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December 23, 2006

Advertising art
Posted by Teresa at 10:48 AM *

“There was this ad with gerbils and a cannon—” Lydy said.

“Yup. They did another one with a marching band and wolves. Can’t remember who did it,” I said, typing gerbils “marching band” wolves into Google. “… Got it!”

“You’re good.”

We watched’s Gerbils and Wolves, and their third ad, the one I hadn’t been able to remember, with the tattoos.

Lydy asked whether I’d ever seen the Mountain Dew Bohemian Rhapsody ad. I hadn’t, so we watched that, and the EDS Herding Cats ad, because we both love it, and the Carlton Draft Big Ad because she’d never seen it and everyone should. Then of course I had to look up the other two Carlton Draft “Made from Beer” ads I remembered, Canoe and Big Metal Thing. That was a good campaign.

Then there are the ads I can’t place. Which one had the guy named Bob who’s got his own parking spot, lane on the freeway, etc.? Who did the beer ad that’s a complete fantasy short story about a miraculous ever-flowing bottle of beer? And a long time ago, there was this great Bollywood ad for pappadams I saw that had a really brilliant Elvis impersonator. I have no idea.

(I don’t think Stan Freberg commercials ever aired in our area. I’ve managed to catch up on a few: Butternut Coffee Subliminal Advertising, Chun King Chow Mein, and Jeno’s Pizza Rolls.) (Also, thanks to JBWoodford, the Great American Soups extravaganza.)


Jim Macdonald tracked down the story of The ever-flowing bottle of beer. It’s a Budweiser. Bob Oldendorf identified the tale of Bob, the guy with his own expressway, toll lane, and parking space, as an ad for the ‘91 Nissan Sentra. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet found a video for it online. And Claude Muncey says there are still more good Carlton ads, most notably Flash Beer and Shed.

Will Entrekin said:

I’m so torn. Commercials! I used to produce commercials. I was going to blog about them myself, in fact, and so I have a bunch of links to my favorites on youtube. It’d be a long comment, though.

Would that be okay?

Well, yeah, that would be okay. Check out Will Entrekin’s list of great commercials, which is much longer than mine and has some spectacular stuff on it.

Kip Williams came up with a series of surreal animated German ads from the ’30s and ’40s.

Dang. I can’t keep up with all the good links in the comment thread. Just read it.
Comments on Advertising art:
#1 ::: Cat Eldridge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 03:08 PM:

Thank you for the EDS Herding Cats commercial. Now where can I find some of these cowboys to herd the nine cats that are in our household?

#2 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 03:16 PM:

Which one had the guy named Bob who’s got his own parking spot, lane on the freeway, etc.?

It was either Toyota or possibly Nissan. (You'd think it would be burnt into my memory, but it's been a good ten years now.)

I never bought their car, but I did have my wife track down the "This space reserved for BOB" parking sign.

#3 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 03:31 PM:

Carlton accounts for many good commercials. FlashBeer and Shed for instance.

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 03:46 PM:

Yesterday night, I caught what sounded like an ad for the DeVry Institute, but there was something off about it so I expected that, surprise, it'd turn out to be a Geico ad. Except that this was for real, for a place called the Viral Learning Center.

#5 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 03:48 PM:

Wasn't there ad ad a few months ago that showed a giant robot duking it out with a giant monster in the middle of the city then they stop fighting, fall in love and next thing you know the monster is pregnant, finally giving birth to an SUV?

#6 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 03:51 PM:

One of my favourites: The House Hippo

#7 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 03:57 PM:

Stan Freberg also did the Great American Soups extravaganza.

#8 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 03:59 PM:

One of my favorite, slightly older commercials:
The Ikea sad lamp ad

#9 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 04:02 PM:

BTW, there's another EDS commericial called Running With the Squirrels, I think.

#10 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 04:05 PM:

I believe that Stan Freberg was also responsible for a lot of verry funny radio ads: Bell Brand Potato Chips ('A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Bell Brand Potato Chip rack...') and the 'One Minute Lesson' Mug Root Beer commercials - one series was 'one minute language lessons' and another was 'one minute animal training lessons' ('The first trick to teach your gorilla is "Put Me Down"'; 'The first trick to teach your hippopotamus is "Roll Over"'). I suspect he also was involved with the Golden Grain opera-based ads also ('Just look: twenty-nine elephants loaded with Golden Grain', sung to the 'Triumphal March' from Aida).

#11 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 04:06 PM:

Serge (#5): Do you mean this Hummer ad?

#12 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 04:12 PM:

I love the Toyota "jogger trap" ad:

#13 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 04:15 PM:

whenever anyone mentions ads they like, i have to mention the bravia ads. they are gorgeous, amazing, and require a very robust internet connection.

#14 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 04:18 PM:

And I like this Mountain Dew ad even better.

#15 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 04:19 PM:

Peter Erwin... I had seen a shorter version, but, yes, that was it.

Among other silly ads... One starts like your typical galley routine, with the employees rowing and getting whipped, then you notice that two of the rowers are the M&M candies who keep responding to the boss with disco songs.

#16 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 04:22 PM:

While we're being all nostalgic, I think it was from this very site that somebody linked that lovely Guinness commercial, Good Things Come To Those Who Wait.

#17 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 04:26 PM:

#7: EBay probably wasn't the first (but they're who come to mind right now), but they reused the idea a few years ago in Do You Know the Way to Use EBay

I think there are a few others in the series.

#18 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 04:26 PM:

#7: EBay probably wasn't the first (but they're who come to mind right now), but they reused the idea a few years ago in Do You Know the Way to Use EBay

I think there are a few others in the series.

#19 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 04:30 PM:

Oh, ad links. I have some of them.


Well-known optical illusions.


Kung fu satire done by puppetteers in black arts.

Blackcurrant Tango:

This one is sneaky. It's a one-take, which starts as a handheld
videocamera indoors and ends as a widescreen helicopter shot flying
over the Cliffs of Dover. Did I mention it's a one-take?

#20 ::: Tom Womack ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 04:35 PM:

EDS have a policy to request removal of their third commercial (building airplanes in flight) from youtube, but it's downloadable as has quite a lot of these, with a focus on New Zealand, though the writing's rather uncritical.

#21 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 05:17 PM:

As I have been beat to the Great American Soup ad, and most of the Stan Freberg ads I loved were on the radio station my parents listened to, I'll go to the esoteric. Here are a series of German animated ads, presumably for theatrical use, primarily from the 30s and 40s. Mostly about two minutes long, but the time passes quickly thanks to the inventive genius of Hans Fischerkoesen. Now there's a name I haven't seen bandied about in animation fandom!

Obliging foodstuffs, including a salami that walks right up to the slicer and jumps in. And pigs who inspect the pork chops. Maybe the most conventional of the lot.

Cigarette smoke dancing girls who drift upwards, dance, and vanish. "A woman is only a woman..." but a good cigarette contains a floor show.

Nightmarish antacid ad -- rodents emerging from a skull, even!

A dancing cigarette in an animated wonderland full of good luck symbols. All it needs is a health warning at the end to harsh the buzz.

The disembodied legs men leave their girlfriends to clutch -- if not worse. Further, deponent sayeth not. (And that's the last time I'll use that phrase this year.)

The day the sun overslept -- good thing Philips makes those light bulbs. (Long one -- about 4 minutes)

I found the first one via Animation Brew, and checked the poster for more. Maybe he'll post others as well!

#22 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 06:33 PM:

Does anyone remember the Mountain Dew commercial from about 1980 with the rope swing over the lake and the red Austin Healey Bug-Eyed Sprite?

A quick browse of YouTube isn't helping me. But that was the first time I ever saw a Sprite, and it immediately became my dream car.

I'd love to see it again.

#23 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 07:05 PM:

The never-ending bottle of beer:

An ad for Budweiser, from Turnpike Films.

#24 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 07:15 PM:

Here's an LJ post with six German animated commercials from the 30s to the 50s. I posted with descriptions of the individual ads, carefully counting and verifying that six was less than seven (and less still than "more than seven"), but the Phantom of the Blogosphere caught it and held it back anyway.

The post should show up later, but the thought of you fine people not being able to look at cinema commercials featuring a dancing cigarette, dancing cigarette smoke girls, salamis jumping into the slicer, men leaving their sweethearts to go jump on a giant pair of disembodied legs, and rats coming out of a skull... well, it just seemed so unfair to me.

#25 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 07:21 PM:

The IKEA sad lamp is one of my favorite commercials of all time.

Several threads ago, I linked to another favorite, wherein Joe Isuzu barters a car to the Queen. Unfortunately, they retired Joe because of complaints that he made car dealers seem disreputable. These were from Jerry DellaFemina who was responsible for many other memorable ads, including the Blue Nun radio ads with Stiller and Meara that I remember from my childhood.

I also like the Wendy's Soviet Fashion Show spot. Not sure which agency did that one, though.

#26 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 07:28 PM:

I saw a new ad recently (and I don't remember who it's for) where there's a floor covered with mousetraps with ping pong balls settled on the top. The guy drops a ping pong ball and it hits a mousetrap which launches that ping pong ball, and it escalates and all the balls are bouncing.

#27 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 07:31 PM:

I'm so torn. Commercials! I used to produce commercials. I was going to blog about them myself, in fact, and so I have a bunch of links to my favorites on youtube. It'd be a long comment, though.

Would that be okay?

#28 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 08:03 PM:

I'm in overwhelming love with the VW "unpimp your ride" ads:



But yanno, my favorite car ad is still the one from years ago for--I think it was a Subaru Justi? Or something similar. Where they compare the vehicle in question to several other cars in the price range, and after each comparison, say "we blew their doors off." (with yanno, exploding doors.)

