Let's begin this page by proposing a toast. Here's to the mavericks of advertising -- those people with the talent to see beyond the statistics and poorly-conceived marketing strategies. Here's to those people who can ignore the bespectacled researchers and the worriesome hand wringers and create true works of art -- advertising that encourages you to sit up and take notice! They are the copywriters and art directors who cringe at commercials that scream while they embrace those that speak (and sometimes whisper) of true human emotion, warming us with their humour, passion, pathos and excitement. It takes courage to create this kind of advertising. Would you please stand, place your hand over your heart and take a few moments to salute these brilliant people?

So where would you begin a page on the subject of outstanding advertising when offbeat ideas probably started the same day advertising started? We decided to begin with the earliest "unconventional" ad that came to mind. It was this ad, produced in the early seventies by William Bernbach of Doyle, Dayne, Bernbach for Volkswagen. The theme was "Think Small" which was, of course, tame by today's standards. The ad flew in the face of the day's conventional wisdom, since it was not only outrageous for debunking the myth of "the bigger the better", but the ad was also created by an all-Jewish agency. William Bernbach believed that if he could sell a Volkswagen (designed by Ferdinand Porsche in 1938 and fostered by Hitler as the "people's car") then he could sell just about anything. Another ad genius, Jerry Della Femina agreed. He proclaimed this ad as a landmark that broke new ground and "started the advertising revolution". This page explores this kind of advertising - advertising that goes beyond the ordinary to shatter myths, yet makes a point with style and grace. And wonder of wonders - still sells!

P.S.:In our humble, collective opinion at the Canadian Copywriter , Doyle Dayne Bernbach is the advertising agency of the century. Among their many award-winning advertisements are the "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz" AlkaSeltzer campaign and the famous Avis campaign which positioned the car rental firm against Hertz. Their slogan was: We're number two but we try harder.
"The Man In The Hathaway Shirt" - Hathaway

Another advertising great, David Ogilvy who founded Ogilvy & Mather, was the author of hundreds of great advertising campaigns.His concept was "branding" which was an idea that made the "brand name" a sought-after "badge of distinction". For example, for the Hathaway Shirt Company, his concept wasn't to "brand" the shirt, but to brand the man under the shirt. He hired a distinguished model: Baron George Wrangell and had him wear an eye patch. Ogilvy bought the eye patch on a whim on his way to the photo shoot. The campaign worked so well that it brought Hathaway shirts out of 116 years of obscurity and made David Ogilvy famous.

Joe Sedelmaier   

What page dedicated to outstanding advertising wouldn't include a man like Joe Sedelmaier, America's wunderkind of offbeat humor? Joe Sedelmaier produced commercials long before he produced this one, but he achieved national status with the "Where's the Beef?" ad campaign for Wendy's. This commercial starred Clara, a curmudgeonly whisp of a woman who peered gloomily into an empty hamburger bun and moaned "Where's the Beef?" The phrase caught on and became a national catch phrase for anyone who was unsatisfied with any type of product or service.

Joe was not only known for his funny commercials, but he was also known for his outrageous behaviour when dealing with advertising agencies. He would listen to an agency's ideas for the commercial, then ignore their suggestions completely and write his own commercial. He demanded all the money up front for the production of the commercial - and whether the client liked the final product or not, he kept the money. Joe definitely knew what it was all about it! Although he wasn't what you would call a "household" name, he was a very hot property to advertising agencies throughout the eighties and nineties. If the commercial was outrageous (and made you laugh) the chances were very good that Joe Sedelmaier created it. In Canada, he produced the commercials for Fibreglass Canada which featured dozens of people gathered at a friend's home and crammed into a miniature swimming pool. Over the years, there have been many attempts to copy the Sedelmaier style, but every attempt pales in comparison to what Sedelmaier did.
"Quick The Elmer's Glue" - Elmer's Glue

Then, there was this little gem for Elmer's Glue. This billboard was one of the ads that compelled many ad copywriters to get into the advertising game. It was created by Oscar Ross in 1971 who worked at
Goodis, Goldberg, Soren in Toronto. (...and many thanks to Oscar for contacting us and and helping us get the details right!). The billboard won a Canadian Outdoor Advertising 'Grand' prize...a Marketing Magazine Annual Award...later picked by Marketing Mag. as one of Canada's Ten Best Campaigns in 25 years... a New York Art Director's Award...an International Outdoor Paper Board Award and...in 1983 was the first recipient of the then new annual Mediacom Inc, Hall of Fame "Billi" Award. Of course, this is only one of the great billboards over the years. There are many others, like the one for Kleenex at Christmas time. It showed a box of Kleenex with a big bow around it. The headline: Sneezin's Greetin's. They just don't make ads like that anymore!

