Ads of the Aughts

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 14 2009 4:43 PM

Ads of the Aughts

Advertising Age

has come out with its end-of-decade Top 10 lists. To no one's surprise, the magazine names Crispin Porter & Bogusky the

Seth Stevenson Seth Stevenson

Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.


. I've previously

for CPB's bullying, misogynistic aesthetic. (There was the Volkswagen ad in which a dude suggests

. The Burger King ad in which a dude complains about eating "

." And the Haggar ad in which a dude

into a slightly less dudely dude's palm.) Still, I can't deny the agency's uncanny ability to buzz through the cultural clutter and wedge its brands into the pop zeitgeist.

In its list of


Ad Age

includes a pair of classically epic ads that I'm pretty fond of. Nike's "

" is crisply edited, gorgeous to look at, and just a little uplifting. Sony's unfortunately titled "

" answers a visual question that needed to be asked: What does it look like when you drop 250,000 SuperBalls at the top of a steep San Francisco street? (I once overheard an envious ad exec marveling at the budgetary feat. "What an outrageous shoot," he muttered, practically licking his lips. "Can you imagine how many windows they broke?")

I have bones to pick with a few other choices, though. The

in which silhouettes bop around to music has

, as it suggests that humans are ephemeral shadows while their iPods are of lasting, weighty importance. I've also never been a fan of the

, and I make no exception for the Cadbury milk chocolate spot in which a

on "In the Air Tonight." First of all, shouldn't it be a cow, not a gorilla, since the point is that the candy bar uses dairy milk? And more important: They messed up the song. The real drum fill comes in a transition from verse to chorus, not from chorus to chorus. Song arrangement fail! This is why you see so few successful simian session musicians.


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