Technology is wonderful at resurrecting dead actors and old movies, but sometimes advertisers just have very, very good timing.
January is an extremely busy time for advertisers and we have been inundated this week with both print and video campaigns fighting to be the most creative in an attempt to grab your attention. Of course, we realize that, in all honesty, you’re not likely to see the majority of those ads at all. Online viewing of programming and content has severely reduced the number of eyeballs that ever cross even the most popular of ads. Occasionally one goes viral, but those are very rare. More often than not, brands are happy with what ten years ago would have been considered a mediocre response. Because we actually like ads, though, and enjoy applauding those done well and express great creativity, we go through the hoards and each week will share our five favorites from among the best.
This week, it would seem that timing played a large part in our favorite ad, and all three of the commercials we chose for this week brought back to life a favorite memory. Granted, modern technology allows us to splice together old film footage and sound engineers can make anyone say just about anything. Finnish dairy producer Valio didn’t have to go to those lengths, though. They had taped a commercial with Mötorhead frontman Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister barely a month ago before a concert in Maunula, Finland. Of course, they had no way of knowing at the time that Lemmy would pass away last week. So, rather than just shelving the material, they revised the ad to create a tribute to Lemmy. The ad is a riff off an older Valio milk ad, but, true to form, Lemmy ad-libbed and made it truly his. We enjoyed seeing him one more time.
Fashion is known for playing fast and loose with sexual topics and the idea of multiple sex partners is one that’s been explored before. But the ad below isn’t for a fashion label. Granted, it’s shot by a fashion photographer, which explains the red and blue cross processing, but this is not a fashion campaign at all. In case you didn’t know, Equinox is a gym, or fitness center if you want. Considered one of the best gyms in America, they hired the New York agency Wieden + Kennedy to build on the concept of commitment. W+K came back with a series of images that, at least in certain audiences, might be a bit startling.
There are no gyms, no weights, no yoga mats in any of the pictures. Instead, the campaign focuses on things such as breastfeeding twins, protesting for women’s rights, and, most notably, multiple sex partners. While the ads have certainly gotten a lot of attention this week, there’s no word yet as to whether they will be effective in keeping new members in the gym past the end of February. Should the campaign prove successful, though, it will be interesting to see what W+K comes up with next.
I am often a little dismayed that so many of the truly creative ad work I see comes from agencies outside the United States, even if they use genuinely American icons, such as the movie Flashdance. Again, resurrecting the dead, or at least 30 years past first run, works for this French spray cleaner. Now, do we really believe that the product, or any product can clean a grimy mechanic’s garage so spotlessly overnight? No, not a chance. But, the dancing, by professional dancer Dennis Cloud Campos, is every bit as impressive as that of Jennifer Beals’ body double. And when he hits the button to turn on the fire extinguisher, uhm, we’ll just assume that the ladies appreciate that moment. The ad is a lot of fun, largely because we all still have fond memories about the movie and not because we harbor any fantasy about cleaning being that much fun.
We’ve already talked this week about the Louis Vuitton campaign featuring Jaden Smith in women’s wear, so I won’t bother repeating here what I’ve already said. Let it stand that not only is this a well composed and strongly imagined campaign, but it is socially important in its embrace of gender fluid individuals. While this isn’t the first time gender fluid or transgendered models have been included in a campaign, it’s certainly the most visible. We hope this is the beginning of a trend. Who knows, maybe we’ll even see it on runways next month, which would be incredible.
One final “dead” reference [everyone say it together: “I’m not dead yet!”]. 35 years have passed since John Cleese last played Basil Fawlty, and getting him to re-create the role is almost impossible. British optical company Specsavers found a way, though, with clever writing and a riff of one of the most popular scenes from the BBC sitcom. Those who have never seen the antics of the hotel proprietor will find the ad amusing. Those who actually remember the show, or just fans of Cleese’s wonderfully physical humor, will find this hilarious and delight in the reference. I’ll admit that I’ve enjoyed watching the ad several times now and have laughed out loud each time. Playing off old references like this can be a bit dangerous; there’s always the chance that the original material is more obscure than creatives think and no one gets the joke. There are also some that are just overdone. Cleese’s stubborn refusal to re-create Basil at the drop of a hat makes this a very welcome gem, though, even if we don’t need new glasses.
I’ll admit that I’ve enjoyed watching the ad several times now and have laughed out loud each time. Playing off old references like this can be a bit dangerous; there’s always the chance that the original material is more obscure than creatives think and no one gets the joke. There are also some that are just overdone. Cleese’s stubborn refusal to re-create Basil at the drop of a hat makes this a very welcome gem, though, even if we don’t need new glasses.
While this week has given us a strong creative start to the year, keep in mind that Super Bowl ads are already starting to pop up. While I’ve not been overly impressed with what I’ve seen so far, I’m quite sure they’ll get better, and they’ll have plenty of competition. Keep watching and we’ll continue to bring you the best. We’re not dead yet!