AdFreak: Small Pleasures

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Has tilt-shift jumped the shark? That was the question AdFreak posed last week, as we looked at a few new TV spots that employ the nifty photographic trick. The tilt-shift technique involves blurring the top and bottom of a still or moving image, which has the effect of making the scene look miniature and toy-like. We posted two new tilt-shift commercials last week — for a German phone company (“Big changes start small”) and an Australian bank (“Your world just got smaller,” thanks to more ATMs). So, is tilt-shift 2009’s version of kinetic typography, which was so hot last year? Probably not. It hasn’t been done to death yet. But as we found out last week, it’s been around in ads for a while-as far back as a 2006 campaign by Grey Worldwide in Germany for Toys “R” Us.

Who’d have guessed Billy Mays would make an entertaining pitch from the grave? Mays, who died in June, popped up as a character on South Park last week, and delivered a hilarious (though perhaps tasteless) endorsement of “Chipotlaway,” a (fictitious) spray that gets rid of underwear blood stains caused by eating Chipotle. The Mexican-food chain was even asked later in the week whether its food actually causes rectal bleeding. “There is no truth to that claim,” said a rep.

In happier news, a Chicago man made headlines last week for proposing to his girlfriend with an advertisement on the bus shelter where she catches her ride to work each morning. Eric Anderson exhorted Rachel Clark: “Rachel! I love you! Let’s be a team forever! Will you marry me? xoxo Eric.” The ad also featured the symbols of a heart (for love), the scales of justice (Clark is a lawyer), a cog (Anderson is an engineer) and a knot-which will indeed be tied. Says Clark: “I marched up to the bus stop, and he was standing behind it. He’s like, ‘Read the sign!’ I started giggling and laughing going, ‘Yes, yes!'”

Finally, New Yorkers were in for a treat last week, as a TV spot surfaced featuring a real-life, walking-and-talking Dr. Jonathan Zizmor, the heretofore inanimate star of the ubiquitous subway skin-care ads. The spot, sure to be a top contender at Cannes, features a catchy tune, psychedelic rainbows and the man himself speaking to the camera. For those who have stared at a silent Dr. Z for years, it’s somewhat unsettling to finally hear his voice.

Best of BrandFreak: American Girl debuts homeless doll

Gwen Thompson, a new American Girl doll, comes with an unusual backstory. Her dad walked out, her mom lost her job, and the two of them are now living in a car. Yes, she’s homeless. What’s more, Gwen has no friends at her new school, where the mean girls taunt her and call her a loser. As AdFreak sister blog BrandFreak reported last week, Mattel is taking some heat over the newest addition to its American Girl line. Critics say her story paints men as evil and women as helpless. (Not to mention, she goes for the unemployment-unfriendly price of $95.) In fact, though, Gwen is a whole lot less disturbing than Little Miss No Name, a Hasbro doll launched in 1965-a barefoot, tear-streaked ragamuffin in a burlap dress with one hand outstretched in a panhandling pose. (She didn’t last long, and now goes for a small fortune on eBay.) Gwen’s prospects look a little better. And if her hair gets mussed from sleeping on the floorboards, she can get a fancy ‘do for just $20 at the American Girl salon.

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.
Publish date: October 11, 2009 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT