All posts by Mary

The Heartbreaking Beauty of John Lewis Holiday Ads

Gather ’round the tree, kids! The Holidays are now in full swing and British department store John Lewis has released this year’s holiday commercials that are apparently designed to warm the soul and grow the heart of any would-be scrooges or grinches.

Continuing our Friday theme of “Music Makes the Ad,” both commercials are supported by remakes of classic rock songs, tenderly reworked to squeeze every emotional drop from viewers.

First, “Moz the Monster” set to Brit rock band, Elbow’s remake of the the Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers.” The ad shows the blossoming friendship between a child and the monster who lives under his bead.

On a “Aunt Mary Good Cry Scale” (AMGCS) of 1-10, I would rate this at a 7.  Emotions were felt, but I could pretty much hold it together.

Next, an animated long-form ad called “The Fox and the Mouse” set to a cover of Ah-Ha’s “Take On Me” performed by Andrea Begley and featuring Jack Park and Isabel Mcgillies.

On the AMGCS – a 35.

Kids, I’m not afraid to say I full-on ugly cried during this ad. I cried watching this ad, I’m crying now while writing about it, and I’ll probably remember it later on and cry in the grocery store check out line. It’s truly beautiful and tells a story everyone can relate to. My suggestion: watch this any time you mistakenly over-estimate your emotional fortitude and read the comment section of an online article causing you to lose faith in the world.

John Lewis’s has truly managed to encapsulate the meaning of the holiday season by capturing the magic and excitement of childhood and by showcasing peace and goodwill to your fellow travelers. Could these be some of the best ads ever?

Now, if you will once again excuse me…


Mitsubishi Car Dancing – Music Makes the Ad Series

In 2003 Mitsubishi Tokyo Drifted an ad that perfectly married the form and function music can lend to an commercial.  Set to band Dirty Vegas’s song “Days Go By” the ad for the 2003 Eclipse features the eye catching Pop and Lock dancing of the passenger.

The ad increased product awareness of the Mitsubishi brand in the USA over 10% and opened the door to a new target market – cool young adults. “Sure,” the ad seems to say, “you’ve got a job now, but you can still par-tay!” (yeah, that was super dorky of me.)

Two notes on this ad: 1. There is a guy in the back seat I didn’t notice on my first several views.

2Mitsubishi still
I keep thinking about that old Urban Legend with the guy in the back seat and the cars blinking their lights at you. Maybe the dancing isn’t the only thing killing it here!

2. Dave Chappelle did a fairly dirty parody of the ad. I’ll let you kids seek that out for yourselves, least Aunt Mary’s fine name be sullied. (But it is pretty funny)

As always, be sure to join me on the Ad Story Time Facebook page, or let me know about your favorite ads in the comments below!

My God, That’s Good Lamb!

Kids, the Storytime is a space that welcomes all faiths! Reasonable minds can agree that great ads are here for everyone to enjoy, no matter what day, if any, you set aside to ponder the mysteries of life.

It’s been said that if folks could just break bread together there would be a lot less misunderstand in the world, but that leads to another problem…what to serve? With many creeds’ dietary restrictions this is no easy feat.

Good News! The Aussies have figured it out; lamb is the answer! No beef? No pork? No problem! (You vegetarians can fill up on sides)

The PR ad shows divine figures at a dinner party, mingling with mortals and joking around. Finally they realize that lamb is the one meat they can all agree on. The commercial is fun but at the same time respectful, though there is a slight poke at Scientology. I especially like the appearance by a Jedi.

Still, not everyone’s a fan. The Australian Hindu community has taken issue with the image of Ganesha seemingly drinking wine and eating meat, which are no-nos.

The commercial runs a little long, clocking in at well over two minutes, but the in-joke gags give it remarkable rewatchability.

I’m also impressed by the Australian commercials in general. Aunt Mary’s first Friday Ad Spotlight was for the achingly beautiful spot for Boag’s Draft Beer.

Evidently, whatever the Aussies are selling, Aunt Mary is buying. I must be a sucker for that dreamy accent.

Crock dundee
Actual image of Aunt Mary writing this post

Brunches and Lunches, A Cookbook for the Ages!

Vintage cookbooks can look bonkers to our modern eyes, especially when the recipes were created by advertisers attempting to brand their product in “new” and “interesting” ways.  Even the most simple and earnest recipe collection can look off to us due to contemporary styling and nascent color photography.  Aunt Mary collects vintage cookbooks and I can say many of them have me tossing my hands into the air and yelling “Oh Come ON!”

But not this one! My 1963 version of Better Homes and Gardens “Brunches and Lunches”is nothing short of delightful!  Not only does this cookbook have all the retro recipes we love to make fun of (Tomato aspic!) but some I actually think wouldn’t be that bad! Add in some charming retro table settings and we get a big ol’ serving of Aunt Mary thumbs up!

