Category Archives: Just One Ad

Sorry…I Was Eating a Milky Way

Today at the Storytime we are going to have a special talk for the Admen! Squeeze in tight so everybody can fit, there’s room for everyone at Aunt Mary’s!

Guys, I understand you are under a lot of pressure. Your creations have the ability to last forever now thanks to the internet and I’m betting your clients are asking the impossible from you. I’m sure they want an iconic campaign that reaches every target market and spans different media all while sticking to a tight budget. I’m guessing you got to hear all about your client’s neighbor’s nephew who is just a wiz with that social media stuff.

I really feel for you. It’s hard. But I wanted to give one small, gentle piece of advice from someone who loves advertising:


milkyway ad road

Yes, I get it, assholes are really in vogue right now. We might even we living in the golden age of the Jerk-Almighty.  But here’s the thing: nobody wants to buy stuff from a jackass.

Currently the biggest knuckleheads in my book are the folks in the campaign for Milky Way candy bars. These commercials feature workers accomplishing terrible results at their jobs (misspelled tattoos, poorly painted street markings, hair burnt off client’s head) and when called on their poor work retort with an eye roll and snotty “Sorry… I was eating a Milky Way” not unlike a spoiled valley girl who was caught in her parents liquor cabinet.

My best guess is they were trying to edge in on Snickers brilliant “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign, but just not hitting the mark. The characters are rude and dismissive and truthfully not anyone I would want associated with my brand. I suppose a case could be made that the candy bars are so on point your forget about everything else…but I’m not buying it.

What’s more, none of these incidents are particularly creative. Misspelled tattoos happen and the “No Regerts” tattoo was featured in the movie “We’re the Millers.” Especially eyebrow raising is the cruise ship scenario which hits a little too close to the 2012 crash of the Costa Concordia in Italy which resulted in the death of 32 people. Not  exactly a gold mine of hilarious content.

We’ve talked about the choice of weird spokespeople before in the Liberty Mutual ads, making me wonder if the anti-hero is a trend with some legs.

But, Aunt Mary must give credit when due, I have to admit I find the print ads for this campaign creative and attractive, even though the sentiment is the same. Perhaps the stylized cartoon imagery makes it a little less dismissive? hmm…



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

Car Commercials Throwing Shade

In 2014 Cadillac released its “Poolside” Ad, featuring actor Neal McDonough’s unapologetic and fast talking tribute to the good life.

Taking great pains to make fun of such goofy things as Europe, bad luck and actually taking your vacation time, Cadillac boldly insists the time is now for the well-off to come out and proudly proclaim what they haven’t really been hiding: “Yo! I’ve got money!”

The first line of that ad asks “Why do we work so hard? For Stuff?” and and finally answers its own question with “Yeah, stuff is good!”

The commercial is slick, smirking, and the patter is so fast-paced and clever it actually has a Gilmore Girls vibe to it. It boldly smacks its chest and dares you to to decline the American dream.

In answer Ford had one response…don’t be a dick.

Opposed to Cadillac’s use of an actor, the commercial for Ford’s CMAX hybrid features “Real Woman” Pashon Murray, founder of Detroit nonprofit Detroit Dirt, an organization that creates urban gardens in order to help keep food local.

While brilliantly matching the Cadillac ad scene for scene, arched eyebrow for side glance, what really is impressive is the stand alone nature of the spot. You need not have seen the Cadillac ad for Ford’s to make sense, but it sure does make an even stronger impression if you have.

While McDonough’s delivery is of mocking and hubris, Pashon’s is more impassioned and hopeful. Furthermore, the only other humans in the Cadillac ad are the presumed family of the speaker who are lounging around a well appointed and so-clean-it’s-sanitized house. The folks in Ford’s spot are at at work in kitchens and gardens literally getting their hands dirty.

Obviously the target markets for these cars are wildly different, which is probably why Cadillac didn’t shout “unfair!” too much. I have to give much credit to Ford’s ad agency (Rogue) for a fast and thoughtful response to a fellow car maker and neighboring company.

Yes, treat yourself and enjoy life, but remember your community…n’est pas?


For more info on this ad battle, see this article from Ad Age

You Gotta Have Art!