The kicker comes when they get to the last car. A Porche 911. "And they blew our doors off. But you can afford to get *our* doors fixed."

#29 ::: jim ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 08:25 PM:

Whatever happened to They seem to have been forgotten.

#30 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 08:28 PM:

Sure, Will. Let it rip.

#31 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 08:46 PM:

Yes. Everything is better with a trebuchet.

#32 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 09:07 PM:

V-Dub, representing Deutschland!

Their agency seems to have gotten its mojo back.

Remember their Mr. Roboto, Smelly Chair and Synchronized Wiper ads? I believe those were from Arnold Worldwide in Boston.

#33 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 09:09 PM:

Which one had the guy named Bob who’s got his own parking spot, lane on the freeway, etc.?

'91 Nissan Sentra.

#34 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 09:46 PM:

my current fave ad is the Pepto Bismol where a Paul Bunyan, Japanese rubber monster, Japanese robomoster and a 50-foot-tall woman are flaying a city because of upset tummy, etc. Until a fleeing victim tosses 'em a bottle of pepto. I have the tv on a lot during the times I'm online, and sometimes when I'm actually writing, but the pepto ads are so inventive that they're worth looking at.

#35 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 09:48 PM:

A go-ahead from Jim is good enough for me. Here go. Like I said, I used to produce commercials. For Young & Rubicam New York.

This is one of the ones I assisted on.

The very first one I ever worked on wasn't actually a commercial, though. It was this music video, which was actually just a long advert for the relaunch of the Jaguar brand (with some help from Sting).

My favorites, though:

This Gap one did bullet-time before the Wachowski brothers made it famous.

The Gerbil Cannon is one of my favorites, so I won't mention that one. Nor the Clinique Happy ad that I can never find anywhere.

But how about How long is a Swatch minute?

Or "Toys," by Nissan? (which would be my favorite car commercial if not for my involvement with the Jaguar account)

However, Levi's has always done great ones:

The best use of Soft Cell ever?

The creative behind this one was a fan of Henson's "Labyrinth".

Gael Garcia Bernal wore Levi's before he played Che.

Perhaps the sexiest ad you'll ever see, and the only one in which the characters removed all their clothes on national television.

I love that Shakespeare can sell just about anything.

The best Love in an Elevator that Aerosmith had nothing to do with.

This one's like a short, eerie film.

But this Boombastic one is my Levi's favorite.

The other company that should be mentioned is, of course, Apple. TBWA does an amazing job with their commercials:

The ad that launched the product that changed the entire music industry.

The first with the now-famous silhouettes.

Which was later remixed for U2.

And again for Eminem.

But besides the Gerbil Cannon and the Boombastic Levi's ad, this Apple one is my favorite of all time. "Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

Think Different, indeed.

(and this, from a PC-whore)

#36 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 09:57 PM:

Those Mountain Dew guys are just copycats.

#37 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 10:38 PM:

The Wendy's Soviet Fashion Show spot, as well as the "Where's the Beef" ad (so famous that the slogan got used in a 1984 presidential primary debate) and "Parts is Parts" (popular in my college's dining hall), came from the fertile mind of Joe Sedelmeier. I don't know what agency he worked for.

He also did a series of ads for FedEx; the only one I can find is the one with the guy talking really fast.

#38 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 10:55 PM:

Ah, make that Joe Sedelmaier. He also did this ad for Kaypro, and this one for Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls, and this classic for Jartran Truck Rentals. YouTube has a bunch of ads tagged with "sedelmaier", but I think some are his son's (JJ Sedelmaier, an animator). The '70s "Spicy Meatball" Alka Seltzer spot is also tagged with his name, even though it isn't by him.

#39 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2006, 10:57 PM:

I misspelled Sedelmaier's name, but the comment I wrote to correct it was heavily URL-studded, and so is being held in comment Gitmo for interrogation.

#41 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 12:51 AM:

The best ad I've read this year:


We can help! 206-999-9999

Three lines on the backpage classifieds of the Seattle Stranger, and I'm remembering it a lot better than much, much more expensive ads.

#42 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 12:52 AM:

The best ad I've read this year:


We can help! 206-999-9999

Three lines on the backpage classifieds of the Seattle Stranger, and I'm remembering it a lot better than much, much more expensive ads.

#43 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 12:53 AM:

The Spike Jonze Gap commercial is pretty amazingly incredible, and makes me kind of wish something like it would happen in real life. His older Levis commercial, which for some reason I can only find with French subtitles, is also pretty great.

Speaking of the French, David Lynch made them a damn fine cigarette commercial. He sure does love backwards people.

I looked on youtube but couldn't find the old surreal Infiniti commercials with Jonathan Pryce. Those were great. And I think I was the only one who liked the campy Old Navy ads, with lines like "Fashion your seatbelts!" and "The lights are out, but Old Navy half-zip fleece pullovers are in," that featured, like, Shelley Long and the Jeffersons.

