Is there a PuppyMonkeyBaby in my future?

Would I ever have thought of this?

Would I ever have thought of this?

I’ve been creating ads now for well over half of my life. During my time, I’ve come up with some rather unusual creative solutions. But I must admit, I have yet to ever be part of selling a client something as outrageous as Mountain Dew’s PuppyMonkeyBaby used to sell their Kickstart drink. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ql7uY36-LwA

Yes, I know, this is old news. The commercial made its debut this past February on the Super Bowl. But I saw it again last week and for some reason, it really stuck with me this time.

BBDO out of New York was the agency that created it. I have no idea who the writer on it was. Amazingly, I think the ad is very strategic. The team knew they were creating an ad for the Super Bowl so it had to stand out. Kickstart is a combination of three things – Dew, juice and caffeine. On the Super Bowl, everyone loves commercials that have a baby in them – or a puppy – and yes, there have been quite a few memorable commercials featuring a monkey.

So someone had the very simple thought, “Hey, why not combine all three into some really weird creature with a dog’s head, a monkey’s upper body and a baby’s lower body walking around in a diaper?” It’ll be a Puppy Monkey Baby.

It makes no sense. It makes brilliant sense. It’s weird. It’s disturbing. It speaks – in a very strange voice. It dances. It carries its own little bucket full of Kickstart and it makes its grand entrance through a kind of little trap door in some guy’s apartment where three slackers are just sitting there chilling when the PuppyMonkeyBaby arrives.

Later commercials play up the tag line “It all starts with a kick”. They’re fun, they’re crazy. But they’re nothing like the PuppyMonkeyBaby.

So the question I ask myself is this – “Is there still a PuppyMonkeyBaby waiting inside me, just yearning to come out?”

Yes.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to create TV commercials all that often anymore. It’s my biggest lament of running my own business that caters to a client base that most times, simply do not have the budget nor the need to do broadcast advertising.

So that PuppyMonkeyBaby stays locked up in my brain, just waiting to be unleashed.

It’s in there.

And it wants out.

GE makes me say, ‘Gee’ again

This past weekend I saw not just one, but two, totally different commercials for GE that were so much fun to watch, I simply had to go online and see them again.

So now, I’m sharing them with any of you that have yet to see them. The first one, “The Boy Who Beeps” had me hooked on the story from the first few frames. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmB8R2v5ZrE

A woman gives birth and instead of crying, her newborn emits a little beep. The nurse assures her everything will be all right.

The baby turns into a toddler, beeping to turn things on and off. We see the young boy as his beeping powers progress, set to the laid-back instrumental tunes of Beck. The casting is awesome, the boy is charming – and he uses his charming power to win the heart of a girl.

Next thing we know, he’s turning the grid back on during a blackout and his powers are discovered by the world as he helps get all sorts of industry working in sync again.

The spot closes with the boy and his new girlfriend gazing up at the stars in his backyard. He beeps and powers off the lights so that they both can enjoy the light show and on comes a super, “When you speak the language of industry, the conversation can change the world.” Bring on the GE logo.

I don’t know exactly what it all means other than that GE is working to get things synchronized through technology.

It’s powerful story-telling done in a big budget way.

BBDO has always been masters of the big budget production. This commercial was more like a movie than it was a commercial and for that, I salute GE. They get it.

Boy do they get it – as later this weekend I was watching some football game and on comes this action adventure commercial. It’s called “Thrillingly Predictable” and again, they had me from the opening scene. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG9dsILfM6Y

This guy is being chased by obvious bad guys and the British voice in his headset is telling him exactly where to go, leading up to him jumping off a bridge and onto a moving train – all running right on time thanks to GE technology. The commercial ends, another spot follows and surprise – the chase resumes as there’s a sequel that makes more points about how quick thinking traffic lights and self-correcting power grids make the world predictable. Thrillingly unpredictable.

Fun. Perfectly directed, well-executed and a total product demonstration turned into an entertaining story that was so good, I’m writing about it this very moment.

That’s the power of advertising in today’s world – one great commercial can create more than word of mouth.

It also gets backed by blog.

(If you’re wondering about the “‘GEE’ again” part, I wrote about a previous GE/BBDO effort back on April 24, 2013. … Looks like they got me again.)

Great job, GE.

 

New GE commercial makes me say, “Gee”

We were watching the national news when the commercial break hit and on came this GE commercial featuring a guy in dark glasses touting how GE technology is providing hospitals with data software that connects patient to nurse to doctor to machines, reducing down time and turning waiting rooms into just rooms.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=loinY8MmVq8)

It struck me as really weird and it had an end scene where this guy holds up two suckers and asks a little boy, “Red? Or blue?” My wife said it reminded her of a child molester trying to lure a kid into his grasp. I was so taken aback by the spot that I had to see it again and find out what it was all about.

That’s when I discovered how tragically unhip I am. The guy is Hugo Weaving and he’s re-creating his role as Agent Smith from the Matrix movies.

I went back and viewed the commercial again. The opening scene has a flash cut that has that familiar Matrix-y green and black screen pattern and upon seeing the commercial for the second time, I realize I’m seeing Agent Smith clones throughout the commercial. Agent Smith says that he found “software that intrigues me. It appears it’s an agent of good.”

I guess anyone who has seen the Matrix (and there are millions) will instantly get all the inside jokes. I’ve seen the Matrix multiple times on cable, generally late at night and I don’t know if I ever made it through one of the movies from start to finish. I just never bought into the premise or maybe it’s because I never saw the movies on the big screen that they just didn’t connect with me. So in this particular commercial, Agent Smith comes off as some Tommy Lee Jones wanna-be who is creepy and weird and the whole commercial has kind of a sinister undertone that does not leave me with any warm, fuzzy feelings towards GE.

