Freak Week: Special Requests

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Last week was all about unlikely commercial endorsers, and it doesn’t get any more bizarre than Bonnie Tyler descending from heaven as an angel, singing her ’80s power ballad “Total Eclipse of the Heart” reworked into a brand anthem for Mastercard. The ad, from McCann Erickson in London, shows a schlubby everyman named Neville leaving the mall and being accosted by Tyler and her entourage, which includes a rollerblading chorus, a jetpack-riding guitarist and a dog driving a tiny car. Tyler sings: “Half an hour ago you were buying some stuff/Now you’re walking back to your car/And Neville, now you’re here/We’re thanking you straight from the heart.” A helicopter drops rose petals, pyrotechnics go off, and a big thank-you banner is unfurled on the side of a nearby building. A prop plane hauls the payoff line: “Getting back more than you expected. Priceless.” Nothing could be as campy as Tyler’s music video for the original song, but this ad gets high marks for trying.

The other singer making a notably peculiar appearance in a commercial last week was Alexa Ray Joel, the daughter of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley, in her first spot for Prell, the shampoo endorsed by her mother 25 years ago. “Wanna hear a great tip I learned from mom?” Alexa asks, as a photo of Brinkley sits a bit too conspicuously on the piano. She talks about how Prell has been a family favorite for generations. The spot has a awkward vibe, and gets weirder at the end. “Keep it simple. Make it Prell,” she says, “and every day will be … another beautiful day” as she sings the last three words to the tune of her new single, “Hideaway.” Hopefully Alexa’s musical career will take off, because shampoo ads are not her forte.

The best female endorsement of the week, though, wasn’t a real endorsement at all. It was Tina Fey’s SNL commercial for Brownie Husband, a fake Duncan Hines indulgence “specifically designed for the single woman.” Fey is perfectly pathetic and awesome as she cooks up Brownie Husband (in just 90 seconds, he “bakes into a delicious partner just for you”), snuggles with him on the couch and takes him to bed. Definitely one of the best SNL ad parodies in years.

Finally, in non-endorsement news, Ogilvy Brazil showed off a clever street-level road-safety campaign last week. Working with bars, the agency ambushed bar patrons with wildly inflated bills of up to $73,000 for the alcohol they drank. Upon closer examination, the checks featured itemized lists of medical costs associated with drunk-driving accidents. “Driving home tonight could be very expensive. Don’t drink and drive,” the tabs read at the bottom. Ogilvy Brazil is getting good at this kind of stuff, having earlier taken snapshots of people in line at Burger King and printed the photos on their Whoppers wrappers to further personalize the “Have it your way” experience.

Best of BrandFreak: Adults hijack voting for Barbie’s job

AdFreak’s sister blog last week looked at one of the funnier outcomes to a brand contest online. A few months ago, Matel asked the public to vote on what Barbie’s 125th career should be. The choices were architect, computer engineer, environmentalist, news anchor or surgeon. After the votes were in, the kids’ preference was clear: anchorwoman. Trouble is, women in the technology fields had gotten wind of the contest and begun a grassroots campaign to get Barbie to be a computer engineer. Groups like the Society of Women Engineers got involved, as did female academics and scientists. They won the popular vote and even had a say in the design. But there’s a happy ending for kids, too. Not inclined to anger its primary market, Mattel says it will create anchorwoman Barbie as well.

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.