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SNL’s 10 Best Ad Parodies, as Selected by Some of Advertising’s Top Creatives

From Mom Jeans to Colon Blow, a bevy of classics

Saturday marks the premiere of Saturday Night Live’s 44th season. That’s a lot of comedy over the years for what is a genuine American institution. Adam Driver, who starred in one of the funniest shorts in the show’s recent history, hosts this year’s first episode with musical guest Kanye West.

The sketches are the main course, but the show’s commercial parodies hold a special place in the hearts of ad nerds and creative types.

Finding a favorite is sometimes a tough proposition, according to Wieden + Kennedy ECD Jason Bagley.

“Favorite SNL parody? This is a trap, isn’t it? Picking just one is impossible. Colon Blow, Mom Jeans, Bass-O-Matic, Heroin AM—I could go on. Without them, would we even be America anymore?” he pondered. “We love these comedy gemstones because there’s nothing funnier than being excessively transparent and truthful. It’s a great place to start when trying to make funny ads as well.”

Impossible to pick just one? Probably. But Adweek rounded up 10 top creatives to pick some SNL gems from both days gone by (when HD wasn’t quite a thing yet) and more recent seasons—creating a nice mix of parody genius.

Enjoy their choices below.

Mom Jeans
Shannon Washington, SVP, CD at Deutsch L.A. and Jen Bills, CD at O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul in Chicago

Why it is so good:

“An all-star SNL cast and a brilliant take on how female sexuality, desirability, bodies and motherhood is viewed in society all in one. Definitely my type of commercial. Also, I’m typing this while wearing mom jeans, which are ironically now very trendy. And I’m not a mom.” – Washington

“Anything with Maya, Dratch, Amy and Tina prancing around and joyously shaking their hips in pleated stonewashed was likely to take the crown for me. It nailed the previously avert-your-eyes fashion of invisible women over 40 and thrust it into the light. With lines like, ‘she’ll love the 9-inch zipper and casual front pleats’ and ‘I’m not a woman anymore, I’m a mom,’ you can’t help but watch it 10 more times and join in on the whispered jingle of, ‘givin’ up, givin’ up.'” – Bills

Chantix
Suzanne Keen, CD at Pereira O’Dell in San Francisco

Why it’s so good:

“The best SNL parody commercials shine a light on uncomfortable truths making me laugh yet cringe all at the same time. And there are a few ‘funny ’cause it’s true’ jokes going on in this ad. Cecily Strong kills.”

Amazon Echo
Marcus Wesson, ECD at Dailey in Los Angeles

Why it’s so good:

“My favorite parodies are always grounded in a human truth but take a ‘what if’ approach. This one is no exception. We’ve all dealt with the challenge of setting parents up with technology. The Amazon Echo gets bonus points for hilariously highlighting the fear and racism ingrained in the older generation showing Leslie Jones’ character spying on kids across the street, or Kyle Mooney’s ‘black jazz’ request.”

Oops! I Crapped My Pants (click image to view)
Mike Caguin, CCO, Colle+McVoy in Minneapolis

Why it’s so good:

“Sure, ads for adult diapers are common today, but back in 1998, this topic was definitely not on the airwaves. Plus, the product name: Oops! I Crapped My Pants. It’s personal. Has urgency. Paints a picture. It’s poopy poetry.”

The Love Toilet
Parker Channon, co-founder, Duncan Channon in San Francisco

Why it’s so good:

“Ad Land can’t resist using love and romance as a way to sell pretty much anything. SNL takes this idea to 11 with its tandem toilet —quite possibly the world’s least sexiest product. The languid candlelit stares across the toilet and the couples’ flush get me every time.”

3-Legged Jeans (click image to view)
Teresa Herd, VP and global creative director, Intel


@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor at Adweek focusing on creativity and agencies.
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