Freak Week: Ungodly Christmas

Last week, in the spirit of the Christmas season, we assembled 10 uncool ads and products featuring Jesus—a potent reminder of how not to use the Son of God’s image in your evil money-making schemes. Topping the list was an ad from Australian retailer Betta Electrical in which baby Jesus throws the Three Wise Men’s gifts out of his manger—evidently wanting an iPod instead. Products that made the cut included Jesus Jeans, the Italian apparel brand founded in the early ’70s and made infamous in provocative ads from Oliviero Toscani and Emanuele Pirella; and Jesus Juice, a brand of wine that took its name from what Michael Jackson supposedly called the cocktails he allegedly served to underage boys. Luckily, the Jesus Juice entrepreneurs never got trademark approval for the name, and the brand died on the vine.

The most innovative/gross media placement of the week also came from Australia, where a fertility clinic recruited sperm donors with an ad in FHM that caused the magazine’s pages to stick together. When unstuck, the pages revealed a woman posing in lingerie, along with the line, “Don’t waste your sperm.” The message being—donate it instead at the Repromed fertility clinic. Readers were divided on whether this was a good idea or just something tossed off by the creatives at the agency, Jamshop.

Our third Australian story of the week focused on that country’s most-complained-about ads of the year. At the top of the list was a real charmer—an erectile-dysfunction spot from the Advanced Medical Institute (a frequently offensive advertiser) that showed a wife using her husband’s erection as a step stool to get something out of the cupboard. The ad was “screened on high rotation during

Finally, we looked into another Gap-like logo controversy last week—this one concerning the new Big Ten conference logo. Michael Bierut and Michael Gericke of Pentagram developed the mark, a stencil-like design that was immediately set upon by critics. One observer wrote: “It looks like someone was assigned the redesign, completely forgot about it and then scrapped something together on Microsoft Paint a few minutes before it was due.” That was harsh, but the Big Ten does have identity problems. Whatever you think of the logo, Big Ten seems like an odd name for a conference that in recent years has had 11 teams and now has 12.

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AT&T lives in a fantasy world
So, AT&T’s latest ads are a little weird. As AdFreak’s sister blog reported last week, the mobile carrier has released some posters that suggest AT&T coverage would be great in imaginary places. One reads, “If there really were a Camelot, AT&T would have you covered.” Other ads mention Neverland and Lilliput. The point, of course, is that if AT&T can have a hard-to-reach place like Lilliput covered, it won’t have any trouble providing adequate service in the mundane here and now. The problem is, the message can also be construed as: AT&T’s coverage would be great if we all lived in a fantasy world. The Los Angeles Times also stuck a convincing pin in the “if false, then anything” logic behind these ads. See, this is why more philosophy majors need to work in marketing.