Leslie Nielsen perfected the bumbling fool in TV commercials too

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Nov 30 2010

Surely you recall Leslie Nielsen's commercial career. (Insert worn-to-a-nub yet still somehow funny joke from Airplane here.) The beloved actor, who died Sunday at age 84 after starring for six decades in movies and TV, traded on the bumbling persona he perfected in the Naked Gun franchise and Airplane for a series of spots for Medicare.gov. They're fun to watch, if only to be reminded of his perfect mix of authoritarian straight man and goofy pratfall master. The star of dramas like Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure earlier in his career, Nielsen found his stride as a comedian in the '80s, which led to endorsements like Dutchtone. He'll surely be missed.

Disney makes fake pharma, fragrance commercials for 'Tangled'

By T.L. Stanley on Mon Nov 29 2010

Disney's animated movies aren't just for kids. And to prove the point—and maybe to keep up with Pixar and parody-loving competitors—the studio has created a couple of mock commercials for its new animated feature, Tangled. Pretty convincingly produced in the styles of pharmaceutical and perfume ads, Disney aims for the clips to go viral (not sure how that's working out, but the spots are fun anyway). The fake ad for Rapunzhair, above, with a soothing-toned voiceover recognizable from a million drug commercials, aired recently during Saturday Night Live, obviously aimed at an audience that may or may not have kids to take to the 3-D reimagining of Rapunzel. (And it has spoilers!) See the fake fragrance spot after the jump. Tangled, which opened the day before Thanksgiving, had a good weekend at the box office, though it didn't catch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. Grownups welcome.

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Alec Baldwin does awkward yet charming TV spots for Wegmans

By T.L. Stanley on Wed Nov 24 2010

Many of us prefer to think of Alec Baldwin these days in his 30 Rock/Jack Donaghy context, unleashing a barrage of cutting quips that keep Liz Lemon and The Girlie Show gang on their toes. (And I mean this as opposed to, say, his stint as The Marrying Man.) But even a big TV star has to pay the bills (he's a divorced support-paying man now, after all), so Baldwin is shilling for the northeast-based grocery chain Wegmans. It seems his mom, Carol, is a fan, a fact that Baldwin mentioned during a David Letterman appearance not long ago. Wegmans picked up the reference and used it to recruit Baldwin and the family matriarch for a series of commercials that are pedestrian, kind of awkward and yet charming all at the same time. That's a good hat trick even for the Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming. See a second spot here.

McDonald's wants you to talk about the McRib more than eat it

By David Kiefaber on Wed Nov 24 2010


One drawback of being a global megabrand like McDonald's is that it's hard to get people excited about you. Consistency, it seems, breeds stagnation over time. That's why there's so much social-media focus on the McRib this time around—it stimulates conversation, so why not make that process easier for consumers? Whether or not they buy, or even like, the sandwich is irrelevant; it's less expensive than creating a new menu item, and it keeps McDonald's fresh in the minds of people who've already decided to eat out. The beauty of the McRib is that, whether people love it or think it's gross (and that's a fairly even split), it gets them talking. Plus, the McRib hasn't been on the menu since 1994, so there's an entire generation of fast-food junkies who've never had one, and some of them probably haven't even heard of it. Now, maybe if we eat enough McRibs, they'll bring back the Arch Deluxe.

Kate Middleton's sapphire ring spawns imitators cheap and dear

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Nov 23 2010


Media execs are predicting a glut of TV, online and mobile viewers for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in April. It's already turning out to be a boon for the bling industry, though, with knock-offs of her now-famous sapphire engagement ring popping up this past weekend on QVC—for the recession-friendly price of just $39.54! Dubbed the Princess Simulated Sapphire Ring and designed by Kenneth Jay Lane, the QVC copy features a "blue oval gemstone surrounded by small round diamond-looking stones" with a silver band. Well, you can't expect much for that price, and though that hasn't turned off shoppers—within the first hours, some 22,000 people ordered the ring, QVC says. So, look no further, gentlemen, and disregard those Kay Jewelers ads. Fire up the tube and turn your gal into an erstwhile princess. If you have a little more change in your pocket, there are other options. For example, Natural Sapphire Co., a New York business that's been around since the '30s, says it's busy with custom orders to replicate Middleton's 18-carat ring in white gold. Customers are coming from all over the world, the CEO says, for doppelgangers mostly in the $1,000 to $2,500 range. The original appraises at somewhere around half a million dollars, not counting sentimental value. (It belonged to William's mother, Princess Diana.) Since guys can be princes at bargain-basement or top-dollar prices, there's really no excuse for a sweater this year.

