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Dada Ad

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[absurdly artistic commercial plays]
Lisa: Dad, was that your commercial?
Homer: [audibly distressed] I don't know!

When it comes to a Mind Screw, the justification of True Art comes to mind.

But not when a work has a primary purpose other than art.

A Dada Ad, named after the Dada art movement, is when some people forget they were hired to sell a product and instead create ads that just confuse potential customers. Not only do they not know what's going on, but when (or if) the product is finally revealed, they may be confused even more.

Note Values Dissonance can come into play here. What's confusing in some countries and regions is normal elsewhere, so examples of ads should make sure they're confusing in the region in which they are placed. Alternatively, they may have been trying to make a splash for their ad company and forgot about the client. A third possibility is that a bizarre ad may be less likely to be fast-forwarded through by DVR viewers, and well done ads of this type can be quite memorable if they somehow successfully manage to link the product to the ad.

Compare Gainax Ending, What Were They Selling Again?. Contrast Exactly What It Says on the Tin, or at least the trope-naming Ronseal adverts. Perfume Commercial is a subtrope. Not to be confused with a commercial featuring Indian cricketer Sourav Ganguly, who is affectionately called “dada” meaning grandfather or boss.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Gintama, what started off as four minutes of talking mannequins suddenly became a PSA for the switch from analog to digital television.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The special features for Cloverfield include a commercial for Slusho, a beverage that appears in many of J.J. Abrams' works.
  • Serenity gives us a commercial for Fruity Oaty Bars, which features, among other things, a man being made from a mouse, a squid coming out of a woman's blouse, and a Japanese man upset that he has dishonored his family by not remembering to buy some of the product. The commercial is also designed to set River Tam off into an uncontrollable ball of Waif-Fu melee destruction in order to make it more difficult for her to remain in hiding.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Saturday Night Live loved to parody this (at least in The '80s). One ad had two people standing around making small talk for 30 seconds, and then the name of a defense industry company appears.
  • The Apprentice usually features a task where the teams create a television advertisement for a certain product. Almost invariably, the first team's ad will be a heavy-handed and unrealistic scenario, while the second team follows this trope to the letter. The first team will usually win, as perhaps best illustrated by the task in Series 4 in the UK. (The ads begin at 0:30 and 2:48, and Alan Sugar voices his opinion on Dada Ads at 4:13)
    • There was one time when both teams (tasked with advertising a body wash) came out with something like this. One depicted a runner splashing the soap on his face, without rinsing it off, and the other was entirely themed around gay sex innuendo, which doesn't fly on mainstream US advertising. Needless to say, neither team won this round.
    • Alan Sugar once described this trope as one of his pet hates on Room 101 so it's not surprising he would rule against ads using it. Although some of those ads were horrible anyway, like the already infamous Pantsman advert from series 5. An attempt to sell a cereal called Wake Up Call by advertising it as what you need to stop you putting your pants on over your clothes. note  And the mascot was Pantsman, a superhero who wears his pants over his clothes. The team Handwaved the Fridge Logic of this by saying only Pantsman can wear his pants over his trousers, never mind that most kids view superheroes as role models and want to do what they do. Unsurprisingly, they lost and Philip, the creator of Pantsman, will most likely Never Live It Down. Because Who Would Be Stupid Enough? to design an advertising campaign based on pants?
  • The Gruen Transfer has two regular segments that deals with this type of ad: "What Does It Mean?", in which they often contact the original ad agency to explain what was going on, and "What Is It For?" in which the product shot is cut off the end, and the panelists have to guess which product is being advertised.
  • An ad for Pied Piper on Silicon Valley starts extolling the virtues of tables for thirty seconds, then says that tables are like Pied Piper, then starts showing random objects. How this relates to Pied Piper or even what Pied Piper actually does is never mentioned.
    "Air. Ballet. Amazing haircuts. Weird countries. Three-alarm chili. Mountains, continents, the Earth, life."
    • This ad is a clear parody of Facebook's "Chairs" ad (see Real Life below).
  • A 30 Rock episode featured an eccentric businessman played by Steve Martin, who owned a company called SunStream. Eventually, it's revealed that he's a fraud and SunStream is a sham company. He points out that "If you ever watched our commercials, we never said what we did" and then the show cuts to one such ad.
  • An episode of Viva Variety had a game show where contestants tried to identify the products being promoted in (fictitious) European commercials. Not one commercial had anything to do with what was being sold.
  • Although it's not an ad, the wedding video that Lester creates for Chuck and Sarah fits the same mold. And it is hilariously awful.
  • On Happy Endings, Dave made a commercial for his steak sandwich truck. When he shows it to his friends, they point out a couple of flaws, namely that he didn't say the name of his business, or even mention steak sandwiches.

