6 Subliminal Connections Between Volkswagen Ads and Seinfeld

Volkswagen has been an advertising trail blazer since the Mad Men days, when Bill Bernbach (the ‘B’ in DDB) created a legendary campaign that even caught the attention of Don Draper. Spanning the decades, ad agencies and automobile models for a comprehensive review of VW would be a lengthy process, requiring a Sterling Cooper-esque amount of liquor to complete. In the interest of my liver and to write a needlessly esoteric piece, I present six of the German auto maker’s campaigns and their not-so-obvious connections to the sitcom, Seinfeld. (Inspired by this great 11 Points article). Continue reading

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A High Five to You, Heineken

A can. That is all. (click image to watch the spot on Heine's FB page)

Last year, I wrote a piece on the ridiculousness of Coors and their “high-tech” beer canisters, also known as aluminum cans. Now, perhaps taking a clue from comedian David Cross or just from that voice in our heads every time we see a Coors or Miller commercial, Heineken has called out the “gimmicks” employed by the aforementioned US light beer brands. Yes, Heineken has been guilty of gimmicky packaging with their “keg can,” but that was more of a novelty than a lame attempt at telling us something a toddler (or anyone with hands) could figure out (Is this cold or not?). For that, the Dutch get a pass. Note: Do not hand beer to a toddler.

Heineken recently moved its US advertising to W+K NYC, so it is unclear if the “All Perfection, No Gimmick” strategy will continue. The spot aired a few days after the agency change was announced, and it is also unclear if it was done by W+K. Besides a nod to the new account, there is no mention of the work on the W+K NYC blog, though I would peg it on them. Regardless, let us raise a bottle or normal-looking can to the new campaign. May the beer always flow free of useless gimmicks and the advertising assume we have an IQ higher than the alcohol level. Here, here! That second part isn’t going to happen, is it?

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Will You Eat with Us? What if We Put Bacon on Everything?

Always been "Always Open." (photo by animbear)

Denny’s restaurant, self-proclaimed “America’s Diner,” has represented a lot in its nearly sixty-year history. The place where you can sit down, morning or late night, and order just about anything. It’s where road trippers stop along the highway to chow down on a plate of Americana, the Grand Slam. And despite the rather unremarkable cuisine and decor, it was always a dependable treat as a kid during long treks in the backseat. (This memory may not be as widely held, but Denny’s was also the place where a nine-year-old could pull a Chris Farley and order the entire (kids’) menu in one sitting. Lunch is an important meal.)

In their latest effort to stand out from the likes of IHOP, Waffle House, or even the dinner menu at Applebee’s, Denny’s and agency partner, Gotham, are giving Americans more of what they can’t seem to get enough of, bacon and bacon-themed promotions. Get ready for “Baconalia! A Celebration of Bacon,” a play on the drunken orgy/feast known as Bacchanalia, offering bacon flapjacks, bacon meatloaf and maple bacon sundaes, among other gluttonous creations. If you didn’t make the immediate connection to Bacchus – don’t worry neither did I – it has been nicely broken down for us. I’m not here to debate the palatability of these new items – though I do believe a bacon maple bar is worth showing up at a drunken orgy/feast for one – the purpose is, of course, to examine Denny’s marketing chops. Thinking about it more, a drunken orgy/feast probably doesn’t need to offer bacon maple bars to attract participants, so I might have undersold the merits of that particular dessert. Continue reading

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Air Jordan: the Man, the Brand, the Shoes

Think back to 1985. Twenty-six years ago. Before people could stalk each other via the Internet – hell, before the Internet! A time *shudder* before the Old Spice man. Nike was still working its way to the top of its industry, as was Michael Jordan, as was Wieden+Kennedy. Over the next two-and-a-half decades the partnership between these three iconic names (the Jordan brand sprouted its own legs halfway through) would revolutionize the shoe, basketball and advertising games, with style and authority. Continue reading

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Battle of Burgerdom: Jack & Carl & Ronald & The King

These may not be the mascots you're looking for. Beware of their beef. (via yourfunnystuff.com)

Fast food’s impact on pop culture is as large as any industry’s, and like the chains themselves, their advertising is everywhere.  Burger joints – in particular, McDonald’s, Burger King, Carl’s Jr. and Jack in the Box – compete for our eyeballs, and stomachs, with a ferocity similar to that of the beer guys.  With the exception of McDonald’s, who plays heavily on the emotional aspect of stuffing your face with their food, humor is the weapon of choice for these burger men.  So, who does the best job of busting our fat guts?  Great question, glad you asked. Continue reading

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(Some of) The Worst Ads of 2010

In order to find the best, one must wade through…something less than that.  Compared to everything else out there, these commercials are bad.  Compared to the cream of the crop, they’re the worst.  Enjoy!

“Pet Carrier” from Boost Mobile

This ad wasn’t particularly bad.  In fact, it was kind of funny.  It was just misguided.  Had this been a commercial for an airline promoting their prices-so-low-you-don’t-have-to-stick-the-kids-in-a-dog-cage, it could have been a home run.  Instead, we’re left wondering why an airline didn’t think of that before – what was this ad for again? – oh yeah, Boost.

“Clean Your Balls” from Axe (several variations available on YouTube)

Tact, humor, wit: Axe displays none.  Remember this is your competition.  And you’re getting pummeled.

“Wow!” from Staples

The first time watching this, it was mildly amusing.  Different, yet a tad annoying.  After that, the guy’s excitement for the apparently great prices became grating and ineffective.  Further, the chain’s prices are not really that incredible compared to online outlets.  Sir, your enthusiasm is ill-advised.

Check out the Tracy Awards for more bad ads.

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(Some of) The Best TV Spots of 2010

It’s time for the customary “Best of 2010” list here at AoA.  I present to you the greatest ads seen on US TV this year.  This list is likely insufficient and is limited to the ones I could recall as I wrote it.  A “Worst of 2010” could soon follow…

5. “Peggy” from Discover (The Martin Group)

There were several spots from the campaign, and they were funny.  But this one achieved what seemed impossible: it made Lou Holtz bearable, intelligible and sane.  One problem though for the brand; I remember “USA Prime Credit” more than I do Discover.  Maybe “Peggy” should have pronounced their name, too.

4. Betty White & Snickers (BBDO)

I already told you why this worked so well.  If the last time you saw this was during the Super Bowl, watch and enjoy again.

3. “Big Season” from the NBA (Goodby, Silverstein & Partners)

I love these.  Plus, I have a thing for the NBA.  It is in no way complicated.

2. Kevin Bacon, Logitech and Google TV (Goodby, Silverstein & Partners)

This is so good.  Kevin Bacon really can play anyone.

1. “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” from Old Spice (Wieden+Kennedy)

A feat of creativity, set construction, career advancement and pure coolness.  A cultural phenomenon.  Debuted during the Super Bowl and earned over 26.5 million Youtube views, while its sequel has over 17.7 million.  Later became the basis for an unprecedented triumph in social media and audience participation.  There is no way this could not be number one for the year.  That’s all good news.  The bad?  Isaiah Mustafa must now somehow top himself.


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