Luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz demonstrated how its amazing Magic Body Control suspension system offers passengers a smooth ride through the use of placid chickens funky dancing to Diana Ross’s “Upside Down” disco tune. For those of you who have never met a chicken that wasn’t already baked, grilled or fried, you should know that live chickens have the natural ability to keep their heads perfectly still even when their bodies are moving. For German ad agency Jung von Matt/Neckar Stuttgart, this chicken analogy seemed like a much more memorable and fun way to explain how Mercedes’s suspension system offers awesome motion stability. Daniel Warwick directed the dance number. No CGI was used in the making of this video; the chickens did it all with a few helpful hands.
Over the year, Rube Goldberg-type devices have popped up in a diverse array of TV commercials, from a promo for the “Elementary” mystery series, an ad for Beneful dog food, and the 2003 classic “Cog” film for Honda Accord. Unlike commercials that demonstrate or tout the product outright, these get their message across in the most tangential way. There is no story line, no spokesperson pointing out product features, not even a lot of voiceover commentary. But the viewer’s attention is riveted to the commercial and the product it is trying to sell.
Just who was this Rube Goldberg? And how did his crazy inventions inspire 21st century advertising creatives to design TV commercials to market their products so circuitously? Let me introduce you. Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) was an engineer-turned-cartoonist whose primary cartoon character was one Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts, an inventor of gadgets that accomplished the simplest tasks in the most complicated, elaborate roundabout way. For those unfamiliar with how Goldberg started a chain reaction of copycat inventors, here’s an example. Goldberg’s cartoon above explains Professor Butts and his Self-Operating Napkin, which was activated when a) the soup spoon was raised to the mouth, pulling a string, b) which jerked a ladle, c) tossing up the cracker inside, d) past a parrot, e) causing the parrot to leap for the cracker, f) thereby, tilting the perch, g) which tipped a bowl of seeds into a pail, h) which, due to its added weight, pulled a cord, i) which ignited a cigarette lighter, j) setting off a rocket, k) which caused a sickle l) to cut a string, and m) freeing a pendulum and causing an attached napkin to swing back and forth, wiping the diner’s mouth.
Here’s a novel way to get consumers to test out your product. In March, Nokia announced a competition to shoot a short film entirely with a Nokia N8 mobile phone. It invited entrants to send in a story pitch and offered a $5,000 filming budget and two Nokia N8s to eight finalists.
“Splitscreen: A Love Story,” directed by UK-based JW Griffiths, won the first place award of $10,000.
Lacoste has borrowed a page from real printed books, and gone one better, with this engaging online pop-up book dedicated to its founder Rene Lacoste. The six-chapter story is set to a lively ragtime tune and sound effects. Clicking on a chapter prompts visuals to pop up, and following the finger-pointing tab reveals a “gatefold” sidebar with explanatory text, old photos and vintage flim clips. A hybrid of different communications media, the online pop-up book tells the corporate story in a fresh way.