad campaign (from British agency Arc) in which world leaders look back regretfully in 2020 at their failure to act on the environment in 2009. President Obama and other heads of state — among them, Nicolas Sarkozy, Andrea Merkel and Gordon Brown — appear almost elderly, which doesn’t quite fit with the ads’ time frame. But by choosing the year 2020, the ads manage a subtle reference to the power of hindsight. As with many environmental campaigns, the intended audience is a bit murky. It’s presumably Obama himself (and the other leaders), although portraying someone as a bitter old man is a strange form of persuasion.

Speaking of persuasion and regret, we also looked at a bizarre new spot last week for Orangina from Fred & Farid Paris. The first ad we’ve seen featuring interspecies S&M, it shows a CGI panther-woman whipping a sad, pudgy, middle-aged guy in a suit until he dances and strips to nothing but his socks. Orangina has been doing the sexy-animal thing for a while, beginning in 2007 with the celebrated animal-kingdom orgy spot (and companion pinup posters). This move into sadistic territory promotes Orangina Red, made with blood oranges. Indeed, the drink is “perhaps a bit too bloody,” says copy at the end.

Back in the U.S., we saw more typical American fare. And what could be more American than a Victoria’s Secret commercial directed by Michael Bay? With its driving guitar music, percussive editing, scores of scantily clad women and fiery finale, Bay’s Christmas spot for the lingerie maker is pretty much a Hollywood action movie condensed to 90 seconds, and without all that tedious dialogue and “character development.” Wrote one AdFreak reader: “My guess is the target is men who buy underwear at Christmas for the women they love. That’s it. Michael Bay just shot his first love story.”

Finally, we saw another movie director, Quentin Tarantino, stray a long way from Hollywood and into that strangest of commercial productions: the Japanese TV spot. The ad is for Softbank, a telecom whose ads feature a bizarre family in which the father is a white dog, the mother is a Japanese woman, the daughter is a famous Japanese pop star and the brother is an African-American man. Tarantino shows up, does a samurai impression and runs off. It makes no sense, and yet it’s complete awesome.

Best of BrandFreak: People stop TiVoing, start DVR-ing

AdFreak‘s sister blog, BrandFreak, last week looked at a curious pop-culture development: the decline of the verb “to TiVo” in favor of the more generic “to DVR.” For many years, people would say they “TiVoed” their favorite programs, whether or not they actually used a TiVo device. But judging by BrandFreak’s online research, that phrase is falling out of favor as TiVo loses market share. (It now has less than 8 percent of the category.) More people are now uttering the extra syllable and saying they “DVRed” something on TV. (There are 118,000 Google results for “DVRed,” compared to 37,000 for “TiVoed.”) All of which is a mixed blessing for TiVo itself. On the one hand, the company never wanted its name genericized into a catch-all for the category. But at the same time, you always want people talking about you, trademark concerns or not.