I’m obsessing over the Comedy Central Show “Detroiters.” Not only is it seriously funny, but it features Detroit in amazing fashion.

Slow Roll? Check.

Coney Dogs? Yep.

Vernors? Oh Yes.

This week they showed off one of the truly magical places in the Motor City: The Detroit Institute of Arts. With its world-class collection and beautiful building located in the heart of vibrant Midtown, The DIA is a gem Michiganders are rightly proud of.

Obviously, seeing the Diego Rivera fresco on TV sent my thoughts to one of the best local commercials ever produced: the 1970’s TV ad for the DIA. Anyone of a certain age who grew up in Metro Detroit knows this ad.  As a kid in the 80’s I thought the commercial was super corny but now it’s oh-so-70’s vibe finally feels sort of refreshing and charmingly retro.


Just to press the point on how cool the DIA is, check out this photo. You may be cool, but you’re not this lady sitting in the Kresge Court in the DIA cool.


An Ad that Changed the World – Really

In 1964 Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater were locked in battle for the presidential election of the US. With two months until election day, LBJ released an ad that would not only lock him in for the seat, but also change the face of political advertising.

Named “Peace Little Girl” it became to be known simply as “The Daisy Ad.” A young girl counts the petals on a flower as the camera comes in for a close up. When the camera reaches just her eye, a military countdown begins ending in a mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb with a voice-over of LBJ speaking about loving each other or perishing together.

While the race was never particularly close, LBJ’s lead widened after the ad aired and he easily won re-election come November.

What makes this ad amazing is two-fold.

  1. It only aired the one time, on NBC during the Monday Night Movie.
  2. It never once mentioned Barry Goldwater’s name, but the message was clear – he will take us to war.

The commercial was created by advertising firm Doyle Dane Bernbach, who are famous for their simple, yet compelling, graphic-driven ads. One of their most enduring and well known campaigns is for Volkswagen, making the teeny Beetle a hot ticket despite the US culture of huge cars and a not-too-distant memory of WWII.


The girl from the Daisy Ad reemerged in October of 2016 in a campaign ad for Hillary Clinton.

Aunt Mary’s Least Favorite Ad

As an ardent lover of advertising, I truly respect the skill that goes into crafting a spot that reaches a target market and speaks to their sensibilities. I also understand that not every ad is meant for every audience. It’s simply impossible to create a commercial that will vibe with everyone. But every once in a while I look at a commercial and wonder what the hell they are trying to do.

This commercial for travel company ignited a burning hatred in me I really can’t compare to any other ad. Yes, even more than the Charmin Bears. I apologize for the low quality of the video, it’s certainly the best one I could find leading me to wonder if Kayak is scrubbing the internet of its presence.



Sam and Lisa West are champion dancers in a style called Shag (pause for giggling). Clearly they are wonderful dancers who have worked hard at perfecting their art.

That doesn’t stop me from hating this commercial.

As wonderful as they may be (and I’m sure they are generally delightful), I find them to be the least charismatic spokespeople I have seen. Not only do they seem uncomfortable having to act while dancing, I feel like they were handed some really crappy lines to begin with. The entire ad feels off and weird and all too precious.

Additionally, Spokespeople generally have a built in fan base and a wide appeal. These folks are truly obscure to the population in general, leaving viewer to wonder what is going on, who these people are and why should we listen to them.

The ad starts off with Sam enthusiastically proclaiming how he misses shiny floors (what?) He goes on to expound on the wonders of (sounds good) then he makes a hard turn to the camera, breaking the 4th wall, and yells “Tip Tap Time!” (Again, What?) Lisa instructs him to do the “Wet Dog Wiggle” (huh??) Then they shuffle up to the reception desk where Sam hits the bell with his foot, despite the hotel employee being right there (gross.) She doesn’t seem too impressed with them.


This is also such a departure from Kayak’s usual advertising of awkward people looking for travel accommodations in visually interesting ways.

Or is it?


Despite repeated watching of the ad, I’m still not sure why it has struck such a white-hot hatred in me. Maybe it’s because so many companies use amazing spokespeople to their advantage such as Eminem in that brilliant Chrysler “Imported from Detroit” ad. Maybe its because it seems to have sucked out all the joy and excitement that can come from a great trip. Maybe it’s because I feel if you are going to ask people to listen to your message, it better be on point; if you’re going to ask someone to represent your company, you better make them look great.

