Why Don’t We Just Stay In and Make Power Rankings: Commercials!

August 13th, 2009 by John Krolik

By the way: don’t forget to check out the link roundup I made Thursday, mainly because I actually made a link roundup.

Boys and occasional girl who clicks on the wrong link, I’m going to level with you. It’s a long off-season. And during the off-season, a lot of times things don’t happen. And when nothing’s happening, it’s high time to start arbitrarily ranking things for no particular reason. So we’re going to start doing power rankings of things that tangentially have to do with basketball on a completely random and irregular basis here at Cavs: The Blog, and hopefully you enjoy it.

(By the way, like “Shaqenfreude,” I thought I came up with this on my own, but another THN blogger beat me to it by a good while. In this case, Clipperblog did non-basketball power rankings years ago, and there may have been people who did it before that. But I’m doing mine anyways. A hat-tip also goes to Kissing Suzy Kolber’s fake mock drafts. LINK RATED R.)

The topic of tonight’s power rankings is commercials. There are two main reasons why we’re starting with commercials-first, this Nike Hyperize commercial, featuring Mo Williams as Fog Raw, has unofficially kicked off the year in ads. (I liked it, although I felt it was inferior to the Dr. Funk/Roswell Rayguns/Funk Ship campaign of a similar vein from a few years back.) Second, Mad Men comes back on Sunday, and that show pretty much makes advertising seem like the most awesome thing ever invented. That show also rules.

The topic is somehow basketball-related because during the playoffs, when TiVo was simply not an option, we all sat through a lot of commercials. I mean, a lot. And my ulcer and I came to appreciate great commercials, because they would occasionally give me 30 seconds of peace while I was in the middle of a prolonged panic attack. Likewise, there were some commercials that made me want to drill a hole through my own skull. But tonight, we celebrate the very best commercials from the past year.

Honorable Mention: Six Flags, “Colonial Fair”

Why: Me and my friend were watching TV one day, and this ad just came on, completely taking us by surprise. We almost died laughing. There is something just so bizarre and random and weird and glorious about the whole endeavor here that absolutely killed me, especially considering I had no expectations for it. I fear its magic may not translate for everybody, and have been told this a number of times, but I’m giving it an honorable mention anyways.

Number 5: Nike, “The Chalk”

Why: Another example of why they’re Nike and everyone else isn’t. A perfect song choice with a 1997 song from a “British Indie” band, beautiful and classy black and white photography, using a flagship’s on-court acts to form a cult of personality around him, a random shot of ‘Lil Wayne, great shots of kids playing basketball, and it drives home one of the few true trademarks in professional sports. Just about a perfect sports ad. And yes, I admit I may be biased on this one.

Number 4: Dos Equis, “The Most Interesting Man in the World.”

Why: Kevin Arnovitz, unedited, on this ad: “Here’s what I want to know. How did they get the Jai Alai footage? Is it the same guy with less makeup on? Is it a younger guy who they hired because he looked like the guy? Is it footage of the guy playing Jai Alai when he was younger? Did they know he used to play Jai Alai when they hired him? How much of a backstory did they have written out? Holy crap, that ad is amazing.” And it is. Seriously, did you ever see anyone with a Dos Equis before these ads started playing? And I love that it took, what, 3 years for somebody to make Chuck Norris jokes into an ad campaign?

Number 3: Heineken, “Let a Stranger Drive You Home.”

Why: You can talk about this ad for what it is: perfect song choice, one great reveal (the cab driver singing), the good mood, the casting, the message. But it’s more remarkable for what it’s not. How many ads for beer and/or alcohol actually show drunk people? It’s like these companies think that it’s a state secret that drinking makes you drunk. And they’re still having a good time! They’re not pounding shots of vodka and playing chess out on a yacht on a beautiful European sea, putting their arms around a model and staring pensively out at the dimming light of the horizon, or whatever it is people do in most ads for alcohol. And beer ads are generally about the idiotic things men do to get beer.

This ad is remarkable for what it isn’t-idiotic, base, misogynistic, a crock of crap, or anything else. And it actually still has a responsible message. A good-natured beer ad with drunk people-who’d have thunk it?

Number 2: Snickers, “Patrick Chewing”

I’m a big fan of this absurdist Snickers campaign in general. And this is absurdist advertising at its most glorious. I mean, how do you break down Patrick Chewing? PATRICK CHEWING! If you don’t smile every time that ad comes on, you steal from the elderly. As good as the punch line is, and the fact that it’s Patrick Ewing, I gotta say that it’s Ewing deadpanning “What’s up, Ryan?” that makes this ad. It’s absolutely perfect. There’s really not a better way to spend 17 seconds than that ad. (Ha ha.)

Number 1: Nike, “Fate”

Why: I mean, come on. Again, this is why they’re Nike and you’re not. Do they want to talk about the new removable strap? No. Do they want to make a cheap joke? No. They’re going to bring in David freaking Fincher and have him teach a freaking class in worldless storytelling with two flagship athletes. Numbers two and three were bits of escapism; this ad demands attention.

And for the song, he finds a great remix of The Ecstasy of Gold by Ennio Morricone, considered by many to be the greatest piece of music to ever accompany a scene in a motion picture? Again, are you kidding me?

And the ad itself is amazing-about 20 images of 2-3 seconds each, each telling a piece of the story, not one shot wasted-again, it’s just beyond my pay-grade. I’d rather have this on my resume than Zodiac. And I liked Zodiac. (And from what I hear from people who saw Benjamin Button, Fincher could’ve stood to learn a lesson about the value of brevity from this ad.)

So that’s my list-comment, argue about rank, tell me I’m an idiot for finding that stupid Six Flags thing hilarious, and of course add your own nominees. I leave you now for the weekend, and next time I post it’ll probably be from USC. It’s been a fun summer, campers.