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Rating System: Shining Star (Great)    Visible Star (Good)      Fading Star (Fair)       Dead Star (Not Fair)*
*(In the webmaster's humble opinion and based on overall impression of the ad effectiveness, not the product.)
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Geico:  There isn't anything about Geico ads that isn't cool, so I am bestowing upon them the first Lifetime Achievement Award (said lifetime being 13 years like this website). Whether they are using a gecko, a tree falling in the forest or "the oldest trick in the book," the admen for thse spots are spot on.. Visible Star and LIFETIME ACHIEVER OF EXCELLENCE

Progressive:  The insurance company is going all out with Flo, their spokescharacter, with a new diagnostic tool customers can use to prove they should get a discount for good driving behavior.  Also featured are the two insurance suits from the "other company," and Flobot the android with whom Flo has apparently made peace (she shut her down in one ad).  They're still going strong with this storyline.  Visible Star

Honda: An original idea from Honda designs each commercial in their seasonal (Summer) model clearance event to look like the closing and credits ("Honda Salesperson as Himself") from a movie's happy ending involving new Honda owners and the sales associates who clinched the deal and got the buyers a real bargain.  Each ad comes with its own song, too, such as Judas Priest; there's even Pete Townshend singing "Let My Love Open the Door" for a family car ad.  Even if you're not buying a car, it's worth looking at these limited engagements.  Visible Star

US Postal Service (Classic Ad)The post office is saving money, while retooling their business line in an email society that threatens their existence, by recycling its old commercial about the holiday gift of a creepy clown doll that a freaked-out family wants their postal carrier to help return to its place of origin.  Maybe the return address is hell or an evil doctor's toy shop; this clown doll is a bit scary.  It moves on its own!  How ever will they get it into that "one low fee" box?  Shining Star

Velveeta:  The classic cheese comes in a new variety called Cheesy Skillets, and the ad features David S. Lee as a blacksmith who touts the melted cheese as "liquid gold" flowing into an iron pan.  The fellow certainly is a vocally interesting type, but the concept to me is a bit creepy.  Watch how he (and, for that matter, Gordon Ramsay in his new ads for his line of cooking accessories) holds a suburbanite between him and his work.  Watch his enthusiasm while he "smites" the macaroni with the Velveeta.  Whoa there, fella; easy on the drama, there.  Visible Star

Toyota:  Wow, what a concept the hybrid car folks have designed.  A giant composed of a bunch of performers who contort themselves to form the face (check out the nose, which is a person's back), torso and limbs around a minimalist frame and some really huge shoes.  The idea is that a family can now find a Prius designed just for them, because the model has been redesigned into various sizes and types, with the "plug-in" as the biggest one.  You can check out the ad and a "Making of" video here, and this one earns a Shining Star Back to Top

Geico:  Oh no, they did not just do what I think they did.  Darn, they did.  Geico has been solid with their ads for quite some time, but this time they've slipped a point or two.  The scene is a dining room table with parents dishing up some sushi, which they admit to liking but can't afford.  The wife then confesses that what they have just done does not make them proud, and we soon realize that the family goldfish have become dinner.  Sorry guys, but you've earned a Dead Star and a visit from the humane society police.  Shame!

Honda:  Are you as disappointed as I that the commercials now feature a fellow reading disclaimers up close and personal instead of Mr. Opportunity?  I find the actor a bit uninspiring and I miss Mr. O. knocking. Fading Star

Athenos:  For a real hoot, watch the commercials for the Greek food producer featuring Yiayia (pronounced "ya-ya") the old country grandmother who speaks her mind about today's fashion, cohabitation and stay-at-home dads.  The best ad is for Athenos Hummus, in which a woman serving her guests gets some feedback from Yiayia that no decent woman wants to hear.  I'll leave you to laugh away:  the vids are on Facebook and all over as long as you spell Yiayia right. Shining Star

Honda: For their Really Big promotion, this car producer came up with some doozies for commercials, including one featuring a band the size of. . . .well, it's really big.  There are clips onlline:  see if you can figure out the "marching band-ified" tunes they're playing.  The last one, I believe, is "Dust In the Wind."  Another ad features large buttons that are so heavy, the salesmen's shirts can't hold them and get ripped.  Don't they feel a draft?  Funny stuff.  Visible Star

Kia:  The Kia Soul is being plugged by some animated hip-hop hamsters with a catchy tune about choosing your ride and going with "dis" or going with "dat."  Sure, it's urban stereotyping, but it is done with rodents, and it's not pushing the envelope to sell a car.  Doo dah dippity indeed.  Visible Star

Luvs:  The folks at Luvs decided to tout their "Heavy-Dooty Protection" by producing a commercial featuring cartoon babies in a reality show style competition to see who can load up their diaper the most.  You have three contestants and three judges with an appreciative audience applauding to an old but still popular rap tune, as each child assumes the position and inflates their diapers to monstrous proportions.  I know the ad designers thought it would be okay to use animation, but this seems misguided and just plain gross.  The first 2011 Dead StarBack to Top

Keebler:  This is a classic.  Two little girls go to the kitchen to get a snack, and there is only one Keebler fudge cookie left.  The older sister looks at the cookie, the little sister looks up to her to see what she'll do.  Older sister makes the sacrifice and gives the entire cookie to her younger sibling, but while her focus is off the package, the Keebler elf rushes in and adds another cookie. These are the types of commercials people like to see.  Shining Star

Honda:  The annual ads featuring the animated character Mr. Opportunity are always enjoyable.  This year, Honda has given Mr. O. some vocal training, and he plays the lead in a 30-second opera next to a live--and slighly overdone--diva.  It sounds like they even went so far as to use grammatically accurate Italian.  A bravo performance.  Shining Star

Old Spice:  A hunky guy seamlessly goes through spots, including one in which he does several stunts like a "swan dive" from a waterfall feet first into a hot tub.  All the time he tries to convince us (particularly if "we" are women) that the smell of Old Spice won't make men look like him, but they can smell like him.  He's compelling without being conceited, and yes he does look quite striking.  There are three ads total, all available for viewing on oldspice.com.  Shining Star

Dos Equis:  Actor Jonathan Goldsmith portrays The Most Interesting Man in the World."  He is the type of man who doesn't normally drink beer any more than he would down a fast food burger (more like that $100 kobe beef burger from that New York restaurant, which he would get to via private jet and custom stretch Bentley or something).  When he does drink beer, it's the "two X" brand.  Okay, we can cope.  I'd have lunch with him if he'd have me (I'm not having my gown dry-cleaned).  Visible Star

AT&T:  The new ad features a song by Nick Drake called "From the Morning" to accompany scenes of orange drapery covering the areas served by AT&T nationwide (which is apparently most of the country).  Places like Vegas are covered with orange, and even the beach gets a blanket of color carried by running volunteers who take the fabric to the water's edge.  There is a disclaimer toward the end of the ad which mentions artists Christo and Jeanne Claude, who did not participate in the orange fabric "installation" (read live artwork) idea for this ad, but the famous artists come to mind while watching.  It's an innovative way to illustrate the concept.  Visible Star

FIOS/Comcast (Xfinity):  Both ads feature annoying cable installers from the other's company,and both invade people's homes with their presence and lack of brain matter.  The problem with competitors' ads is the trash talk when they're obviously trolling for the same demographic markets.  If the providors would stress what is good about their offerings, there would be room for everybody.  Fading Star

AT&T/Verizon:  In the Verizon versus AT&T wars, both carriers are stressing their coverage areas.  I can honestly say that I get fine coverage everywhere with my AT&T phone where I am, but I think the coverage problems are regional and based on equipment installation and upgrades by the companies themselves.  If they miss a spot, somebody using a phone there is going to have a problem with dropped calls.  It's that simple. Visible Star   Back to Top

Travelers Insurance:  Another cute ad for a change, featuring a mutt with a treasured bone who is concerned about what would happen if it were stolen or lost.  The pooch's concerns make him dig it up from the yard, retrieve it from a (not-so-good) hiding place under his companion human's chair, and even withdraw it from the security of a safe deposit box after having nightmares about it disappearing.  Finally the little fellow opts for a Travelers policy, and the little red umbrella floats over the bone while Fido plays outside.  The song is "Trouble" by Ray LaMontagne. Shining Star

AT&T:  The new rollover minutes spots feature a family who is not as bent on saving money if it means using "old" minutes from a month ago.  The kids in particular tend to waste minutes, but their mom is on their heels stressing how most people can't carry over unused minutes.  A new spot features the father, the family dog and some rather slobbery leftover minutes.  Worth a laugh.  Visible Star