#44 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 01:05 AM:

Margaret @ 40 - I saw that one too. Of course, I fear no beet, although the last time I overindulged, I discovered that the red pigment in beets can be passed by the kidneys, and boy-howdy did I panic since that had never happened before!


Random note - YouTube seems to have linked the videos from this thread, probably by viewers from common IP addresses looking at them. Most amusing to see recos for Wendy's, VW, Outpost and animated German film ads all on the same page.

#45 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 01:05 AM:

I really like the budwiser clydesdale series from the superbowl.


Snow fight


and this one for 9-11

#46 ::: Rachel Heslin ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 01:44 AM:

I really loved the Levi's ads from the 70s -- they had a series of great animated ones for a while. Any idea where I can find them? YouTube doesn't seem to go that far back, and RetroJunk doesn't have the ones I remember (something about trains....)

#47 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 02:17 AM:

A bit of trolling the "commercials" tag in the Comedy category of turns up this classic bit of low-brow comedy.

I could waste a whole weekend watching clips from YouTube.Com. Thanks MakingLight! (Still, the old Meister Brau commercial I went looking to find doesn't appear to be online yet. Yet. So that's one small thing to be thankful for...)

#48 ::: breeamal ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 02:17 AM:

I've always been a huge fan of the the "lost" Guinness ad - Mess.

#49 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 02:49 AM:

ZOMG. This one for the X-Box 360 is completely off the rails. I'm sorry about that last link, but this one should make up for it. Cripes, it's good.

#50 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 02:51 AM:

GACK! I DO NOT want to see beer commercials lamenting terrorist attacks. I grew up in NYC. I saw the WTC topped off from my kitchen window in Brooklyn. I feel guilty for not having been in Lower Manhattan when the attack happened, almost as if I had deserted my ancestral homeland. I lost a friend who worked in the north tower from a completely unrelated illness just a few days later. It's a very sore topic for me.

In fact, I get offended by just about every bit of advertising that tries to wrap itself in 9/11. I will never buy from GM or Anheuser/Busch - not that I have in the past. (Sorry for the rant.)

#51 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 02:57 AM:

BTW - I was set off by the comment @ 43.

#52 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 09:39 AM:

Will, Avram, your comments are now visible in their proper places. Sorry I was tardy about checking the "comments held for further action" cache.

#53 ::: heartbeat ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 11:24 AM:

I loved that Levi's Tainted Love commercial.

Some of my fav commercial's were the Gap khaki adds in the late 90s where they had people in khakis dancing in various styles.

Khaki Soul
Khakis Groove
Khaki a-go-go - I find it hard to believe that this style of dancing was at one time modern and hip.
Khakis Swing - which was most Americans first view of "stereoscopic freeze" where the dancers freeze and the camera moves around them. This effect was later popularized by The Matrix. And then copied by everbody and their grandmother.

And who can forget the commercials with the transforming, dancing, ice skating Citroen C4 car? Click on "See the TV Ads."

And those HP Picture Book ads? Rocked.

#54 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 11:33 AM:


Since folks expect soul-destroying, grim stuff from me (see the Package wrapping thread), here are my favorite Public Safety ads:

Heaven Can Wait (and as a high-quality download)


No Seatbelt, No Excuse (and as a high-quality download)

Crash (And as an .mpg download )

Camera Phone (Also available as an .mpg download )

No Belt, No Brains

Y en Español:

Abróchate el Cinterón


#55 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 11:42 AM:

Will, one review of The Matrix said it had "special effects never before seen outside of a Gap commercial".

#56 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 11:46 AM:

an ad from the intersection of brilliant and very, very wrong


also, Audrey Hepburn for the Gap

#57 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 12:17 PM:

An ad for the VW Polo that's unlikely to run in the States.

#58 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 12:37 PM:

I just watched one of Jim's public safety ads. It was extremely effective. And now I need to wait a day or two before I can watch another.

#60 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 12:46 PM:

Even if you don't watch 'em, remember:

Don't drink and drive
Fasten your seatbelt
Look both ways before crossing the street

#61 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 12:54 PM:

Actually, Avram, interestingly, those Gap ads were nothing new. In fact, the technique dates back to the very first movie, ever, of a galloping horse. I don't know how technically cinematic it is, but Eadweard Muybridge, at Stanford University, rigged an arrangement of cameras to basically invent stop-motion animation. His movie/photo-series of the horse is often cited as the first movie ever recorded, even if it really sort of wasn't. (He also used to like to boast that it proved once and for all that, during at least one point mid-gallop, all four of a horse's hooves are on the ground at once)

He did many of them. I found a YouTube montage here. It's interesting to watch (although not safe for work, because he liked his subjects nekkid, apparently), but at one point, you can catch a bullet-time arrangement of a mother spanking her child.

