Crispin Porter & Backlash

People just really hate this ad.

UPDATE: Here’s a shocker: Bob Garfield doesn’t like it, either.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. what’s not to hate? this spot is horribly written, terribly produced, and wretchedly acted. plus, the new ‘orville’ is just plain creepy to look at. but the worst offense of all is that this ad is pointless. why bring orville back? i mean, i don’t generally like to speak ill of the non-living, but mr. redenbacher was not exactly the most lovable character in his day. seems to me that cpb is in a bit of a tailspin as of late. their bk work is spotty at best, the vw work is generally awful, the new haggar ads are lifeless and now this. maybe the reason they are moving so many people to boulder is because the mountains offer more places to hide.

  2. nicely stated.

  3. I haven’t been following this story at all, so I’m shocked to learn this is a CP+B commercial. There is not a shred of evidence to link this spot to the ground breaking agency. Other than the bad press.
    Might this be a play for ConAgra’s bushels of money?
    According to USA Today, ConAgra Foods is so jazzed about Redenbacher’s reincarnation that it’s upped its ad budget 40% in 2007 to $20 million.
    I can’t see Crispin selling out for that sum, but if it leads to all the other brands under the Omaha conglomerate’s hood, that might tempt even the most creative ad person.
    Whether or not it’s about the money, it looks like Crispin’s move to middle America is starting to show.

  4. i say it’s too early to say the campaign sucks (although this first spot certainly does). didn’t folks originally pan the return of the king and other cp+b efforts? i’m guessing it’s just the soft launch of something better. oddly enough, redenbacher was significantly less lifeless in the original spots that featured the old coot.

  5. I agree, HighJive, this may be a misdirect for a campaign headed somewhere entirely different. If it is, one has to give the client an enormous amount of credit for allowing such dreck on the air before “the good stuff” arrives.

  6. Well it does get your attention. I was watching the tube last night with my son and said “he’s been dead for a long time”. So I had to go to wikipedia to confirm that he died in ’95. It stated further that the Orville you see is actually a fully digital recreation (that is why he looks so funky.)
    In the wiki one of his relative says that Orville would have approved because he was “cutting edge.” Hmmmm. . .
    I will have to disagree with T, however. Orville was the Henry Ford of popcorn and tested thousand of hybrids before coming up with his top-shelf seed. Without Mr. Redenbacher you would just have another faceless agro-business corporation.

  7. steve, you make some good points and i agree the ad does grab your attention. but i just want to make clear i never criticized orville for his dedication or ability to develop great tasting popcorn. just always found him kinda creepy. i’m sure some found him lovable, but i know a few people besides myself who found him a bit offputting. which is why i question bringing him back in this especially creepy form.

  8. Ad Age reports that ConAgra has racked up at least 35 million PR impressions spanning broadcast and print media in the wake of this commercial launch.
    “What happens is [the ads] are very controversial, then they become accepted, and then they take their place wherever it is they belong,” said Alex Bogusky, executive creative director at Crispin.
    “Relevance to us is being about what’s going on in popular culture, and this is squarely in the center of that,” he said. Hence the chatter. “It’s great stuff to blog on. It’s juicy.”

  9. I find it hard to believe that we’re looking at a “digital recreation”. It looks like some actor in a crappy old man makeup job, like one in those Six Flags commercials that have mercifully gone away.
    I think CP+B is just still milking the “lo-fi” style you currently see in websites, commercials, TV spots: the crappier it looks, the cooler it must be. Oh, the irony…

  10. Carl LaFong says:

    I don’t know whether the “35 million PR impressions” cited in the “Ad Age” article is real or just typical agency smoke and mirrors. But there’s no denying that this commercial has got a lot of people — or at least a lot of people in advertising — talking.
    The question is, will all that buzz translate into sales?
    One possible answer can be found in another article on the “Ad Age” website regarding another campaign from Crispin: the Miller “Man Laws.” That, too, apprently generated plenty of buzz — but, in the end, sales tanked and the campaign is being shelved. (In fairness, it should be noted that the client has not only given Crispin a vote of confidence, but the Miller High Life account as well.)
    What’s ironic about the Orville Redenbacher commercial is that nobody would even be talking about it at all if Orville’s digital exhumation hadn’t been so badly botched.
    The writing, the acting, the directing are uniformly awful — but not so awful that the spot exerts the same sort of gruesome fascination of a “Showgirls” or “Battlefield Earth.” The creep factor aside, it’s utterly unmemorable.
    Of course, there are those who will tell you that it doesn’t matter what people say about the commercial as long as it has them talking.
    Maybe they are right. Maybe sales will go up — at least for now.
    But what are the long-term consequences? Is a short-term spike in sales worth tainting and tarnishing the brand — and Orville’s memory? Will the ressurrected Mr. Redenbacher with his unsettling George A. Romero-goes-to-Epcot vibe connect with consumers — or drive them away?
    Stay tuned.

  11. I liked it. The way they put him together is freaky as hell. I do agree that the writing didn’t hit right. I think that he is so freaky that putting him into too much of a crazy situation would make him just disturbing to look at and would make more of a bad taste then good. So this is probably why they chose to use him in an old like ad with some minor changes(ipod). I do like the character. I do like the style. I just think the next one needs something spicier in the writing.

  12. I don’t care who did this or the technology it required, it is a very bad ad.
    If it wasn’t CGI, would you like it? If Orvile was still alive, would you like it? Just because an ad uses CGI doesn’t make it good. It still needs to have an actual idea.
    Is there an idea?
    Is there an interesting message here?
    Is the writing good?
    Does it look good?
    Is there anything good about it?

  13. Your Boss says:

    Sometimes shit is just shit.