Okay, you know me and television commercials. I love 'em! Especially the good ones. But what is "good?" Well that's hard to say. I know what's bad. Or more correctly, I know what I don't like: the ones that compel me to change the channel as soon as they come on. For example:
Those Old Navy commercials with the talking mannequins are simply dreadful. Okay, we get it, voice-over announcers get paid less than actors whose faces appear in the commercials. The ads speak of how cheap Old Navy is, and are frankly insulting. [CLICK!]
The AT&T commercials with the annoying and unattractive actor Owen Wilson't even-less-attractive-and-more-annoying brother Luke are horrible. [CLICK!]
Those idiotic Kit-Kat commercials drive me insane. Give me a break, all right! [CLICK!]
I know what I like: cleverness. I like things that are different. I like commercials that make me want to see them over and over.
For the Super Bowl, Kia debuted a commercial for their Sorento SUV model. The spot continues to run now. It features some toy stuffed animals that have come to life. In the spot, the animals commandeer a Sorento and go off on a joyride, accompanied by a pumping, pounding tune called "How You Like Me Now" by a group called The Heavy. The long, 60-second spot is great, but the two little 30-second spots are even awesomer.
In the first, the animals go bowling. Muno (the cyclops from Nickelodean's "Yo Gabba Gabba") picks up an exploding spare - odd, considering his obvious lack of depth perception. They make snow angels, and ride one of those mechanical bulls. The monkey (Sock Monkey from Fox River Mills Inc. - they sell socks) is seen getting a "tattoo" - which is really just a sew-on patch that says, "Mom." There's a quick shot of an iPod wired into the dash - for a microsecond you can see the cover art from "The House That Dirt Built," the CD from which the soundtrack came. Clever, that.
In the second Kia spot, Sock Monkey rides the mechanical bull again, and then flips a jetski! Then the stuffed animals hit Las Vegas. We see them cruising down the strip with Muno standing up through the sunroof, arms outstretched. They enter a casino and go dancing in the disco. The robot does...the robot, naturally.
The commercials all end with the toy animals returned to their natural state, in the back seat of a Sorento, dreaming of the day when they come to life and embark on a Las Vegas road-trip adventure.
Surprisingly, the commercial has no voice-over at all. Just some text at the end that says, "Sorento - a departure from the expected" and then the Kia logo.
This particular ad campaign is done by an agency called David & Goliath, who've had the Kia account since 1999. They're fun, terrific commercials that I love to watch.
HERE is the story of the origin of the spot from a site called The Auto Channel.
Okay, next we come to a very bizarre spot for a new tv from a the electronics company, Sharp. George Takei (who we all recognize as Sulu from the original "Star Trek" tv series and movies) is describing some new image technology that's so different that our current, pathetically inferior tv's can't even display it. Okay, right, sure. The weird part comes at the end, when Sulu looks directly at the Sharp Quattron tv screen. "WHOOOOO!!" he screams, obviously impressed. Then he looks at the camera and goes, "Oh my!" in a way that leaves the viewer going, well, "Oh, my..."
I'm not sure what they were going for with Sulu. His character on "Star Trek" was always so calm and confident. It was only after the series ended that he became more openly, um, flamboyant. See for yourself.
Commercials are a necessary evil. For the most part, we hate 'em because for the most part, they're awful. You've got 15, 30, or 60 seconds to get your message across. Do it right and it's magic (Kia). Do it wrong and you've wasted a shitload of money and possibly alienated future customers (Old Navy). For me, commercials like Kia's and Sharp's make watching tv tolerable, even fun.
Fox River Mills
David & Goliath Productions