I Love These Ads

The LA Metro is running PSAs that look like Japanese commercials. The spots are insane, and I love them.

The three spots feature a girl who transforms into a superhero — Super Kind, or “SK” — every time she sees a huge orange fuzzy monster act rudely on a train, and then performs an instructional J-Pop song (replete with backup dancers) to illustrate proper rider etiquette.

They seem pulled directly from TV in Japan; not only are the images pure tokusatsu, but the chyron and V.O. are Japanese, too. SK sings her message of hope for friendship and less seat hogging in English. It was produced by Mike Diva, who has a thing for faux Japanese content, and stars Anna Akana, who gives advice via YouTube.

Here’s why I love the ads:

Data be damned — Data dominate the marketing world these days, whether dictating what should be said, or how, where, and when. These spots seem utterly disconnected from any such digital oversight (if there’s any backing them up, I’d be surprised). I find it wonderfully refreshing.

Wildly creative — The spots provide no apparent rationale for why they would appear in front of Americans (it’s almost as if they’re here by mistake). This harkens back to the golden age of advertising, when commercials could occasionally surprise and amaze viewers.

Clear message — Proper etiquette while riding public transportation is not the sexiest of messages, yet the spots capture your attention so they can be delivered (unlike so much social marketing that leaves you wondering why you just watched something). They dare to actually say something.

I have no idea if the campaign will work, and I fear it’s unlikely that the next bike rider who feels entitled to his or her space will identify with the orange monster doing the same thing in one of the spots.

Perhaps every rider will be encouraged to volunteer as kindness police, which may include policing their own behaviors.

But as marketing falls ever further over the technology cliff into irrelevance, I am encouraged by the creativity of these spots, as well as by the audacity it took to create them.

We chase the mediocrity of success too dearly. It’s important to risk failing beautifully.