Staples (Returning Favorite):  Hand me a shopping cart and I'll dance for joy at seeing this classic ad return for back to school time.  Of course the kids in the ad are probably in college by now, but their glum faces coupled with dad's enthusiasm just bowls me over every time.  Note that the prices have been taken out of this installment, probably because they vary so widely now, but who cares?  They're going back!!! Shining Star

AT&T:  Once upon a time, Hansel and Gretel (or reasonable facsimiles) took a trip to the big city.  Gretel dropped pieces of bread to mark their way back to the cottage, but the bread was stepped on by all the people walking around, and fell into sewer grates and were eaten by pigeons.  When the basket of bread was empty, the two looked back and saw that their trail was GONE!!!  And even the nice singers stopped singing.  My oh my, what were they to do?  Go to plan B and call up the directions to the cottage on the mobile phone Gretel wisely kept in her pocket.  What a hoot!  Shining Star  Back to Top

A1 Steak Sauce:  The scene is a better price restaurant, and the players are an executive and an up-n'-comer at separate tables.  The lower rung dude is pouring A1 on his hamburger, and the exec is intrigued, so he asks to "borrow" it.  The poor guy doesn't know the exec wants the burger, not the A1, and while he reaches for the bottle, the bigwig shifts the entire platter over to his spot and digs into the food.  The little guy is left speechless and burgerless.  I got a laugh out of the Dilbert-y undertones and socio-economical digs of this short spot.  Between this one and the spot featuring the fellow who steals the last bite of leftover steak and A1 off a room service plate left in a hotel hallway, I find these ads light and humorous.  Visible Star

Burger King:  They're baaaaack, those BK king-headed terrors from the seventh sub-basement of television advertising hell, and this time as "King-ons" in a parody of Star Trek's classic villians.  They appear in a poor fellow's apartment and snatch his bonus beverage glasses.  When he says, "Why don't you take my girlfriend too," they oblige when they beam up.  They forget to unfreeze the schlub's dog, aptly named Tiberius.  I can't comment anymore on these BK ads, since they're just too darned disturbing.  Fading Star

McDonald's:  I nearly lost my composure when my fave fast food joint started featuring people enjoying the Quarter Pounder with Cheese with a voiceover plugging its "meat and cheese."  That's the competition's old claim, and I've never liked Burger King's ads to begin with, but at least Mickey D's doesn't feature a plastic headed Ronald in bed with somebody eating one.  That would really salt my french fries.  Fading Star.

MetroPCS:  Another new cellular carrier is out there, and their commercials feature mythical creatures pooh-poohing the company's promises.  So far they've had a diner conversation between a jackalope and a minotaur, and a version in a hot tub with a unicorn and mermaid.  Between you and me, their "Hello, hello, hello" jingle reminds me of the Three Stooges a bit.   Visible Star

Geico:  Okay, so now we have a pair of eyes mounted on a stack of money to show us how much money we can save on car insurance?  The song "Somebody's Watchin' Me" from Rockwell (among others) is an interesting choice of background song, but I'll take the gecko or the cavemen instead, thank you.  Speaking of the gecko, the little amphibian gets sucked into a vacuum tube in the latest ad.  The Geico executive tries to get our little hero to wear a suit; the hungry gecko accidentally uses the boss' first dollar bill to buy some chips from the vending machine; another installment featuring the boss has the hapless exec preparing to fall backwards for the gecko to catch him.  Now that's funny.  The cavemen haven't been taken out of the mix yet, but now their ads include a song by 3 Doors Down called "Let Me Be Myself" and no interactive dialogue.  Gee guys, just because the ABC series got canned, you don't have to be that way about it!  Gecko:  Shining Star Eyes: Fading Star  Cavemen: Visible Star

AT&T:  The best ad of the season features a snowman whose cell phone gets no bars since he doesn't have AT&T.  An unexpected spell of warm weather comes and he starts melting and dropping snow chunks left and right while his "alter ego" does the spiel.  These kinds of holiday ads I can live with. Visible Star

Verizon:  The "other" cell phone carrier has various creepy ads featuring "dead zones" in which no cell phone signal can make headway.  Examples include a hotel with scratchy towels and a car rental place.  The people have the "Can you hear me now?" guy and his vast entourage, though, so no worries.  I guess.  Visible Star

McDonald's:  The kids on the soccer team are downtrodden when the other team wins the championship trophy.  The kids on the winning team are basking in the glory, hoisting their prize and talking trash to the sad-faced losers. But then along comes the consolation prize of McDonald's food, and the losers are all smiles as the winning team suddenly feels deprived of a true prize.  The song is by Os Mutantes and is called "A Minha Menina," and I swear that at one point I hear the word "salmonella" in the lyrics (it isn't, though).  Visible StarBack to Top

Lowe's:  The home improvement store has a spot focused on a fellow whose wife never utters a word of dialog but manages to finagle him into a new roof, a new fence and (with the the help of their little girl who can cross her arms and smirk just like mommy) a backyard playground.  I thought husband henpecking went out with black and white TV. Fading Star

Verizon:  The "can you hear me now" guy and his massive entourage appear in various horror spoof ads to assure the creepy characters and the cell phone owners that they won't have dropped calls.  Strange, but effective. Visible Star

AT&T: See what happens when you have "zero bars" on your cellular plan?  You get stuck in Brussels with two hostel residents being tormented by their techno music, or in your own apartment watching Michael Phelps on your television while he's actually appearing in person down the street, or even on a nude beach accidentally subjecting your children to their first lesson in public grownup anatomy.  New spots include a guy being taken downtown by the cops because he doesn't have the security code to his friend's house, a mother at a child's birthday party which is ruined by a nasty T-Rex and even a guy whose deep fried turkey blows up.  Gosh gee, but these are rather good spots. Visible Star

Chevrolet:  The series featuring vengeful gas pumps (a Cobalt, for example, gets its door locked by the nozzle, which sneaks in while the owner goes into the station) are an eyeful of fun.  The idea is they're so good on gas, the equipment is teed off by the downturn in business by these models.  Crafty and worth a laugh.  Shining Star

ForEyes:  Now that the annoying salesguy has apparently been booted from these promos, the eyeglass professionals now feature glasses that do strange things like shooting lazer beams that destroy the displays in the store, magically removing outer clothing and revealing people in their underwear, and turning senior citizens into dashing young folks.  The little old lady really got her money's worth out of her new glasses when she saw what her hubby looked like with them on:  I wonder if that was really what that darling codger looked like in his prime?  Can I go home now?  Visible Star

Burger King:  Well, the folks at BK are still annoying, and the newest ad is proof.  Mom can't encourage her daughter to try an apple.  Suddenly in walks the titular guy with the large plastic head and permanent grin (which, frankly, gives me the hinkies), and he gives the girl the latest in healthy fast food:  apple fries!  It soon becomes clear that BK is the husband and father, and they also have a plastic headed son who gives pop a good solid kick in the shins.  At that point, I applauded:  yeah, I have issues, but the pure and honest reactions I get to let loose when I watch commercials makes it so therapeutic after a long day at work.  Still have to give it a Fading Star.Back to Top

Tic Tacs:  The lady at work, bouncing the candies off her desk and cubicle wall into her mouth, is a keeper, as is the one who balances them on her fingertips.  These are original and cute spots for a favorite snack. Shining Star

Mentos:  This ad for breath fresheners, on the other hand, is a bit strange.  The man has a Mentos in his mouth, and a woman approaches, lifts his nose as if it's a light switch, and plants a wet French kiss on him.  It wouldn't be so bad, except the Mentos are apparently very moist, and they make sure you hear sloshing going on while the pair are engaged in casual tongue hockey (fortunately newer releases of the ad leave out the gross noises).  Ew. Fading Star

Gas-Ex:  Another clever use of euphemisms for intestinal gas is on the airwaves.  A poor fellow at a job interview is so preoccupied with his looming gas problems that he hears the interviewer calling him flatulent instead of fluent, and a co-worker interrupts to tell the hiring pro that her son Rip is on line toot.  What a gas!   Visible Star

Planters: This is the hoot of the year so far.  Imagine a woman who, let's say, is aesthetically deprived.  She has a glaring red-haired unibrow and all the photogenic qualities of any of the rejected Ugly Betty makeup trial photos before ABC came up with the look they wanted for America Ferrara.  But the men all flock to her:  in fact, they crowd around her on an otherwise empty train, as if there is no room other than around her.  Guys bump into things because they are distracted when she passes, and in general they seem totally stricken with her.  Then the truth comes out when she opens a can of Planters nuts and dabs a selected cashew behind each ear.  Guess Elizabeth Arden is out of business, eh?  Shining Star

AT&T:  The current ad is a cute one, with a little girl sending her favorite toy monkey along with daddy for a business trip.  He finds the monkey hidden inside his briefcase and begins sending pictures of the trip, featuring the little toy, home to his family using his camera phone.  The song "Sweet Pea" is sung by Amos Lee.  Shining Star        Back to Top