  • Interestingly, Hugo Ball's 1916 Dada Manifesto inverts the principle, using what sounds like a conventional advertising slogan for an actual brand of soap ("Hobby horse", or "Dada" in French) in a text that is meant to be utterly nonsensical:
    Dada is the world's soul
    Dada is the whole point
    Dada is the best lily milk soap in the world!

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Mocked at least once in Dilbert with the Amorphous Ad Company.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Ron White uses this trope in one of his comedy routines. He says perfume ads have become too complex for simple men like himself. Then he describes an over-the-top Dada Ad which ends with a man on fire and sensual woman saying, "I would know him in the dark." The punchline is, "What's the trick? He's ON FIRE!"
  • Margaret Cho was first to the punch with poking fun at crazy perfume commercials, most notably the insane Egoiste ad featuring women residing in an old European-type apartment complex who open their windows and shout the perfume's name before closing them. Ms. Cho said she always wanted to get famous enough to have a commercial where those women opened up their windows, shouted out her Korean name (Moran), then closed their windows.
  • Lewis Black thinks of this as well for Super Bowl commercials — hey, you're certainly not going to reuse an ad you've already aired on TV if you're going to spend $5 million on a 30-second spot. You're going to do something new and memorable, hopefully for the right reasons but sometimes...
    Black: Some of the commercials are spectacular. They're extraordinary — they're like mystery stories. You don't even know what they're selling until the very end. Three rabbits are on a log, and one of them goes home and hangs himself. Buy a bike.
  • Kathleen Madigan also poked fun at these ads in her 2010 special Gone Madigan, using a commercial she'd seen for tech company Accenture, featuring a woman in a field of wheat simply saying the words "Yesterday. Dreams. Innovation. We're with you. Accenture."
    Kathleen: What the hell was that? They sold nothing. I turned to my sister and said, "I think there's aliens living among us, and this is how they communicate right in front of our faces."

    Video Games 
  • In Cake Mania 2 the message you get after completing the August level of the Grand Battle stage says that satisfied Japanese customers are thinking of making a commercial for Jill's bakery: "Something to do with cute hamsters, a talking mushroom and go-go dancers playing poker with fish."
  • The TV commercial for Obsidian depicts a man trying to cut an egg with a knife, while soft music plays from a radio in the background. Then the egg falls to the floor...and stays solid while the man shatters like a china doll and a lamp gives off darkness. It ends with the game's tagline, "YOUR RULES DO NOT APPLY HERE".

    Web Animation 
  • The Marshie ads from Homestar Runner, where the anthropomorphic marshmallow trills in a creepy voice and regular marshmallows suddenly appear with nails in them, for starters.

    Web Original 
  • Neal Boortz expresses his confusion at the Lexis IS ads.
  • The third Powerthirst ad by Picnic Face. While the other two were fairly straight Testosterone Poisoning-driven tirades, this one...well...Drink Powerthirst! Shoot the clouds! Hit Jesus! Strap him to a bull! JESUS RODEO, DEAD JESUS RODEO!
  • Lars M. Dusseldorf made a commercial for the 2011 Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo featuring random dancers, a song with lyrics that constantly repeated, "C2. E2.", and such phrases as, "Are C2 and E2 lost in a world without meaning? No. C2E2 is life!"
  • In Welcome to Night Vale, every episode has a segment where Cecil says "And now for a word from our sponsors..." followed by something that at best only vaguely resembles an ad. In one case, it's just Cecil making strange groaning noises for a couple seconds. In many more, a bizarre monologue is followed by the non-sequitur name-dropping of a company or product. Dips into Word-Salad Horror in some cases.


