• 03.12.13

The Flaming Lips Take Your Brain On a Not-So-Long, Strange Trip, for Virgin Mobile

New latest from Virgin Mobile: The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne guides viewers through a retrain of the brain, with sheer psychological force and absurdist cat videos.

The last time we saw The Flaming Lips in an ad, it was for Hyundai’s Super Bowl spot. Now lead Lip Wayne Coyne is back in one of the weirder ads of the year thus far.


Co-opting a choice bit of pseudoscientific self-helpspeak, the latest from Virgin Mobile asks viewers to retrain their brains–and helps them do that with some far-out imagery. Mother New York created the new spot, inspired by focus group testing that saw consumers indifferently clinging to current providers based on old habits. As a response, “Retrain Your Brain” attempts to storm viewers’ brain castles, guns a-blazing, and clean out the cobwebs.

To that end, Wayne Coyne is on hand, floating into the frame aloft on a brain. For the next 60 seconds, the man who once sang “She Don’t Use Jelly” proceeds to guide viewers through a panoply of heightened imagery, like a giant squid with a 4G phone in each tentacle. Other images are meant to jam associations into the viewer’s cerebellum. The idea of unlimited data is represented by a coffee cup long since overfilled, and the idea of saved money is depicted as a woman in a money Jacuzzi. This mix of satire and sheer absurdity, courtesy directorial collective Traktor, all feels rather Tim & Eric, which is welcome.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.