Diet Pepsi Max:    If you haven't seen these ads for the ginseng and caffeine-packed drink, let me warn you that there is a lot of yawning going on in these ads.  You're sure to catch a case of the yawns yourself.  One ad features a song done entirely by yawners at work, on the bus, on the street (except one guy just drinking the Pepsi and staying wide awake).  The second, a football themed hoot, shows a player on the field giving a play that comes out with a yawn which gets faithfully passed on verbatim to the team, who all scratch their heads.  The resulting. . . .ahem, play. . . . is a fullout tackle disaster.  Definitely the funniest ad out there right now.  Shining Star

Jimmy Dean Sausage:  An update to the ads featuring "Mr. Sun" and his co-workers brings more enjoyment to the commercial community.  Joining the all-enlightening orb are Rainbow and Hail.  The multi hued lady starts the day rather monochrome black and white because she has changed her breakfast routine for more "healthy" fare, until Sun introduces her to the new line of breakfast sandwiches.  They fill out her colors immediately (allowing Cloud to leave the window where he had been standing for awhile).  She then passes the word on to Hail in another ad:  he spent the night before sending down bad weather on the earth and needed a pickup as well.  Cloud won't try a microwave bowl of breakfast favorites, because he prefers cold, wet cereal in the morning (he tells Sun it's "a cloud thing.")  These spots are just plain fun.  Shining Star

Geico:  Some new spots from the insurance guys feature a Cabbage Patch Kid(R) portrayed as a grown up dealing with employment issues.  Also featured in separate spots are Jed of the Beverly Hillbillies and, of all people, Fred Flintstone and the alleged story behind Wilma's "expensive" jewelry.  The idea that the pair have limited means in today's world is relevant, and by insuring their vehicles with Geico, both of them improve their lives (though the Rubbles are left at the end of the retrospective ad with some relationship issues with their next door cavedwellers).  Frankly, I always thought Fred mined the rocks for that necklace himself:  oh well.  Visible Star

Kellogg's All Bran:  One of the best uses of subliminally suggestive background action in an ad to date.  The construction worker talking about how the cereal helped him get regular is not the real message:  check out the things "dumping" in the background for clarification.  For example, when he finishes a line, some piece of equipment or building material makes an effortless exit behind him.  We get the picture.  I'm just glad Kellogg doesn't have anything to do with curing gallstones or erectile dysfunction (imagine what those commercials would look like). Visible Star   Back to Top

Cingular/AT&T:  The cell phone guys are having a name change operation, which is why I've listed both names.  Anyway, a teen and his father are having an "opposites" conversation--an event in which the dialogue states the polar opposite of what one would expect to hear--about getting a new phone.  The kid complains that it is fair, to which Dad pontificates that "life is fair" and that he raised his son to talk to him in that manner.  There is something to be said for better familial communication, and this is a male version of a similar ad from awhile ago:  still works under either corporate logo.  Visible Star

Viva Paper Towels:  A kid shakes a bottle of orange soda and the cap pops, spewing his mother while she's at the sink.  She turns around and says angrily, "What's wrong with you?"  The kid thinks trouble is on the way, but she then turns the tables by using the sink's sprayer--which she says is much better--on him in retaliation.  Later they clean up the sticky orange and water mess with Viva towels.  I don't particularly condone liquid fighting for fun in the kitchen, but the objective is to sell paper products, so: Visible StarBack to Top

Verizon:  Okay, everybody except the technology minded,  here is some info about the two ads for Verizon FiOS fiber optic service.  The tech (Jeremy Brandt) is likely describing the data transmitting frequencies (1310, 1490 and 1550 in the ad) and the decibel level (plus 20 dB hot), as well as "true QAM" (pronounced "kwom") or "quadrature amplitude modulation" that integrates and processes the signals (I'm a woman:  what do I know).  The kid (actor Raymond Ochoa) just likes the light emanating from the back of the truck.  It's true fun, if you ask me. Shining Star

AFLAC:  Some new spots feature a goat and orangutan representing some other insurance company other than AFLAC.  Yeah, the goat is kind of cute (and he has lines), but I think we all hope he or the furry primate won't actually replace the duck.  Don't we?  Visible Star

Southwest Airlines:  It's the old "caught spying on what's in somebody else's medicine cabinet" trick.  A lady opens up the bathroom storage unit and picks up one tube of goop, puts it back and starts an avalanche of breaking shelves and clattering junk into the sink.  So what should she do?  Fly off on Southwest to a cheaply priced destination until the embarassment blows over.  Yes, we can relate to that somehow.  Visible Star

Wendy's:  If I didn't know any better, I'd think that the juicy hamburger chain has picked up Burger King's admen.  A fellow is standing among a bunch of other folks who are kicking the trees for some reason.  The fellow has on a Wendy pigtail wig and decides he doesn't have to follow the crowd, then rallies the others to walk away from tree-kicking to demand a better burger.  I'm scratching my head on this one.  The newest spot featuring a bacon burger is better, but still: Fading Star

Nationwide:  Yeah, life comes at us fast.  And funny.  Two of the ads from this insurance company are really amusing.  A man has just driven his car out of a repair shop and notices a strange noise coming from under his dashboard, so he gives it a thump with his fist to silence it.  It happens again, more urgently, so he gives it a more urgent whack.  When everything is quiet again, the car suddenly falls apart.  All because he had no guarantee of the quality of repair work as he would have by using Nationwide Insurance.  The second newer commercial features a woman trying to lower the sound on the television after her significant other leaves the room:  unknown to her, unfortunately she has picked up the wrong remote control from the coffee table, and is actually adjusting the height of the flame inside the fireplace behind her, to the point where the entire wall bursts into flames.  A real hoot. Shining Star

Capital One:  The credit card company attempts to deal humorously with all the technical baggage attached to redeeming rewards points.  One spot deals with a brave knight who has slain a dragon.  Or is it just a large lizard?  Can't tell without the tail, the king pontificates as he reads from a long list of disclaimers.  One slaying, however, did entitle the poor fellow to marry a rather, um, plain princess (who looks like a Monty Python skit dropout).  Another version features a princess gamely kissing a frog in hopes of a prince, but instead it turns into various and larger creatures like an orangutan as she has to kiss her way up to the handsome reward.  She loses patience just short of the goal, but gets to the level of a rather middle-aged centaur before she gives up.  A third ad has been added to the lineup, featuring a little girl who has to deal with the rules governing Tooth Fairy payouts.  Point made effectively, and cute.  Visible StarBack to Top

Chevrolet:  A current Chevy commercial features some songs in which Chevys are mentioned in the lyrics, including a Tammy Wynette/George Jones song called "We're Not the Jet Set."  It bothers me a bit that they pronounce the car make Chev-ro-let instead of Chev-ro-lay, but why mince words (heck, it rhymes with "jet" anyway).  Visible Star

Life Chocolate Oat Crunch:  For those of us who are scratching our heads about the song in the background of the ad for Quaker Oats' new Life cereal, here is a clue.  It's an attempt to make a cute Spanish-y sounding ditty out of the word "chocolate" (pronounced cho-co-lat-tay).  The singer counts to three in Spanish (uno, dos, tres) and the back-up singers respond with each syllable of "chocolate" in turn, until the song becomes a fast little danceable tune while different chocolates move about the screen to finally showcase the box of cereal.  Call it cute, call it lame, but at least I hope I've done a public service by setting the misheard lyric crowd straight (here is another public service:  for more song lyric questions, try a search under "mondegreens").  Anyway, the chocolates dancing around is okay, and there are no silly actors trying to plug how good the product is.  Simple stop motion dancing cacao for a kicked up (and healthy) cereal.  Visible Star

V8:  Does it disturb anybody else, just a little bit, to observe a kid popping her mom on the head because she is eating a fry instead of a vegetable juice drink?  I'd like to see the kid down one of those drinks (sorry folks, but every time I think of V8, I think of celery juice).  The other spots, featuring a drive through window attendant who knocks sense into the customer ordering a hamburger, and a restaurant in which the waiter is upset that a diner left his broccoli on the plate, don't fare much better.  We're talking simple assault here.  A newer version does feature a dog who eats the vegetables handed down to him under the table before conking the dude on the noggin.  A bit better.  Fading Star

Chevrolet Car Wash:  As a woman reviewer, I admit to liking the ad in which a bunch of guys get topless over the new Chevrolet.  Everybody but the octogenarian and the Naked Cowboy:  they've both been around the block a time too many for my taste.  Visible Star

Taco Bell Lions: Carnivores would like steak in their takeout, but all this carne asada stuff is just too much (carne asada in Spanish means "grilled meat," or literally meat grilled). Fading Star

