Friday, June 09, 2006

Embarrassing, Foreign Commercials

If only Americans made such bizarre, artistic commercials. Watching them, I've come across an eclectic, sometimes disturbing mix of advertisements. If you remember my photoblog about headless mannequins, you might be interested in this German credit card commercial:

I'm still trying to convince myself that this is really Arnold Schwarzenegger:

This old Estonian ad is actually for some sort of meat product called Kana-hakkliha, but it feels more like an experimental animal rights student film:

European commercials seem much edgier than American ones. I found one that I won't even post here because it was so obscene (I'll just say it ended with a woman performing a sex act on a certain phallic object on the inside of her beloved car). This one is a little more appropriate, but it depicts age difference sexual relationships in a way they could never get away with here:


Blogger Jennifer said...

That last one was great. I remember watching a bunch of commercials in French class in college. One that made an impression on me was a Cool Whip commercial with a hot teacher and a very young boy - like 10 maybe. It would be considered so inappropriate here, but apparently it sells Cool Whip in France!

8:04 PM  
Blogger Ann Althouse said...

That Estonian one made me laugh hysterically. Your comment really set it up to be especially funny.

The Schwarzenegger one has been on Letterman or Conan. Man, his teeth look weird when he throws his head back and laughs.

I think American ads are much more professional, with much more care taken not to make people mad at them.

9:31 PM  
Blogger michael farris said...

Quick googling on the Estonian ad (for those interested)

Kana - hakkliha is ground chicken

The commercial is from 1983 when Estonia was part of the Soviet Union. Not much advertising then (why bother when there was one brand, the state's and there usually wasn't enough of it to go around anyway?).

But residents of Estonia could and did watch Finnish tv (the languages are very close) and so 'the authorities' thought they should make commercials too. I think the logic was that if people could see nice western-style commercials on Estonian TV the viewers wouldn't think Finland was any better off than the Soviet Union.

Anyway, I suspect that those making the commercials had their own agenda. I assume the director of the chicken commercial came up with his nightmarish visions as a kind of subtextual counterpoint to pervasive state propoganda and his joyless assigment. Either that, or he was just fucking nuts, it can be hard to tell the difference in Eastern Europe.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Chris Althouse Cohen said...

Michael Farris: Very interesting. I wouldn't assume that, because it was state-run propoganda, it was necessarily a disguised argument for the opposite side. People have a tendancy to apply that argument to all propoganda, when many of the people who worked on those things may have been genuinely on the government's side. I have a feeling they didn't have the same idea of what made a product look appealing as we do, and in trying to show the whole process of bringing meat to the table they made it look horribly unappetizing.

6:04 PM  
Blogger michael farris said...

"I have a feeling they didn't have the same idea of what made a product look appealing as we do, and in trying to show the whole process of bringing meat to the table they made it look horribly unappetizing."

When speaking about East European culture(s) in very general terms, there just wasn't any (arguably still not that much) importance placed on making a product look appealing. If anything, the people that would be in a position to do so would also have absorbed an ethos against glossy consumerism and an aspiration for more 'ambitious' (read: depressing) work.
No matter their attitude to the political system they found themselves working in I would imagine an East European filmmaker would regard the assignment to make an ad for ground up chickens as an opportunity to do something 'interesting' in terms of image and sound (and he certainly succeeded).
The lack of general commercial considerations (in terms of an ad being 'effective') also meant that the filmmaker would have a pretty free hand and some pretty bizarre shit would/could get made (and it was).

Also found a whole bunch more strange Estonian ads from the 80's here:

I haven't had a chance to watch all of them, but lots of East European wackiness on display in the ones I have seen, including the most pornographic ad for ice cream imagineable (Pinguin) and an ad for a meat producer that alternates a body builder posing with head shots of a cow and a (european) bison who don't seem impressed (or aware of their fate, apparently).

12:03 PM  

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