Rate the Ad: Pepsi Max: Suicide

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Last time on Rate the Ad, we compared a recent Chevy Spark spot from McCann and director Lemon to one-year-old Lakai Footwear's Fully Flared skateboard film. The commercial, set to an Enya-esque tune, finds a young couple crashing their Spark through a giant wedding cake, which blasts flour and sugar everywhere and sets the cake-topper bride, groom and bottle of bubbly crashing to the ground. The slow-motion explosion and the soundtrack echo the intro to Fully Flared, a film directed by Ty Evans and Spike Jonze, but we left it up to the Adsters to parse out if the similarities add up to rip-off, homage or who really cares.

When the cake bits settled, the verdict was resoundingly rip off. It looks like director Ty Evans chimed in to defend his film and sum up the rip-off rabble's critique of the spot. "TyEvans" says, "Cheap rip. The 720 fps sequences are becoming more popular these days, but that combined with the eerily similar music make this a complete rip off. Both songs have the same blips in the beginning, the crescendo of electronica, and the drum beat leading the skater/car into the collision."

The closest defense sprang from ad world's long history of borrowing from pop culture, as well as an apparent trend toward slow motion sequences. Commenter "rightbrain" said, "Advertising always borrows from culture and counter-culture. It's possible one of the creatives saw this and it sparked the idea for the car. But there are a lot of video game commercials that use a slo mo technique and meditative or classical music as a counterpoint to violent images. It seems to be a trend."

This week, we're offering up a set of print ads for low-calorie Pepsi Max that toes the line between faux pas and strange humor. The illustrated ads from BBDO, Dusseldorf feature one lonely cartoon calorie attempting suicide in three graphic situations. In one case, the blue calorie (a figure who'd probably fit in at "Ren and Stimpy") stands with a noose around his neck after shooting a bullet through his head, while a chipper rodent gnaws away at the stump he's standing on. In the other ads, his life-taking tools include a bucket of acid, gasoline, a match, a vial of pills, a blade and a rocket. We want to know where you'd file this unusual concept. Inappropriate? Hilarious? Misunderstood? Targeted to kids? Share your thoughts on the dark cartoonery below.
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