FedEx:  Clearly the best ad for a laugh.  Folks are taking a tour of the first office on the moon.  Of course gravity is a problem, and when poor Phil gets a friendly slap on the back, he hurtles off the lunar surface and into the path of a swiftly passing comet.  Poor Phil.  Well, at least FedEx has it made on the moon, with its own shuttle to get packages delivered to Earth in a flash. . . .like a comet. . . .poor Phil.  By the way, the music in the background when the shuttle lands is "The Final Countdown" by Europe, one of those rock music refrains that serves the ad world well. Shining Star      Back to Top

Jimmy Dean Sausage:  This series of ads started out and stayed cute.  The sun is apparently a family man with a planetoid torso, who goes to work in an office with a large window where he stands to light and heat the earth.  The first commercials took place at home with normal wife and kids, while the later versions show us the office environment and his co-workers Cloud and Moon, and a non-weather related lady who seems really grumpy.  The moon ad features a partial lunar display because he just "isn't feeling it," so Sun offers a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich and, when asked if he'd like another, he has since gotten his complete circle back, and declines saying he is "full."  There's also one featuring an eclipse (simple to do for them:  the moon inches his way across the window in front of the sun).  Good calm fun advertising. Shining Star

ClearBlue Pregnancy Kit:  Well, it was just a matter of time before an ad like this one made the airwaves.  Folks of both genders have probably seen it already.  The focus is on a popular pregnancy test device, which is touted as a highly technological piece of equipment. . . .that one urinates upon.  Non-cable networks have an ad that couches its language, but on cable the act is mentioned in the voiceover.  As soon as the liquid gushed from somewhere offscreen to hit the target area on the test stick, I was off to the fridge.  Why medical devices have to be reviewed in a commercial in unnecessary detail is a mystery, and seems like just a ploy to make it look like the ad is downplaying its own purpose.  Women know how to use it, or will find out when they need to purchase one, so leave the stream out of the next plug, please.  Dead Star

Geico Cavemen (Revisited):  Those stone age dudes are back to provide more lessons in tolerance of ancient civilized misplaced people.  Last we saw of them, they were having dinner at a posh restaurant while the Geico representative uncomfortably tried to apologize for the company's not knowing they still existed:  now the guys appear on talk shows.  A short ad featuring one of the hirsute gentlemen in an airport plays Royksopp's "Remind Me" in the background as he sees a less than flattering billboard.  The newest clips feature a caveman in therapy, putting his mother on speaker when she calls on his cell phone during the session, and interacting with a doll.  Icky.  The therapist almost looks like a second string version of Lorraine Bracco's Dr. Melfi on The Sopranos, but anyway.  Political correctness has reached mammoth (sorry) proportions.  This problem could go on for millions of years, folks.  The actors most featured in the spots are John Lehr, Ben Weber and Jeff Daniel Phillips (where are the cavewomen, Geico?)  Visible Star

Fig Newtons:  People trying the new mini versions of the popular cookies are clobbered by giant figs.  Haven't seen that gag in awhile, and it gets the point across that little things can still taste big.  Shining Star

Visa:  A new ad campaign focuses on how quickly everything can be done in retail when everybody uses their Visa to pay for their purchases.  People step through a restaurant (and in a similarly themed garden shop) in sync like a well choreographed musical number (complete with overhead views of the action).  Items are tossed through the air and expertly caught down the assembly line styled order process, and items are bagged and ready for one quick card swipe by the customer. . . .until some dude whips out his wallet and comes up with CASH, and the lady wants to write a check!  The lines scream to a halt becasue some people slow down the swipe and go process.  Oh, the horror!  Got a laugh, though.  Visible StarBack to Top

Vonage:  The competitive phone guys have a new commercial featuring a woman on the beach who thinks the fins in the water are those of dolphins, not sharks.  Fortunately, before she can swim out to meet the nice creatures, a large missal, apparently from a passing Vonage van, beans her in the head.  Low brow stuff for selling phone service.  Visible Star

Geico (Celebrities):  Those insurance guys have an ad agency that just bounces off the wall with ideas.  This time, they're featuring celebrities to re-interpret the customer stories from real people who deal with Geico.  So far we've seen spots featuring Charo, Little Richard, Burt Bachrach and Don LaFontaine (the movie industry's choice for voicing coming attractions, but known in the ad as the "announcer guy from the movies").  I think the best spot is Mr. LaFontaine's (he has his own self titled dot com website if you'd like to hear more of his dramatic voice, and he actually dresses well); the least enjoyable is poor Burt, who looks just plain tired slumped over a piano singing about getting hit in the rear.  Charo talks a mile a minute in both Spanish and "Englich," and Little Richard is just. . . .well, Little Richard.  Peter Graves and Verne "Mini Me" Troyer are also in the mix (it's a catchy tune Mr. Troyer raps about "got the car fixed, it's my birthday," and so on).  Whether you prefer the gecko or not, these are good alternative versions of their idea that a phone call can fix your driving problems.  Cue up that dramatic music:  in a world where commercials exist, I'm giving this a Visible Star

Rozerem: I know you don't believe what you're seeing in the commercial, because I don't either.  A spot to advertise a prescription sleep aid features a man who apparently has dreams about playing chess with Abraham Lincoln and a beaver?  And what's with the diver at the sink in the background?  The newer ad features the trio at the bus stop, and a woman whose blue pony follows her around the office instead of in her dreams.  Hey, dreams can be a bit strange, and ads for pills get more bizarre all the time, so if it's unusual, grabs your attention and still does the product justice, I guess it's okay.  The website for Rozerem features the characters and interactive menus to give you enough information to take to your doctor with you, if you want to look into more about getting some shut-eye with this medication.  Visible Star

Oreos/ChocoStix:  I get a real kick out of watching the girl and her grandmother having an Oreo eating contest.  Does anybody know how many licks it takes to get all the cream off an Oreo without using your teeth?  As for the newest crunchy snack item, the ChocoStix ad features an ordinary office full of people who apparently think they're in a musical.  I don't think you'll find their songs on an original cast soundtrack album anytime soon, but it's good for a giggle.  Shining Star

Alka Seltzer:  The new ads from the "plop plop, fizz fizz" guys feature another remake of the company's successful spots from the past, with Kathy Griffin suffering indigestion after the waiter urges her to "try it, you'll like it."  Know what I'm looking forward to?  Maybe getting somebody from The Sopranos (like Paulie Walnuts) starring in the remake of the "mama mia, that's a spicy meatball" ad (hey, one can dream).  Whoever they get, I'm watching.  Shining StarBack to Top

HeadOn:  Applied indirectly between the toes.  Sorry to grouse, but sometimes the shortest ads are the most annoying.  For such a brief 15-second spot on popular shows like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, this product plug has had the exact opposite effect on me.  If I get a headache from listening to them, I'll go buy pills in a bottle instead of this annoyingly overplugged balm.  In an updated version people interrupt the ad to complain about how much they hate the mantra but love the product.  A wise follow up worthy of a Visible Star

Geico (Gecko):  The popular spokesreptile is featured as a talk show guest in one ad, and a woman asks him about his connection to the auto insurer in another.  Always cute and engaging to watch.  By the way, the current voice of the gecko is reportedly that of actor Jake Wood (The Illusionist).  And yes, he is a Londoner, which explains the accent.  Dave Kelly voiced the character in earlier adverts (what the Brits call commercials).  Shining Star



Commercials From 2005-2006

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M&Ms:  I just love a good Plain and Peanut candy side-splitting adventure, don't you?  And I like it when something innocent reminds me of a song.  Well, with this new ad, thank goodness we don't have to wait for Christmas to see their encounter with Santa again to enjoy a good spot.  This time the candy coated dudes are seated in the hold of a ship with a bunch of sweaty, overworked condemned men, pulling oars like that famous scene in Ben Hur.  Well, the little guys launch into a rousing chorus of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," which the others join into, until their nasty overseer cracks his whip and says, "I'd like to know. . . ." which suggests a new song and takes them right into singing the Hughes Corporation's song "Rock the Boat."  What a hoot!  Shining Star

Capital One:  The marauders are at summer camp, singing songs around the campfire, piloting the canoes (or was that a dragon boat) and--UGH--eating the bait worms.  Another new version features them as rockers in concert.  Strange, but they don't look too different from what we already have out there in music land.  Still, ya gotta laugh at these misplaced men and their job hunting antics.  Shining Star

Burger King:  The guys at "Whopper World" have a new, and good, commercial.  The new BK Stacker sandwiches use lots of meat and cheese (that sounds familiar) involving more than one layer of hamburger.  The sandwiches are built using large construction equipment to get the patties just right, so we are treated to a gigantic (as in larger than life) burger construction site operated by several. . . .let us say proportionately compressed people* whom you'll recognize from lots of other ad and movie roles.  The spots are witty and amusing.  If you've ever felt "weighed down" after eating a burger, you'll relate to the idea of actually being clobbered by one.  No complaints here:  the ad guys have done their client justice this time.  A revision shows a Burger King worker flicking the poor boss away from the counter, even though it's obvious that she can see who she is dealing with.  Guess she needs glasses. Visible Star

*(The term "proportionately compressed people" is simply a try at creative expression for persons otherwise categorized together--often inappropriately--with such terms as dwarves, midgets or that groaner term "little people.")

