October’s Spots Looked Hard to Make

NEW YORK Ben Stiller once said in an interview that he never bags on other people’s movies because he knows how hard they are to make. That struck me when I read it, but it’s something I too often forget when watching other people’s work. Since a lot of October’s Best Spots looked pretty hard to make, it only seems natural to accentuate the positive.

I’ve been a big fan of the Lexus work of late, especially its craftsmanship, and this spot is no exception. We open on a giant pop-up book on a set and watch the pages being turned by stagehands to reveal the car and its safety message. It appears as if everything works in real time. The attention to detail rubs off on the brand and is a nice evolution of the last few safety spots. Lexus could’ve easily repeated itself, but chose to try new things instead, and that’s cool.

Toyota continues to have fun with its brand, and I always look forward to something new from them, especially the truck stuff. Not everybody will get this spot, in which a Toyota Tacoma appears in a World of Warcraft video game, but Leeroy Jenkins and his crew will, and that’s the point.

The concept for Jeep Liberty has singing animals dropping into the SUV as it drives along a road, joining in “Rock Me Gently” playing on the radio. It’s almost a little too cute before it takes a surprise turn with the arrival of Mr. Wolf, who swallows a bird whole and then spits it back out. I was kind of hoping that the bird wouldn’t come back up, but that’s just me. It seems Jeep is still fine-tuning its new campaign, but it’s got my attention. I’ll take nostalgic wolves over running footage every time. All in all, some nice entries in the auto category.

On the Bud Light front, I want to pretend that this isn’t my type of humor, but it did make me laugh. In the spot, a man appears to be doing the going-down-the-stairs gag behind the couch. Because the ladies find this amusing, the man’s buddy gets up to do an escalator gag, but when he gets behind the couch, he promptly falls down a flight of stairs. I probably find it funny because I can think of five jackass friends I’ve worked with who still do the stair joke to this day. Maybe now they will see the danger in such hijinks.

Visa, with its toy store of jugglers (who stop juggling when a women pulls out a checkbook) and MasterCard, in which a woman sings “My Favorite Things,” are all well-crafted extensions of their respective campaigns. Maybe the campaigns are in need of a little refresh, but nice spots just the same.

A few of October’s spots did not rise as high for me, but only in the context of the bar that these brands have previously set for themselves. The Apple spot in particular, in which a man uses his iPhone to figure out a name he’s forgotten, didn’t feel as intriguing or Apple-y as I’ve come to expect. I felt the same about Corona. I was waiting for that peaceful 30 seconds of Mexican Zen and lapping waves, so this Halloween gag, in which a very pale man scares sunbathers on a beach, felt a little out of place for the brand.

I’m probably supposed to be appalled by the Harry Connick Jr. spot for Lincoln, in which he takes a tour of his hometown, New Orleans. But I’m not. Some feel it’s exploitive and vulgar, but it doesn’t come across to me like that at all. Connick seems comfortable and natural doing it, and if he doesn’t feel like it’s “too soon,” then it’s probably OK. As far as these things go, it’s done pretty nicely. In any case, the outrage feels a bit much. Save that for Brownie.

Lastly, there is a spot for Lincoln Financial, where a man in a maternity ward talks to his future self. I think this is the best spot of the campaign, maybe because the make-up job is better. In any case, it gets me thinking about how I’ll look when I’m old and have the ‘thritis and the ‘betes. I’m pretty sure I will look awesome. And that’s the power of positive thinking.