TV Ad “Golden Age?”

Every 20 years or so, there is an advertising cycle in which sponsors rebel against the insultingly mindless TV spots, offering us a few brilliantly executed ads which endure in memory for years. If you are “Baby-Boomer” or older, you probably still remember the “No matter what shape your stomach’s in” ads of the 1960’s, with clever photography and the Anita Bryant Singers — Alka Seltzer.

The television year 2007 has offered a bumper crop of fun, imaginitive ads, the kind that make you stay so you can watch the commercial, and then leave for the kitchen or whatever.

A survey of Google reveals there’s quite a cottage industry devoted to ranking and displaying videotaped TV ads. Nonetheless, would like to propose our awards for the Best of 2007.

First prize goes to General Electric for its wind energy commercial “Catch The Wind”:

Catch The Wind TV ad for wind energy, by General Electric

To the familiar sound of the Donovan song “Catch The Wind”, a little boy goes to the seashore and captures the ocean breeze in a glass jar. Racing back home by a number of conveyances, he makes it to his Grandpa’s birthday celebration in time for the old man to open the magic jar – SWOOSH! You only need to see it once to remember its magic forever, but I watch it every time I can.

YouTube has proven to be a safe, reliable source of video images, and you can watch the commercial at their posting “GE General Electric commercial – Wind Energy”.

Honorable Mention

  • Geico Gecko – I did an informal dinnertable survey on this imaginitive advertiser. Everyone loves each one of the gecko commercials – the cute little green lizard with the Aussie accent.
  • Geico Caveman – Not everyone liked this one, many sensing that the usage of the Caveman theme was somewhat exploitative. But others find it delightful, and it became somewhat of a cult thing. I enjoyed the theme song “Remind Me“, from Royksopp, and ordered the CD from Amazon.
  • Comcast Turtles – “You push it real good!” – Bill Slowsky the turtle has a little spat with his wife, right in front of millions of viewers. But hey, when you’re a turtle, who’s in a hurry to switch from DSL to cable?

Dishonorable Mention – All The Rest

When 1960’s FCC Chairman Newton Minow complained about TV as “the vast wasteland“, everybody remembered, but everybody still watches. My current irritations:

  • Car salesmen doing their own ads
  • Cialis and Viagra ads
  • Pharmaceutical ads that describe a horror show list of possible side effects in graphic and very mortal detail. Diarrhea followed by heart failure and general shutdown? Hey, who wouldn’t jump at the chance?
  • Credit card ads (just about all of them) promoting irresponsible credit use or abuse in order to gain credit card points, peer approval or social equilibrium: would you swipe your credit card into a card reader just to pay for a 99 cent burger and fries?

In the vast wasteland, the occasional oases of cool entertainment and bona fide information are a welcome relief from the fetid winds that blow off the swamps and alkali flats of American television.

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