Gas-Ex:  This ad is a real wind--er, ground--breaker.  The company responsible for Gas-Ex has a soft chew antacid on the market.  To plug their new product, a man at a corporate meeting is sitting rather uncomfortably in a conference room.  While trying to keep composed in his chair, he is subjected to an executive's speech containing key phrases that continuously remind him of his gas problem, saying sales are "flatulent" and that the company won't be able to "cut it."  Somebody went through the thesaurus with dedication for that long list of euphemisms, so why not let 'em rip.  Visible Star

AFLAC:  The duck gets stuck in a mailbox while mailing off some bills that AFLAC has paid for a wife recuperating and talking on the porch with her husband.  This one is not as engaging as previous installments and has no real dialogue from the mascot, but still gets the job done. Visible StarBack to Top

Citibank:  Two new ads from the credit card mavens return to their identity theft series, in which the ID stealers do the voiceovers of the stealees (remember the rather frumpy guy whose female voiceover was a lady who shelled out a grand and change off his stolen card for a leather bustier?)  This time a buff fellow at the gym has had his good credit pilfered by a lady who couldn't learn how to sing Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart" if the singing lessons cost a million bucks an hour.  The funniest version is two senior ladies sitting together in lounge chairs, whose voices are those of a pair of biker boys who just bought new rides with stolen cards, making engine revving noises and chuckling madly at their stroke of luck.  These ads never fail to elicit a laugh and are a reminder to keep your good name protected.  Shining Star

Volkswagen:  Be warned, because VW has put together an ad campaign for their vehicles that will make you drop your drink if you're not prepared for it.  New ads for the Jetta feature the phrase "Safe Happens."  To illustrate, viewers are lulled into a boring interaction between a driver and passenger(s) until an accident suddenly jolts everybody back to reality.  The next shot shows everybody outside the Jetta looking at the vehicle that saved their lives and saying, "Holy. . . ." (sans expletive) as the scene cuts to the ad's message and details on the Jetta's safety.  I've seen three versions of the spot, and the most jolting is the crackup with the truck backing blindly out of the driveway and into the Jetta's drive path so disaster is unavoidable, complete with airbag deployment.  Another features a man admitting to his friends--by not admitting it--that a movie they just saw made him a little weepy.  Then the accident happens.  A third has two women getting punched in the passenger's side by another vehicle coming downhill in the crossroad.  Every time it happens, it's an eye-bugger moment and a darned good ad that drives the point home. Shining Star

VISA Checkcard:  A new ad for this must-have plastic banking tool features a cute piece of animation with a worm dancing to a boombox (the tune is Afrika Bam-Baataa's "Looking for the Perfect Beat").  The sequence turns out to be an animated flipbook which a fellow has made out of his old checks (the idea being that people can use their VISA Checkcard instead of those paper checks the bank doesn't send you back anymore).  Not many people do cartoons the old fashioned way anymore, so it's a welcome change.  Shining Star

Burger King:  Things are really becoming creepy in BK promoland.  A new spot shows a live action bedroom scene with the titular character in bed next to a construction worker while other folks stand around and watch him produce the topical breakfast food.  They then have a pillow fight jumping up and down on the bed.  Maybe the ad agents are reading this page and are just trying to creep me (and you readers) out.  If you woke up with a guy in a Burger King oversized plastic head next to you, I would think the psychiatrists would be lined up on your doorstep to take you on afterward.  I can't stand the pain of reviewing the BK ads anymore and need to take something, so excuse me while I go get a Prozac and give this line of commercials another Dead Star.Back to Top

JC Penney:  People wearing Penney's fashions are shown getting positive reactions from inanimate objects.  Cars honk and lights flash.  I only get that reaction when I'm too darn slow in a crosswalk, and it's the impatient doofusses behind the wheel who are responsible.  The classic song "Get It On (Bang a Gong)" is the background music.  Whatever. Visible Star

Capital One:  The latest spots for the famous credit card issuers feature a rather inept guardian angel who manages only to shine when recommending the card.  For example, the sign at the beach states "Dangerous Jellyfish," but he apparently let his charge go in and come out covered in Portuguese Man o' Wars (Portuguese Men o' War?):  anyway, it's a break from marauders and David Spade, and gets a giggle.  Visible Star

Volkswagen:  The difference between obnoxious and fun, and obnoxious and cringe inducing, cannot better be described than in these strange new ads for the popular German automobiles.  These new spots feature a pair of spokespersons who come off as so overcharacterized you'd swear they must have actually gone to overacting school and earned doctorates.  The days of "We haff vays of maaaaaking you talk" are long gone, and trying to be retro can be prone to not being done right.  This is one example of how not to do it.  The fellow--a stringy streamlined guy with a face you want to slap--makes a VW symbol with his fingers and leers at the camera, and the woman acts like a sadist.  People have their old cars destroyed or whatever, in favor of a new VW, but the subjects are also one dimensional folks just acting as fodder for the others.  The extreme German accents have a grating effect.  Somebody in the advertising department should check out the For Eyes guy for inspiration in how to do this style of selling stuff right.  Danke.  Fading Star

AFLAC:  The duck is featured in a spoof of silent films of ladies in peril.  He saves the damsel from the train tracks and winds up being whisked out of town by the train going the other way, sitting on the cattle pusher (that big angular thingie on the front of the locomotive--really, that's what it was originally for).  Shining Star

Sprint:  A boss has a new cell phone with a flexible monthly plan that he describes as his way of "sticking it to the man."  An employee waxes philosophically about this idea and reminds the boss that he is in the role of "the man" and is, therefore, sticking it to himself.  "Maybe," the boss replies.  Folks, if I may throw a wrench into this idea, corporate power doesn't fall to "the man," but to the concept of leadership that falls on those of us who display some skill with organization and mastering the needed tasks to keep the business going.  This means the boss is simply humoring the employee's little observation, because the boss is really sticking it to the concept of himself being "the man."  Or something like that.  Anyway, it's a good commercial idea for something as simple as describing a new phone plan. Visible Star      Back to Top

Citibank:  A new card from Citibank promises customers contact with a live person with the touch of a button.  It is cute to watch a fellow trying to get through a voice activated menu in public on a train (especially while having to shout his password, "big boy," into the receiver), only to get cut off in a tunnel when a phone rep finally comes on the line.  The other spot featuring a guy trying not to burn his dinner while pressing buttons for menu options is over the top (I would've used the broom handle, not the bristles, to get the pan off the burner, but then I'm a woman. .  . . .)  Visible Star

Burger King:  From a good production ad (see below) to a cheesy one about a burger and a cad.  Oh well, at least the face mask is out of the picture, but they still aren't really selling what they should be, which is a good food item.  Visible Star

AmeriQuest:  From the company that brought us the poor fellow with the knife, the pasta sauce and the white cat from last year's "Big Game," come two new variations on the theme of not jumping to conclusions when something looks too obvious to be true.  A doctor uses the defibrillator paddles to zap a fly over a sleeping patient's bed, and tells his partner he has "killed him" just as the wife and daughter come in with flowers and balloons in anticipation of the patient's discharge.  The second installment features a lady who is just trying to get out of the window seat on a plane and winds up looking like, to put it in the British slang, a bit o' fun was going on with her and the aisle seat occupant.  Both funny and well done, but ladies should know better than to wear skirts on a plane.  Shining StarBack to Top

FedEx:  The overnight folks feature a spot with a caveman trying to deliver something by courier pterodactyl, but watches as the flight is terminated when the "aircraft" is devoured mid-flight by another dinosaur.  Going back to the cave, his boss shows no mercy and fires the poor fellow, even though they both know that Federal Express wasn't invented yet.  Good for a laugh. Visible Star

Budweiser:  Every year the beer gods bring the country a great ad featuring their timeless, beautiful Clydesdales.  This year we have a youngster who aspires to pull the wagon, and far be it from the adult horses to not have him realize his dream.  A true family ad guaranteed to make you say a misty-eyed "Awwww" and mean it. Shining Star

