In This Is Spinal Tap, a guitar amp that turns up to 11 rather than 10 is used to comedic effect as an emblem of self-parodic excess. Here, the “Commitment” dial is turned up to 11. As in the movie, this detail seems silly, not impressive. It’s also out of keeping with the tone of the photo. After all, we’re not really meant to believe the Homegrown’s owner has a monogrammed towel for the bike. It’s an engaging sight gag, meant to be taken as deliberate exaggeration. The 11 is just as exaggerated, but it asks to be taken seriously. The copy simply lists the Homegrown’s features–an effective approach that lets serious cyclists know the tangible nouns of this bike needn’t be dressed up with airy adjectives.
Agency: Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami
Client: Schwinn Cycling and Fitness, Boulder, Colo.
Creative Director: Alex Bogusky
Art Director: Tony Calcao
Copywriter: Ari Merkin
Photography: Hunter Freeman
If people think cyberspace is a disembodied realm, can you grab their attention by graphically proving it’s not? Featuring model Cindy Margolis, “the most downloaded human on the planet,” this ad answers that question in the affirmative. Even if you’ve never heard of Margolis, much less downloaded her, you’ll read on to see what InfoSpace is up to–i.e., providing “commerce, content, communications and community services to over 1,800 Web sites.” The copy is quick to list big companies, including America Online and Microsoft, that use InfoSpace’s services. In other words, while the company is brash enough to compare itself (favorably) to a babe in a minidress, it isn’t a fly-by-night outfit. Is there enough information here to make you an Info-
Space customer? No, but that wouldn’t be a realistic mission for an ad in this category. The immediate aim is to lure you to the Web site, and the mixture of in-your-face humor and buttoned-down credentials accomplishes that task.
Agency: Creative works, Seattle
Client: InfoSpace.com, Redmond, Wash.
Creative Director: Alan Yamamoto
Art Directors: Scott Drombrowski, Kristy Willson
Copywriter: Mike Hayward
The proliferation of dot.com companies has yielded lots of clever ads. Often, though, we’re more likely to recall the witty schtick than to remember the name of the client. Aimed at professionals in the long-term care industry, this campaign copes gamely with that problem by creating a character, Out of Touch Guy, who appears throughout the brand’s advertising and on its Web site. In each ad, Out of Touch Guy reveals his ignorance of some long-established technology. (In one, he picks up a phone and asks how the caller managed to “throw your voice into this small plastic object.”) Any client can buy a clever ad, but Out of Touch Guy is Snalf’s and Snalf’s alone. That will help it build an identity. Of course, the campaign is playing on readers’ own fears of being out of touch. That’s risky, since it can antagonize the audience. And there is something obnoxious about the motto, “People who Snalf laugh at people who don’t.” (It’s a joke, I know, but not enough of a joke.) Still, since you can easily tap into Snalf’s vast trove of information, the message is ultimately reassuring.
Agency: Big Ads, Portland, Ore.
Client: Snalf.com, Portland, Ore.
Creative Director/Copywriter: Joel Thomas
Art Director: Marc Sobier
We’re accustomed to ads whose theme is, more or less, “Our car will liberate you from your 9-to-5 drudgery.” Mazda alters that formula to suit the New Economy, featuring a young woman who works in high finance–notwithstanding her hipster glasses and ‘do. (A portrait of Frederick Douglass on her wall offers further assurance that she’s cashing in without selling out.) A yuppie-rap voiceover sets the scene as she leaves the office and joins some friends for a spin around town: “Friday night, it’s half past five. Job well- done, this soul survived. Stocks or bonds, it’s Karen’s call. Take stock of life and have a ball.” Their drive takes them through a triumphal arch that displays stock-ticker symbols, adding to the impression that their Mazda-powered outing is less an escape from the workaday world than a reward for succeeding in it. (The driver even wears a tie!) Instead of treating the target audience as a band of madcaps, a closing voiceover speaks in downright sober terms: “Mazda Protegƒ. In a world full of risks, it’s a pretty sound investment.” With other automakers addressing our Inner Child, maybe Mazda will make headway by inviting young go-getters to heed their Inner Adult.
Agency: Doner, Southfield, Mich.
Chief Creative Officer: John DeCerchio
Creative Director: Craig Piechura
Creative/Art Director: Bryan McPeak
Copywriter: Glen Hilzinger
Producer: Kurt Kulas
Production Company: Rhythm & Hues, Los Angeles
Director: Charlie Watso