It's the only one in the montage, but there seem to be others. The second-most-recent issue of Paste magazine included a write-up about a recent Muybridge documentary, called Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer, by Thom Andersen.

And Teresa, I'm glad you liked the links. You totally made my Christmas. Which I appreciate (this is my first one not at home). Thanks for making me laugh like a little kid.

#62 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 12:59 PM:

Oh, and just for you, Jim: The most disturbing public information ad I've ever seen. (I'm pretty sure they ended up banning it)

#63 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 01:07 PM:

Tha advert for the VW Polo reminds me a little of the sort of things that Not the Nine O'Clock News did.

Which does make the showreel explanation a little more plausible: it fits with more than one market.

#64 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 01:39 PM:

Julia (59), I'm genuinely surprised to hear how much of a flap there's been over that ad. I would have thought the biggest objection was that it could give people the idea that a VW Polo is impervious to explosions.

#65 ::: Pantechnician ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 02:20 PM:

A friend directed me towards Jim Henson's Wilkins Coffee ads a few months ago, which are fairly interesting. The proto-Kermit seems to have become a bit less violent as the series went on.

#66 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 04:27 PM:

James @60

Amen. I want all the wit and wisdom from everyone, on deck and working, after the holidays. No death or maiming allowed.

So take care, people, will you?

(The message from Princess Diana's death, by the way, is Always Wear Your Seatbelt. She would have lived had she done so.)

#67 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 05:05 PM:

bekins moving did a terrific radio ad that for many years I thought was by stan freeberg--very much in his style. turned out to be somebody named chuck blore


very catchy tune.

#68 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 05:08 PM:

who remembers an ad for a financial firm in which their client--a balding, middle-aged schlub--had to run a football the length of the field, eluding members of the opposite team who represented financial hazards?

the tag-line, as he crossed the end-zone, was "you've done it George! financial security!"

#69 ::: Phil Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 05:14 PM:

Those beer commercials look like a straight lift / tongue in cheek reworking of the 1989 British Airways 'face' advert.

In general I'm told that UK adverts are of a much higher quality than in the US, perhaps because there is much less time given over to adverts in a given commercial television hour: quality over quantity?

#70 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 05:15 PM:

kip w in 21 mentions an obliging salami--
in the UK in the early '90s there was a terrific ad in the theatres in which you are treated to a long montage of footage from slaughterhouses, butchers shops, deli counters, all sorts of meats and meat products being sliced up, ground, cut up, etc.

at the end, you pull back to see a small animated sausage, who says something like "I do love a good 'orror film!".
Then the tag-line was "pepperami. it's a bit of an animal."

#71 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 05:27 PM:

Phil @ 69 They showed that BA spot in the US too - undoubtedly part of a global branding campaign since YouTube also has versions with the voice-over in Chinese.

#72 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 06:52 PM:

Ah, forgot this one: Isuzu. Precision driving. Also, things that you can't
do in a car. Someone can -- but not you.

(This is Jim's cue to say, "Always wear your seatbelt when driving backwards
on the freeway! Don't drink and drive down stairs!")

#73 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 08:22 PM:

I can't believe that my favorite ad isn't here (or if it is, that person did not use the words "Honda", "Accord", or "Cog" (or even "Rube Goldberg") to describe it):

Google says that TNH posted about in 2003.

#75 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 11:08 PM:

I seem to recall seeing -- probably on the FidoNet SF echo -- a message saying that advertising copy was added to the German translations of the earlier Star Trek novels. So Mike Ford's The Final Reflection had an added paragraph from the point of view of the Klingon captain, explaining that when you're rampaging around the galaxy, it's sometimes nice to kick back with a good cup of hot soup...

I'd really like to see the actual text.

#76 ::: Tara Wheeler ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2006, 11:35 PM:

One of my all-time favorite ads was the VW Beetle 'Reverse Engineered From UFOs' Ad. . .

That was the first car ad that got real close to sending me out to buy one.

When I was five, I was obsessed with the VW Thing ad that went through all the possible colors and patterns you could paint it. Somehow I got it in my head that there was a button on the dash that would allow you to change the color and pattern as fast as they did in the ad.

#77 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 12:12 AM:

Tara @#76

"there was a button on the dash that would allow you to change the color and pattern as fast as they did in the ad."

Now there's a customer option I'd like to have.

#78 ::: Greg ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 12:55 AM:

Not, technically speaking, a commercial, but I love most of this (watch it after you've watched the "Think Different" Apple ad)

Problematically, there are 1.5 people who are better candidates for the *original* Apple ad than for this, and at least one other choice who doesn't belong in this at all, since he's now been exonerated, but it's still well-made.

Apologies for failure to link; I am html-deficient.

