The country may have been celebrating on July 4th, but by any measurement, this was not a lovely week in America. But for almost four minutes, John Cena may help mute the anger, frustration and despair splashed across the headlines and at the front of minds everywhere. Onward!
What: A July 4th ad that encourages unity, acceptance, and love over polarized politics.
Who: Ad Council, R/GA
Why We Care: This ad’s message would be spot on no matter who was doing the talking, but to have John Cena–gigantic proto-American alpha male–preaching a message of love, respect, and inclusive unity adds an unexpectedly powerful edge to it.
What: Jonah Hill gets in touch with his inner infomercial host for a new collaboration between Palace Skateboards and Reebok.
Who: Palace Skateboards, Reebok, MPC Creative
Why We Care: Informercial spoofs are, by nature, pretty damn great. But here it’s cult London-based skateboarding brand Palace (think Supreme with an accent) combining its wry smirk with big names like Hill and Reebok, and the result is awesome. Some might say it’s Hill’s pronunciation of Ree-boke, but I think it’s the green screen magic in sunny London that really takes it up a notch. Pipe down and cough up.
What: “That moment when your grandpa shows up and puts muscle beach regulars to shame.”
Who: Smith & Forge, Thrillist
Why We Care: Okay, as has been proven many times in comedy history, people doing unexpected things while dressed up as old people is funny. Here it’s feats of strength, and speaking of feats of strength–it’s got more than 56 million views on Facebook in just a couple of days.
What: An animated short about a couple of kids who dream about serving good food to good people, but soon see their creations spin out of their control.
Who: Chipotle, Saschka Unseld, Passion Pictures, CAA
Why We Care: This is the third animated short film from the brand–following 2011’s “Back to the Start” and 2013’s “Scarecrow.” And man, what a time to roll out a piece like this–between the E. coli crisis that saw the restaurant close all of its stores for a day in February, the allegations of sexual harassment and a lawsuit in California, and the marketing executive arraigned on drug charges, it hasn’t exactly been a banner year. As Dan Solomon put it earlier this week: “As branded content goes, this is both a good little short and a surprisingly deep glimpse at the trauma of actually running the sort of business that can afford to create high-end branded content.”
What: A 100-second ad that illustrates Usain Bolt’s 100-meter world-record time of 9.58 seconds in a whole new light.
Who: Virgin Media, BBH London
Why We Care: Usain Bolt’s been the world’s fastest man for so long now that we almost take him for granted. Here, in 10 separate 9.58-second sequences, we get an artful reminder of his consistency and longevity at the top.