Guest Critic

Aleve: French filmmaker François Truffaut commented that, having once worked in a factory himself, he couldn’t imagine anyone spending a whole day at work and then going to see a movie about people who labored in a factory. I’m sorry that Anthony isn’t feeling well, but maybe if he ate better and lost some weight, he wouldn’t feel so achy.

Apple: With the exception of having somehow convinced Microsoft founder and über-geek Bill Gates to play the anthropomorphized PC, this spot couldn’t have been conceived and executed much better. OK, maybe the guy playing the Mac feels a little Jimmy Fallon-lite, but the performances, the editing, the writing, etc., all come together in a way that isn’t just “about” the brand; it IS the brand.

Burger King: When the cast collectively picks up the minivan and drops it off the bridge onto a pickup truck being pulled by a man chained to the pickup truck, who in turn is being lured by a burger held by a beautiful woman … well, let’s just say “Manthem” more than makes up for “Chilltop.” The fact that both of these so-called anthem spots were produced by the same agency for two clients (BK and Coca-Cola) who sell basically the same thing is testament to the theory that great work gets BOUGHT, not SOLD.

Citi: Robert Moore wasn’t a terrible James Bond; he just wasn’t Sean Connery’s James Bond. Similarly, this iteration of the identity-theft campaign isn’t terrible; it just isn’t as good as the earlier versions. In addition, haven’t we already met credit-card-stealing, bustier-buying “Valley Girl” before?

Combos: Here’s what I say to the think tank behind this spot: Just keep doing them. It’s right for the target, it’s right for the product, it’s right for the brand. And additional applause to the client who either had the wisdom to never write or the courage to disregard the brief that normally would refer to a cheesy, salty snack bereft of nutrition as some sort of “meal-replacement delivery platform that encourages the consumer to live a more challenging life …”

JetBlue: I like the idea better than the execution, or to be more specific, the voiceover. It reminds me of the actor/character on CSI: New York who tries way too hard to approximate and deliver what he seems to think is an “authentic” New York accent. What I do like about the spot is—to paraphrase Steven Colbert—the “balls” it has to point out that the public has lost faith in the airline industry.

Miller Lite: One of the things you have to admire about Crispin is its ability to “dig through a brand’s archaeology” and salvage all of the good ideas—regardless of where they came from—and then make them feel new and relevant. The male camaraderie captured in the old Miller Lite “Everything You Ever Wanted in a Beer, and Less” is brought back to life by the “Rag-Tag Team of Misfits” casting (I only wish Lee Marvin could be here to see it). Then they keep “Good call,” which is a nice line that just never achieved its full potential. Finally, they package the whole thing in the big idea—”Man Laws”—and never mention hops or barley or some proprietary yeast formula, because beer-drinking has nothing to do with beer-making.

Planters: Like its monocle-and-top-hat-wearing mascot, I found this ad bizarre, yet endearing. Even if you don’t get the allusion to An Affair to Remember, if you’re a fan of the pistachio nut, you can’t not like this spot.

Sprint: I’m guessing the “dots” are an aspect of an actual feature that you can tap into with this walkie-talkie phone. But assuming it is indeed the linchpin of the whole idea, it seems to have taken a back seat to the Office Space/The Office aesthetic that the spot is tapping into.

Virgin Mobile: One of the things I always enjoy and admire about Virgin Mobile’s work is that it delivers well against the sensibility of its target. “Chrismahanukwanzakah” was funny, irreverent and daring. I feel like making fun of mimes is like making jokes about Riverdance—it might have been funnier awhile ago, but when was the last time you saw a mime anywhere BUT in an ad?

VW Jetta: It certainly doesn’t top a guy in a muscle car with a bullhorn yelling “Because Daddy never hugged me,” but here’s where I give this spot points—it’s not just an ad for a Jetta, it’s an ad for The Jetta Report. And The Jetta Report is a whole idea that comes to life online. Which brings me to another thing Crispin does really well: It uses TV to drive people to the Web, and then it overdelivers on that experience by taking advantage of the depth, breadth and economy that medium offers.