Grey Poupon stole the night with just a single airing of its Oscar commercial.
The upscale mustard brand revived the classic “Pardon me” commercial that first aired more than 30 years ago. Only this one wasn’t nearly as polite as the borrower takes off with the mustard and a chase ensues.
It was funny, nostalgic and exciting. And it had a character who looked a lot like John Cleese. Airing just before the end of the show, the Oscar commercial easily topped those that had come before it.
Until the Grey Poupon spot, it had looked as if JCP would be the night’s winner with its “Yours Truly” Oscar commercials that played out as a series of short letters from the clothing retailer. Especially appealing to viewers was the 90-second JCP Oscar commercial that featured a series of heart-warming scenes (father holding an infant, soldier returning home, etc.) in what was essentially a love letter to the American spirit.
In fact, JCP may still turn out to be the big winner as sentimental commercials have played extremely well this year, as evidenced by the success of the Budweiser Clydesdale and Dodge Ram “Farmer” Super Bowl commercials.
McDonald’s scored big, then failed
Meanwhile, McDonald’s may have pulled off the trick of scoring one of the best and the absolute worst Oscar commercials of the night.
The fast food chain started off strong with a brilliant Oscar commercial called “Lucky Penny.” In it, a boy finds a penny on the sidewalk, then has a terrible day that includes getting his nose busted with a basketball. Finally headed home, his mother’s mini-van has a flat tire. But the penny turns out to be lucky after all because they are right in front of a McDonald’s.
The best part is when the kid, leaving the restaurant, turns to run back in and drop the penny in a charity box.
Unfortunately, McDonald’s followed that up with another Oscar commercial that may have squandered all the goodwill from the first one. The chain is trying to promote its selection of fish sandwiches and chose a commercial that very few people are likely to believe.
The Oscar commercial shows “real” commercial fishermen out pulling in fresh-caught wild fish to turn into Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. But, the idea that those little greasy squares of mystery fish meat come straight off the boat and become healthy sandwiches is just laughable.
In fact, the whole Oscar commercial played like a spoof of Red Lobster’s “Sea Food Differently” ad. And if it was actually supposed to be a spoof, it was brilliant. Otherwise, worst commercial of the night.
Speaking of Oscar commercial fails, the infamous Brad Pitt Chanel commercial made an appearance. And Kristin Chenoweth’s voice and pratfalls ruined what could otherwise have been a decent spot for Royal Caribbean.
Samsung saved by Burton
Samsung mostly annoyed with its series of Oscar commercials aimed directly at geeks. Each of the six focused on a small tech company developing a game called “Unicorn Apocalypse.” They were supposed to be funny, but mostly fell flat, leading one Twitter user to say, “OK, I’LL BUY YOUR PHONE SAMSUNG, JUST STOP WITH THE OSCAR ADS.”
However, movie director Tim Burton appeared in the last Samsung Oscar commercial to save the day. He was a director who wanted to turn “Unicorn Apocalypse” into a movie … zombie unicorns on one side, the remainder of humanity on the other. His enthusiasm withered, though, as the pitch meeting got out of control with crazy ideas.
It was funny and geeky in a cool way, something none of the other five Samsung Oscar commercials managed to be.
Hyundai and Coke phone it in; Sprint, Baileys and Stella score
Hyundai, one of the biggest sponsors of the Academy Awards show, also failed to impress in seven Oscar commercials, using recycled Super Bowl spots and some mildly amusing Oscar-related voice-overs by Jeff Bridges to promote its Santa Fe, Equus and others.
Coke also recycled a Diet Coke ad from last year’s Oscars called “Credits,” along with a popular Diet Coke commercial from Europe in which some women in a park ogle the stud cutting the grass. Interestingly, Coke aired an Oscar commercial called “Be OK” promoting the idea that the 140 calories in a Coke can actually be good for you.
As facetious as that idea is, the commercial was actually reasonably effective, showing people having a good time and enjoying physical activity burning off the soda calories.
Outshining both was a very simple 30-scond Oscar commercial from Sprint, featuring the Samsung Galaxy SIII. In the ad, a little girl goes from infant to 12-years-old in a series of weekly photos displayed on the phone’s screen.
A late-show Oscar commercial for Baileys Irish Cream, featuring “Rapture” by Blondie, also proved a hit with viewers, as did a Stella Artois spot called “The Artist.”
Grey Poupon Oscar commercial wins the night
But all Oscar commercials fell behind in the final minutes of the Academy Awards when Grey Poupon appeared on the screen.
The “Pardon Me” ads first launched in 1981 and made such an impression in pop culture through the 1980s that just about anyone remembers how they go: One rich man in a chauffeured car pulls up next to another and says, “Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon.”
It had been 16 years since the last one aired until Sunday night’s Grey Poupon Oscar commercial. This one picks up where the others ended. The first man happily shares his mustard with the other … but then the other man speeds away with the whole jar.
With a movie trailer voice-over, a chase ensues, things explode, rich guys joust with golf clubs and a man who looks very much like John Cleese orders his driver to open fire with a very cool champagne Gatling gun.
If that Oscar commercial doesn’t boost flagging sales of Grey Poupon for Kraft, then nothing will.
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