Ad Space – Shatner and the Great Big Penguin

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
Loblaws supermarkets

The Promotion:

The Pitch:
All our frozen foods are on sale! Also, a giant penguin might stalk you through the aisles. So it’s a mixed blessing.

I’ve covered a lot of strange ads in this column. HeadOn. Mr. Delicious. The spongmonkeys. And for each of them, I’ve tried to analyze the reasoning behind the ad, to figure out why it was decided something so bizarre would help grab customers.

But this one? I’m stumped.

At first, I thought maybe the penguin was like the Loblaws mascot, and would have been recognizable to the Canadian audience this ad was meant for. But an Internet search for Loblaws + Penguin only turned up one relevant result … a link back to this ad.

So, okay, maybe the penguin’s just there because they’re shilling frozen foods, and penguins live where things are frozen. But, like, why’s it creeping behind William Shatner like a stalker?

Yeah, a lot of ads will throw in something bizarre and random to get people’s attention. But that’s usually an upfront, in-your-face sort of bizarreness, before segueing into the sales pitch. Here, the whole ad plays out like a conventional grocery store commercial, except there’s something odd going on in the background, drawing your attention away from the celebrity endorsement.

It feels … off. Too weird to be a standard “here’s some information” ad, but not weird enough to be a “we’re so quirky and strange! pay attention to us!” ad … which makes it weirder than the lot of ’em.

It comes across like maybe there just happened to be a weirdo in a penguin suit shopping at Loblaws that day, and when they wandered into the shot, the camera crew just kept rolling and didn’t tell Shatner what was going on.