I don’t know, but I do know a crappy commercial when I see one.






I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying – Thanks Subaru

There are some truths in this world.

It takes longer to choose a Netflix movie than it takes to watch a Netflix movie

That person in front of you at the grocery store self check out? They have no clue what the’re doing.

Hot caramel apple cider is delicious.

Anything that has a dog in it is probably going to make you cry.

Being a dog lover, I was happy with Subaru’s addition of adorable dogs in their commercials.

Whatcha up to, Dog?

And then I realized the dog in this commercial is dying.

The list of happy dog activities, the owner’s look of enduring love and knowing grief, the dog’s joy…

Hold on…


And yet, I can’t hate this ad.

An estimated 65% of Subaru drivers are pet owners and Subaru has brilliantly curated their advertising to this niche market. From this mensch of a guy treating his dog to one last road trip, to fleshing out the shower thought of “where would my dog go if he could drive himself” campaign, they really have figured out how to speak to the dog lover’s spirit in a respectful and knowing way.

That is the key to good advertising, find out who your potential customers are, figure out what they value and tell them you get it and this is how your product fits in with their life.

Now, if you will excuse me


Oh, the Wells Fargo Wagon is a’Coming – to insult us

Aunt Mary loves when advertising is in the news. People talking about commercials? Heck yeah! So, I would like to extend my hearty thanks to Wells Fargo for stepping in it something huge this week.

In case you missed it, the venerable finance company put out an ad that seemingly implied that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers are superior to those in the arts.


Predictably, folks lost their collective cool and took to their twitters to give a thorough helping of what-for.

It seems folks don’t care for being insulted by a group that wants their money!

Setting aside the vital social need for fine and preforming artists, businesses need artists as well. “Creative Types” are the people who spread the word and garner interest for products and services in the form of web and graphic design, copy writers, advertising, package design and display creation. Artists are designing greeting cards, wrapping paper, fabrics and housegoods! I know somebody whose job is to design the carpet for hotels and casinos.

Furthermore, we need to set aside this idea that creative work doesn’t pay. I have numerous friends who support themselves by their artistic talents including work in fine arts, comic books, music and clothing design as well as teaching. Last time I checked, their money bought craft beer and brownies too.

I must also add that it seems a little wrong for them to be ripping on actors since there is an entire song about Wells Fargo Wagon in a famous play! Didn’t think about how’d that looked, did ya, W.F?

It appears that Wells Fargo has moved on to a bigger mess (in the form of allegations of customer fraud) so the least of their worries is a botched PR campaign. I sure hope someone comes up with a creative idea to help them!


Big Otis is OK

At some point in the 1950’s, an exasperated marketing exec in Battle Creek said “I don’t know. Make the mascot a giant Scotsman?” and OKs cereal’s Big Otis was born.

I get it, oats, oatmeal, Scotland. Sure. Why not? How else was Kellogg’s going to elbow in on that smug Cheerios? What kid doesn’t love a burly, bearded man in ethnic garb telling them what to eat? It’s like we’re printing money, baby!


Big Otis
Don’t look up, kids!

Big Otis spent two years basking in the cereal mascot sun before he was replaced with Yogi Bear in 1962. In 1963 OK’s was scraped in favor of Fruit Loops. It was grand while it lasted, wasn’t it, Laddie?


Thanks to Dan for suggesting today’s topic! Let me know if you have an idea for the Ad Storytime!

I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke


Let’s be clear, this is an ad trying to get you to buy a soft drink.

It’s also an ad with a message of hope and reaching out to other people in the spirit of friendship and caring.

As we mourn the loss of so many in the past days to senseless violence, let us vow to do what we can to help each other. To erase the “us vs them” mentality from our hearts and minds.  To live with charity, positive action and kindness. To never, ever NOT EVER read the comment section of a news article.

So gather ’round kids, because we are all in this together. We can be better.


Administrative notes: This ad is called “Hilltop” and first aired in 1971. It was reprise for the 1991 Super Bowl with the original singers being joined by their children. It is considered by we ad nerds to be one of the best commercials ever created and Don Draper of Mad Men had no part in its development.