Burger King:  The BK ads have been dreadful lately, so when I realized that a new one was on the screen, I watched the production ready to launch into my usual rant about how the ad guys aren't doing the fast food chain any favors.  Well, I liked the ladies in the onion and lettuce suits, and watching them pile onto the bun was mildly entertaining.  Get that guy in the full face mask out of there--can't they find somebody with red hair to put the robe on and do the spots?--and you may have something.  An improvement is in the air. Visible Star

Vonage:  The phone guys at Vonage are featuring speakers who have interesting things going on behind them, such as the wife whose hubby is boogying down in the next room (and better than Tom Cruise, I must say), or the fellow whose neighbors are outside in the altogether (with carefully placed censor strips) to do some gardening.  Woo woo, indeed!  Visible Star

Alka Seltzer:  To celebrate 75 years of calming stomachs and generally healing aching people the world over, the new ad is a remake of a classic 1970s spot about overeating, featuring the parents from "Everybody Loves Raymond."  It's viewable on the web all over the place, and television is running it like crazy.  On a side note:  I did the spot "live" in a little skit performance with a fellow Girl Scout back in my youth, and the routine brought down the house.  You can't beat a good commercial classic when it is performed with heart. Shining StarBack to Top

Charmin:  The play on the famous retort about whether a bear does "do number two" in the woods has been the theme for the toilet paper company for some time now, but a new ad features moist wipes, touted by a duck, that come with a tune you won't be inclined to hum in the shower about being cleaner "behind."  The wet nappies will supposedly do as good a job on one's derriere hygiene in two swipes as it does to the back of a test subject's hand while "soiled" with toothpaste?  Come on, guys.  These bathroom ads are just plain. . . .fowl (sorry).  Fading Star

All:  The detergent folks have a new concentrated formula that comes in a small bottle but does a lot of cleaning.  To prove their point they use our oversized culture to show that good things come in small bottles.  It's fun to see the giant sized products in the commercial, especially the mega size drink served at the fast food takeout window that would guarantee a person hours of alertness if they wouldn't have to use the restroom more often.  But let's not digress from the real star of the ad; a detergent that you don't have to have a bench pressing license to get off the store shelf.  Bravo. Visible Star

Subaru:  The new B9 Tribeca is the type of vehicle that leaves others in its class severely lacking.  The ad shows a Tribeca passing vehicles that shrivel up, disintegrate, turn into junk heaps and compact themselves into twisted metal.  The kicker is the car carrier in which all the cars on top disappear into thin air to the tune of "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas.  Using pop song chestnuts to sell stuff is losing its luster, but the ad gets a Shining Star anyway for being different.

Kellogg's: People who eat in their cubicles are enjoying the saga of Johnson, the employee who won't leave even though he has been fired.  Why?  He's eating Raisin Bran Crunch, and the crunchy sounds drown out everything said to him.  There have been a few installments, the latest showing the determined firer, Smith, trying to get the lady in the Personnel office to understand that Johnson is a firee. . . .crunch, crunch, crunch. Shining Star

AFLAC:  The duck is still trying to get the message across, this time at a canyon.  Pay close attention and you'll see a man who appears in every current ad just in time to encounter the duck at a crucial moment, like when a ledge gives way and the duck takes a Wile E. Coyote style fall. Visible Star

Quizno's:  The hot sub and sandwich people say their food is "mmmmm. . . .toasty" with five "mmmmm's."  However, there are only four "mmmm's" in the logo.  I like the talking baby Bob and everything else about the ads, but being a stickler for accuracy, I get annoyed by counting that doesn't add up.  It can be fixed, but for now:  Visible Star

T-Mobile:  A father is upset over the wireless phone bill.  It's so huge and filled with too many phone calls from his kids that he doesn't care that the daughter aced a hard course at school and his son is trying on a dress and lipstick and then driving the car through the garage door.  Nothing is implied by the son's behavior, except that he talks too much on the phone for a teenager (maybe), so. . . .Visible Star

Verizon Broadband:  Two ads feature the penalties of slow dial-up speeds, which ruin a viewer's enjoyment of a singing diva's latest hit, and gunk up a download of an emailed card from a character named Happy Cat.  Of the two, I do occasionally find myself singing the "Happy Cat Birthday" song in the car, heaven help me.  In a world of instant gratification, I guess eventually we'll have cellular phones and computers that predict the future and make it happen for us.  Meanwhile, though, I'm a bit tired of all this "faster, better, stronger" stuff, except when it's on reruns of "The Six Million Dollar Man." Fading Star

Boston Market:  Ladies and gentlemen, if you don't pay any attention to the music for commercials, cock an ear and listen to the lyrics for these 30-second tongue in cheek marvels.  I think even anti-beef people would giggle if some guy was singing, "eat a big ol' steer," then hummed to fill in intended gaps in the songwriting.  No awards here, folks.  Don't bother to look at the table manners of the folks eating in the spots (like the Mickey D's ad, a few of the participants aren't that adept at cutting properly), but I get a kick out of humming along with this one.  A new holiday version extols the virtues of eating turkey while an overhead view shows a family having at the dinner fare.  Somebody in Boston Market's ad agency deserves a raise; these are the most original ad I've seen in awhile.  I'm going off to get some Boston Market now. Shining Star  Back to Top

Jif:  The peanut butter people have a spot featuring a girl hosting one friend for a sleepover, and the guest has separation issues.  Solution?  A good old fashioned peanut butter sandwich, cut across like her mother does it.  The two are satisfied, all smiles and giggles, and poor Princess Moonfire's latest video strikes out on sleepover night.  Another spot features a father and daughter while she observes his one-slice peanut butter on white fold-over technique.  There is never a thing wrong with good family commercials.  So both get a Shining Star

McDonald's:  Several new spots feature the new chicken sandwiches at our country's well-recognized fast food bistro.  For the sake of the mannerly and parents among us, let me make this clear:  extending one's pinkie fingers is not a sign of class.  People with a good education in etiquette don't draw attention to hand held foods by letting their fingers stick out like spiky weapons.  As to the commercial review, I'm on the fence because the spots show actors with attitudes but not enough about the sandwiches.  I want to see people enjoying the food, not the posing needed to get it.  Visible Star

All:  A woman uses the detergent to soften her clothes, while other people in her gym apparently never heard of using fabric softener because they come to work out in scratchy outfits.  The animation is good, and I liked the old ad with the disco-dancing socks anyway.  Visible Star

Wendy's:  I don't like ranch dressing.  It's not a milk thing or a tangy thing; I just want to have something colorful on my food, and the look of white goop on my salad doesn't please me.  That said, I find the new ad for Wendy's burger with ranch sauce less than palatable.  The fellow in the commercial has a gigantic problem; a companion "ranch tooth" in a hat, that goes everywhere with him and says, "Ranch. . . .ranch. . . .ranch" over and over and over again until it gets some.  If it were a child, I'd put it in time out, but instead maybe a dentist with a fast pair of pliers is in order here.  I like Wendy's but just for the annoyance factor:  Fading StarMOST POPULAR AD Aug/Sep 05

Nexium: The purple pill guys have turned to a simple ad featuring an elderly couple discussing the medication's use as a stomach ulcer preventative.  They sit on a couch; she fixes his tie.  They seem like a regular pair of folks.  The woman taking Nexium even says herself that the doctor made her aware of its side effects.  That's a new spin.  I don't know if the two actors are indeed married, but the spot is credible and doesn't show folks cavorting about and distracting viewers from the fact that the ad is for a prescription medicine and not cotton candy.  Good for AstraZeneca.  Visible Star   Back to Top

Capital One ("The Answer's Always No"):I'd swear that was David Spade training a new worker at the airline miles credit card company to always say no.  He does a test call, disguises his voice as a woman's and coaxes the trainee into obliging, then sounds a horn, making the poor assistant jump and sending all the cubicles toppling like dominoes.  Another ad features a disgruntled customer coming to the call center to meet who he is dealing with, and gets deliberately misdirected to the trainee, who runs from him screaming like a girl.  Poor fellow.  The newest versions feature the apprentice wearing a wire that gets wet, and receiving some negative reinforcement applied with a voodoo doll.  Now we're getting sadistic.  Original Ads: Shining StarNewer Ads: Visible Star

McDonald's:An animated spot features two girls on the beach talking about their "fruit buzz' for the new healthy product at your local eatery with the arches.  I don't like the use of slang or the lazy attitudes of the characters.  Despite a bad ad, though, Mickey-D's is offering some good, tasty stuff (the apple-based salad looks great, too), so. . . .Visible Star

Tropicana:A woman is on a train with a mother and whining daughter.  After taking a sip of her orange juice, she borrows a chunk of a man's newspaper, folds an origami bird out of it and hands it to the kid.  I drink this product, but I'm not particularly in favor of this ad.  Rewarding the girl's boredom, involving another stranger by pilfering his paper (not to mention food and beverages on the train) are improbable at least. Fading Star

