Growing up, I used to watch those compilations of commercials television networks would throw together to cheaply fill airtime: America’s Funniest Commercials, Coolest Commercials of the Year, The Most Inexplicable Foreign Commercials You’ve Ever Seen. This speaks not only to how boring a childhood I must otherwise have had, but to how many advertisements really do, if looked at from the right angle, contain a kernel of creative value. The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the world advertising industry’s biggest gathering, recently anointed a few of 2012–13’s commercials as worth watching on purpose. You can watch 21 of them on Adweek’s website (though be warned that they unforgivably put each video on a separate page). At the top you’ll find the first, Melbourne Metro’s train-safety spot “Dumb Ways to Die.”
You may have encountered it before, when it went mildly viral due to not only its sheer macabre cuteness, but presumably public shock at seeing a transit agency commission something entertaining. I’ve certainly seen many a tin-eared pitch by the Metro in my own city, Los Angeles. I’ve also seen stubby Smart Fortwos sprout up like mobile mushrooms here, and the ad just above by Bigfish Filmproduction tells me why by labeling it “the ultimate city car” — and underscoring the point by showing just how poorly it fares out in the wilderness. Below, you’ll find a commercial for a brand that hardly needs advertisement: Leica. It trades on the rich history of the Leica camera, but tells it from the point of view of the camera itself, shooting in the style of a classic World War II film. (If it stirs you to learn more, consider reading “Candid Camera,” Anthony Lane’s meditation on the Leica for the New Yorker.)
H/T Kim L.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.