    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Mr. Plow", Homer hires a fancy ad firm for his plowing business, and they give him a weird Calvin Klein Obsession knock off complete with a Citizen Kane Shout-Out.
    • "In Marge We Trust" has the "Mr. Sparkle" ad for a Japanese dish soap which begins fairly normally, but quickly descends into madness, with underwater go-go dancing girls who change into dancing sumo wrestlers when the mascot breathes on them, and a reporter interviewing a two-headed cow which then disintegrates.
    • "Sunday Cruddy Sunday" has a controversial Super Bowl commercial where a man visits a gas station and a group of scantily-clad female mechanics service his car seductively, parodying the music video for ZZ Top's "Gimme All Your Lovin'" with "Legs" accompanying the ad. The ad ends with the camera zooming in on one of the women's breasts with a crucifix necklace hanging over them. An announcer says "The Catholic Church: We made a few... changes!"
      Lisa: These Super Bowl commercials are weird.
  • Likewise, the crew of Futurama has a commercial made about their delivery service, but upon viewing the finished product (which is based on the 1984 Apple ad mentioned above) are baffled by the abstract imagery and conflicting messages.
  • Don Hertzfeldt's animated short Rejected presents a series of Dada Ads created by an unbalanced animator who is possibly suffering from "creative stagnation in a commercial world." All of his humorously surreal and unsettling cartoons are rejected for being wildly inappropriate. The animator has a mental breakdown and his cartoon world collapses.
  • Dexter's Laboratory had a commercial for Puppet Pals Jeans featuring Deliberately Monochrome models and an eerie lack of music. Also, the Puppet Pals themselves did not show up until the last 15 seconds, though earlier scenes had abstract references to them. At the end, Tom Kenny tries to prevent the viewers from thinking, "What Were They Selling Again??" by informing them (with a French accent), "You know it's Puppet Pals because of the name on the label."
  • Parodied in Codename: Kids Next Door in the episode where the sectors are showing off their latest advancements in two-by-four technology. Many groups put together small video presentations about their inventions. The French KND shows off their invention with a black and white video about absolutely nothing coherent. The operative evaluating the inventions and demonstrations calls off the ad part of the way through and just asks outright what it's supposed to be advertising. Their response is essentially that True Art Is Incomprehensible.
  • The Problem Solverz episode "Breakfast Warz" features a commercial for Professor Sugar Fish's Psycho Puffs of Madness cereal, which involves a kid flopping around with a giant rainbow-colored fish laughing in Morse code while their house burns down and bright neon colors flash everywhere. After viewing the commercial, Horace responds with, "Well, that was crazy..."
  • In Rocko's Modern Life, the title character becomes an underwear model and appears in a surreal ad, he asks the director what this has to do with underwear. "Everything" the director says.
  • In Metalocalypse, the members of Dethklok sign a number of endorsement deals, and star in a series of ads that have them interchangeably starring out over the sunset atop a mountain in the desert (with a score straight out of a Perfume Commercial).
  • In Rick and Morty, there's the ad for Turbulent Juice. Morty's reaction says it all.
    Morty: What in the hell?
    Rick: Sex sells, Morty.

