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Creative Mccann New York Creative Works

Best Ads of the Week: Mucinex’s antibiotic monsters & TurboTax Canada’s tax demons


By Audrey Kemp, LA Reporter

April 17, 2024 | 11 min read

Also, marvel at Marmite’s clandestine calls for smugglers and Sprite’s pro-personal-privacy pendants.

mucinex monster

A monster made of antibiotic prescriptions sit in a hospital waiting room / Credit: Mucinex

Every week, The Drum picks the top global campaigns from our Creative Works. You can submit your new work here.

This week, the NHL poked lighthearted fun at its most insane fans, Zillow acknowledged the harsh realities of the current housing market and humans ate cat treats for Dreamies.

Dreamies: Humans Called Cat by Adam&EveDDB

Dreamies has hosted a “world-first” cat convention for people as it looks to figure out whether the 5% of felines that supposedly don’t like its treats are actually just humans named Cat. The spoof spot takes viewers on a hilarious journey through the event that sees the baffled participants put through their paces.

Similar to its recent spot for Marmite, ad agency Adam&EveDDB has taken an on-the-surface bog-standard statistic and transformed it into an entertaining narrative. Coupled with a silly tone, the ad adopts a fly-on-the-wall style that keeps viewers highly engaged and wondering just how far the “cat tests” will go. Then comes the ending, which has been hinted at throughout, but there is always the question of whether they really would go there. They did. Each participant is offered – and in some cases even goes so far as to eat – the cat food.

Zillow: Home Just Got Real by 72andSunny LA

From inventory shortages to fluctuating mortgages, owning a piece of the American dream seems more like a distant dream for many young adults. Yet, in the face of this tumultuous real estate market, millennials and Gen Z still dream of one day buying a home.

On Monday, real estate marketplace Zillow launched ‘Home Just Got Real,’ its latest campaign acknowledging the obstacles young adults face in their quest for home ownership. Its narrative speaks to a generation caught between reasonable aspirations and harsh economic realities – and a housing landscape that’s vastly different from that of their parents or grandparents. The campaign is made up of three spots, each directed by Karena Evans.

Street Easy: Mural by Mother New York

Real estate company Street Easy has created an epic mural that compares buying a property in NYC to an epic odyssey, spotlighting the twists and turns of the ever-changing market. The artwork has a brilliant mix of ‘old meets new’ by taking inspiration from Renaissance paintings and combining them with modern scenes of everyday life. The project highlights that the home buying process still seems as unreachable as a work of art, locked away in a museum for only a select few to enjoy – this then enables StreetEasy to position itself as a solution. In a fun twist, each piece of artwork contains Easter eggs only New Yorkers will recognize, including Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar and Leh-Boy, demonstrating a sense of good humor.

Sprite: The Knocklace Collection by AKQA Casa

It’s no surprise that millennials and Gen Z, facing economic challenges, are opting to live at home for longer (a rather normal phenomenon in many parts of the world). Nonetheless, this choice brings about an unforeseen consequence: awkward run-ins with mom and dad. To save their dignity and sanity, Sprite, a fizzy refreshment from the Coca-Cola company, launched ‘The Knocklace Collection’ in Latin America on Wednesday. The new work includes two new spots – ‘Downstairs DJ’ and ‘Feeding the Ducks’ – and seeks to eliminate the pressure of being caught in embarrassing situations. Beyond the laughs, Sprite’s campaign is more than just about saving face; it’s about the importance of setting boundaries and respecting personal space in the digital age.

National Hockey League: 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs by Highdive

In celebration of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning April 20, the National Hockey League (NHL) released its latest marketing masterpiece: a series of commercials that dive deep into the eccentricities of hockey fandom. Three spots – titled ‘Tattoo,’ ‘Catfish’ and ‘Not Together’ – highlight the ways fans display their love and support for their teams’ quest for the Stanley Cup, even if it means doing some downright wacky stuff. The hero spot, ‘Tattoo,’ depicts a die-hard Vegas Golden Knights fan who prematurely got a Stanley Cup Championship tattoo on his arm before the 2019 Playoffs began. “This is our year,” he declared. Sadly for Dave, fate had other plans.

