What’s New: Portfolio

AGENCY : Greenberg Seronick O’Leary and Partners, Boston
CLIENT : Web-Staff unit of MacTemps, Boston
MEDIUM : print and direct-response
CREATIVE DIRECTORS: Gary Greenberg, Peter Seronick

When you’re addressing an audience that’s gone half-blind from peering at computer screens all day, there’s much to be said for graphic simplicity. And if a single icon can convey a spirit that’s at once savvy and playful, so much the better. The client is a temp agency for interactive operations, so it needs to convey an aura of thorough comfort with the digital world. The visual does its part in accomplishing that task. Copy elaborates on the crossed fingers: “Luck has nothing to do with finding Web experts. Know-how does.” This text also presents an air of confidence. But does it sound true? I’m not sure it’ll have that ring for readers who’ve had to hire staff. Even in the supposedly rational world of business, luck is often involved when the right person appears at the right time for the right job. It’s not sufficient, obviously, but that doesn’t mean it’s unnecessary. By dismissing luck altogether, the client looks guilty of overplaying its hand.

AGENCY : PSK, Boston
CLIENT : Whistler Corp., Chelmsford, Mass.
MEDIUM : consumer print
ART DIRECTOR: Jason Gaboriau
PHOTOGRAPHER : Randal Alquist

A blender in your car? Let’s hope you won’t be using it to whip up daiquiris. The text opens with a question: “Just how useful can a cigarette lighter be to a person who doesn’t smoke?” One’s first impulse is to say, “Not very”-unpromising news for a company peddling “enhanced driving tools” that plug into the lighter. Still, by asking instead of telling, the ad engages you in the possibility that the now-idle lighter could become a font of convenience. The icons at right give substance to that notion, even if their profusion puts you in mind of Kramden and Norton selling the Handy Housewife Helper. (“Can it core a apple?”) If just one of the icons grabs you, you’ll be tempted to call the 800 number. And the truth is, people get a kick out of owning gadgets, as long as they look like fun gadgets. In that respect as well, the graphic treatment is helpful.

AGENCY: Anderson & Lembke, New York
CLIENT: Lot, The Airline of Poland, New York
MEDIUM: consumer magazines

When an ad can state its sales pitch in seven words, it’s entitled to fill the page with them. You can’t help reading on to learn what this headline is talking about-it turns out to be Krakow-but the phrase is more than a teaser. It sticks with you as a defining take on a destination about which you’re otherwise (probably) quite ignorant. Body copy fleshes out the picture of “one of Europe’s most captivating medieval cities,” mentioning museums, jazz, ballet and the like. (It also cites theater, which can’t be a big draw unless you speak Polish.) If there’s less hauteur in le tout Krakow than in a single Left Bank cafe, then you feel you’d be able to relax and enjoy these attractions. And while readers will enjoy the gibe at Parisians, they’ll also absorb the subtext that Krakow won’t be utterly unfamiliar. Even for inveterate travelers, it’s reassuring to have a point of reference.

AGENCY: Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York
CLIENT: Coca-Cola, Atlanta
MEDIUM: 30-second TV
CREATIVE DIRECTORS: Lee Garfinkel, Todd Godwin, C.J. Waldman
ART DIRECTOR: Jason Gaboriau
COPYWRITER: Steve Doppelt
PRODUCTION CO.: Satellite, New York
ANIMATION: Olive Jar, Boston
DIRECTOR: Spike Jonze

Perky mom enters kitchen, bearing tray with bottle of Sun Fizz. Freckle-faced kids express ecstasy at seeing favorite beverage. Yes, it’s the sort of spot you’ve seen a million times, and that’s no less true when the sunny-face logo hops off the bottle and starts speaking in a chirpy voice. Instead of greeting this development with the customary delight of commercial characters, though, these people are filled with terror. In other words, they react as you or I would if a label came to life. As Mr. Sunny-face babbles about vitamins and minerals, the mother and kids flee for their lives. What’s going on here? The mystery is solved in the final seconds of the spot as onscreen supers declaim Sprite’s motto: “Image is nothing. Thirst is everything. Obey your thirst.” In case that’s not clear enough, a voiceover urges you to “Trust your gut, not some cartoon character.” The parody of packaged-goods advertising is fun, but the campaign’s us-versus-them equation seems out of kilter. People are always happy to see themselves as resisting marketers’ manipulative schemes. But this send-up seems to draw invidious distinctions between the doltish housewives who fall for run-of-the-mill commercials and the savvy Gen Xers who don’t. Hey, even hipsters have mothers.