    Real Life 
  • At the Super Bowl in 1984, Apple Computer ran one of the most infamous Dada ads of all time, featuring a rather heavy-handed Orwellian caricature of their competitors (or something) inspired by Nineteen Eighty-Four, concluding with the line "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like 1984."
  • The pre-release European Dreamcast adverts are fairly notorious for having nothing to do with anything - all they feature is people with spiral hair, you don't even get to see the console itself. Somewhat of a bitter 'if only' with Dreamcast fans.
    • The American launch campaign, It's Thinking fared better in that they actually showed the console and its' games. The first extended ad, however, was seemingly more of a trailer for an action movie and only really referenced the DC at the end.
  • The Saturn didn't fare much better, with the ads being very prone to not making much sense nor actually advertising the Saturn. While Sega eventually managed to stop making such commercials by the time of the "Hard Stuff" campaign, the prime example of this can be seen in the promotional video Sega produced to market the Saturn at launch in North America. While the video admittedly talks about the Saturn's features for most of the 9 minutes (yes, it's that long), that's to say nothing of what actually happens during the dialogue. Absolutely nothing makes sense, nor does it have anything remotely to do with the Sega Saturn, and it's one of the few of these ads that has to be seen to be believed. Words simply can't do it justice.
    • But even so, the "Hard Stuff" campaign does have the Sonic R ad, which goes back to being bizarre. It depicts two live-action humans rendered in stop-motion, flying through a house at high speed while hard rock music plays. You don't even realize it's an ad for a Sonic game until the end, when it shows gameplay and has a robotic voice saying "Sonic R, by Sega. Hard stuff."
  • Given the similarities between the aforementioned Dreamcast and the original Xbox, Microsoft took a page from Sega and created launch ads that made little to no sense. Like the green sphere ones or this strange thing. Thankfully they eventually began making ads that made sense.
  • 2008 USA Presidential candidate Mike Gravel ran ads like this; one had him staring into the camera for 70 seconds straight before tossing a rock in a lake and walking off, another had him lighting a campfire, followed by seven consecutive minutes of footage of the fire. No one could figure it out, not even Gravel himself. It sure was creepy, though; Jon Stewart remarked that seven days after you view the ad, you will die.
  • Cialis commercials where, for some reason, there's an old couple sitting in bathtubs outdoors. It's never explained and has no apparent connection to erectile dysfunction.
    • At least a partial justification for them, seeing as a combination of Moral Guardians, Fan Disservice and trying not to insult their potential customers leaves them little they can say about their product... plus, since everyone already knows what it's for, the ads are presumably meant to promote brand recognition.
    • From a similar product, there was Enzyte's (in)famous "Smiling Bob" commercials. They typically consisted of said Smiling Bob putting on an exaggerated smile, doing various random things. A narrator carries the advertisement, explaining just what the product does and why Bob is smiling. Take him away, though, and it's just some lunatic with a smile that looks like he was the victim of a back alley Botox treatment, drinking coffee, driving a car or staring at random things. At the end of the day, more people knew of Bob more than the product he tried to sell, to the point where he became a Memetic Mutation.
  • One Levi's commercial consisted of a guy and a girl standing in the middle of a city, while a herd of bison stampeded around them. Presumably saying that no matter where you are, once you put on a pair of Levis you'll be back in The Wild West?
  • A European ad for the first PlayStation depicts a family at a dinner table, having a conversation. Except, they're speaking with video game sound effects. One of them only makes sounds from Crash Bandicoot, another only makes war sounds, etc. It then zooms into their mouths to reveal that their uvulas are in the shapes of the PlayStation buttons.
    • Another PlayStation example: The American ad for Um Jammer Lammy depicted a car jumping a ramp and crashing into a pool at high speed, while listening to the Stage 4 music.
    • Early PlayStation 2 adverts were aiming to drive home the idea that the console will offer you all kinds of experiences. But perhaps the makers of those ads overdid it... slightly.
    • U.S. and European ads for the PlayStation 3 were notorious for this, even though they didn't create the furor that some Unfortunate Implications ads for Sony's previous systems did.