Marmite: Marmite Smugglers by Adam&EveDDB

To spread the love stateside, Marmite is calling on Brits to smuggle the yeast extract to the US by any means necessary. The Unilever brand has plastered sketchy recruitment posters that reveal a phone number to call to see how you can become a smuggler yourself. Audience participation? Check. This engaging element is clever but it’s the campaign film that really stands out in our eyes. Adopting the style of an investigative-style documentary, the ad completely nails the look and feel of that type of program. There are the blurred faces, the muffled voices and all the shocking twists and turns you would expect. If you’re from the UK, think along the lines of Channel 4’s Dispatches show. What makes that utterly brilliant is just how unserious the whole thing is, but the gritty, pseudo-serious tone just adds to the hilarity. The absurdity of Marmite being contraband is so silly that it’s genius.

TurboTax Canada: Undone by Citizen Relations

Tax season – it’s sure to send shivers down taxpayers’ spines every year. Bringing these horrors to life is TurboTax Canada, which recently released ‘Undone,’ a bone-chilling short film that spooks viewers with paperwork and looming deadlines. It debuts a mere 18 days before the tax deadline. Directed by Filip Terlecki and starring Mitsuko Noguchi in her debut role, the film follows a young woman who is tormented by a tax demon in her apartment. The entity whispers horrifying things to her, like “she puts everything off,” “she’s gonna mess it up” and “she’s running out of time.” (Truth be told, the demon’s dialogue sounds a lot like everyone’s internal monologues during this time of year.) Just when it seems our heroine is doomed to be buried under piles of paperwork and receipts, a message suddenly appears: “Don’t let tax anxiety take on a life of its own.” Then, a light at the end of the tunnel: she is saved by an online TurboTax agent who guides her through the whole process.

Mucinex: Monsters in Waiting by McCann New York

Antibiotics pose significant risks, particularly when used unnecessarily for common ailments like colds, flu or fever. Despite this, misconceptions persist, contributing to a staggering annual toll of 2.8m antibiotic-resistant infections and 35,000 deaths in the US, according to the CDC.

Some might say the overprescription of antibiotics has spawned a monster known as antibiotic resistance. To spread awareness about this global threat, Mucinex, Reckitt’s over-the-counter cough medicine, unleashed ‘Monsters in Waiting,’ an experimental installation in the waiting room of a HealthNeed Medical Urgent Care in Queens, New York. The work comprises two oversized monsters: ‘Amber,’ who is assembled out of antibiotic pill bottles, and ‘Rex,’ who is fashioned from paper prescriptions.

Cécred: #CécredWashDay by Dive Billboards

Cécred, a new hair care line by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, has launched its inaugural outdoor campaign, ‘#CécredWashDay.’ The work utilizes social media, digital channels and out-of-home (OOH). Notably, the innovative outdoor campaign allows creators with a passion for haircare a unique opportunity to become “billboard famous.”

By posting creative videos of their haircare rituals on TikTok and tagging #CécredWashDay, content creators stand a chance to be featured on TikTok’s ‘Out of Phone’ digital billboards (a play on words for “out-of-home”) throughout major cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta and Chicago. The digital billboards, provided by Dive Billboards, are placed in public spaces, such as smart city interactive kiosks and transit bus shelters.

Quaker: 100 Reasons to Rise by Uncommon Creative Studio

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, the calm of morning holds a special significance. It’s a time of new beginnings, of hope and of preparation for the day ahead. Quaker, an iconic brand synonymous with wholesome breakfasts, unveiled a unique campaign, ‘100 Reasons to Rise,’ to celebrate the simple beauty and humanity of morning routines. At the heart of this project is a stunning collection of black-and-white photographs by Misan Harriman, an Academy Award nominee known for documenting important social movements, including Black Lives Matter protests and climate strikes.

Harriman’s lens has artfully immortalized the intimate moments of 100 everyday heroes, spanning the ages from one to 100, as they sit down for breakfast on significant days in their lives. Each photograph is also accompanied by an audio interview, allowing each subject to communicate their own thoughts and feelings.

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