Cannes Festival of Humor in Advertising
1992 Directed by Various.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 13, 1992
There's a lot to be said for television commercials, not the least of which seems to be that they're often far better than the products they try so desperately to sell. This Cannes Fest brings together 78 minutes of what somebody somewhere purports to be the “best” of the lot, though I think that's a bit of a stretch. Ads from all over the world -- Britain, Russia, the U.S., South Africa, etc. -- are shown here back to back, creating somewhat of an endurance test for the viewer. There are a number of classics here, such as the Pepsi ad featuring Michael J. Fox clammering out his apartment window in search of the elusive diet soda, but too many of the ads are less humorous than they are utterly confusing. The French, as always, use gobs of sex in their commercials -- perfect breasts, torsos, and even full-frontal nudity abound -- and the ads are nearly as titillating as they are inexplicable. Is a young girl's first brassiere really that much of a watershed landmark in her life? Got me. Not to be outdone, other advertising icons such as babies, dogs, kittens and home and hearth scenes are everywhere. But perhaps most surprising of all is the international ad industry's stunning overreliance on -- gasp! -- spiky-haired punks as spokespersons for everything from credit cards (Dudley Moore as a Mohican for BarclaysCard) to checking accounts (Adrian Edmonson, of The Young Ones Vivian fame, as, well...Vivian). Most of these ads come from Britain, as you might expect, but several other European countries employ the punk look in their campaigns as well. When Barclays Bank uses punk characters as its spokespersons, you know punk is dead. Overall, the Cannes Fest is an entertaining way to kill of a good hour-and-a-half on a Sunday afternoon, but don't go expecting much more than that. After all, we get enough of this during Northern Exposure, don't we?