Hopefully, I’m not their target audience. Actually, in most GE commercials it’s hard to understand who their target audience is since they’re no longer selling light bulbs or microwaves. These days they’re selling their inventive technology that is continuing to evolve, affecting all kinds of industries – from aviation to imaging technology to … well, they’re into all sorts of high tech stuff that they want us to know comes into play in our everyday lives in ways we never imagined.

I went into GE’s vault of advertising which you can find on their website. (http://www.ge.com/news/advertising)

There are all sorts of fun and interesting commercials to be found there – each one completely different than the other, all telling stories in highly imaginative ways. The production values are awesome. I wanted to know who created most of these ads and to the best of my knowledge, it’s BBDO – an agency that is extremely good at big budget story telling. So some copywriter or art director who is probably a huge Matrix fan has been waiting to find the right marriage of product and Matrix to deliver a story and ten years after the movie came out, his (or her) wish finally came true.

So is this GE commercial a great commercial?

If you’re a Matrix fan, it’s either a great commercial or a total sell-out.

If you’re oblivious to ten year old references to movies that you never liked that much to begin with, it’s a little creepy and a little strange.

Toss it into the mix of other GE commercials, though, and it belongs. It moved me enough to write about it.

And not many commercials can do that.

Gee, GE. Nice work.

Are these the funniest TV commercials of 2012?

Does humor still sell in TV commercials?

Yes. And no.

Mass media advertising continues to shrink as more and more advertisers find that they can better reach their audience via the internet. Last Thursday, Tru TV had a special on the funniest TV commercials of 2012. I was going to watch it but had something else going on so instead I recorded it. Once the NFL wrapped up its wild card games on Sunday, I decided to watch, knowing that I could skip all the commercials during the break so that I could watch the commercials on the show. Ironic isn’t it? Overall, either I’m becoming harder to entertain or these commercials simply weren’t that funny.

Maybe it was just me.

I’ll let you judge for yourself. Here’s their list along with links and my droll comments that have very little humor built into them as well.

1. Fallsview Casino Resort – “Coconut” (Canada) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB0HfrdCZYc A quick case of amnesia caused by a coconut. Easily forgettable. Hardly laughable. I could think of many spots right off the top of my head that are funnier than this one.
2. Fed Ex – “Band” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmguXOPc9VI BBDO out of New York has been making great FedEx commercials for a while. This one didn’t make me laugh but it is funny. And I enjoy watching it numerous times which makes it a great commercial in my book. Plus, I love golf and it deals with the subject matter of shipping golf clubs in a completely unexpected way. I like it better than the one with the guy with the shrinking machine.
3. Canal Digital – “The Man Who Lived in a Film” (Norway) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqT_I4vS6OQ This commercial is growing on me – now that I’ve seen it a few times. It’s very well done and has a little bit of everything in it. I’m not sure that it’s funny but it’s definitely good and a great positioning. If you have the time and you’re in that YouTube mode, Canal Digital has all kinds of great commercials. It’s kind of like reviewing all the Skittles commercials that have been done through the years. The bar is set high and they need to keep topping it. Speaking of Skittles – they’re not on this year’s list. Their ongoing ‘Taste the Rainbow’ campaign goes in my TV commercial Hall of Fame.

4. Doritos – “Sling Baby” (United States) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2kQFEjkhBQ A grandma and a baby in a sling. The casting in this commercial of the brat kid and the grandma both seemed off. But I like the baby. I didn’t really find this to be very funny and this is one where if you see it once, you really don’t need to see it again.

5. BGH – “Dads in Briefs” (Argentina) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwrZzk-45Jk This one is well-produced – the black & white aspect makes it seem classic and the little girl who thinks twice about the channel changer is a great shot. Good pay-off at the end. I guess this is funny. I know it’s memorable but in reality, it’s a pretty generic selling message and I bet did very little for the brand.

6. Old Spice – “Bounce” (United States) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvYP_d2S1Pg Wieden & Kennedy – everything you do is good. Everything. You make me jealous. You make me want to do great things. The first time I saw this commercial on TV, I laughed – because of its crazy, unexpected, wildness. And now, I believe in my smelf (even though that’s a different tag line from the commercial shown).

7. The Trainline – “Be Sensible” (United Kingdom) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6hRfpN6mZg I watched this spot and I felt like I was watching Airplane. Same basic concept. Funny but so over-the-top that it felt more like a rip-off than something truly original. There are some fun scenes that make it worth watching a few times.

8. Zona Jobs – “Grandma” (Argentina) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ig7b0l6zm0M This one ran in Argentina. No way it could ever run in the U.S. I know it’s tongue-in-cheek but I just don’t like seeing poor Grandma getting gunned down by bank robbers. Unexpected – but not in a good way.

9. Bloeman – “Screwed” (The Netherlands) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMOGBIewd4M I guess you have to be totally over-the-top to be funny. Not really. Again, I think this commercial goes a bit too far, particularly with the opening scene.

10. DB Export Dry – “Wine Is Over” (New Zealand) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whxGbHbY2bY Here’s another one that just didn’t strike me as funny. Maybe it’s a New Zealand thing.

So that was the show that I watched. Were these the funniest commercials made on the planet in the year 2012? Probably not. Of these, my two favorites would have been The Man Who Lived In A Film and the Heavy Metal Golfers for FedEx.

Of course a commercial doesn’t have to be funny, to be good. In fact, humor is one of the hardest things to pull off in 30 or 60 seconds and still have it be relevant to your key selling proposition. Congrats to all who try it. Let’s hope that 2013 brings us some great commercial moments – many of which will be featured in less than a month on this year’s Super Bowl.

Happy viewing and feel free to add in your own favorites.