Durex became the first brand to advertise a sex toy for men on U.K. TV this year. As a couple has dinner, the woman finds what looks like a ring box on her plate. It starts vibrating, prompting her to smile lasciviously and say, "I do." The spot by McCann Erickson, Barcelona, Spain, is also airing in France and Italy.
2 Boots kicks it up for Christmas
U.K. health and beauty retail giant Boots created a Christmas spot that would shock U.S. families. A beautiful blonde drags home a Christmas tree. A woman relaxes in a bubble bath while peeling vegetables. The voice-over: "Christmas. A time for giving, receiving, shopping, chopping and stuffing. But most importantly, being drop-dead gorgeous."
3 Virgin touts the fun of gambling
Online gambling ads are everywhere in Europe. Prevented by U.K. regulators from mentioning money, Virgin focuses instead on the inherent fun of its online casinos, and adopts the Virgin brand's usual stance as consumer champion. And U.K. deregulation will let gaming sites release racier ads in coming years.
4 Raunchy roadside advertising
It's the gap between the two outdoor boards that made this ad for lubricant gel Four Seasons so sexually explicit-and controversial when it ran earlier this year in New Zealand. The boards stand on opposite sides of a highway, and each one features a woman's bare leg, with the open space of the highway in between.
5 Sex sells potato chips
It started as a racy spot for Amica Chips with a play on the double meaning in Italian of "chips"-a snack or slang for sleeping with a woman. An Italian porn star talks about the many chips he has enjoyed, sometimes three at a time. Religious groups got the spot pulled, but it was too late. Sales went up 27%. Leo Burnett ran a new version with no dialogue.
6 Fake fish at baggage claim
Watch out for the giant sushi in the Salzburg, Austria, airport. Local restaurant Sushi King wanted to grab tourists visiting Austria for the 2006 Mozart festival. But Salzburg was full of the festival sponsors' messages, so Sushi King and FCB turned to the airport; where do tired travelers have to go? Oversize sushi pieces were created and placed on the luggage conveyor belts. Sales rose 18%.
7 Soap embraces dark side
Black soap hasn't come to the U.S. mass market yet, but in foreign markets Unilever is extending Lux soap and its "Play With Beauty" strategy with Lux Provocateur Black soap. The launch spot by Santo, Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a fairy tale with a twist: An innocent girl is transformed into a sultry, black-clad temptress by a new black soap that brings out her dark beauty.
8 Wunderman anoints new apprentice
It's not exactly an ad, but Wunderman Chairman-CEO Daniel Morel made an appearance on "O Aprendiz," the Brazilian version of "The Apprentice." Every year the show's winner gets a job at a WPP Group company. Mr. Morel appeared on Brazilian TV to give this year's winner, Anselmo Martini, his prize-a job at Wunderman.
9 South African snake warnings
The "Dangerous Snakes" spot starts out as a slide show about different varieties of snakes in South Africa and how lethal they are. But the final slide shows a photo of a penis. The lecturer explains that it kills 1,000 people every day. A title card reads: "Beware the trouser snake." The spot by Network BBDO, Johannesburg, is for Vuka, an AIDS and HIV support center.
10 U.K. spot stars big ballers
The scenes in U.K. spot "Big Balls" would look like ordinary snippets of everyday life if all the men didn't have two large scrotum-like sacks suspended between their legs. The commercial by Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners, London, tells viewers, "Make your balls a bigger part of your life." What they mean is, 99% of testicular-cancer cases can be cured if detected early.