#79 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 02:44 AM:

Phil, #69, the UK market for TV advertising is different. For a long time, only one TV channel carried adverts. And, while I can recall essentiallu local advertising, there's little or none on TV now. So you have national advertising budgets that competed for limited space; less advertising per hour and fewer channels.

The second advertising-funded channel came in 1982, and the third, named "five", in 1997. (There are two BBC channels.)

Since then satellite and terrestrial digital broadcasting has provided many more channels, leading to something of an audience problem: not only are their fewer viewers on any particular channel, the BBC has something called Doctor Who.

(11 and a quarter hours, folks.)

(Yes, it does get broadcast in widescreen format.)

#80 ::: Allen Baum ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 02:46 AM:

I get the feeling that this is going to be a very long comment thread.

One of my favorite ads is one I saw only on BBC - it would never, ever, ever air in the US.

It starts out appearing to be an ad for Haagen Daaz - and ends up being an ad for something completely different.

I finally found it on YouTube, though this version is a lot rougher in production values than I remembered... Fosters-Haagen Daaz

If you like lawyers and litigation, you'll love
Hmm - the html seems to keep deleting the live link, so here it is as a raw URL:

The bear/fish ad is pretty funny also:

I think you know too much about my sense of humor now...

#81 ::: Allen Baum ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 03:00 AM:

Ah - I forgot one of the funniest, which I can't find on youTube; this is a drink ad, that start off with some guy finishing up a run, and stretching his calves by leaning on his sports car, which is parked on the side of the road on a bluff above the ocean. He is "helped" by someone driving down the road (listening to Bob Marley??) who has the strength to help because of whatever softdrink he was drinking.

Has anyone else seen this one and can point to it?

#82 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 08:36 AM:

Allen -- That was an ad for Japp Energy Bars, and you can find it here.

#83 ::: Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 04:15 PM:

jim @ #29: (originally "Cyberian Outpost", obviously a pun on "Siberian Outpost" but whether they meant the dog breed or the place in Sequoia National Park I dunno) went broke along with most of the boom-time online retailers. The remnant got bought by the Fry's Electronics chain to use as their online branch, but just a few months ago they finally gave up on the brand and use ""

#84 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 10:15 PM:

I have it very good authority that I may or may not have made up that the "Bob" Nissan Sentra ad was actually one of the more successful subliminal propaganda campaigns for the Church of the SubGenius.

And one should not talk about great commercials without doing a search on "commercials" and "Cleese".

#85 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2006, 10:46 PM:

I like the Stella Artois ads, especially this one, but just search "stella artois" on youtube for a lot more.

The Blackcurrent Tango ad is my favourite of all time. Pretty sure I saw it in a cinema where the sound & visual effect was all the better. The three hovering Harriers at the end with purple searchlights, priceless.

I'm pretty sure this Michel Gondry Levi's ad would not (or never did) run in the US. I believe there was also an alternate version where the protagonist is the girl. The music makes the ad, for me. Levi's had a whole lot of great ads in the 90s in Britain.

Speaking of Gondry, this Smirnoff ad is great too. In fact, you might as well go here and see a few of them, or buy the DVD. Him and Spike Jonze could sell me anything.

#86 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 12:59 AM:

There's also this classic Coca-Cola ad. (Not such great video quality, though.)

I'm surprised they don't re-run this. Maybe 60 seconds is just too long for today's attention spans.

#87 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 01:02 AM:

Joel Polowin @ #75:

That soup thing seems to have been widespread for a while there; Terry Pratchett and Iain Banks have also been mentioned as victims. (I've only ever heard of it happening to English-language SF writers, but I suspect that reflects only a limitation in who I listen to.)

The Pratchett Archive has a few words from Pratchett on the subject, and - relevant to your comment - an example of the thing itself.

#88 ::: Jurie Horneman ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 06:12 AM:

A company called Centraal Beheer in the Netherlands has a long history of creating amusing ads. One of my favorites is "Rebel" (click on 'Breedband versie bekijken' to see the broadband version). Slightly more background information on my personal homepage here.

#89 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 08:50 AM:

Sorry this version is so blurry: the copy on my hard drive is from the ad agency is crystal clear but I don't have the link I got it from anymore. Anyway, here it is: The banned Kylie Minogue ad. Probably not safe for work.

Until they entered the "we'll never make a new Beetle, you should buy a Golf" stage (one of the USA execs was so against the new Beetle that when it appeared at the International Auto Show he said, roughly "it's a display platform for our new engine technologies: it'll never be put into production"), VW had an amazing string of ads. Outside of the DDB (I think?) "Snowplow" ad, my favorite came out when Shell was doing all those ads where cars burst through banners marked "Shell." The ad features a Karman Gia going hell-for-leather down a beach while a voice intones "The Volkswagen Karman Gia. The most economical sports car in the world!" The Gia then comes up to a banner, hits it, and the banner stretches and snaps back, sling-shotting the Gia back about six feet. The voice comes back with more of a normal intonation and says "We never said it was the fastest sports car in the world..."

