Commercial Break. (An SoA Guest Post)

17 Nov

My dear readers, you may have noticed a trend here at State of Affairs lately: namely, guest blogs.  The fact is I’ve had less and less time to devote to the blog over the last few months for a variety of reasons (only a few of which I’m able to talk about), but despite my inability to update, we have come too far together for me to abandon you and my precious webspace to internet anonymity.  So I pick the best and the brightest of my Correspondents to fill in for me during this tumultuous time.  Among my favourite bloggers on the interwebs is my good friend Lu Galasso from Inching Towards Mediocrity who has been featured here at SoA in the past, and he’s kindly agreed to fill in another of his famous Best Of Lists for today’s installment.  Take it away Lu!

(Not Lu Galasso).

Lu’s Top Six Favorite Commercials

There is an art form that goes severely under-appreciated in our society. Fans and critics can talk for hours about the artistic merits or commercial appeal of film, music, paintings, sculptures, and yes, even television. But there is another medium for creativity that, for a variety of reasons, seems to go unnoticed.


Now, I know what you’re all thinking. “Hey Lu,” you say out loud to an empty room, “commercials can’t be an art form. Art is an expression of creativity with no ulterior motive. Commercials are just fancy ways to sell you shit.”

Which is usually true. But not always.

Commercials have the unfortunate luck to be triply offensive. They are trying to sell you something that you probably don’t want or need; they are usually cheaply and quickly made; and, depending on your television habits, you are likely to see them several times a day. That repetition can be equally offensive if it’s a particularly poor ad.

Despite these hurdles, some commercials do manage to be creative, clever and fresh. In a television landscape inundated with advertisements, commercial writers have had to rely on humor, originality and the occasional controversy just to create something with a memorable impact that resonates with jaded viewers and gets their point across – usually in thirty seconds or less. (They seem to be particularly adept at this during the Superbowl – but then, since they are paying to be there, it only makes sense that they would be).

Here, then, are six commercials that ol’ Lu has deemed worthy of your internet viewing. Some hilarious, others bizarre – still others made the list just for being different. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Six. Energizer’s Cartoon Throwbacks

For whatever reason, you don’t see animation employed very often in conjunction with commercials. And, when you do, it’s usually pretty run-of-the-mill. Energizer decided to buck the trend by utilizing four different styles of animation to create a series of cute ads depicting various common household items singing and dancing happily before collapsing into twitching heaps when their (non-Energizer) battery runs out. From claymation to puppetry to an apparent “School House Rock” reference, the ads cover a variety of styles very well – setting them apart from other ads with class and style.

Five. It was a rainy day…

This one might be a tad location-specific, but worth it. Anyone who grew up in southern Ontario (more specifically the Greater Toronto Area) will fondly remember these Pizzaville radio ads from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The mere phrase “it was a rainy day in Pizzaville” creates a feeling of comfortable ‘90s nostalgia, which apparently is “in” these days. Surprisingly funny, these intentionally cheesy ads were a staple in Toronto for many years. In celebration of the eatery’s 25th anniversary, you can vote on your favorite ones – a nice little trip down memory lane for any radio friendly Torontonians.

Four. The Budweiser Frogs.

Endlessly parodied due to their solidification in our collective consciousnesses, the Budweiser frogs remain an oft-remembered classic to this day. Continuing to bank on the public’s unwavering love of animals, the commercial employs three frog puppets who croak out the Budweiser name – apparently reading it on a sign attached to a nearby bar. Animals sell. Talking animals? GOLD.

Three. Happy Chinchilla Day!

This is incredible. I have never seen this on television (it was supposedly banned from airing, though I can’t imagine why); rather, I accidentally stumbled upon it one day online. An office worker, who had apparently spent his weekend in Vegas, lies to his boss – telling him that he was observing “Chinchilla Day,” a made up holiday commemorating a Mexican village’s sacrifices and eventual victory over a group of marauding Chinchillas. Inventive, bizarre, and strangely adorable, this is one of the most flat-out entertaining commercials I have ever seen.

Two. He’s On a Horse.

Quite possibly the biggest advertising success story of the last ten years. Isaiah Mustafa, the titular Old Spice Guy, debuted in early 2010, declaring himself “the man your man could smell like.” The commercial descends into ridiculous fantasy after that, with Mustafa’s smug demeanor and apparent campaign to be crowned 2010’s sexiest man alive (let’s face it – he’s considerably more worthy than Ryan Reynolds), upping the comedy ante considerably. It even won the Emmy for best commercial in 2010, which is surprising. Not that the ad didn’t deserve it; I just wasn’t aware that any such award existed.

One. Apple takes a bite out of Orwell.

A visually incredible ad from 1984, detailing a dystopian present where a “Big Brother”-type figure pontificates to the spirit-broken masses as they march in unison, bathed in shades of gray. His speech is interrupted by our heroine in a white tank top and red shorts who hurls a hammer at his giant video screen face. Directed by Ridley Scott, this ad was shown during the 1984 Superbowl to announce the arrival of the Macintosh. It remains one of the most memorable, original and talked-about ads of all time – despite only ever airing once.

There you have it, folks. Six commercials that have made television and radio a little bit more palatable in the past – at least for me. You may not agree, or you may have a few favorites of your own not listed here. Well, don’t be shy, pilgrim – drop me a comment and tell me how you feel! I can take it.


3 Responses to “Commercial Break. (An SoA Guest Post)”

  1. James Faust November 17, 2010 at 9:54 PM #

    My favorite is this australian beer commercial:

  2. rascal November 18, 2010 at 12:47 PM #

    this one is my favourite


  1. Five Commercial Mascots That Don’t Suck » Everyone is Entitled to Our Opinion. - February 2, 2011

    […] I wrote a couple of guest blogs for Alex James State of Affairs, which can be found here, and here. The first one was a list of some of my favorite commercials – a fun little endeavor […]

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