There’s some controversy over this so-called bit of “prankvertising” LG did on behalf of its high-definition television. Maybe you’ve seen it? A handful of people interviewing for a fake job are scared shitless by what appears to be the beginning of World War III.

A case can be made the unwitting interviewees are innocent victims of unnecessary cruelty. They appear genuinely scared when the fake bombs start falling. And they appear genuinely pissed off when the joke is revealed to them, especially considering they are, in fact, its punch line. Hell, I’d be pissed too. Though maybe more for having gone to a fake job interview than for being frightened by a malicious advertiser.

Bottom line the questionable taste of the prank and its subsequent controversy are all part of the campaign. If people weren’t scared and if the media wasn’t critical then the campaign would be a failure.

Therefore, like it or not, it is not a failure. My guess is LG will get sufficient lifespan and social currency out of this “work” to consider the piece a moderate to major success. Last I checked, the video had over 4 million views…

So, is it evil? Or is it genius? Or is it a combination of the two: evil genius?

One thing it is not is original. Pranking people is a tradition dating back a lot farther (or is it further?) than social media. Back in the early days of TV, Candid Camera was a most popular show that made fun of unsuspecting people on hidden camera to the delight of millions. The show ran forever. As far as I know it was seldom criticized for hurting people. It was, as they used to say, all in good fun. Granted, I doubt Candid Camera did many episodes depicting the end of the world; that said humiliating people for entertainment was its purpose.


More recently the found footage genre (pioneered by The Blair Witch Project and insidiously perfected with Catfish) has heralded in new levels of embarrassment and fear. I’ve said this before: awkward moments are no longer avoided. They are entertainment. From Candid Camera to Courting Controversy!

I don’t like this content on Facebook or follow it on Twitter but I do share it as a fact of our existence. I recognize that to be contemporary in marketing one has to at least be able to speak to it. To turn away from courting controversy entirely is to excuse one’s self from the modern world. And as I’ve said before, more than anything else irrelevancy is a death sentence to creative professionals.

So, while I find the video unsettling and frankly unoriginal I did find it. In this age of massive distractions that is saying something.

Final note on the topic of originality: For a long time, Memorex (remember them?) ran a famous ad campaign working essentially the same conceit as LG’s. Their line: Is it Live or is it Memorex? Both LG and Memorex campaigns are examples of the oldest form of product advertising on earth: the product demo. So word to the under-30 set, who think this shit is fresh. It ain’t.

Copy: Wikileaks…Butterfly doesn’t.

RG Blue Communications and Butterfly Sanitary Napkins broke a new outdoor advertising campaign in far away Pakistan. It pokes fun at the infamous Wikileaks site in an obvious way. I get the joke, even almost laughed. But is it good advertising?

I posted one the billboard on my Facebook page and asked women to weigh in on the subject. Reactions were mostly negative, ranging from “Ew” to, “Well, if I can sit through all those ads about erections I suppose it’s time for this.”

I suppose the agency and client should get points for generating PR, especially given they are only planning a few executions. After all, I’m writing about it after discovering the campaign on Psychographism and researching it on MSNBC.. Lotta coverage, so to speak.

What do you think, Gentle Reader; is this a good ad or a bad ad? Female votes count for double.

Tiger’s commercial: Bogey or Ace?

“It’s a fascinating, creepy document. I don’t know whether I love it or hate it,” said Steffan Postaer, chief creative officer at Euro RSCG, Chicago. “But I do wish I’d made it.”

-Yours Truly, Adage

The above quote comes hot off the presses, as they used to say, from today’s story in AdAge about the now-infamous “talking from the grave” TV commercial from Nike featuring Tiger Woods and the voice of his deceased father.

I actually made the above remark to reporter, Jeremy Mullman on Friday, half way through the golf tournament. Well, the Masters is over and Tiger Woods did not win it. Phil Mickelson did. Tiger came close. Fourth place. Shooting 11 under par. But the spot lives on, as does the buzz surrounding it. Jeremy’s latest story is but one of thousands being written and read about Tiger, the commercial, and everything in between.

