Sinister YouTube Remix of Coke's Xmas Ad: What Happens to Tired Spots

Last Updated Dec 21, 2010 2:13 PM EST

It's not news that Coca-Cola (KO) made one of the worst Christmas spots it's ever done this year, featuring an unlistenable custom track by the band Train. But a sinister and hilarious unauthorized remix of the spot demonstrates why consumers are often better at advertising than companies are, and why companies can no longer get away with tired old ideas -- YouTube is there to punish them.

Before you watch it (below), make sure you've seen Coke's approved version. It's cloying stuff, even if you're the kind of person who can't wait to pull on a knitted reindeer sweater.

The new ad, by YouTube user Railok, changes nothing except the music, borrowed from the movie Inception, and completely changes the tone of the ad. In Coke's ad, Santa was a genial old magic-maker bringing us together with a jolly shake of a snow globe. In the new one, titled "Mind Heist," he's an unseen but omnipotent superbeing controlling our lives without our knowledge, tossing unwitting humans around like so many toy dolls:

If you like advertising -- and if you've seen Inception -- the remixed ad is a piece of parody genius. Why didn't Coke think of this in the first place? That's a serious question. It's not such a terrible idea for an ad (it ends happily, after all). Online reaction to the original Train commercial has been universally negative in the blogosphere:

Brandfreak: I'm all for spreading the love. But why does it have to sound so awful?

Adfreak: That horrible, horrible song. Written and performed by Train exclusively for the campaign. That song, which apparently fills sensible humans with a keen desire to claw their ears out and halt the pain.

AgencySpy: Train, in short, is maybe the worst band ever.

Stop advertising from pulling a Train: Tired of hearing "Hey Soul Sister" by Train in what seems like every other television ad, and every single place you turn? It's time to put a stop to it.

To give you an idea of how consumers are often much better at playing advertisers at their own game, take a look at these other remixed movie ads, now part of their own genre on YouTube (alongside infomercial remixes):

The Shining, a family comedy:

Mary Poppins, the horror movie:

Silence of the Lambs, the love story:

I've previously both praised and railed against crowd-sourcing in advertising. Perhaps there's a happy, low-cost middle ground to be created. All advertisers have to do before launching a new ad is take a handful of remixers, give them the raw footage and a creative brief, and see if they come up with anything better than McCann Erickson Madrid did for Coke.