Guest Critic

David Ogilvy once said, “Repeat your winners.” As a boy growing up in Canada, we used to watch all the American TV we could, and especially the advertising. One of the campaigns that always cracked me and my family up—especially my Dad—was the old Doyle Dane Bernbach campaign for Alka-Seltzer. I’m not sure how they came up with the thought that afflictions like gas are funny (it is and probably has been for centuries).

The original “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” campaign was probably also the original buzz-marketing campaign, making its way ’round the office cooler and the school yard.

I thought the original campaign understood that a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. In those days, it was perfectly OK to use humor in medicine advertising. Look at the old Alka-Seltzer work—”Mama Mia, that was some spicy meatball”—medicine and humor hand in hand. It still cracks me up. Patch Adams, the vulnerable medical school clown, understood the same idea: Humor makes people feel better.

But, for whatever reason, it seems to have escaped almost the entire medicine industry for the past 30 years. No one seems to do funny medicine advertising anymore, except perhaps for the disclaimers at the end of current ads talking about medical conditions, such as, and this is true: “anal leakages.”

Everything nowadays is so similarly serious and thoughtful. So, it is with this in mind that I applaud the return of Alka-Seltzer’s “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”

Even if it is a 75th anniversary ad. I swear, I hope it’s the beginning of a revolution in medicine and pharmaceutical advertising.

Talk about repeating winners. I would love to see Volkswagen do “Funeral” again, or “Snowplow.” VW is about to come alive with a new approach that promises to ignite a new era in car advertising, once Crispin Porter + Bogusky starts executing campaigns. The auto industry is in need of fresh thinking. But having said this, the recent work from Arnold was a nice fresh surprise and made this month’s Best Spots list. The commercial in the series titled “Chrome” is my fave. It has wit and is also a great demo. “Dual Zone” is a great demo too, but less funny.

The Sprint Nextel commercial featuring gingerbread men was delightful and is very Mr. Bill. I found it very entertaining. I felt sad that they are still reduced to long and fast-talking product copy. I closed my eyes and listened to the copy, which sounded like every other operator out there. When I opened my eyes and watched the commercial, I laughed. The bland product copy was brought to life in a very entertaining way.

I loved, loved, loved the PSP Rat commercials. It’s really hard to maintain fresh, cool advertising in the gaming area. With the new Xbox launch and all its noise, the pencil-illustration rat campaign really stood out for me. And the copy in this spot is incredible. “Cheese you can listen to outside.” Ding ding ding, we have a winner.

Attention, all shoppers! The New York Lottery commercial does a great job showcasing the lifestyle of the New York Lottery rich, this time with a huge Costco/Wal-Mart scenario for the winners, all filled with Ferraris, race horses and other goodies—all of which is a witty twist on the classic lottery advertisements.

And kudos for the ESPN family spot, which made the best commercials list. This campaign continues to keep the standard very high for all media brands by taking a totally different angle. A lot of media brands can learn from this fresh approach. It beats drive-at-5 appointment advertising. This creative for ESPN just keeps getting better and better. This spot has some wickedly original animation, with a nice twist at the end.