Capital One (Marauders):Those marauders are back again, complaining about the difficulties of finding jobs now that the credit card company has curtailed their attacks on innocent credit card users.  One fellow with a mace (the spiky ball weapon) has a job as a flight attendant and his swinging accessory hits passengers in the head as he moves down the aisle with the cart.  Another operates a kiddy train ride.  Hilarious!  I've seen several versions of the ad, and really get a kick out of Grandpa trying to take tourists around in a horse-drawn carriage.  Visible StarPOPULAR AD

Kleenex:The tissue guys feature a father at home reading the paper.  Mysterious blobs keep showing up on his face from one shot to the next, so he reaches for the new soft cloth wipes as his twin boys take aim for another baby food assault on dear old Dad the target.  Cute.  Shining Star

Pier One:Those purveyors of international decorating stuff have designed a series of animated commercials that morph into pieces of their furnishings.  The idea is colorful and engaging, and as much as I like Kirstie Alley, I'm glad to see some ads that don't feature celebs. Visible Star

Buick:Aerosmith is certainly seeing checks in their mailbox because their hit song is the theme behind the automaker's new car ads for the LaCrosse and other vehicles.  I may not wear gorgeous gowns, park under a waterfall, have a child who feels like Cinderella every school day because she has such a classy ride, or even think about sitting naked inside a vehicle, but the whole campaign is based on imagination.  Dream on, ad guys.  Visible Star     Back to Top

RBS:From the Royal Bank of Scotland comes a spot which takes place at a wedding.  The groom doesn't necessarily have cold feet, but his misplaced business savvy is obviously more important than love (this couple probably didn't have a pre-nup).  When the cleric asks the famous "do you" question to the groom, he turns and  queries the assembled throng as to whether the wedding would be a sound business deal without lots of preliminary legal hooey, along with a bunch of other questions that have no place in a wedding ceremony.  The RBS advisor steps in, answers "I do,"  and saves the day, gaining a bride in the process.  If only marriage and business dealings were always that easy.  Visible Star

GE:Gene Kelly will always be known for his show-stopping performance of the title song in "Singin' in the Rain,"  but GE has decided to run an environmental ad touting its clean resource agenda with a computer generated elephant who can tap out that same song with style.  He's accompanied by toucans and other jungle inhabitants as he splashes in the stream happily, in an environment free of pollutants.  It's good to see a fun, clean and sunny ad (okay, there's no rain in it, but it doesn't matter).   Shining StarBack to Top

Kellogg's:     The cereal company encourages everybody to have a good breakfast.  That's a good thing.  The ad for their Fruit Harvest variety features a family heading out the door for the day and meeting first to make sure somebody fed the dog.  Fortunately everybody remembered, each at a different time, and the dog certainly wasn't going to complain about getting fed four times.  Of course, poor Muffin will probably need one heckuva workout to lose those extra pounds from overindulging in the kibble.  Cute and funny. Shining Star

Dunkin Donuts:Fast food chains of all kinds are focusing on the feeling of revived energy one gets from eating or drinking something from their establishment; the new spots for the morning crowd anxious for a coffee and something to dunk in it features a guy taking two mannequins to a shop for a latte (they turn into real humans when awakened by the concoction), and another has some folks literally "dropping in" for their food.  Not being a coffee drinker, I don't get all the strange brews on the market today, but if it keeps drivers revved up on the road, I'm happy. Visible Star

Geico (Various):The insurance guys poke good-natured fun at stereotypes by featuring modern day cavemen (bare-chested and in dress pants, no less) being insulted by casual references to their primitive way of living.  By the Geico rep saying their services are so easy, even a caveman could use them, it makes the guys crazy watching at home (one points at the tube and accuses Geico of being condescending).  Even a luncheon date doesn't placate one of the fellows.  Who knew they lived in modern homes, played piano and worked on camera crews in commercial film studios?  Even a "dumb blonde" like me could've guessed that.  Oh, and don't miss the new fake infomercials with that Tony exercise guy if you're in the mood for a laugh.  Also, having been a loyal viewer of "Speed Racer," I got a charge out of the new ad that spoofs the early anime show (FYI:  The characters are Speed, Trixie, Spreidel and Chim Chim the monkey, if you're wracking your brain trying to remember the old Americanized anime' show).  The guys at Geico have a real sense of humor. Visible Star

Dove:The skin and hair folks at Dove now have a soap and body wash with green tea and other natural elements inside to "fresh" one's self.  As a writer, I'm not really fond of the misuse of nouns or other words as verbs against their natural purpose, but it is fun to watch the ad and see a geisha and Miss Piggy posing for the camera.  Yes, I said Miss Piggy, who really is a natural beauty and doesn't need a bar of soap to qualify that in the first place (if they come out with Dove for men, maybe Kermit will star in that spot). Shining StarBack to Top

Coke:More than one person has asked me about this new half minute plug for the new regular soda with lime flavor (the diet version has been available for awhile).  The lyrics are printed at the bottom of the screen during one clip, and the song says to "put the lime in the Coke, you nut."  Some people think they're saying "put the lime in the coconut," and getting confused.  Head-scratching notwithstanding, it's a cute ad and the song is still catchy enough to get people into the stores for a can or two.  Visible Star

Flonase:A takeoff on film noir detective films features a woman with allergies and a PI getting all hot and bothered over prescription antihistimines.  No complaints, but drug ads are overwhelming the airwaves so much, it's like the current battle of the reality shows; much ado about one thing.  Visible Star

Pennzoil:Here is an ad for motor oil that is gross but funny.  A fellow pours some of the viscuous stuff into his car's engine and slams the hood, thinking that's that.  Not a chance!  The hood springs open, the engine leaps out of the vehicle and marches down the driveway to rest in front of the guy, then proceeds to vomit oil all over his shoes and trouser legs.  Must've been something it just "ate."  Next time maybe he'll use the product, specially formulated for older higher mileage cars.  Who would've thought cars got nausea?  Visible Star

Ace Hardware:A talking toilet plays on its owner's sense of helplessness since he has put off fixing the problem of water running in the bowl.  He has tried jiggling the handle to no avail.  Finally he goes to Ace and one of their trademark guys with the knowhow tells him how to replace the tank thingy (hey guys, this is a woman talking here), and all is well until the homeowner decides to fix the chair that just broke under him.  Shining Star because I can't find a reason not to like a decent treatment of anything surrounding the subject of toilets.Back To Top

Geico:There are some great spots featuring the gecko doing The Robot dance (also on geico.com if you're interested in seeing them online) or riding with folks in their cars.  Cute and still effective.  Visible Star

Burger King: There is another commercial for the fast food joint lurking about which features a whole slew of characters who seem to have come from somebody's poorly tuned imagination.  It's supposed to be a happy scenario, but there is something not quite right about it.  There's a down home country gal type who is way over the top in more ways than one, and the gooey peppy pop music (which I just found out is done by none other than Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker) just doesn't help matters.  Then there is that guy in the Burger King head gear and regal outfit in the middle of it all.  I feel for the restaurant chain, because this string of ads seems to be charring the credibility right out of their Whoppers. Dead Star.  Sorry guys.

ForEyes:I have a thing for the nasally salesman from these classic ads (I think it's tolerant annoyance), and he is still around trying to convince visitors to his store that his glasses are better than those at ForEyes.  Not only have they spoken French and provided x-ray vision (once the salesman got nekkid), but in one of the retailer's newest treatments the glasses are also sexy and provoke submissive urges in people.  Sure I'd like to spank that salesman, but then I've always wondered how I'd look in leather dominatrix gear and a good pair of glasses (just kidding, folks).  Visible Star

Brawny:What can a woman say about a commercial that features a strikingly handsome man and a puppy?  Not only that, but this man can bake a cake!  I should really get an attitude and demand that this ad be relegated to Lifetime or one of those women's networks where I can tune in of my own free will to get my hunk fix, but heck, I haven't felt this much of a rush from an ad since Lucky Vanous drank Diet Coke.  And who can pan a puppy?  Shining StarBack to Top

Vonage:Woo woo, wu wu wooooo. . . .the song is catchy, but the stunts shown on this ad for phone service are not particularly enjoyable.  Besides, I'm still partial to AT&T/Cingular, and to Verizon's James Earl Jones. Visible Star

