Freak Week: Recurring Dreams

Two well-received, high-profile ads from the Super Bowl had radically different post-game experiences last week. It proved to be a tough week for Wieden + Kennedy and Coca-Cola, whose “Sleepwalker” spot, which placed at No. 5 on the USA Today Ad Meter, turned out to bear a striking resemblance to a 2001 milk ad from Young & Rubicam in Israel. Both feature a guy’s somnambulant stroll through blue-tinted moonlight on a mission to quench his thirst. Many of the visuals match up closely, and the music is identical: Ravel’s Bolero. Wieden referred our calls to Coke, where a rep denied culpability. “When we created the Coca-Cola ‘Sleepwalker’ commercial, we and our agency were unaware of this other ad,” she said. “Now that we’ve seen the ad, we think both commercials are equally entertaining. While the two share a few common elements, any similarities are coincidental and unintended.” If it is a coincidence, it’s a truly remarkable one.

Google had better luck with its “Parisian Love” spot, which Adweek’s own Barbara Lippert picked as the Super Bowl’s single best ad (calling it “smart, charming and pure”). The touching commercial, part of a series posted online since the fall, tells a love story completely through images of Google searches, from “study abroad paris france” to “how to assemble a crib.” People loved it — and thanks to its simple visuals, they could easily flatter it through parody. At least five spoofs quickly surfaced, with themes as diverse as Steve Ballmer, an accidental pregnancy, a stalker and Tiger Woods (the latter video actually dating to December). Having done so well during the game, it’s now the spot that keeps on giving.

The most impressive tourism campaign of the week came from Idaho, where Boise agency Drake Cooper tried a reality-TV-style experiment. They looked around Seattle and found the Lumpkins, a family in dire need of a vacation (if not a new surname), and whisked them off to Idaho for a 10-day, 2,200-mile trip, with a 24-person film crew along for the ride. The result is The Great Idaho Getaway Project, a great-looking, 30-minute travelogue, complete with Hollywood-style trailer. It does for the Spud State everything My Own Private Idaho didn’t.

Finally, we couldn’t let the week pass without mentioning the “Miss Me Yet?” billboard, with former President Bush, which some disgruntled small-business owners put up in Minnesota. It seemed like poll material, so we asked AdFreak readers if they missed the guy. A resounding 78 percent said no, and resented the question on top of it.

Best of BrandFreak: Drew Brees puts Pampers to the test

Drew Brees, you just led the New Orleans Saints to victory in the Super Bowl! What are you going to do now? … Oh, you’re going to do some diaper commercials? AdFreak’s sister blog, BrandFreak, last week reported on the quarterback’s involvement in a new campaign from StrawberryFrog for Procter & Gamble’s Pampers. In one spot, which actually broke before the Super Bowl but is getting lots more views in the wake of the Saints’ victory, Brees participates in a humorous product demonstration for Pampers Swaddlers and Cruisers with Dry Max, the marketer’s new “high performance diaper.” From 30 yards away, he hurls a football at one of the Pampers diapers and then at the other leading brand, Huggies Little Movers. The test doesn’t settle much (for one thing, Brees only grazes the edge of each diaper), so the referee turns to the trusty blue liquid familiar from so many absorbency-themed demonstrations. (Of course, the Pampers diaper triumphs.) Some viewers had a chuckle that Brees would endorse such an unglamorous product, but most saw it as a good fit for a down-to-earth guy who is also a new father.