I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!

In celebration of its 25th anniversary this year, USA Today has been publishing 25 lists over the course of 25 weeks 'designed to spark conversation and debates.' Last month they published the 'Top 25 Ads We Can't Get out Of Our Heads'.

In celebration of its 25th anniversary this year, USA Today has been publishing 25 lists over the course of 25 weeks ‘designed to spark conversation and debates.’ Last month they published the ‘Top 25 Ads We Can’t Get out Of Our Heads’.

Here are the Top 10:

1. Life Alert: I’ve Fallen, and I Can’t Get Up! (1990)

2. Apple Macintosh: 1984 (1984)

3. Wendy’s: Where’s the Beef? (1984)

4. Isuzu: Joe ‘Trust me’ Isuzu (1986)

5. Energizer: Energizer Bunny (1989)

6. Bartles & Jaymes: Thank You for Your Support (1985)

7. California Raisin Advisory Board: Heard it Through the Grapevine (1986)

8. Budweiser: Croaking Frogs (1995)

9. Bush campaign: Willie Horton (1988)

10. California Milk Processors Board: Got Milk? (1993)

A couple of things struck me about this list, the first one being the spot ranked at number one.

I was shocked that a 15 second low-budget spot for a life-saving gadget was recalled by more people than any of the extravagant multi-million-dollar commercials that appeared further down the list, and how could it beat out Apple’s ’1984′? Pepsi’s ‘Michael Jackson on Fire’ came in at number 14 and Nike’s 1987 ‘Revolution’ placed 17th.

The editors of USA Today described Life Alert’s slogan this way: ‘The best-remembered (and most-parodied) commercial phrase of the past 25 years … comes from that elderly woman using the Life Alert gizmo around her neck to call for help. It is the ultimate product-as-hero ad.’ In short, it’s enjoyed one of the most successful viral campaigns since ‘viral’ was even a word in ad-lingo.

Also striking was that none of the commercials in the top 10 (and only one in the Top 25) was created in the past 10 years. Why is it that with all the technology, production budgets and multiple platforms available in the 21st century that none of the work produced in the last decade was deemed worthy of a ranking? I don’t know the answer to the question… I’m simply posing the question.

Obviously the list is subjective, and I for one don’t recognize a couple of spots simply because it’s an American list, but it got me thinking that maybe the industry as a whole is too preoccupied with bedazzlement rather than focusing on the basics of telling a story?

As award season in Canada approaches I think we’ll see that some of the contenders for the Cassies and strategy’s Agency of the Year have embraced this back to basics approach and will be rewarded accordingly. cm

Claire Macdonald, publisher, strategy/Media in Canada 416-408-0858