      • The initial run of European adverts didn't even feature the name of the product, just the URL As a result, many people assumed they were intended to advertise the satellite channel Living, especially as the content of the ads seemed to focus on some kind of Soap Opera.
      • The PSP got a similar treatment with these squirrels.
    • Not even the PlayStation 4 was immune to this. "Play Fearlessly" has fantastical imagery of people escaping their everyday mundane lives accompanied a message about how player can overcome their fears in the world of PlayStation... but PlayStation itself isn't mentioned until the very end of the ad. The lack of PlayStation imagery was intentional, but without the context it comes off as confusing.
  • Sprite had a series of ads called "sublymonal messages" which was just bizarre, randomly skipping images focusing on odd uses of lemons and limes (or at least green and yellow things). Flowers have mouths, green sumo wrestlers hit each other, and other strange things occur.
    • The initial commercial using the exploding water concept was even worse: It had a guy doing a backflip on an asphalt basketball court and preparing to land on his back, exploding into liquid only upon contact with the ground.
    • In a 2010 commercial, Drake was featured drinking Sprite to get re-energized. All well and good, until his skin pops open like panels on a robot as the soda travels through his system.
  • David Lynch directed a couple of commercials. They are just as bizarre as you might expect from the man.
    • Almost, if not every one of his PlayStation 2 commercials.
    • Or the teaser ad he made for Michael Jackson's Dangerous, which later appeared on the compilation of music videos for that album.
    • The weirdness of this cigarette ad is compounded by the fact that it is backwards. Apparently.
  • When the Japanese automobile company Infiniti made their American debut, their commercials became notorious for not showing or talking about the car at all.
  • A Frontline examination of advertising today states that all this got started by an Acura commercial, which was a shot of a thunderstorm in the distant Savannah.
  • This Dunlop ad— 'cause nothing says 'tires' like the Velvet Underground and fat bald guys with pierced nipples.
  • British chocolate company Cadbury has released some very trippy ads.
    • The ad with two children twitching their brows was very badly received in Hong Kong: the importer of Cadbury had to take it down.
    • The Now Show Book of Records awards them the prize of most baffling adverts ever. "What any of that has to do with a bar of chocolate, God alone only knows."
    • This one also fits the bill, although it makes slightly more sense considering they were running a dancing contest for 2012 Olympics tickets.
    • This is also the company that hired "Weebl & Bob" to do a series of movie parodies involving exploding Creme Eggs.
  • David LaChapelle likes using this trope. When an ad for McDonald's includes naked breasts and Ronald McDonald lying on the floor in his undies, you've got to wonder what the man was smoking. The golden arches are supposed to represent breasts and thus make us hungry. That it resembles the first letter in "mother" is less coincidental than the fact that it resembles the first letter in the corporation's name.
  • A Japanese McDonald's ad featured a girl having a Mirror Match with herself. The commercial alternates between a video game style and real life where the two girls just smash their heads together.
  • Drambuie Extraordinary Bar: A barman with gravity-defying bartender tricks, a man carrying a human-sized egg in the desert, three men that look like Cesare in a boat stranded in the same desert reciting the syllables of the product… It can be experienced here.
  • A Toohey's ad which appeared to be featuring the Man With Silly Hair growing beer in these giant cocoon-like plants.
  • There was a commercial for the Mini Cooper where the car drives into a parking lot and was attacked by living shopping trolleys.
  • In Australia, there was a few ads that were made intentionally boring by showing one scene of someone smoking. The scene was actually probably less than a minute long but seemed like 3 minutes. In the end, we got the text "Smoking is very interesting". This is unusual for Australian PSAs because most of our PSAs tend to be a tad more direct.
  • Michael Jackson's 1995 double album HIStory: Past, Present, and Future -- Book I, which featured one disc of greatest hits and another of new material, had a nearly four-minute long trailer made that ran in movie theaters. The trailer turned out to be a short film in which masses of people welcome Jackson into a city as, apparently, a benevolent ruler and unveil a colossal statue of him, which causes said masses to erupt in an even bigger frenzy complete with a little boy crying out "Michael, I love you!" At no point is the actual product shown, described, or heard from, as its makers chose to use music from The Hunt for Red October instead. As Sean Weitner commented in a Flak Magazine article, "[I]t's a video without original Jackson music" (emphasis his). It didn't so much sell the album as the idea that Jackson had a ridiculously inflated ego.