On Friday I wrote about the spot, expanding on the above comment. That post garnered more readers and comments than just about anything I have ever written on Gods of Advertising.

The comments were, by turns, astute, bitter, cynical, thoughtful, and then some. But all of them had one thing in common: passion. You folks were fired up!

All because of one commercial. In the end, my comment to AdAge holds true. I do not know whether I love this commercial or hate it. But as was quoted, I do wish I’d made it. Fervently.

Can you imagine being the copywriter and/or art director who put this thing together? I’d be downright giddy. This spot is going to separate its creators from every other creative on the planet. Even if the commercial never wins a single prize (and whether it does remains to be seen), that commercial is now famous. Ridiculously famous. Everything that has been written and said about it, good and bad, is only fuel for a fire the likes of which Ad land has not seen is some time, if ever. As I said in my previous post, not since Crispin Porter & Bogusky introduced America to the subversive Burger King have we been so captivated by a TV campaign. (You could also make a case for CP&B’s Subservient Chicken but that was an Internet idea.) The Nike spot was just that: a spot. A lone 30-second TVC. (And weren’t those supposed to be passé?”) Granted the commercial has been viewed several million times online but you get my point. This thing is a phenomenon. Whether any of us likes it or not.

How do I feel about this commercial: What it says about Tiger, What it says about Nike, What it says about us? I’ve already covered that. As have many of you. I reckon the jury is still out. But as a copywriter, creative director and chief creative officer I’m absolutely certain of one thing. I wish I had done it.

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Fallen hero or Everyman?

Jeremy Mullman from AdAge called me today asking my opinion on the blazingly radioactive new Nike spot, featuring Tiger Woods. Or should I say the new Tiger Woods spot featuring Nike?

You know the film. I don’t even have to link it. Tiger stares into the camera as his deceased father’s words play over him. Dad is saying something about an inquisitive nature. He asks, eerily: What were you thinking? And that’s more or less it.

But man oh man, has ‘it’ lit up the blogosphere. Everyone is talking about this commercial. The trades. News outlets. Even the drive time jocks I listen to on my way home from work played it. They played a TV spot on the radio! Talk about viral. Talk about integration.

And that is why this TVC is perhaps the most potent ad-like object I’ve seen, heard –dare I say experienced- in a long, long time. Not since Crispin, Porter & Bogusky introduced us to the homoerotic and creepy Burger King have we experienced a TVC with so much daring.

My first reaction to it was “Wow.” Then “WTF?” I was creeped out and impressed in equal measures. I told Jeremy what a lot of people told/ tweeted/ wrote a lot of other people: I don’t know whether to love it or hate it.

And that, my friends, is the definition of provocative. It not only makes you think about Tiger Woods, it makes you think about everything: sex, morals, race, sports, integrity, death, advertising, pop culture and, yes, maybe even Nike.

There is no category at Cannes for something like this. Otherwise it would win. Have to. But “30-second TVC” does not do it justice. If anything this thing functions more like a documentary, a snapshot of our culture as it is right now, for better and for worse.

Laurence Holmes from The Score asked his listeners if seeing Tiger this way, as a flawed man, actually makes him more real, as opposed to the robotic golfer we’d come to know. The answer is unequivocally, yes.

Despite his gambling and womanizing, Michael Jordan has remained a legend. As have Babe Ruth and Mohammed Ali. Tiger was on that pedestal. But not anymore. Win or lose, Tiger has now become part of the human race. He is like your brother-in-law who fucked up his marriage by screwing his secretary. He is like you for lying about Vegas. He is like a lot of us, which means he is…likable.

I know it sounds perverse. Here’s a guy who cheated and lied and let us all down. But having fallen, he is getting back up. Or something. Who really knows?

But one thing is for sure, whereas before I admired, respected and envied Tiger Woods; now I can like him because he is, after all, no better than me.

Nike and Wieden & Kennedy made their considerable reputation by making Gods out of athletes. Now they have done one better. They have shown us God in our own image. It’s not pretty but it’s real.

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Mullman on Tiger in AdAge

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