Advertising Genius or Something Else?

We Are Unlimited is a 200-person agency formed by Omnicom to work only on McDonald’s ads. On their website, they say “We read culture. And then we create the ideas that change it.”

One of their ideas is an ad that capitalizes on “how teens and twenty-somethings are discovering information they trust,” according to Deborah Wahl, McDonald’s CMO. (A WSJ story about Wahl leaving the company makes no connection with the new tv spot).

The ad does not mention the brand.

Instead, it shows Mindy Kaling in a bright yellow dress against a red background (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) inviting viewers to do a Google search.

This sounds something like the first tv ad for Infiniti, produced by an agency that specialized in creating offbeat ads.

The ad does not show the car.

Here’s how David Jacobson of The Hartford Courant described the first Infiniti commercial in 1989: “It shows nothing but a flock of birds crossing the sky. The announcer’s voice is like someone confiding his innermost thoughts in a darkened room: “What is discovered, just watching nature, is an ancient Japanese notion of what is beautiful.

Jacobson mocked the entire notion as “Transparent transportation! The stealth sedan! The biggest tease since Gypsy Rose Lee!”

AdAge said the target audience was presumed to be spiritual, so they were invited to contemplate water, wind, and lightning.

Bloomberg said the ads scored well in brand-awareness surveys, but their memorability never translated into sales targets.

The Washington Post said Infiniti officials conceded the approach was risky, but worth it to try to attract the attention of their targeted populations who “don’t want to be sold.” Which brings us back to McDonald’s target audience, who also don’t want to be “sold.”

Not showing the car made some assumptions. So does not mentioning the brand. How many layers of assumptions do you see in play here?

Click here to watch the first 30 second tv commercial for Infiniti.