I am a veteran TV ad watcher, from Speecy Spicy Meatballs and the football-playing Clydesdales to those weepy Christmas Hallmark ads with retiring high school teachers and returning soldiers and puppies (and yes, I weep at them).
I've seen them all in my 45 years of submitting to TV advertising, but I haven't seen anything cleverer than two recent ads, one for Cingular and one for insurance company, GEICO.
With the caveat that I have two teen-age daughters and a third who thinks she is, I loved the Cingular ad featuring the nonfight between mother and teen daugher, which struck a sympathetic chord.
The nonfight is over the size and inexpensiveness of the phone, which the daughter loves and the mom won't have to pay an arm and a leg for.
The ad starts out with the mother saying: "I have not had it up to here with you, young lady."
The daughter angrily replies: "Why do you insist on treating me like an adult?"
Mom: "Because you insist on acting like one. Now, you're getting this new phone."
Daughter: petulantly, angrily: "It's so small. I really like it. Why is it always what I want?"
Mom: "Do you realize how much money this is not going ot cost me."
Daughter shouting in her mom'sface: "I love you."
Mom, shouting back: "I know you really mean that."
Daughter: "You never hated me and you never will," she says, storming upstairs, nearly in tears.
Mom: "You're the most grateful little…"
Cingular is changing the conversation about cell phones is the message. Loud, clear and brilliant.
The other ad that tickeled by fancy in an absurdist way is the GEICO commercial with Burt Bacharach improvising a musical rendition of an actual GEICO customers 'testimony about filing a claim. There are actually several of these ads, with Little Richard and Charo, but Bacharach is a classic.
The singer, seated at a piano, with a twinkle in his eye and a lizard-like undulation of his body, sings and plays:" I was hit in the rear. Lizard licks his eyeball. Hope I never get hit in the rear again."
On the page, or the screen, the lines don't leap up and lick your eyeball–the reference is to the GEICO Gekko–I agree, but in the hands and vocal styling of the incomparable Burt, it is wonderful stuff.
By John Eggerton