Monday, April 26, 2010

Space Monkey

I'm going to post some follow up posts about the ads at the New York auto show later, but I had to post this ad from the World Wildlife Fund immediately because it is fantastic. The song in the background is awesome, though I'm ashamed to say I didn't recognize it as being by Australian musician Ben Lee, who wrote my favorite album of 2004, Awake is the New Sleep. For a four minute dialogue-less video it really packs a lot emotion, and is really well paced. I'll discuss it more after the video, I don't want to give anything about it away just trust me that its well worth your time. I mean how could an ad called space monkey not be?

I'm gonna leave some space between the video and my additional comments in case you watch the video embedded here because I really don't want to spoil it by having you see my comments about it below.

Free offer! Free offer!

Rip a fender off your car

mail it in

for a half-pound jar


Isn't that ad awesome, and way more heart breaking than anything involving a monkey has any right to be? I really didn't expect the ending, it really does a great job in a short period of setting up this very well defined story and then playing with the audience's expectations. Oh and am I the only person who thought the image of the rundown Ferris wheel in the middle of an abandon city was homage to the Ferris wheel in Prypiat, the abandon city next to Chernobyl? (Pictured below.)

Gas pedals on Dutch built cars can only be operated safely whilst wearing wooden shoes

I went to the New York auto show a few weeks back, and realized that many of the promotional displays were cool enough, or ridiculous enough to merit a blog post or two or three depending on how excited I get.

This picture is of part of the Volvo display. This foolishness is what inspired me to start taking pictures to do a post about the displays. The slogan was “Scandinavian design inspired”, which combined with the shelving and random wooden decorative objects makes me think Volvo is trying to sell cars by comparing them selves to Ikea. Maybe to the ad guys who created the phrase “Scandinavian design," this means their cars are like some awesome well made Scandinavian product that is popular throughout Europe which I'm unfamiliar with, or maybe they are saying this car is as well crafted as something else Scandinavian like the band ABBA, or the Swedish bikikni team, or award winning actor and full time handsome person Stellan Skarsgard.
But all I think of when I see shelving units and the phrase Scandinavian craftsmanship is Ikea. Which just makes me think of furniture that comes in a box the size of an Uno card, which consists of 2000 screws and is supposed to be assembled with one thin little alan wrench made of a light blub filament. This really is not the image marketers should try to bring to the forefront of a car buyers mind. Unless they are selling kits from which you can assemble one of those custom full size wooden cars, which are awesome.
Volvo's Scandinavian brethren, Saab, who as a former asset of the now federally owned General Motors has gone from being on the brink of being disbanded completely, to being almost bought by tiny Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg in the summer of 2009, a deal which fell through when it was revealed no one, anywhere had ever bought a car from Koenigsegg, and that company just consisted of just one guy. So Saab was back to as state impending doom for the rest of 2009 until they were bought (for real this time) in February 2010 by an other tiny supercar company, the Dutch company Spyker, which has made and sold even fewer cars than the zero Koenigsegg had sold.
I figured since Saab is technically right now not owned by anyone, since the ink is still drying on the Spyker deal and Spyker is busy getting sued by the Saab Aerospace company, I assumed Saab's current Hospice nurse GM would not pony up much dough for a display. Surprisingly Saab had a welcoming display with high production values. A few other automakers had furniture in their areas to encourage guests to stay longer. But the rest of the furniture at the show at the show were all very modern and uncomfortable bench style apparati integrated into the walls of the display. Saab actually sprang for comfy padded chairs, and consequently had the only seating I saw anyone actually sit in the whole show.
Pictured above: a couple discussing how the would never buy a Saab in a million years because Saabs are Dorkmobiles, but also discussing how the appreciate Saab providing them with very nice chairs to relax in before they stand up again to go look at cars they actually like.
(actually I do like the rear styling on whatever model Saab is in foreground of the picture.)

Well that brings us to the end of the Swedish portion of the New York auto show, so I think that this is a good time to break. More on the auto show when I think of things to say about the other pictures I have.
I'll leave you with the musical stylings of the greatest Scandinavian band ever. In fact I would go so far as to say these guys are the best thing to come out of Norway since Berserker Vikings. Here is Hurra Torpedo covering Bonnie Taylor's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" using an chest freezer and a couple of stoves and steel girder as their rhythm section.

(Thanks to T. Cunnion for showing me the Hurra Torpedo clip 4 years ago.)

BONUS Stellan Skarsgard fact: Actors Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly named their child Stellan after Mr. Skarsgard. Bettany said in an interview on Conan O'Brien that he wanted their child to be named Stellan not just because Skarsgard is a good friend of theirs, but also because Skarsgard has the highest alcohol tolerance of any person Bettany has ever met, and he was hoping the name would help pass along this trait.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

These Aren't Your Dads Puns! They are Turbopuns!