Cremation company keen to know what you did with them ashes

By T.L. Stanley on Mon Nov 22 2010

Whatever happened to Grandma's ashes after you brought them home from the crematorium? Are they in a vase on the mantle, where they could get spilled and sucked up in the Hoover? (Does that just happen in slapstick Hollywood comedies?) Or more likely, are they in a closet somewhere because having them on display creeps out the kids? It might not be a hot topic of conversation around the dinner table, but a marketer called Smart Cremation has brought up the rather delicate subject in a YouTube video. The company is asking for details from people all over the country—where did they scatter the ashes, what are the best locations, and possibly, how did they do it without getting chased by a park ranger? The first 25 mourners to post a story—videos, poems and photos encouraged—win a hat or scarf with the Smart logo! So far, TinToy shared this tale: "Spread at Ecola State Park in Oregon, where part of the movie 'Goonies' was filmed." Hat and a scarf for that person, please!

Blockbuster to launch a major we're-not-dead-yet ad campaign

By David Kiefaber on Mon Nov 22 2010


Remember the $125 million that Blockbuster Video got upon declaring bankruptcy back in September? Yeah, $15-20 million of that is going toward an ad campaign that takes shots at competitors Redbox and Netflix. Money well spent! Blockbuster is trying to bounce back by introducing a DVD kiosk line of its own, but they still want you to know that they have new releases almost a month before their competition. Why they would attempt to rebrand by stressing what clearly isn't a thriving business model is beyond me, especially since they haven't done a TV ad campaign in three years. Rebounding from financial limbo is never easy, granted, but Blockbuster just can't accept that its poor customer-service reputation (especially the ridiculous fees) eclipsed the monopoly they used to have on video rentals when better options surfaced. If they want to make this work, they have to change their service model and actually fix the bad juju they have with consumers. Otherwise, they're just wasting money, which they also do well in advance of their competitors.

Apple heralds Beatles' arrival in iTunes with 3 new commercials

By Todd Wasserman on Mon Nov 22 2010

In case you've been under a rock (with a Sony Walkman, no doubt), you are probably aware that Apple Inc. and Apple Corps have struck a deal to finally bring the Beatles' music to iTunes. Apparently, Apple is eager to reach the under-a-rock demo, because the company and TBWA\Media Arts Lab have rolled out three new TV spots announcing the Fab Four's entry into Apple's digital jukebox. The ads are pretty much what you'd expect: shots of the Beatles, with their songs playing in the background. (The spots use songs by John, Paul and George. Alas, Ringo is the odd man out again.) The images will no doubt evoke nostalgia, not only for the going-on-half-a-century-ago 1960s, but for the wall-to-wall ads for The Beatles: Rock Band that hit last fall as well. Two more spots after the jump.

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'Star Trek' Starfleet Academy gear guaranteed not to get you laid

By T.L. Stanley on Mon Nov 22 2010


Unless you're a cast member of The Big Bang Theory, you may not be able to pull off these newly launched items from CBS Consumer Products. See, they all have Starfleet Academy branding, a reference to the training facility made famous in Star Trek. Hoping to wring even more cash out of the money-minting franchise, the CBS division has invented the Starfleet Academy Store and stocked it with products you'd find in a typical (uber-geeky) campus shop. There's a "Home of the Fighting Phoenix" fleece vest, an "I Survived the Kobayashi Maru" coffee mug and a Starfleet Academy titanium spork. Handy stuff, no doubt, but also likely to earn you a beatdown in the quad. In front of that girl you think is cute. But if you're one of those hard-core fans who needs no translation for phrases like "ex astris, scientia" (from the stars, knowledge), then go ahead. I'm just saying—wear the Red Squadron cuff links at your own risk.

Smirnoff and JWT learn how the whole wide world likes to party

By Todd Wasserman on Mon Nov 22 2010

While the digital age has made the world seem smaller than ever, global culture remains endlessly diverse. To celebrate that diversity, and to expose different cities to other's local nightlife scenes and cultures, Smirnoff and JWT New York have created the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange. Fourteen cities around the globe have spent the past few weeks swapping ideas about what makes their nightlife unique. On Nov. 27, all will be unveiled when parties take place simultaneously in cities as far-reaching as Sydney, New Delhi, Buenos Aires and Miami (which is swapping nightlife experiences with London). Artists including N.E.R.D., Bonde do Role, Spoek Mathambo, Boys Noize, Los Amigos Invisibles, King Britt and Zane Lowe (himself the curator for the U.K.) will play at parties throughout the world. Fans can hit the "Like" button on Smirnoff's U.S. Facebook page for an invitation to the Miami event.



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