Dec 23, 2011

Top 5 TV Ads of the Year: 2011

Final post of the year. And to wrap it up - my top 5 list of the best American TV / broadcast commercials of 2011.

5. Snickers: Focus Group
      Ad Agency: BBDO, New York.

Funny little spot for Snickers by BBDO, with a focus group of sharks deciding that "Steve" tasted better because he had just eaten a Snickers Peanut Butter Squared bar. Well executed with strong art direction and CGI / 3D animation picking up on the sharks' little nuanced mannerisms. The result is a dark, macabre humored ad which works.

4. Nissan Leaf: Gas Powered Everything
      Ad Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day, LA.

What if every appliance we used ran on gas powered engines? TBWA/Chiat/Day promotes this idea and in the process makes the all electric Nissan Leaf stand out. Interesting art direction in the details of the gas powered mechanisms which help convey a bleak and choked vision of the future.

3. Chrysler 200: Born Of Fire
      Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, OR.

Launched at Super Bowl XLV, W+K kept this two-minute manifesto ad for Chrysler under wraps before its debut. The ad not only sells Chrysler but repositions Detroit and the American automotive industry with its "imported from Detroit" tag. One of the two featured Super Bowl ads featuring Detroit's own "8 Mile" rapper, Eminem.

2. Google Chrome: Dear Sophie
      Ad Agency: Google Creative Lab & Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York.

This touching commercial for Google's Chrome browser. Originally ninety seconds but also in shorter formats, this narrative sequence follows the birth of a daughter, Sophie, with a father documenting her life with photo images, videos, letters and stories. Using many of Google's online software apps (Chrome, Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube etc), the father forms a digital scrapbook which he hopes to share with her "someday". Works on an emotional level.

1. Volkswagon Passat 2012: The Force
      Ad Agency: Deutsch, LA.

A real crowd-pleaser and cheeky little number from Deutsch launched just before Super Bowl XLV weekend and will win a swag of awards. Accompanied by John Williams' Imperial March", our little Darth Vader is trying to use the force to manipulate objects around the house. Dad comes to his aid with a little help from the VW Passat's remote starter. Never underestimate the power of nostalgia. Outtakes here.

Honorable Mentions:

 Doritos: Pug Attack
      Ad Agency: Doritos & Pepsi "Crash the Super Bowl" entry by J.R. Burningham

Noticed this stand-out from the majority of the pack during Super Bowl Weekend. I also have a soft spot for pugs.

 Heineken: The Date
      Ad Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Amsterdam.

Technically not American but it's had high airplay since its launch and it's an Art Director's wet dream.

Music taken from the 1960's mod Bollywood film "Gumnaam", song "Jan Pehechaan Ho" by Mohammed Rafi. The only cure for Jan Pehechaan Ho is more Jan Pehechaan Ho!

Happy holidays and have a great new year break!

Dec 20, 2011


Hot on the heels of other fallen dictators and terrorist leaders who have recently died, we have the passing of North Korea's "Dear Leader" seeing out the year (although there is still about a week and half left this year for Ahmadinejad, Mugabe or Castro if they want to join the list).

Following my previous blog posts on Bin Laden's Legacy in Advertising and Gaddafi in Advertising, it's only fair to look at "faminist" Kim Jong-il's image as used in advertising (primarily print and posters here).

International Society for Human Rights (ISHR)
Ad Agency: Scholz & Friends, Berlin, Germany, 2009.

Celebrating 60 years of the ISHR promoting human rights, the anniversary cakes were "shared" with various leaders of dictatorships around the world, including Kim.

Ad Agency: Ogilvy, Frankfurt, Germany. 2010

The ISHR more recently also had a campaign showing world dictators scared of the modern mouse. This particular ad is poorly photoshopped but still conveys the intended message.

S-K Bedding & Mattresses
"Who says there's no rest for the wicked?"
Ad Agency: Publicis, South Africa, 2004.
SK Bedding and Publicis used North Korea Freedom Day, April 28, 2004, to help promote their product.

Nulaid Eggs
"History's produced a lot of bad eggs.
Thankfully, ours are always good."
Ad Agency: The Jupiter Drawing Room, South Africa, 2007.

Also from South Africa, Nulaid Eggs uses Jong-il's likeness in egg form to illustrate a bad egg.

Amnesty International
Ad Agency: Contrapunto BBDO, Madrid, Spain, 2008.

Amnesty International
"See no evil?"
Ad Agency: LINs, Malaysia, 2008.

Amnesty International
"Your signature has the power"
Ad Agency: TBWA, Paris, France, 2008.

2008 saw a volley of ad rockets fired by Amnesty International against North Korea's supreme leader as well as others.

Contrapunto BBDO used the fly on the nose (using Amnesty's logo) as a symbol and visual metaphor for human rights abuses which is as plain as the nose on their face, right in front of these leaders' eyes and yet never quite visible to them.

The campaign from LINs in Malaysia is not quite as clear. It uses the recent optical illusion meme of staring at a point (in this case a red crosshair mark) for several minutes and then looking at a white surface to reveal a face illusion. These directions aren't given in the ad and therefore assumed that people know what to do when viewing it. Also there is a tenuous link between this and the ad's message ("See no evil?") which may have been somewhat lost in translation (?).

The final ad here, by TBWA Paris, is the most clear and powerful (and also featured in my Gaddafi blog post).

Reporters Without Borders
"Only a free press can hurt them.
Support our fight."
Ad Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Paris, France, 2010

Reporters Without Borders and Saatchi & Saatchi Paris put together a campaign last year which reverts to the visual metaphor of a crushed press image of global dictators.

Benetton, "UNHATE" campaign
Ad Agency: Fabrica, Italy, 2011.
Benetton's recent "UNHATE" campaign, was able to manufacture a final kiss (kiss of death?) between Kim and South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak. This was an interesting campaign featuring several adversarial world leaders in intimate positions.

Amnesty International Portugal, "Tyrannybook" app
Ad Agency: Leo Burnett, Iberia, 2010.

Kim Jong-il profile, Tyrannybook.
Tyrannybook, a digital app designed and implemented by Leo Burnett Iberia in for Amnesty International Portugal in 2010, This was a social network (which has since been discontinued) dedicated to the surveillance of some of the most tyrannical world leaders that violate human rights.

Modelled on the look and aesthetics of Facebook, both users and the organization can update leaders' profiles on their most recent abuses. Users could also link up as allies and participate in group discussions, exchange points of view and discuss current events.

While this app has now expired, it may have been a foretelling of the role Facebook would play in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising through the Middle East.

With Kim Jong-il kicking the bucket, advertisers now have one less dictator to use in their messages. 2011 has been a terrible year for oppressive global leaders.