Is Boring, Oregon, Really Boring? Find Out in This Wonderfully Weird Ad Shot There

Ogilvy's charming film has just one small problem

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Pop culture is full of stories about people trying to escape the boring-ass town they were born in. Not so in Boring, Oregon. As one inhabitant remarks, "Nobody leaves. They think they're gonna go, but they stay." 

Just like the Hotel California! 

In a short film by Ogilvy & Mather London, a brand that we won't mention until later (to avoid spoiling the reveal) takes us directly to Boring—which actually exists!—to learn its charms, attributes and history. 

"It's a fun town," one woman gamely insists. "Yeah, it is! It's just fun."

Boring was founded by William H. Boring, who arrived in 1874. His fourth-generation descendant still lives there, with his wife, and you'll meet them too. Hairstyles are conservative, the weather is middle of the road, and you'll find exactly what you need without much more—two taverns, a deli, a market, a restaurant ("That's a really nice place," a voice adds) and no gangs.

This last point is reinforced with a shot of two guys on swings. One has a yo-yo. "You kinda gotta make your own fun," one says. "I mean, there's no girls in town … we'd have to outsource for those."

The video is filled with small, charming interviews like this. Another of note features two elderly firemen recounting the history of Boring's weather. And in case you're not convinced of what Boring has to offer (or not), here's another fun fact: Its sister town is Dull, Scotland.

Anyway, this is a curiosity worth the trip: 

It's a hard sell to get people to watch what's essentially a 3:20 mini documentary about a town whose biggest attribute is a certain delight in its own blandness. But we did get into it. There's something magnetic about a place that lacks frenzy and demand, that feels disconnected from everything vying for our attention, and we feel the compulsion to stay awhile, learn its quirks. 

But toward the end of this expedition, something odd starts to happen: Colored balls appear, drifting out of the sky, filled with fragrant powder. They're first met with surprise, then people start running out of their houses to play in it. 

This climax—evidence of the brand preparing for its cameo—is surprisingly off-putting. "Anything boring can be made exciting," the screen reads. "Introducing Fragrance Burst, a new laundry experience." Yes, it's an ad for Unilever fabric softener brand Comfort. 

Part of us hoped the brand connection would be banal but understandable, a pretext for keeping the townsfolk in the starring role—laundry is a boring subject, but what's so bad about Boring? 

But the arrival of the bubbles to punt something as lame as Fragrance Burst feels intrusive, and the "Anything boring can be made exciting" line is an insult to our hosts. We like this place, and it didn't need the Quality Street treatment—some bizarre decision by a CPG label to invade undisturbed quarters with product manna, asking us to validate that act of aggression with fuzzy feelings.

Yet Boring itself appears to disagree: It's "probably the biggest thing that's ever happened to Boring!" a local Boringer exclaims. So, we leave her with the last word. It's still better than a druglord invasion.

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.