"The Absolut Campaign" - Absolut Vodka

Selling vodka to the masses is like selling refrigerators to eskimos. What can you say about the stuff? It's colorless, odorless and there's no taste. Basically it's aquavit and basically it comes down to selling the package which in Absolut's case is a frosty crystal clear decanter with a calligraphy of the ingredients. Absolut's agency decided to use a play on words and although puns are generally frowned upon in the ad game -- the campaign worked! It ran for over 20 years and there aren't a lot of people who don't remember at least one or two of the ads. Most critics agree that the Absolut vodka campaign was absolutely brilliant.


"Spicy Meatball" Commercial" - Alka Seltzer

Doyle Dane Bernbach continued to make advertising history with its campaigns for Alka Seltzer. The campaign started with the stomach montage -- a series of shots of people's stomachs. At the end of the commercial, the line: "No matter what shape your stomach is in, when it gets out of shape, take Alka Seltzer". A second commercial featured a man and his stomach arguing over the spiciness of his food. A third commercial featured a waiter at a greasy spoon diner urging a hapless diner to "Try it. You'll like it!" Then, there was the groom for whom his new wife had prepared a monster meatball. He sat at the table and moaned: "I can't believe I ate the whole thing!" Finally, Doyle Dane Bernbach casted Jack Somach as a patron at "Magadini's Spicy Meatballs". He was required to say to the camera: "Momma, mia, that's a spicy meatball" -- however he kept blowing the line and eventually after consuming so many meatballs, he was forced to take an Alka Seltzer. Doyle Dane Bernbach's brilliant campaign put Alka Seltzer and their agency in the Hall of Fame. "Plop, plop, fizz, fixz. Oh what a great relief to boring TV advertising it was."



"Energizer Bunny" -- Eveready Batteries

The Eveready Battery Company had one thing to say about their batteries and one thing alone: they outlast every other battery.In response, Chiat/Day Advertising developed the "Energizer Bunny". In parodies and spoofs, the Energizer bunny drummed his way through mock ads for soap, soda, pork rinds, shoes and all kinds of movies, including westerns (like the sample we have attached here). By the time he had drummed his way into a Wile E. Coyote cartoon, he had leapt into the hearts and minds of consumers. The bunny became a cultural icon, a symbol of stubborn persistence, endurance and longevity.





"Makes Beef Sing"- Bovril

Up in Canada, the weather may be frightful, but the ads are so delightful. The Canadians threw their hat in the ring with the "makes beef sing" campaign. The original commercial featured a few bulls in a corral who suddenly broke into song, to be followed by a sequel which showed the bulls on friendlier terms with the cowboys as they all gathered round the the campfire and struck up a chorus. The idea was that Bovril enhanced the flavour of beef and subsequently the bovine beasts gathered round the campfire with the cowboys and broke into song. A nutty idea, no doubt, but hey you've got to have a few loose screws to work in the ad biz.




"Fast Talker" - Federal Express

This ad for Federal Express almost didn't run. The company rejected the idea, believing that people were already aware that business ran at breakneck speeds and didn't want to be reminded. When the agency continued to press, however, Federal Express finally relented. Again, in combination with Joe Sedelmaier, the agency produced the world's fastest talking businessman. The spot aired on the Super Bowl. It was a calculated gamble but the spot paid off. Of all the commercials that ran in 1989, the Federal Express Fast Talker achieved the highest recall.
"Ram" - Mountain Dew

Computer graphics are pushing the envelope in the production of television commercials. Mountain Dew developed a brilliant commercial featuring a man who realized that a mountain ram had got between him and his bottle of Mountain Dew. The head-butting that ensues is incredibly realistic -- and a total suprise. To the victor goes the spoils: the bottle of Mountain Dew.



Honorable Mentions
Coke - "I'd Like To buy the world a Home"

On January 18, 1971, Bill Backer, the Creative Director for McCann-Erickson on the Coca Cola account, was inspired to write "I'd Like To buy the world a Home" after his plane was caught in a fog at London's Heathrow Airport. The plane was diverted and the passengers were angry. But the next morning, he noticed a few of them, from different nations, laughing off their experience while drinking a Coke. He reprised his experience by gathering the world's chidren on a hillside in Italy -- and having them sing "I'd Like To buy the world a Home". The commercial was an instant success and generated many spinoffs.