From worst commercials to great ones

Enough with all this negativity! Everybody agrees that there are real duds out there, but there are also little gems. I love well-made commercials, to the point that I will often interrupt the “fast forward” on my VCR to look at them, although I hasten to add that there are very few such instances. I’m probably not alone in this regard, because when they have a retrospective of the best commercials from all over the world at one of our local cinemas, there are always lines outside.

With this intro out of the way, I yield the floor to all interested. Being fully conscious of the fact that the whole process is quite subjective, I could nevertheless start the ball rolling with two of mine: any one of the commercials in the recent GAP campaign, and a set of older ones – the ones inviting people to “come see the softer side of Sears”. Might add a last one: a 15-second commercial where you see a door slowly closing with traffic noise in the background. Once the door is shut, you see the company’s logo: Midas Muffler. Dead silence. Not one word spoken.

I have to say some of the commercials for Jack in the Box are among the funniest I’ve ever seen…For the benifit of those East of the Mississippi, the character of Jack is played by a guy in a big round clown head. There’s one where Jack’s ad agency is trying to sell him this spot where the “Spicy Crispy Girls” (A Spice Girl ripoff) are singing about the spicy, crispy chicken sandwich. Jack looks up at the agent and says “You are sooooo fired.” (There was a follow up to this with a different video and Jack says “Didn’t I fire you?”) Another is a flashback to the 70’s where the Jumbo Jack is invented and Jack has straight, shoulderlength hair and big tinted glasses, a la Phil Spector. Very amusing! But one of my faves is when Jack is observing a focus group of meat and cheese lovers from behind a two-way mirror. The leader is describing the Ultimate cheeseburger (cheese, meat, cheese, cheese and meat) and one of the test subjects says “I understand the meat and cheese, but why the bun?” (Jack does hilarious spit-take behind glass) another says “Yeah, a bun is neither cheese, nor meat!” and a third says “Word!” Jack comes out screaming “Without the bun your hands would be covered with meat and cheese!” They stare at him blankly and he shrugs and says he’ll think about it. There was a recent one filmed in the style of the TV show “COPS” where Jack (filmed from a camera over his shoulder) beats on some guy’s door and accuses him of calling him “Junk in the Box.” A foot chase ensues and Jack ends up pinning the guy in his yard and forcing him to eat a Jumbo Jack and admit it’s fresh and tasty, while onlookers (with digitally scrambled faces) say “lookin’ good, Jack.” Doesn’t really read as funny as it is, sorry.

I rather like Pepsi’s Phantom Menace tie ins with that weird little four armed alien Star Wars freak. Espescially the one where he’s re-enacting the movie with the character cans. The line ‘This is the weirdest date I’ve ever been on.’ slays me every time. You can call me weird, you can call me kookie, I’ll even stand still for you calling me insane, but that’s a damned funny commercial.

‘They couldn’t hit an Elephant from this dist…!’

Last words of General John Sedgwick

First of all, I agree heartily with Voguevixen…I see those Jack in the Box spots when I go back west to visit and they are knee-slappers, especially the “ultimate cheeseburger” spot–you’re right, that spit-take is dead on. Furthermore:

The Miller Draft commercials; genius in their simplicity. Think about it…shoot some 20-somethings having a party, some shots of the beer, throw in a retro-80’s tune and you got a catchy ad that cost almost nothing to produce.

The VW Turbo Beetle: great, I mean GREAT visual design.

The ESPN “This is SportsCenter” Promos, of course!

The spot for the U.S. Women’s Soccer team that has them in a dentist’s office…“Then I will have 2 fillings,”…

The campaign Nike ran last year during the NBA lockout. Spike Lee at a 7th grade girls basketball game, on the sideline harassing and berating one of the players, a la Reggie Miller.

Here in Minneapolis there’s a local TV spot for “Grumpy’s”, a local bar. In a computer generated voice (think Stephen Hawkings) the ad announces, “At Grumpy’s eat our food, drink our beer, then give us your money and piss off.”

“My hovercraft is full of eels.”

For my money, some of the best commercials I’ve ever seen are Canadian beer commercials, because you’re not allowed to drink the beer in the commercial. So Labatt’s and Molson come up with the most incredible ad campaigns to generate interest.
My favourites are all Labatt’s.

  1. Out of the Blue
    Two commercials in this series are simply amazing. One features a street hockey game breaking out in downtwon Toronto, which stops when a streetcar is bearing down on the participants, and another is the equally brilliant hotdog cart which turns into a real-life game of curling.
  2. Voyageur Series
    This was an ongoing saga released instalment by instalment, gradually becoming better then declining.
    The last two instalments were pretty dumb, but there was a bunch of good ones.


The best commercial I ever saw was from a foreign country it was for Memorex cassette tapes. This guy is standing in an empty room, he hits the play button on a boom box and a jamaican tune starts blarin out of the speakers…heavy accent and you can’t understand a word the singer is sayin so the guy standing starts to flip thru cue cards he’s holdin and they seem to be the words…at one point (and unfortunately this is the only phrasing I remember) one card says “my ears a light”. The music stops, the guy makes a wierd face, shakes his head and walks off. An off-screen hand changes the tape in the boom box and the music is MUCH clearer, you can hear every word clearly and the cue cards we were reading weren’t even CLOSE to the real words…then it simply says “Memorex” and the commercial ends. I saw this about 3 yrs ago and to this day if anyone around me goofs up on the words to a song I call it an “ears a light” :slight_smile:

Has anyone seen the new Coca Cola commercial? A teenage girl is getting ready to go out with her friends. After several changes, she has on an outlandish outfit and layers and layers of badly put on make up. Then she takes a drink of coke and suddenly decides to wash off all the make up and put on jeans and a sweater. Then you see her with her two similarly dressed friends… I love the idea that being natural is better than wearing a ton of makeup.

“Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you, my friend–
Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again…”
-Steely Dan

I really like the VW Jetta commercial, where the viewer is looking out through the windshield of a Jetta, and the windshield wipers are moving in synch with the music. Then out the windows you see everything else is doing the same-- every time someone on the sidewalk moves, they’re in synch with part of the beat. Pretty spooky.

When I bought my new Jetta, the dealer promised to send a copy of the song on tape, but never did. The bastard. =B^/

That was great! I only saw the commercial once, but I’ll never forget Spike speaking directly into the camera at the end: “Seventh Grade Girl’s Basketball… It’s FAAAANtastic!”

Say what you will about Nike, they do have some great commercials. I especially like the recent “Chicks dig the longball” series with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. “Hey! There’s Cy Young winners over here!” Cracks me up every time!

When I talked of the process being quite subjective, Gail said she really liked the Coke commercial, while Melatonin, on the “New worst commercials” thread, abhorred it. Go figure. I, myself, haven’t seen it so… no comment for now :slight_smile:

I may be mistaken, but I think that girl Spike is berating is Reggie Miller’s daughter. I like the Samuel Jackson one better though:

“Three guys playing horse. It’s FAN-tastic!”

One guy misses the hoop and the ball goes over the roof of the garage. Sam just yells: “YEAH!!!”. Great commercial.

The recent Hummer commercial. interior shot of two guys riding in a Hummer. The vehicle bumps slightly. Driver asks passenger “Squirrel?”. Passenger looks back and replies “Rabbit…convertible.”

The overwhelming majority of people have more than the average (mean) number of legs. – E. Grebenik

Shown during last years football season… (computer company)…Shows marching band out on the field doing their thing, then they release a pack of hungry wolves who rip them (you assume) to pieces…The close up shot of one of the band members is priceless…then, they say “Send all angry mail to” or something like that…they had a whole series but this one was hilarious!

“Were you out on the lake today kissing your brain?”- The Man with Two Brains

My favorite commercial was the one with the guy (supposedly) shooting gerbils out of a cannon at a wall. I love fuzzy little critters, but that ad cracked me up everytime.

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

Another vote for the Jack in the Box ads. They had one during the congressional elections that was done in the style of a campaign ad: “My opponent is a milkshake-hating extremist!”

  1. The commercial with all the kids saying what they want to be when they grow up. Cracks me up every time, perhaps because I’m going to graduate pretty soon, and I’m rather cynical about joining the workforce. “I want to claw my way up to middle management.” Brilliant.

  2. The entire Snickers “Not going anywhere for a while?” ad campaign, as long as it deals with sports in some way (the one they have out now with the cable company just plain sucks). I loved the very first one, with Marv Levy telling the Bills that they weren’t going anywhere until they figured out how to make it to a fifth straight Super Bowl. And the “great googly moogly” guy painting “Chefs” instead of “Chiefs” on the field. And the one this past season with the NFL officials at the eye doctor. I hope they keep this campaign up for a while, because it cracks me up.

  3. The Mastercard “Some things money can’t buy” campaign. I don’t really have much to say about them, other than they all give me a warm fuzzy feeling.

  4. This one’s a few years old, but it made an impression. It was one of the internet commercials with Denis Leary. He was at this store called the Communist Emporium, where they were selling horribly kitschy things like cookie jars in the shape of Lenin’s head and USSR flags. Denis had the reaction that one might imagine that he would have, and the owners said “We’re Marxist, but we have to make a buck just like anyone else.” The first time I saw that commercial, I laughed so hard I nearly cried.

I’ll second that one. That commercial starts off with a serious “look” to it but it’s actually funny (or depressing, when the kids start describing your job).
“I want to be forced into early retirement.”
“I want to spend all day filing.”
“I want to be paid less for doing the same work.”
“Yes sir. You’re right, sir. Right away, sir.”

“Who are all you people, and how did you get in my computer?”

I love the Chewy granola bar commercial with kids spilling their parents’ secrets: “My dad wears a wig.” “Dad lost his paycheck at the track!” “Mom has a tattoo on her–” “My little brother was an accident.” That slays me :slight_smile:

I also loved the kitten food commercial from a few years ago that showed a tiny fluffy orange kitten running all around the house with race car sound effects. When they had a close up of the kitten meowing, only the meows were replaced with “vroom vroom” noises, I’d laugh until I cried.

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

Maybe Canada has a different set of commercials than the USA, but my favourite car commercials are a toss-up between a bunch of VW Jettas playing soccer and a Ford commercial touting a new Hydrogen-powered engine that ends with somebody taking a hot bath in the box of his pickup-truck…

The VW one with the guy singing Mr Roboto by Styx while doing the Robot silently in the closed car. When I first saw it, I recognized it a split second before the other guy opened the door. Brought back memories.

The Jukka brothers for MTV. Just something about them being in the middle of nowhere with MTV and emulating the fashion and crap cracks me up. The best one is the one where they trade gifts and get silver jackets