  • Toyota:
    • A certain Australian Toyota ad does this. Though we are told what the ad was for (a new sports car), that does not justify the anthropomorphic ninja cats kung-fu fighting against each other. Then again, maybe it doesn't need to be justified.
    • This ad, however, needs some justification for why Toyota believes being creepy will help sell a car. And before that, they had an ad proclaiming that their new car is a car, and a Corolla campaign inexplicably partnered with Hatsune Miku. Maybe they just want people to forget about the "help the accelerator pedal has fallen and it can't get up" fiasco?
  • This ad for Goodyear tires features Astro Boy and is really Mind Screw.
  • Las Vegas CityCenter is trying to give the city a reputation for True Art, so the advertisement shows almost nothing but a couple dramatic shots of the product in between lots of footage of people having great fun doing things nowhere near Las Vegas (riding the waves in a yacht). Even fans who had been following the project since groundbreaking found the ad almost incomprehensible.
  • If there's an ad that outdoes the PS3 ads in weirdness, it's Future of Gaming. It's supposedly a 9-minute promotional animated short for the PlayStation 2 (even commissioned by Sony), but it's nothing short of grade-A Mind Screw. Some of the ending is not safe for work, but that will be the least of your problems if you decide to see this. It should be clear less than halfway in why Sony disowned it.
  • American alcohol commercials such as an ad for Heineken. It involves a woman dressed in leather in a crowded club flying-kick three men while carrying two Heineken bottles on a tray, while an ad for Smirnoff vodka involves a group of young adults entering a city substructure and playing jazz music because "they were tired of the usual places". The Smirnoff logo appears at the end, and some bring Smirnoff with them and put it into a cooler, but otherwise does not appear in the ad.
  • Don't Say no to the Panda.
  • Honda adverts often are this.
    • Surprisingly, a Pogo song is apparently where they draw the weirdness line.
    • And that Rube Goldberg machine was real.
  • This Stella Artois commercial, complete with a title and a subtitle in French. Reassuringly elephants!
  • At the time of writing, there are some TV ads trying to promote travel to Canada. The problem is that most of them have no dialogue, and none of them tell the viewer anything about Canada.
  • A man gets on a train and bleats like a sheep. As anyone would do in such a bizarre situation, the rest of the passengers start laughing in a way that makes the room in Evil Dead 2 look like Ben Stein. A girl walks into the train at starts clucking, then a man barks. Clearly, racism is wrong.
  • This commercial is filled with extremely cute little bunnies doing extremely cute things at an old-style fair while soothing music plays. As we see a pair of them rising up in a hot air balloon, a neon sign comes swings down from the sky and hits their balloon. It reads "SWEET MILLION IS SWEETER THAN SWEET", and then another which says, "WHICH IS SWEET" crashes into the first one. Yes, this sickeningly sweet commercial was made to sell lottery tickets.
  • The infamous 2012 commercial attempting to introduce Chanel No. 5 to men, consisting of black and white footage of Brad Pitt standing against faded wall paper giving Fauxlosophical Narration.
  • This old ad for the Game Boy Pocket has little to do with the actual product. Instead, for a good 30 seconds, we are treated to miniature people doing weird stunts and stuff in or on ordinary household items, including a bunch of hipsters swimming in a jar of alcohol swabs. Not until the end do we actually hear the name of the product as "NEW GAME BOY POCKET". The mixed song in the background also includes samples from the very ad itself.
  • Boxman, a short-lived early British online music and video retailer, failed largely because its adverts, showing a suited man with a cardboard box over his head dropped into random scenes, completely failed to explain what it was.
  • The early TV adverts for Eurostar trains through the Channel Tunnel failed to explain the nature of the business coherently, leading to people turning up at the terminal in central London expecting to drive their cars onto the train.
  • Barclays Bank adverts, which illustrate savings accounts through coin gardens and piles of singing banknotes, and mortgages through herding piggybanks or operating a railway handcar. The humorous voiceover often seems as bemused as the audience ("Is the squirrel relevant?").
