The biggest sporting event of the year is just around the corner, bringing with it a new crop of Hollywood-budget commercials. My favorites are the ads that venture into dark territories.
And this year, there's a new entry in that category. As you can see above, it's not your typical light TV spot fare, with talking dogs and babies and whatnot. We can't give away much, but it's sixty seconds of high-octane grand cinematic spectacle, with the world's most austere British actors — Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong — starring as dashing genius villains. Oscar-winning filmmaker Tom Hooper directed the clip, and there's sweeping aerial shots of London and extraordinary race between a helicopter and a Jaguar F-TYPE.
While you're waiting for this year's crop of commercials, here are some equally dark ads from the past.
Nothing gets people's attention quite like brazen animal cruelty, and this Outpost.com advertisement sure doesn't beat around the bush. No, using rodents as cannonballs has nothing to do with Outpost.com (which was, once upon a time in the nineties, an online software store). Yes, they were just trying to get your attention. Or make you laugh? Regardless, you'll never forget it.
We've all been there: A man's abusive girlfriend takes aim at him, only to end up accidentally beaning a cheerleader-type with a Pepsi MAX can. Is this ad funny in and of itself? I'm going to go with a soft maybe. There's something slightly cathartic and fun about this tasteless bit of physical comedy (in a disturbing way).
Any man worth his football mettle fakes his death in order be buried alive with his handy TV set and a sea of Doritos, right? The idea of orchestrating your own funeral just so you can attend is as old as Mark Twain, but I doubt anyone's been callous enough to toy with the emotions of their loved ones over the prospect of junk food. But if you can pull it off, why not?
A great fuss is made over "1984" being the best ad of all time or whatever, ushering in a new age of technology and advertising. It hearkened back to our literary past while looking deep, deep into the future. And that's great. But few remember the ad that came the year after. It was in a similar vein to its predecessor, but perhaps hit a little too close to home. When you're watching the same television event as everyone else on the planet, how can you not feel like a cog in the machine? That's exactly what makes this ad so disturbing.
What did I forget? Add your favorites to the comments!
Kaitlin Phillips is a writer living in Manhattan. Her work has appeared in Vice, New York, and n+1.