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When Ads Go Strange

Ten of the weirdest advertising campaigns in recent history -- and why they happened.


In the advertising game, being memorable matters more than almost anything else. You can make yourself unforgettable through humor, sex, celebrity, or irony, even through beautiful filmmaking. Or you can go a route that's guaranteed to get attention: Get weird.

When it suits your brand, differentiating your product through extra-long armpit hair (Boost Mobile), a subversive "underground" conspiracy (Cheetos), a pinata man (Skittles) or a singing fish (McDonald's Filet-o-Fish), can ensure that your audience won't forget who you are, even if they remain somewhat confused about your message.

Here we feature some ads that stray from traditional storytelling and speak with the creative talent behind the ads. Did the move toward "the strange" really work? Click through our gallery to find out. Viewer discretion advised.

Boost Boost Mobile Gambles on Gross
The cell phone company goes to gag-inducing lengths to illustrate its uniqueness.
By Lisa LaMotta
Burger King's Mascot Gets Creepy Burger King's Mascot Gets Creepy
His royal "heinous" breaks windows, massages models -- and boosts business.
By Diane Bullock
Skittles Midas Touch Skittles Follows Rainbow to Surreal Place
Forget about a pot of gold -- these brightly colored candies lead to human pinatas and animated beards. by Diane Bullock
Cheetos and the "Orange Underground" Cheetos Inspires the "Orange Underground"
The snack makers saw a market ripe for a subversive mentor.
By Justin Rohrlich
McDonalds McDonald's Enlists Frankie the Fish
A catchy song and a disgruntled fish help bring back that Filet-O-Fish market.
By Lisa LaMotta
Nike Puts Tiger in Touch With His Dead Father Nike Connects Tiger and His Deceased Father
An illustrious golfing career and several bouts of infidelity culminate in the weirdest ad of an athlete's life.
By Mike Schuster
Calvin Klein's Kiddie Porn Auditions Calvin Klein Conducts Kiddie Porn Auditions
The jeans maker claimed the ads depicted the "independent spirit" of young people.
By Megan Barnett
Mikes hard lemonade Mike's Hard Lemonade Redefines a Bad Day
How do you keep a lemony cool drink from being too girly? Stir in an industrial accident.
By Josh Lipton
Carly Fiorina's Freaky "Sheep" Ads Carly Fiorina Spooks Viewers With Demonic Sheep
Her political campaign spots are oddly psychedelic, stranger than fiction.
By Steve Viuker
Orville Redenbacher's Return Orville Redenbacher Returns From the Dead
Digital Dr. Frankensteins revive a beloved personality much to the horror of the viewing public.
By Mike Schuster
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