Just Asking

We asked execs which campaigns were so off-base, they succeeded in spite of themselves.

The campaign for that topical ointment called Head On. It’s so bad, you wonder if Crispin didn’t secretly do it. —Ron Clayton, creative director, Via, Boston

The Coca-Cola holiday spots. When the “real thing” gave us an animated polar bear family giving up bear hugs with soda, my first reaction was, “What the . . . ” Yet, when the market convention dictates happy people with too many teeth engaged in heavy “product appreciation,” the brand that sets a new course can stand out and change the rules. This commercial was brave, almost to the point of folly. But it is so beautifully executed, the question, “Why?” was replaced by, “Why not?” And, even if you disagree, you know the ad. —Nick Moore, CCO, Wunderman, New York

Our perception of advertising, as advertisers, is jaded. We look at everything through a tiny microscope and often rely on subjectivity to determine if we like something or not. But let’s be consumers for a moment. And let’s get specific and talk about those repulsive ads for Lamisil foot fungus medication. They’re horrific to watch. The illustrations of feet, the little fungus creature: it’s downright disgusting. I’d certainly call that off base. And it’s been running forever. But I would imagine, that if you were to wake up with such a nightmare, you’d be the first one in line at CVS for the damn thing. —Alyssa D’Arienzo Toro, senior partner, creative director, Connelly Partners, Boston

The Viagra campaign using the pills as devilish horns was great. Did wonders for recreational use before getting pulled. And Jon Lovitz for Subway was creepy enough to drive me to eat with the King. —Dave Holloway, creative director, Northern Lights, New York

Buick ads with Tiger Woods, in which Tiger emerges as the new face of the AARP. —Mike Connell, creative principal, Small Army, Boston