And my favorite Coke ad (outside of the one with The Limelighters) starred the guy that did the voice-overs for "The Wonder Years" and must have been made when he was in his late teens or early 20's--I once wrote Coke and asked if it was in a Cleo reel somewhere, but got a canned note that they can't afford to get clearance rights for old ads. Anyway, he's driving an apparent Rabbit convertible with the top down somewhere in Europe along one of those country roads with beautiful trees on each side, and sees someone trying to fix their bicycle. He stops to ask if he can help, and the cyclist turns around and is an ungodly beautiful long-haired blue-eyed blond.

He's floored, bursts out with something like "You're beautiful!" and then pulls himself together and while nervously chattering offers with hand gestures to put the bike in the back: she agrees and he hoists it in and then plops himself into the driver's seat and comes to an absolute loss of things to say. He blurts out how beautiful she is again, then apologizes for doing so, then apologizes again when he realizes she probably doesn't speak English. By this time the woman is looking a little concerned at the stammering fool next to her and likely to step out of the car. Finally his misfiring brain comes up with something she might understand.

He thrashes around in his seat, pulls out a couple of bottles and says "Do you want a Coke?" She still looks confused. "Coca-Cola?" "Ah, Coca-Cola!" she answers. They both take a drink of Coke, and then he squares his shoulders and says to himself "Now where can I find a gas station?"

And she says "There's one about a mile back down the road."

#90 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 11:49 AM:

Rainier Beer had a lot of wacky commercials (and print ads) in the 1970s, but I don't think they were shown that much outside western Washington. My favorite featured a parody of "Dueling Banjos" by two loggers, one with a bowed crosscut saw and the other with a chainsaw.

#91 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 12:39 PM:

Teresa (64), there was a bipartisan blogswarm about it. The producers were bloviating about bloggers stealing the video from where it was, um, posted on their company website.

Now that the threat of lawsuits has passed, they have it prominently posted on their website.

#92 ::: oliviacw sees commercial spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 01:22 PM:

Oh, Rainier Beer! Robert L, the banjos were fun, but the classic is the motorcycle ad.

#93 ::: oliviacw does not see spam! ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 01:26 PM:

Oops, forgot to change the stored name. I'll repost the link to the classic Rainier Beer motorcycle ad in case our hosts want to delete the previous message.

#94 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 03:04 PM:

#35 But this Boombastic one is my Levi's favorite.


#95 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2006, 05:00 PM:

Here ya go, Dueling Banjos on saws, from Rainier Beer.

#97 ::: Kathi Kimbriel ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 01:48 AM:

It's not funny, but a commercial that has stayed with me is the Apple Mac "1984" ad.

(I hope this link goes through -- Google apparently has "no follow" tied into their links, I had to delete it after the paste...)

#98 ::: Kelly Hall ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 03:58 AM:

After Costner's "Dances with Wolves" came out, a Seattle seafood chain released a parody commercial that lasted about a week before the injuction got it off the air.

If anyone remembers "Dances with Clams" I'd love a copy. Nothing on YouTube.

#99 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 05:02 AM:

Ooh. I just realized I actually know of something to contribute!

Adidas commissioned a series of ads for the Adicolor shoe line. I find them rather clever, if for no other reason than they used the RGB values for the different colors as the URL for each ad.

White can be found at

and one can link to the rest (red, blue, yellow, green, pink, and black) from the color blocks on the left.

They can also be found on Google Video

Yes, that is Jenna Jameson in White, and I find Pink to be rather unsettling.

#100 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 06:57 AM:

Perhaps one of my favorite moving/joyful ads, here we have Coke with "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free"

Apparently versions exist in several languages. I kept stumbling upon the Spanish and Phllipines versions of the ad on youtube, but it was some struggle to find the English version. Of course, after finding the weblog I was able to click through to the youtube version, unhelpfully labeled simply "COKE COMMERICIAL"

This ad has had a justifiably long shelf life, I've seen it on and off for years. I feel that this is the modern spiritual succesor to the "teach the world to sing" ad referenced in #86 above. It has the great song, strong message, and entire-minute-length of the old christmas ad.

#101 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 07:02 AM:

Forgot to note: the blogger who found the foreign language versions also seemed to feel it was a followup to the 70s commercial. I find the vocal styles and crowd reactions in each cultural version to be interesting as well, it's definitely worth it to watch all three.

#102 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 09:15 AM:

"Dances with Clams", Kelly? That sounds like a porn sendup.

#103 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 09:18 AM:

Kathi Kimbriel... I was wondering when the original Mac's 1984 ad would come up. It feels weird, doesn't it, to think that there was a day when the concept of graphic interfaces was so new? ("Granddad, is it true that you once used DOS?")

#104 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 09:32 AM:

Command line rules. I miss DOS.

