More performance art than car commercial, Honda U.K.'s two-minute "Cog," a complex chain reaction shot entirely with car parts, dazzled the U.K. market and viral viewers everywhere. But a U.S. Honda exec, while acknowledging the Wieden & Kennedy, London, spot was "cute as a button," said it wouldn't work in America, due to lack of product benefits and the high cost of 120 seconds of airtime.
Gucci went for the G-spot in double-page ads created in-house for European editions of Vogue showing model Louise Pedersen displaying her pubic hair shaved into the letter G as a man kneels before her. "The G-spot is the ultimate in branding," Gucci's then creative director, Tom Ford, told the U.K. press. "I even considered selling a Gucci waxing kit in the stores."
3 Gillette mach 3
In a blurring of editorial and advertising content common in some countries, MindShare negotiated with Singapore's No. 2 newspaper to promote the launch of Gillette's Mach 3 Turbo razor by printing the daily's front page in reverse to convey the brand message "no up or down" and writing an editorial about the world "becoming upside down."
4 john smith's
John Smith's wildly popular U.K. beer spots by TBWA star well-known comedian Peter Kay as an overweight, useless parent who unwittingly terrifies his tiny daughter with the threat of burglars and uses a sausage and a beer glass to illustrate the facts of life. Only a U.K. marketer would endorse such a loser as a brand spokesman-and let him explain sex explicitly to a 4-year-old.
5 Osram's sylvania
Americans aren't zen enough to relate to the plight of the Thai woman who is in denial about her reincarnation as a cockroach. Too late. If only she had bought Osram's Sylvania "monk packs" of light bulbs that include a donation to Buddhist monks and temples, and avoided the bad karma of being reincarnated as a lesser being. The spot is by Saatchi & Saatchi, Bangkok.
It takes a casual but fashion-conscious tropical country like Brazil to promote inexpensive rubber flip-flops as informal evening wear, in the latest use for the ubiquitous, brightly-colored footwear that Brazilians already wear to the beach and shopping. The multicolored print ads for Havaianas are by Almap BBDO, Sao Paulo.
7 care new zealand
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America produces tame stuff compared to this nauseating Saatchi & Saatchi, Auckland, anti-drug spot for Care New Zealand. A young man out clubbing digs his fingers into his skull, peels back his own cranium, and extracts a chunk of what's still left of his exposed brain. He chops up the bloody grey matter with a credit card and and snorts the bloody pulp.
8 'fhm' philippines
In a burst of honesty, the Filipino edition of men's magazine FHM admitted in a print campaign "We're not sure why we bother with the words." That strapline ran above mock magazine covers with dummy text like "Blah blah blah" around the scantily-clad models. BBDO Guerrero Ortega, Manila, did the ads for FHM's Philippine publisher Summit.
9 Mr. Kipling cakes
A fictitious Mr. Kipling is forgiven mistakes because his cakes are so delicious in a spot from Saatchi & Saatchi, London. A woman playing Mary in a nativity play gives birth on stage. A shocked parent asks the vicar: "Has Mr. Kipling ever directed a nativity play before?" He says, "No, but he does make exceedingly good cakes." The spot was pulled from U.K. TV after complaints that it was "offensive" and "blasphemous."
10 shilling on the down low
American actors cash in by making ads in foreign countries, especially Japan, touting products they would never promote in the U.S., with the contractual stipulation that the commercials never be seen in this country (a la Bill Murray in "Lost in Translation"). But they've been outed. Check out the japander.com Web site.