This a ridiculously amazing ad parody from an internet Canadian sketch comedy group called Picnicface. It makes fun of extreme energy drinks using a fictional one called Power Thirst. They should have hired these guys to try to make Power Bar Juicy Gummi Bears appealing, though as I said in the previous post, no one could have succeeded at that.

This is perhaps the best parody of ads that try to be "extreme!" since the Mountain Dew swilling extreme jerks in Harold and Kumar go to White Castle (Extreme in store kayaking! Extreme cashier!). In fact I will be so bold as to say that this ad is in even funnier than the extreme guy characters in Harold and Kumar. Because here at Strictly Commercials were aren't afraid to take tough stands on the big issues, especially when they are issues that I myself just made up, and that no one has ever discussed before, or will ever discuss again.

[source for the PowerThirst ad parody]

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dunk on the moon.

I'm still am not sure that I entirely believe that this is a real product or a real commercial. Despite all logic, someone at the Power Bar company apparently decided to create a product called Power Bar Energy Blasts which are essentially Gushers, the childern's candy gummi candy where the center is filled with liquid corn syrup. As a child I didn't know anyone who didn't think these were gross, but Power Bar apparently now makes them for adults. I assume the main thing distinguishing these from Gushers is that the Power Bar candy will be much worse tasting because they are made by Power Bar, and I have never had a Power Bar product that doesn't taste like asphalt.

So how does one advertise such a product? Obviously by having a doll version of Los Angeles Lakers' forward Lamar Odom eat one of these Power Bar Blasts and then slam dunk on a basketball hoop which is attached to the moon.

This commercial is pretty stupid, but then again its obviously intentionally stupid, and Odom announcing he is going to dunk on the moon did make me laugh. To paraphrase Roger Ebert's review of the film FX2, "There should be a special category for movies that are neither good nor bad, but simply excessive." This commercial was memorable enough for me to be inspired to post it, and it succeeds at what it set out to do. But since its goal was to sell Power Bars by showing an toy version of an NBA player dunk on a hoop attached to the moon. I think the only part of it I can definitely make a yay or nay judgment on is the guy who is not Odom saying at the end of the spot, "I'm gonna do a slama jammer on pluto." This line is terrible. While the rest of the commercial is dumb and ridiculous, try to think of a better way to do any other part of it. The cheap doll with the rocket pack is much funnier than an attempt at realism with a graphic of Odom doing his moon jump. The ending line on the other hand is groan inducing, they should have ended the commercial with Odom landing with the basketball hoop still in his hand, or with the line after where the other guy says he wants to try some.

Despite the commercial succeeding at being the FX2 of Food ads, this is still a commercial for a Power Bar gummi candy. This commercial could be scripted by Kia's ad agency and directed by Michael Bay and I still wouldn't have any interest in Power Bar gummy candies. Power Bar even seems to admit this at the end where the advises you to go to their website to receive a free sample. Ending the commercial by essentially saying, "Hey we know these sound disgusting and awful and you would never be willing to pay for them, so want not have us send them to you for free to your house so you can give them away to people you dislike?"

The commercial tries to sidestep this issue by showing the product out of its container at little as possible, but that doesn't really work because the candies still sound gross once we finally figure out what they are.

That is all I have to say that is actually on topic but i would like to point out that I just discovered the film FX2 which spawned that fun Roger Ebert quote was apparently directed by Richard Franklin. Who is Richard Franklin you may ask? Unless you clicked the link on his name which went to his imdb page, in which case you are saying, "I have never heard of any of the movies this guy directed."

Franklin is an Australian director who made OZploitation films in the 1970's and 80's. He is one of the many people interviewed in the excellent Australian documentary Not Quite Hollywood, which discusses the history of these Australian genre pictures. I can't recommend that movie enough. I enjoyed it so much I netflixed several of the movies mentioned in it and Road Games directed by Richard Franklin is definitely the best one so far. I wanted to include the trailer for Not Quite Hollywood embedded here, but I can't find a version that doesn't contain lots of violence and nudity (now you can see why I like this movie, it has so much violence and nudity that they couldn't even find 2 minutes of the movie without it to use in the trailer), and wants blogs that post such things to be listed as restricted content. So instead here is the trailer for Road Games. I realize all of this is only tangentially related at best to Power Bars, (actually its completely unrelated I just really wanted to use the word tangential here, and its my blog so I did), but I really wanted to point out how awesome Not Quite Hollywood and Road Games were.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wait one last thing about Kia (part 3)

I promise I will talk about something else at some point, but a friend of mine was asking what I thought of the Kia Soul ads, and I didn't really remember them, and I have now rediscovered their awesomeness and hamster filledness. But that is not what I have come here to talk about today. What I am here to talk about is car art. No, not painting something on a car, I'm talking about Kia loading cars onto a cargo container and taking the time to line them up to form a giant stick figure out of cars. This is pretty cool. I don't have anything to say about it beyond that. I already the chopped the video to the good part, the form a few different objects, its pretty nifty.