TV Article

Hitting the Spot (or Not)

Rundown of summer's best and worst TV ads -- Pepsi and Little Caesars do well while Duracell flops

Under normal circumstances, a commercial break signals that it's time to walk away from the TV — to the bathroom, the kitchen, anywhere to get those annoying ads out of your sight lines. During summer-rerun hell, however, the ads may be the only TV worth watching. Here are some to make you clap and others you'll want to zap (along with the best time or place to find them):

Best
Pepsi with Shaquille O'Neal
Channel-surf without the remote! In this frenetic spot, Shaq bolts Gump-style through classic TV shows (I Love Lucy, Bonanza) looking for refreshment. ''I particularly liked the scene with Jackie Gleason from The Honeymooners,'' says the seven-footer.

Little Caesars ''Training Camp''
Deliverymen practice closing car doors with their feet, fleeing mechanical dogs, and getting that ''doorbell, knocker, hand'' rhythm just right. Reassuring to know that the pizza guy is better trained than your average Marine.

Promo for Brotherly Love
To hype this new sitcom starring the Lawrence brothers (Joey, Matthew, and Andy), which will air opposite 60 Minutes, the spot shows the boys asleep in front of a TV that's airing a news show about illegal arms sales. ''The spot is saying, in a PC way, of course, that we're different from the other options on Sunday nights,'' says Joey.

Worst
Duracell's Puttermans
Eek! This spooky plastic family looks more like evil clowns than battery-operated toys. A Duracell VP says that in new spots, the remolded Puttermans ''won't be quite as harsh looking.''

Fruitopia
As quasi-New Age music plays over images of fruit and flowers, the ad proclaims ''A lot of things in life are hard to swallow.'' Yeah, like a multi-gazillion-dollar conglomerate (Coca-Cola) trying to sell peace and love by slapping a retro logo on bottles of fruit punch.

Massengill Douche
Three women sit around the ladies' room, steam room, and living room dishing about douche. ''It conveys camaraderie, just like those macho beer commercials,'' says Dick Krain of Grey Advertising, which created the spots. But just as there is no Swedish Bikini Team, this chat about ''freshness'' isn't exactly reality-based programming.

Originally posted Aug 18, 1995 Published in issue #288 Aug 18, 1995 Order article reprints