Steadfast FinancesMy Favorite Commercials of 2009

My Favorite Commercials of 2009

Filed in Advertising , Consumer Education 8 comments

Occasionally, there is that one ad agency that just seems to know what the people want to hear.

The companies/organizations mentioned below, along with their ad agencies, combined forces to put together that perfect advertisement that sticks in the head of (potential) consumers or reinforces their brand dominance to the point that no other brand can take their place.

Being that I spend so much time focusing on consumer education, I like to evaluate how very catchy or memorable ad can affect my behavior toward the message they’re trying to convey. What makes an ad memorable versus easily forgettable, what makes them clever versus lame, or maybe what they did so horribly wrong that makes me dismiss it within two seconds of seeing it. Occasionally, the best ads are those designed to prevent me from doing something, or re-evaluate my consumerism habits altogether.

It might sound overly analytical, but advertising is more psychology based than you might think. And if they (e.g. the advertisers) can tap into that little thing called your decision making process, they might have just changed your mind forever.

So to reward those companies and ad agencies that got it right this year, I’ve compiled my top 5 commercials from 2009 with a web only ad you might not have seen.

The criteria for selection was fairly straightforward:

  1. Get me to watch the whole ad. If you, as the advertiser, can even get my attention — you’ve done something pretty special. So when you can come up with something clever to keep your message, slogan or byline to hold my attention until the end of the 15 second ad, kudos to you.
  2. Don’t be so [bleep] pushy! Like a growing number of people, I’m steadily growing immune to advertiser’s “pay attention to me” antics. More and more advertisers are beginning to trashy up their best content with their pushy ads within the program itself or installing a 10 second “look at me” ad over their web page. The more outlandish they get, the more I label your brand a big fat #FAIL. (Note the use of a Twitter hash tag.)
  3. Don’t be salesy! I realize it’s your ad and you’re paying money to make money, but do not waste your money just to remind me it’s a “limited time offer”. I want to buy things on my schedule — not yours! And I couldn’t care less if it’s the end of the quarter and you haven’t made your sales quota!
  4. It’s genuine, honest and real life. People want truth in advertising. They don’t want to be misled, and if you do, your brand will suffer greatly. Articles published on the web stay there forever, so if you’re on Ripoff Report or The Consumerist, you need to change your ways and hire a few more people in the public relations department.
  5. Be clever. The reason these ads made the list is because they’re clever. Period. If you’re an advertiser reading this post, please connect the dots and learn how to improve. If you’re a brand manager, hire the creative minds responsible for writing and/or producing these ads!

Best TV Commercials of 2009

In no particular order, the winners are…

#1 – Lending Tree with Adam West

The hook line: Today you are not just Scott. You are… Great Scott!

As a Family Guy addict, I immediately knew this was the voice of Adam West (aka Mayor West, aka Batman). I know of Lending Tree very well since I run a finance blog, but I actually clicked over to their website solely because of this commercial.

It’s clever, it’s funny, and I’ve probably used the phrase “financial tomfoolery” dozens of times in my everyday speech.

#2 – NYC’s Anti-Soda campaign: Are You Pouring on the Pounds

The (unspoken) hook line:  it’s so disgusting that you can’t stop watching!

I’ll admit, I’m completely biased because I’m pro sin tax on sodas, and I’d likely support a fat tax on all junk food for that matter, but I like this commercial simply because I know it’s true. If you drink one soda a day, you’re drinking around 5% to 10% of your daily caloric intake with zero nutritional value, and that will definitely pile on the pounds if you have a slow metabolism or live a sedentary lifestyle.

Naturally, you can disagree all you want on the issue, but you have to admit… the mental image of a guy drinking fat really sticks in your brain!

(Anyone remember the Friends episode? You were really going to “drink the fat”!)

For more, checkout the NYC Dept of Health’s Facebook group.

#3 – Texting While Driving from the UK

The hook line:  pure unadulterated reality!

Zipline Creative is an ad agency based in the U.K. and they deserve serious props for creating an advertisement that is 100% real. I’ve seen a car accident like this up close and personal, and let me just say, it looks as just as savage (even more so) as this commercial portrays.

