HERE’S TO THE UNDERDOG.
In a month when terrific production helped OK ideas and ’50s Moderne helped things look hip, the stuff that stood out was simple. It gave us unlikely characters to love.
Like the latest UPS spot. Upstairs, the management guru is intoning. It’s about having vision; it’s about thinking outside the box. Unless you’re not in that meeting. Unless you’re the guy down in the mailroom thinking about the box. I like that someone’s finally indicted the foreign tongue we got hooked into speaking at client meetings. I like anybody who’s not using it. And it makes me like UPS even more because they cut to the chase with my package. They’re shipping it, not strategizing about it. With guaranteed delivery time, to boot.
Then there’s the real underdog in the Footlocker spot (above, left). Two guys about to go for a run through the woods–except one isn’t a Type-A-give-110-percent overachiever. He’s anxious, and a little plump, and apparently agreed to this guy-bonding thing only to think better of it. “I’m having a little problem here,” he says, looking pained. “Barry, we’ve gone, like, 50 yards,” says his friend.
Barry quits. “I mean, this was cool, man. I’m glad we did this, but there’s something I gotta do.” Turns out he just needs better shoes. New Trail Running Shoes from Footlocker. But there’s an odd intensity to this guy’s begging off that’s a great counterpoint to all that Nike inspiration. Because we know this guy. We’ve been this guy. Sometimes you just can’t. (Until you have the right shoes and you can.)
And how about those Nexcare bandages? The new 3M product protects your wound with today’s hottest body ornament: the tattoo. Picture a barber shop. A 10-year-old waits his turn. A huge, scary biker slugs down beside him. Biker points to a real tattoo on his arm. “Rock concert, ’75.” Kid points to a tattoo bandage on his leg. “Rock climbing. Yesterday.” Biker: “Woodstock, ’69.” Kid: “Woodshop. Sixth period.” They didn’t spend a fortune shooting this spot, which is something else to love. And who can’t root for a 10-year-old? Who can’t root for a bandage that turns scab into honor?
Finally, there’s the new Domino’s Pizza spot featuring Dr. Cravin (above, right). You almost wish the plastic-figurine approach was honorably retired after Ken and Barbie for Nissan, but it wasn’t and so it goes. This happens to be terrific. Think smaller-than-life superhero. Think Toonces the Driving Cat meets Mr. Bill. Dr. Cravin tries to intercept the delivery of a Domino’s pizza, gamely driving to the recipient’s home–only to be kicked into the street and, ah geez, run over by a car. It’s not pretty, it may not sell more pizzas right off, but it’s funny.
It’s nice siding with the little guy. We’ve got enough superheroes in the real world.
Janet Kraus is executive vice president, executive creative director at Young & Rubicam in New York. Her accounts include Citibank, Fisher-Price, Sears and International Home Foods.
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