Top 5 Ads Of The Week: HBO hilariously tweets out Sopranos nicknames

Walmart’s famous parking lot, Fiji photobombs the red carpet, used BMW ads sell used cars, and Disneyland got us with an adorable duckling.

Top 5 Ads Of The Week: HBO hilariously tweets out Sopranos nicknames
[Photo: (center) courtesy of HBO]

Nicknames: Donald Glover famously got his Childish Gambino rap name from a Wu-Tang version. You’ve definitely found out your porn name by combining your first pet’s name with the street you grew up on (Spike Eleanor!).


But this week, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Sopranos, HBO took to Twitter to arbitrarily hand out nicknames inspired by the show. Look, Brand Twitter rightfully gets a lot of flack. It tries too hard. It’s too gimmicky. It’s manufactured human interaction. But this? THIS. This was goooood. It certainly didn’t hurt that celebrities and other brands raced to get Soprano’d. Roger Federer? The Feds. Wendy’s? Square Patty. Jake Tapper? Newsboy. Tinder? Wesley Swipes. The state of New Jersey? The Motherland. The only thing missing is a mobbed up MoonPie and Steak-Umm. Onward!

HBO “The Soprano’s Nicknames”

What: A brand Twitter thread actually worth reading.

Who: HBO, Engine

Why we care: One of the best ways brands can deliver on their quest to surprise and delight is by using a platform in an unexpected an fun way. Think Geico’s unskippable ad on YouTube. Or Tide’s 2018 Super Bowl commercial takeover. Here, HBO takes the increasingly tired format of Brand Twitter and turns it into a star-studded back-and-forth that quickly becomes a fun meta playtime in pop culture. Worth checking out for the WWE heat check.

Disneyland Paris “The Little Duck”

What: A new spot from Disneyland Paris that most definitely DID NOT make my eyes well up at work.


Who: Disneyland Paris, BETC Paris

Why we care: Uhh, I’m not dead inside? The spot follows the familiar journey of a child’s first love affair with the magic of comic books, and then sees their imagination come to life. Except here that child is a duckling. A criminally cute, anthropomorphized-to-play-with-my-emotions duckling.

Fiji Water “#fijiwatergirl”

What: A Golden Globe-winning photobomb performance.

Who: Fiji Water, Getty Image Studio

Why we care: Like I said earlier, brands messing with familiar formats can be fun. Here, Fiji hired a Getty photographer to get shots of its product on the red carpet. That, coupled with the deadpan gaze of model Kelleth Cuthbert, helped Fiji become the awards show brand winner of the night. First, with the wave of social media attention on Cuthbert, then with the second wave of enthusiastic earned media coverage. Here’s the thing though: Don’t do it again. Not like this. The awards show red-carpet ecosystem is already crammed with enough vapid self-interest. We don’t need more brands rushing to duplicate Fiji’s success.


Walmart “Famous Cars”

What: Almost all of Hollywood’s iconic movie vehicles picked up groceries at Walmart during the Golden Globes.

Who: Walmart, Department W

Why we care: Big stage, pop-culture nostalgia, comfort food advertising at its best. Slimer ftw.

BMW “Special Delivery”

What: A new campaign for BMW Certified pre-owned cars that uses pre-owned ads.

Who: BMW, GS&P

Why we care: If you’re trying to sell a 2015 X1, why not use a 2015 X1 commercial? What initially sounds like a panicky ad agency cop-out–“Let’s use your old ads that already worked!”–is actually another fun example of a brand playing with a familiar format. The creativity is in the gimmick, and it’s a good one.


About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.