Nasonex:Okay, the animated ads are over the top with this ad featuring. . . .a bee with allergies?  He's cute and reminds me of an aviating Peppy LePew with the accent and all, but too many of these animated plugs for drugs detract from the fact that these are serious medications being marketed like dish detergent to a suffering but under-insured public.  Yes, I recently read Stephen King's comments on drug ads in Entertainment Weekly's 03/04 issue, and I'd like to share his sandwich board.  People should not look at a drug on television and then ask their doctor if they can get some of it; their doctor is trained to know what is needed and only he or she should research, learn about and prescribe these medications.  Besides, we're not bees.  By the way, I have word that Antonio Banderas is the voice of the bee, so though the ad is a bit silly, the man doesn't get points off for being a good voiceover artist.   Fading Star

AFLAC:Fortunately the duck is still part of the ad series, and this time he's doing the accounting for a laid-up worker.  At least he was, until the Chinese food arrived (Peking duck?).  The mascot is a combination of real and animatronic, but has yet to disappoint. Shining Star

AmeriQuest:The two words that best describe this one are "never assume."  What would you think if you saw your significant other with a cat dripping red in one hand and a knife in the other hand?  Who would've guessed that the cat had just turned over the pot of marinara sauce while the owner was chopping nearby?  The idea for this was imaginative and funny.  One of the two most attention-grabbing ads originating from the "Big Game."  Shining Star

Dove Haircare:From the people who brought consumers a beauty cleansing bar with one-quarter moisturizing cream comes a promotion for their new haircare line featuring three animated starlets to promote them.  We're talking about Velma from "Scooby Doo," Wilma Flintstone and Jane Jetson, no less.  Their hair does look fantastic, I must admit, but is it the shampoo and conditioner, or are they just drawn that way?  Shining Star to go with the shining hair.

Mucinex: Imagine if a glob of mucus looked like a couch potato, dressed up in his underwear and lounging in the living room that would be your lungs.  I guess it's as appropriate as it could be.  If it weren't such a gross subject (mucus that can't be dislodged without taking the product), I'd laugh harder.  Visible StarBACK TO TOP

AFLAC:Mister pet store owner, I'd like to return this duck and trade him for a parrot.  Naturally it's all a big in-joke, but I hope this doesn't mean the end of the poor waterfowl's career as spokes-duck. Visible Star

Southwest Airlines:Fresh from a successful ad campaign for their Boston airline fares, the carrier has a new line of spots focusing on embarassing human moments when one might want to just get away for awhile.  For example, a postal carrier passes a house with a basketball sitting by the pavement and the basket at the top of the driveway.  While the homeowners watch, he takes a shot and misses, hitting the garage windows and shattering glass everywhere.  So that's why the hoop was facing away from the garage.  A second spot features two office workers, one of whom is a guy on a hands-free unit with a hidden microphone talking to somebody he really cares about.  When he says "I love you," his female counterpart doesn't realize he isn't talking to her and foot meets mouth.  Can we all fly to Boston for a tonic?  Visible StarBACK TO TOP

The Commercials for 2004:  A guide to hitting either the volume control or the mute button.

Bissell:The vacuum cleaner giant has one product that does both dry and wet cleaning so well, one can eat off the floor.  That provides the idea for a restaurant (fictional, of course) called Flor, in which guests have their food served at shoe level and accidents are cleaned up by the new versatile cleaner.  Can't fault the idea of clean, which has suddenly become a hot topic in commercials.  Visible StarPOPULAR AD

All:Animation takes a turn as a way to sell detergent.  A clean sock falls from the clothes basket onto the floor, where all sorts of unclean entities pounce on it to turn it into a disco dance floor (heaven knows why).  The dutiful lady of the house takes the sock and throws it back in the washer with the latest All detergent to clean it up.  I don't know about you, but if my laundry room floor was that dirty, I'd take a shop vac to it so my socks wouldn't get little hairball guys and slime dudes jumping on board for a ride; or maybe I'd use the Bissell vacuum described above.  Visible Star

Energizer:Another commercial duet.  A mother is talking on the phone when she cuts the call short to walk through the house reinstating law and order among her kids.  A kid jumping on the sofa suddenly sits down.  A pair of youngsters cease throwing things at each other, and the young lad watching the eggs in the basket getting bashed in the clothes dryer gets his fun stopped by his mom, who still manages to hold onto child #5 in one arm.  Amazing.  The second version has a happy mail carrier whistling and shoving those little paper parcels of information into little boxes through snow, sleet and wind. . . .actually it looks like he's working in a hurricane, but I admire his pep. Visible Star

Prego:Nice violin music, a pot of sauce, a wooden spoon, some spices, and little Charlie putting the whole bowl of pasta over his happy little face to get every rotelli in his eager mouth.  Between this spot and the one with the family catching dinner rolls doled out by a heckuva good little girl's pitching arm, who could resist?  Shining StarBack to Top

Capital One:Their new credit card that locks in a great interest rate is being advertised with a band of Huns (or is that "warriors historically misportrayed as filthy fur-wearing barbarians) coming down on people preparing to whip out the plastic to buy nifty stuff.  The attack gets called off when the new card comes out, because of the great rate.  I like the holiday spot in the department store with the poor sales clerk trying to add some perfume to the proceedings.  Don't those guys ever take a bath?  Visible Star

IBM:Have you ever noticed that the computer giant's ads all sound mysteriously like modified scripts from The West Wing?  Most of the spots are aimed at businesses who may be interested in better and more secure systems, but some of their ideas are really worth watching by the blue collar crowd.  Take the one with two fellows sitting at a diner counter with their laptops, discussing the finer points of a good configuration and whether or not the computer could withstand being sent crashing to the floor on purpose.  I don't know about you, but with my luck the darn ThinkPad would wind up landing on some day old chewing gum or a puddle of cola, and there would go my money down the chute.  Shining Star

Citibank Business Card:What if an in-person visit to a business was like struggling through a phone menu?  This ad tries to answer that question by having customers imitate touch tone beeps to get the counter person to serve them properly.  Just as in the phone menu, if you slip up or can't "beep" properly, you get stuck on hold with a poor fellow singing "Queen of Hearts" in your ear for 20 minutes.  Bizarre, but cute.  Shining Star

Mercury:A married couple with a problem.  There are two of them, but only one Mercury Mariner.  What do they do about it?  Race each other in the morning to be the first one out the door to drive the new wheels.  She goes to bed dressed; he slips a mannequin into his side of the bed.  Each morning they try to get up earlier to beat the other to the driveway.. Of course the idea is to just buy two Mariners.  Visible Star

Burger King (VOTED WORST AD OF THE YEAR BY PAGE VIEWERS):Somebody at the ad department at BK must've had a bad nightmare and wrote about it to make up this terrible piece of advertising doodoo.  A man finds the Burger King (somebody in the regal wardrobe and a ludicrous full face molded mask) in bed with him, trying to introduce him to a new breakfast sandwich with egg and meat and cheese and. . . .meat and cheese.  A guy in royal regalia in bed with another guy is bad enough (and I don't even mean in any sexual way, either), but the voiceover alone makes my brain curdle  Make the bad man go away, please!  In the past year, this has to be the worst commercial I've seen.  Dead StarBack to Top

Cheerios:Two trucks carrying cereal and fruit, find romance while Blue Suede's rendition of "Hooked on a Feeling" (the "Ouga Shaka" version, not the one by B.J. Thomas) is playing just doesn't do it for me. Fading Star

Elidel:A chisel-chinned enemy of eczema fighting for truth, justice, and folks who scratch their backs on trees.  I think we have some serious competition for Digger the Dermatophyte here.  Elidel is an animated superhero representing a medication for a skin condition, but the ad works because it's just plain enjoyable.  His current person in distress is a lady with eczema who takes a walk in the park with the little superdude and beats him at a game of checkers.  His next case will probably be the guy using the tree to scratch his back.  I wouldn't want to see all the drug ads go the superhero route, but this is one of the most effective ones I've seen in a long time. Shining Star

Zoloft:What the heck is that little animated character supposed to be?  Is he a seed, a voice balloon (indicating what somebody says in a cartoon), a well-rounded amoeba with a cowlick, or something else?  Anyway, the simple drawings and explanation of what the anti-depressant does is reasonably presented.  Visible Star

Lamisil:So Digger the Dermatophyte is back in a new and revised ad for the nail fungus fighter.  he still pops open the big toenail to get in (are you squirming yet?), but now he even has a mailbox set up inside the nail bed.  Cute new touch.  Anyway, the giant pill drops into the middle of the icky fungus-filled landscape and starts sending out a growing wave of healthy skin (and sending the little dermies packing).  Visible Star

Nexium:The purple pill guys are into a new ad campaign featuring folks at the table being served gravy, spaghetti or orange juice that turns into a forkful of pushpins, barbed wire or a green acid-like concoction out of a bad horror film, for the folks with sensitive stomachs.  The idea is to draw folks to use Nexium.  Not gross or deceiving.  Visible Star


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