  • A group of giant rapping hamsters would like you to know that a Kia is better to drive than a toaster.
  • Mayflower Moving will help anyone with their moving needs. Even if you are a 20-foot tall puppet.
  • Cracked has articles about this.
  • After The Man Your Man Could Smell Like had run its course, Old Spice resorted to hawks scary enough to make a player lay down a royal flush.
  • One of the reasons The Monkees' only feature film Head was a flop is blamed on this avant-garde TV trailer, showing only a dialogue-free black and white film of Andy Warhol associate/publicist John Brockman's head with the word "HEAD" superimposed on his head's right side in the last few seconds, and no mention of The Monkees at all. Granted, with the psychedelic/avant-garde nature of the film, the band's increased Hatedom in the rock music press, and the band wanting to market it outside of their bubblegum audience, this is understandable (although the group had nothing to do with the campaign, and Peter Tork later called the ad "so avant-garde as to be positively repulsive").
  • This video from 1987, entitled "Pickle Surprise," is a sort-of parody. It appears to be a commercial for mayonnaise, but this 90-second Mind Screw is actually a short film created by gay video artist Tom Rubnitz. It's basically some weird sexual Double Entendre made in the style of a kitschy commercial. Tom Rubnitz also made the similarly bizarre "Strawberry Shortcut" in 1989.
  • Just for Feet, a sneaker company, hired an ad firm to design a commercial for the Super Bowl. The ad in question featured a Kenyan runner getting hunted down and "tagged" by white scientists with a pair of sneakers. Setting aside the weird-ass nature and Unfortunate Implications, Just for Feet was so pissed off by the ad that they brought suit against the ad firm.
  • This Japanese series of commercials featured six dancing cat women covered from top to bottom in latex. They would reveal the celebrity in one of the suits, while asking the viewer to guess the next one. If this campaign doesn't convince you to go see a boat race, we don't know what will.
  • In 1993 Coca-Cola launched a soda called "OK Soda", and discontinued it 2 years later. The marketing was deliberately cynical and surreal, to the point of intentionally trying to attract negative publicity. The cans had cartoons by cartoonists such as Daniel Clowes. The idea was to court Generation X, who were disillusioned with bright and optimistic advertising, with intentional anti-marketing. It didn't work, obviously.
  • Downplayed in this 2015 commercial for Longines Watches, in that it makes sense... but only if you read the description on YouTube. In the commercial, a slowly increasing group of children are chasing a seemingly magic tennis ball. They eventually stop when a man picks up the ball, hands it to the first kid, then leads them to tennis courts, with the slogan "Longines, official time keeper of the French Open" said by a boy with a French accent as a picture of a watch appears. If an ad needs to be explained by a YouTube description which comes off like the dream interpretations in the Book of Daniel, you're doing something wrong.
  • This Singaporean ad for the Xbox 360, in which a Japanese woman describes her near-death experience after an asthma attack. She mentions how she suddenly got pulled back, and the commercial ends with the slogan "LIVE FOR IT". There's no mention or explanation of what the commercial is selling at any point.
  • Since the 2000s, Skittles ads are weird and barely recognizable as commercials. One new one has a giraffe eating a rainbow while a Jamaican man milks the giraffe, but the "milk" that comes out is skittles. The man eats some, then laughs and goes back to milking the giraffe. What this has to do with Skittles, or why it would want to make you eat them, is anyone's guess.
  • This TV ad for Quizno's subs, featuring singing... rodent pirate zombies.
  • This '70s ad for Nesbitt's Orange Soda.
  • This ad begins with a nurse at a hospital checking up on the newborn babies in the nursery, only to find one empty. Cue an eclectic chase after the baby, who is a giant hamster. Comedic havoc ensues throughout the hospital as doctors, nurses, and police attempt to catch this infant hamster until the baby parachutes off the top of a building with a baby blanket. He lands with a family of giant hamsters in the advertised product: the Kia Turbo Soul. Until then, there was nothing to indicate that it was a commercial for the then brand new vehicle beyond the baby hamster's name actually being Turbo.