If you have a teenage driver who doesn’t get the message the texting while driving is dangerous, have them watch this video. I just wish this video could get past the U.S. censors instead of relying on YouTube to push it virally.

#4 – Hulu’s First Ad with Alec Baldwin

The hook line:  Because we’re aliens… and that’s how we roll!

I had checked out Hulu prior to seeing this ad, but really didn’t give it any real consideration as a legit place to waste 20 minutes of my time. After the hilarious commercial, I went back and checked it out again.

Strange how that works… isn’t it? I didn’t like the site prior to the ad, but after a clever commercial, I did.

Persuaded much?

#5 -Discovery Channel’s “‘Boom De Ah Dah” Song

The hook line:  Boom De Ah Dah… Boom De Ah Dah… Boom De Ah Dah… Boom De Ah Dah.

I’m a sucker for a catchy song. I’m the sort of guy that sings the Scooby Doo theme song for hours if I hear it while flipping channels, so it’s not surprising that Discovery Channel hooked me with this catchy tune.

Not to mention, I watch their channel more than any other channel on TV other than CNBC. Call me biased because I’ve had a Dirty Job like Mike Rowe, but Discovery’s content is far superior to the mindless dribble of American Idol.

Bonus Web Video – Bud Light Lime and Getting it “In the Can”

The hook:  Last night, I got it in the can… and I loved it!

I love edgy humor that pushes the boundaries of what the social construct finds acceptable. Ads like these remind me of George Carlin’s infamous Seven Dirty Words because it’s one of those gray areas between should I laugh out loud, should I hold my laughs until later, should I avoid clicking the “share with others” button because my politically correct boss might see what I find funny because he just friended me on Facebook or should I secretly vote it up on Digg because it’s relatively anonymous.

Maybe I’m being too cynical, but I don’t really see why this sort of ad can’t be aired on mainstream TV when I’m forced to suffer through 2 to 5 erectile dysfunction commercials during a football or baseball game.

Got a favorite ad of 2009 that wasn’t on the list?

If you have a favorite ad that you found usually catchy or might have influenced your behavior this year, be sure to mention it in the comments section below.

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Posted by CJ   @   18 December 2009 8 comments
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Dec 19, 2009
5:26 am
#1 SJ :

Hrm… what is that seinfield episode??? I can’t rmbr it…

Dec 23, 2009
9:43 pm
#2 Matt SF :

That was the infamous regifter episode. Supposedly, that episode actually spawned the creation of the word “regifting” or “regifter” into the American lexicon.

Dec 24, 2009
8:44 am
#3 Matt SF :

I made a mistake, it’s not the regifter episode.

Maybe you’re thinking of the Microsoft commercial with Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates?

I remember a commercial with Seinfeld and American Express, but it wasn’t in 2009.

Dec 20, 2009
9:45 pm

As a Family Guy fan myself, it’s interesting to see the reach of that show. Adam West was a certified has been, and why FG even brought him into the show is curious. But he’s back and in commercials.

Maybe we should all stop trying to get noticed on the web, and audition for a role on Family Guy!
.-= Kevin@OutOfYourRut´s last blog ..Making Work-At-Home Work For You =-.

Dec 23, 2009
9:50 pm
#5 Matt SF :

That’s a great point… it’s those TV programs or movies that develop a cult following that can shock an actor’s career back to life.

Same goes with John Travolta in Pulp Fiction or David Carradine in the Kill Bill series.

Dec 21, 2009
12:22 pm
#6 Tracy :

Thanks for the post Matt….I don’t see a lot of commercials (I record everything to feed my need for total control) but I do appreciate an entertaining commercial with a great message. BTW I too have signed the petition to institute a fat tax on junk food. ;o)

Dec 23, 2009
10:38 pm
#7 Matt SF :

I’ve yet to really get into the DVR/TIVO thing… mostly because I’m a cheapo but also because many of the shows I watch also upload their content to the web. CNBC and Comedy Central upload nearly all of their content, so if I miss something, I can click over and fast forward there.

Good to know about the fat tax. It’s hard to believe I would support something like that, but I think it’s the best way to get funding from the people who will most likely need the most medical care in the end.

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