QUANTUM DATA-STORAGE PRODUCTS
When a product positions itself as indispensable, its ads carry this implicit accusation: How can you be so foolhardy as not to have bought our stuff already? That’s a problem, since people prefer not to be told they’re foolhardy. Without sacrificing a sense of urgency, Quantum finesses this difficulty by presenting characters to whom its audience of info-tech professionals can feel superior. Aside from the would-be screenwriter shown above, the series includes a geezer who’s wedding a young lovely (his pre-nup file is the crucial one) and a mobster disguised as a clown (file slugs: “Plea Agreement” and “Witness Protection Dossier”). In yet another ad, a shot of a remote cabin is accompanied by files designated “My Novel,” “Video Games,” “Moose Recipes” and “Mail Order Brides.” The offbeat humor takes the edge off any sense the readers are being subjected to scare tactics. But it also leaves them with a motivating message: If these yahoos are safeguarding their files, then I (a serious person!) should certainly be taking care of mine.
Goldberg Moser O’Neill, San Francisco
Agency Creative Director
Group Creative Director
One can’t walk through a bookstore without tripping over tomes about men’s struggle to define their role in these feminized times. How odd, then, that one seldom encounters men in real life who obsess about this issue. Might it be that the crisis of gender identity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? Those who suspect as much will thoroughly enjoy Restoration Hardware’s take on what it takes to be A Man. The headline suggests the pleasing image of a man with flasks of gin and vermouth tucked into his toolbelt. Copy links this cocktail shaker to “the days of silver ice tongs and dinner jackets.” That will sound too foppish for some tastes, and it doesn’t quite sustain the wry tone of the headline. But it does tie in well with the Restoration name, which carries overtones of a legitimate ruling class reclaiming the throne as usurpers are sent packing.
Corte Madera, Calif.
GREAT LAKES BEER
Education is a fine thing. Beer is another fine thing. Still, when an ad promises “An Education in Fine Beer,” as this one does, we brace ourselves for an exercise in tedium. The average beer drinker would prefer to have his beer neat, without a seminar on its ingredients and cultural antecedents. Even the above-average beer drinker–i.e., the microbrew target audience–may feel he’s had his fill of fancy-beer pretensions. As it happens, consumers who aren’t scared off by this ad’s educational trappings will find it is unpretentious. (We’ll overlook the copy’s mention of “palate and finish.”) The damnation of Louis Pasteur introduces an unfussy explanation of why Great Lakes’ beers should be refrigerated: The brewery doesn’t pasteurize them, for the simple reason that Pasteur’s “little invention harms the flavor of our beer.” This leaves you feeling you’ve picked up a useful bit of beer lore, even as it establishes a point of difference for the brand.
Great Lakes Brewing, Cleveland
CAMBRIDGE SOUNDWORKS AUDIO EQUIPMENT
These days, lots of commercials try to be weird. They’re usually weird in such formulaic ways, though, that they end up seeming merely cutesy. So, let’s count it as an achievement that this spot really is weird. We see two people who live in adjacent apartments. The slinky young woman (SYW) puts some music on her sound system, then starts drawing a bath and disrobing. Hearing the music, the pasty-faced guy (PFG) walks to the common wall and unhooks a picture, revealing a peephole. PFG looks through it, drawn (we assume) by the chance to gaze at SYW. After a second, though, he turns his head and places his ear against the hole. A look of ecstasy comes over PFG’s face as he listens to the music. An onscreen tagline gives the client’s name and the motto, “Hear it. Live it.” Some people will simply be creeped out by the vignette, wondering if “audiophile” is the clinical term for some sort of pervert. For hardcore audio enthusiasts, though, the eccentric celebration of their obsession will give the brand a cachet. After all, would a mass-market brand dare to be this weird?
Pagano Schenck & Kay, Boston
Epoch Films, New York
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