Meanwhile, the making of the Carlton Beer Big Ad.

#105 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 09:56 AM:

And, in the name of dinosaurs everywhere, the Toyota truck "Bugger" commercial.

(Remember the days before YouTube when people had to send these things to each other as email attachments?)

#106 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 10:26 AM:

Commad lines... I don't do DOS anymore, James, but I sure use command lines a lot with unix servers.

#107 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 04:58 PM:

Thanks, Jim!

#108 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2006, 09:41 PM:

OK, not high art and more famous for its lameness, but, "From the depths of my seats of rich Corinthian leather, I stab at thee!"

I ran across this one today via a Gawker-owned auto site.

#109 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 06:35 AM:

Serge, #106: I use 'em all the time on my iBook, for that matter... (Which, after all, is pretty much Unix (well, FreeBSD).)

#110 ::: Girl Detective ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2006, 10:35 PM:

I liked the Bud Ice commercials with the creepy singing penguins

#111 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 12:03 AM:

Probably not safe for work:

It's time for condom commercials, starting with the classic Trojan Games:

And who can forget this one?

#112 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2006, 08:30 AM:

cd @ 109... iPods use unix-like command lines instead of a button-and-GUI interface? (Speaking of which, I must have pushed the wrong button on my cheap Verizon cell phone yesterday because I get a beep every time I now press any of said buttons. And the tech manual is 1100 miles away. Well, I'll do some fiddling later today. Those newfangled contraptions...)

#113 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2006, 04:10 AM:

Serge, #112: iBook, not iPod. The latter, alas, has buttons-and-GUI (but I think the controls are pretty neat).

#114 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2006, 08:41 AM:

I stand corrected, cd. Eventually, I'll be dragged into the 21st-Century (one without Dubya) and will have to acquire either of those. My wife has expressed some interest in the iPod, but I dread the very concept of her storing lots of music into one small device she can easily misplace. She often asks me if I saw this-or-that thing of hers and I usually suggest looking under whichever last stack of papers and books accumulated on her desk. (I don't know if that's a writer thing.)

#115 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2006, 06:10 PM:

Serge, in my case it's a medical thing. I keep the orders for tests and so forth in a pile on my desk until they're all done and we have talked about them. Then they get filed.

#116 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 04:45 PM:

One of my favorite commercials I can't find on YouTube (or here, so far) is only a few years old... There's a bar full of dumpy balding guys with Chicago/New Jersey accents. "Howsitgoin'." "Howsitgoin'." A lean lined Texan in a cowboy hat walks in. "Howsitgoin'." "It's going fine! I heard so much about how people in the city are, but everyone's been so friendly!" etc. New dumpy balding guy walks in. The bartender's trying to signal him discreetly, don't greet the Texan, but it's too late... "Howsitgoin'." "It's going fine!" etc etc etc, appalled balding guys right and left...

#117 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2007, 05:24 PM:

re: Edweard Muybridge

Look up John D. Isaacs to find out who achieved all the technical breakthroughs that allowed Muybridge to take the pictures that Stanford requested.

Stanford had the idea. Isaacs figured out the mechanics of it. Then Muybridge spent the rest of his life telling everybody it was all his doing. (He also projected the moving pictures in lectures, using another device somebody else gave him. Jammy bastard.)

#118 ::: Yo, Madeline F!! ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2007, 03:47 PM:

Found that Budweiser ad. There's a bunch with a great group of guys, including comic DC Benny (who's now doing a sappy insurance/investment ad with fake daughter. lame).

#119 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 12:53 PM:

Yet more Brit Road Traffic Safety public service announcements on the themes of Fasten Your Seat Belts, Don't Drink and Drive, Look Both Ways Before You Cross the Street, and Obey the Speed Limit.

Again, be warned that some of these show GRAPHIC REPRENSENTATIONS OF REALISTIC INJURIES. You might not want to watch them.

My Home

Slow Down

How Close?


A Perfect Day

It's 30 For a Reason

Shattered Dreams

From Australia:


And from New Zealand:

The Faster You Go, The Bigger the Mess

Really, some of these ads are Really Tough To Look At. Be warned.

#120 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2007, 01:07 PM:

There's also a motorcycle awareness PSA from NY in the same vein, but less graphic because Americans are wimps.

#122 ::: Warren Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 12:34 AM:

Someone here mentioned the Golden Grain commercials. I don't know how to contact that person, but I just wonder if anyone has ever found a source for them. I spent several days looking for them on the Internet a few years ago but found absolutely nothing. Something's changed, because I now see several references to them, and I'm going to keep looking until I find them.

#123 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2007, 01:02 AM:

U of Maryland has an archive of radio stuff. One Golden Grain ad from 1963. (Google: "golden grain" pasta radio and it should turn up somewhere on the first couple of pages.)

#124 ::: OtterB sees probable spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2010, 06:47 PM:

Not clicking the link, but no comment history

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