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Family - A Seattle Advertising Agency

You Can’t Look Away. You Can’t Stop Laughing. The Worst Ads in the World.

Comedy Writing

Penny-Pinching Commercials Work for Public Mobile...

And by worst, I mean best.

Okay, here’s exactly what I mean. Once in my entire career, I auditioned a narrator and it was so good it literally stopped me in my tracks. After playing the audition back on my computer I stared blankly into space for the longest time. I’m sure my fresh-faced intern, seated alongside me, assumed I was having a stroke. Then she injected, “I think it’s great.” But she was wrong.

It was perfect. I couldn’t even think how to change a single word, and I used it in the final spot. That’s rare. And that’s not the case with these commercials.

In the campaign “Less is Less” for Public Mobile, the agency, Cossette, used the actor auditions as the commercials. And they are soooooooo bad. The title cards set up the concept perfectly. They read: At Public Mobile, we find commercials too expensive. So we’re just running our audition tapes.

As the actors play out the scripts, we get a glimpse behind the scenes of what it looks like to actually cast a commercial. My sincere apologies to the actors in these spots, but they’re laugh-out-loud hilarious. And the funniest part for me is that this happens all the time. I’ve cast thousands of parts, and now I wish I had saved some of those audition tapes. I dare you to write stuff this bad.

In Audition Tape 7, it’s the delivery. It’s the three guys dancing to different cuts of music. Don’t forget the opening line, “And the beat drops…” and the closing lines, “He’s so cool. Yeah.”

In Audition Tape 10, it’s the awkward pairings. It’s actors giving absolutely nothing to the other actor. And it’s every other thought being a non sequitur.

In Audition Tape 16, it’s the insipid line, “I just love rock climbing,” while they’re rock climbing. It’s the buzzing sound while she rappels. And it’s the actor’s tepid “Ahhhhh” as she falls.

And the capper for me is the mismatched fonts in the final title card.

Public Mobile is a prepaid wireless plan in Canada, so selling discount service through a discount concept is spot-on. Sure, this isn’t a completely original concept, but the execution is terrific. And in a world searching for how to do more with less, it’s timely.

“Less is Less” is officially in the hunt for my top ads of the year.

Mike Johnston is a production executive and advertising creative in Seattle. He is available for freelance consulting, writing and directing. Contact Mike


And then there are commercials that really miss the mark. Read all about it.

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