Sure, it’s really gold and orange, but that coffee pot is incredible!


Nobody cares if brunch is looking back at you when it’s this adorable (and glamorous!)


chicken pot
Even something called “Eggs Goldenrod” would taste amazing if served out of a pale blue chicken bowl!
Image (4)
How hungry were kids in 1963? Evidently you can now get a lunch box version of the Tardis, that’s the only explanation on how all of this food came from that box.
butter balls
Evidently that’s an omelette on the blue dish. I was just excited by the spiky butter balls .
confetti mold
If it’s Wednesday we need a weird jello mold. I think this would have benefited from some color photography, it’s just so…gray. Frankly, not the worst mold we’ve seen.

Music Makes the Ad

Advertising is supposed to be an emotional experience, you aren’t selling just a product, you are selling a better life through your product. The Adman’s job is to convince you that the person you want to be is on the other end of this exchange. And nothing drives home a shiny new image faster than the music chosen to lend atmosphere to a commercial.

As The Ad Storytime heads into our fall lineup, I’m planning on using our Friday’s together to explore commercials that have used music to their best advantage as well as our usual highlights of specific ads that have caught my fancy.

For example, this beautiful ad for Volkswagen’s Cabriolet from 1999 featuring Nick Drake’s haunting “Pink Moon.”

Called “Milky Way” this is considered one of the best commercials of all time, and not one word is ever said by any actor. The song perfectly frames a dreamy, sepia-toned evening among friends who realize they have found a fragile peace together.  The car is barely shown except through brief glimpses of moonlight but it perfectly states its message: it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the voyage.

Thanks to the popularity of this commercial, “Pink Moon” shot to number five on Amazon’s top sellers list shortly after the ad began airing, nearly 30 years after the song was first released! Furthermore, it helped settle a long held debate among ad nerds: does popular music have a place in advertising? If chosen wisely and done with care the answer is a shouting “Heck yeah!!”

Volkswagen started giving Cabriolet buyers CD** compilations of songs they have used in their commercials, which is now the only thing I want for Christmas.

What commercials do you think have rocked great music? Let me know in the comments  below or on Aunt Mary’s Facebook page!

For previous Ad Stories that talk about music check out:

I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke

Khakis Swing

**Millennials, please tell me I don’t have to explain what a CD is!


Boom Goes the Dynamite Ads

Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans!

After dope advertising, American’s love nothing more than eating food and blowing stuff up, so today’s our time to shine!

Check Aunt Mary’s story about Nathan’s Hot Dogs to see what’s on the menu, and let’s move on to the after-dinner entertainment: amature explosives!

Such as disfiguring circus-folk.

circus firecrackers
“Hello, Yes, this is Circus Fireworks…I’d like to order a cautionary tale.”

Or witnessing breathtakingly poor choices mixed with demure boasting.

There is no way anything could go wrong with this idea…
hartford circus fire
Oh, Now I see… ***


Or the most elegant way to freak the hell out of your neighbor’s dog!


Lastly, don’t forget that fireworks will look even more enchanting through the fog of self medication!

Self Serve You know those shops where you can fill baggies with candy? That’s what I’m picturing here. Only bins of drugs and explosives. It’s customary for Vicodin to only be paired with Roman Candles. Anything else is gauche.

Take the advice from the little girl and have a safe and sane 4th!


***In no way do I want to diminish the horror of the Hartford Circus fire. For more information listen to this podcast.

Memorial Day Picnic – Ad Style

Happy Memorial Day weekend in the US! As the unofficial start of summer there is one thing everyone wants to do: Grill Out! Let’s see what’s on our vintage ad picnic menu, shall we?

First up: hot dogs! So convenient in a can! I can see thousands of cold-war era backyard bomb shelters stuffed to the rafters with cans and cans of wieners. Why, the nuclear winter will seem like a picnic with all those hot dogs!

canned weiners
If you are trying really hard to get Middle Schoolers to laugh, you can’t go wrong with the phrasing “Can o’ Wieners” paired with “Sack o’ Sauce”
By “a little bit you you!” I’m pretty sure they mean “internal organs.” 

Or maybe we can tempt you with a hamburger, fresh from the tin?

burger can 2
“Say, I know! burgers in a can, ya see?” 

Let’s not forget the condiments! What’s a picnic without ketchup?

Folks must have had a lot of time to read ad copy back in the day. I’ve asked Uncle Mary to call me his angel whenever I buy new ketchup, but he had declined. 

Or folks losing their minds over mustard?

This is everyone’s favorite style of vintage ad! It hits me right in the ad loving spot.

…and to wash it all down?


Seagrams cookout
I have never wanted anything more than to be at this party. 
Brewers Memorial Day
If I can’t be at the Seagram’s party, can I be here instead?

Many wishes for a happy and peaceful Memorial Day!