Ad of the Day: eBay

The auction site makes it easier to shop. But are its new ads hard to love?

If you're the type of oaf who can't help but interrupt your child's school play by shouting inanely from the audience, eBay will still take your money.

So says this ad, the fifth in a new series from Venables Bell & Partners for the online auction brand. The spot opens on a stage, and cuts quickly to a glassy-eyed, gaping-mouthed man, presumably a father, dozing off in the seats. The grade-school performers, wearing period costumes that evoke 19th-century westward pioneers (read: the Oregon Trail), begin to sing a vanilla rendition of "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain." But the dad, apparently bored out of his senses, hallucinates an alternate scene in which a yellow sports car spins donuts while, in the background, the kids dance like pistons and chant strangely about the specs of "Kevin's awesome car." Unable to resist the impulse, Kevin uses his smartphone to buy, from his seat, a new set of wheels. Then, rather than quietly savoring his rudeness, he makes an ass of himself by jumping up and loudly shouting about the purchase. Cue the obligatory awkward silence, and even more cringe-worthy apology.

"When it's on your mind, it's on eBay," offers the tagline—a not entirely satisfying explanation. Sure, the commercial makes its basic point clearly enough—buying stuff on eBay from anywhere is easy. The difficult-to-relate-to character, though, hinders the message. And, it seems, he's not alone in the task: An earlier spot in the campaign, "Left Out," features a conference room full of tablet-touting jerks ganging up on the one guy who dares to wield a pen. As Copyranter noted this week, the commercial has a painfully lopsided dislikes-to-likes ratio on YouTube—at last count, more than 7,000 of the former, versus just 250 of the latter.

Good news for eBay: YouTube commenters have deemed the "Mom Jeans" spot to be actually funny. Bad news for eBay: It can't quite replace the less-popular concepts with the swipe of a touch screen.


Client: eBay

Spot: "School Play"

Agency: Venables Bell & Partners

Executive Creative Directors: Paul Venables, Will McGinness

Creative Directors: Lee Einhorn, Tyler Hampton

Art Directors: Greg Wyatt, Will Geddes, Lee Einhorn

Copywriters: Mary Hernandez, Brad Phifer, Tyler Hampton

Director of Integrated Production: Craig Allen

Agency Senior Producer: Emily Moore

Production Company: Arts & Sciences

Director: Matt Aselton

Director of Photography: Toby Irwin

Executive Producer (Arts & Sciences): Marc Marrie

Managing Director (Arts & Sciences): Mal Ward

Line Producer: Eric Sedorovitz

Editorial Company: Arcade Edit

Editors: Geoff Hounsell ("School Play," "Mom Jeans," "Pest Control," "Salon"), Patrick Griffin ("Left Out")

Assistant Editor: Will Hasell

Producer (Arcade): Amburr Farls

Telecine: Mark Gethin, MPC

Sound Design: 740 Sound Design

Sound Designers: Eddie Kim, Andrew Tracy

Music: Beacon Street Studios

Mix: John Bolen, Play Studios

VFX, CG, Online: The Mill, Los Angeles

Executive Producer (The Mill): Sue Troyan

Senior Producer (The Mill): Arielle Davis

Lead Flame: Narbeh Mardirossian

Flame: Gavin Camp

Assistant Flame: Dan Lang, Greg Park

TV End Animation: The Mill

Executive Producer (The Mill): Stephen Venning

Producer (The Mill): Angelo Mazzamuto

Lead Designer: Tom O'Neil

Designer: Greg Park, Justin Sucara

CG Artist: Robert Kim

@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.