  • The infamous K-fee ads - peaceful setting followed by a sudden Jump Scare of a zombie or gargoyle. And nobody knew what it had to do with a brand of coffee that nowadays is so obscure that finding it for sale online is less common than YouTube uploads of the ads themselves note . It didn't help that some of the most popular uploads of the ads on YouTube have the tagline and K-Fee name removed, leading many to not even realize the videos were selling something in the first place.
  • GEICO are the masters of this, to the point where they have their own page. How a gecko, cavemen, a camel yelling "Hump Day!", a pig going "Wheeeee!", a stalker wad of bills with googly-eyes glued to it, Salt-N-Pepa, and some Rod Sterling-esque guy are even supposed to have anything to do with car insurance is a Riddle for the Ages.
  • Parodied by a 2009 advert for Tesco's mobile phones, in which artistically-shot people say what they want from a mobile phone network in terms of Ice Cream Koans and Meaningless Meaningful Words like "We want to live in a world where we communicate with everybody ... and nobody", before it ends with the dramatic music stopping dead, as the last person says "To be honest with you, I'd rather live in a world where people stopped talking nonsense", and explained what Tesco Mobile was actually offering.
  • Facebook's infamous "Chairs" ad, which features a narrator comparing chairs to Facebook and then rattling off a series of random items vaguely related to sharing.
  • To promote Lick My Decals Off, Baby, Captain Beefheart ran this ad. It has a person flicking a cigarette while "Woe-Is-uh-Me-Bop" plays, while an announcer names off locations and members of The Magic Band, before finishing on Captain Beefheart himself. After this, we are treated to silent shots of The Magic Band, wearing a dark mask around their heads, playing with kitchen utensils, before someone kicks a bowl of porridge in the middle of the road. The ad would later be banned from Metromedia owned stations and recieve complaints from viewers who found it disturbing.
  • Harry Egipt is an Estonian director of TV commercials, many of which are known for being very surreal, eccentric and experimental. One commercial he did for shoe polish was about a group of women polishing the shoes of a man inexplicably covered in plaster of Paris on all but his feet.
  • The Happy Socks commercial "Happy Holidays" begins in a '50s diner, where one of the patrons, Charlie (played by Pedro Pascal), shows off his polka-dotted socks. He proceeds to engage in some Spontaneous Choreography, with the diner's other patrons joining in. Even though Pascal isn't widely renowned for his dancing, he struts pretty well as Charlie. Eventually, everyone dances in Goofy Print Underwear, also produced by Happy Socks. As the crowd prances out of the diner, Charlie ends the commercial by floating into the sky.
  • In the late 90s, the North Carolina-based bank First Union ran a series of surrealistic ads depicting a financial-themed dystopic/post-apocalyptic city. The ads featured, among other things, a bowler hat clad businessman's head shattering on pavement and releasing money like a piggybank, deserted, "old-time" financial institutions, a Las Vegas-esque financial district with a literally double-faced guy telling people to buy or sell and a giant being made up of neon signs, and skyscrapers being hoisted into place by helicopter and colliding with each other. The ads ended with the narrator noting the "financial mountain" of First Union and how "If you prefer, the mountain...could come to you" (which in itself sounds like a threat). One of the YouTube comments explains it was the brainchild of the then-CEO's son (said CEO thought this would stand out from the usually-boring financial advertising). The campaign was short-lived, and combined with a botched expansion in the Philadelphia area (where lots of trouble ensued thanks to First Union screwing up the transition between their computer systems and the systems of predecessor CoreStates), sullied their name to the point that in 2001 they merged with rival North Carolinan bank Wachovia and chose to use their name from then on (until the Great Recession hit and thanks to their heavy involvement in the sub-prime mortgage area, Wachovia was taken over by Wells Fargo).
  • Bones Coffee: Invoked and Played for Laughs with "S'morey Time Made Us Call The Cops". An old cowboy regales the viewer of a story about him as a child (played by an adult), only to reveal that he's talking to no one, isn't wearing any pants and is doing it in a random person's pool. The homeowner calls the cops on him, the video ends on the man turning to the audience and clarifying that this is supposed to be an ad for smores-flavored coffee.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Gainax Commercial, Mind Screw Marketing


Turbulent Juice

Turbulent Juice Ad. What is Turbulent juice? [Shrugs.]

How well does it match the trope?

4.72 (25 votes)

Example of:

Main / DadaAd

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