By Mark Dolliver
TIC TAC BREATH MINTS
Traditionally, ads for odor-suppressing products deliver a threat: Buy our brand or you’ll be a pariah–and a smelly pariah at that. In the days when people craved the good opinion of society, that was an effective approach. But a stroll around the block tells you that people are now willing to give vast amounts of offense to their fellow man. Intimidation won’t work as well in an age when anti-social behavior has replaced baseball as the national pastime. This ad sensibly adopts a more amiable approach, offering advice from a pal rather than edicts from an authority figure. The world isn’t waiting to pounce on you for your imperfections, the ad seems to say. Rather, it’s waiting to embrace you if you make a good-faith effort (Tic Tacs included) to meet it halfway.
AGENCY McCann-Erickson, New York
CLIENT Ferrero U.S.A., Somerset, N.J.
MEDIUM consumer magazines
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jonathan Cranin
ART DIRECTOR Linda Thibodeau
COPYWRITER Jerry Olson
ILLUSTRATOR Isabelle Dervaux
If you’re in the market for bathroom fixtures, you want to buy them from a company that thinks bathrooms are the center of the universe. But that doesn’t mean you want an ad to assume you share that perspective your- self. ‘A great bathroom isn’t just a room,’ says copy. ‘It’s a retreat, a personal sanctuary, a place in which to celebrate the objects and rituals of everyday existence.’ My! The ad closes by inviting you to call for a guide book ‘overflowing with products, ideas and inspiration.’ (I’d think twice before using the word ‘overflowing’ in this context.) One appreciates the company’s dedication to its work, but readers who aren’t so excited by the subject may feel left out by these rhetorical flights. As such, one welcomes the headline’s note of humor. And the photo and layout display the products to good advantage, making them look sleek without exalting them.
AGENCY Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis
CLIENT American Standard, Piscataway, N.J.
MEDIUM consumer magazines
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Kerry Casey
ART DIRECTOR Hans Hansen
COPYWRITER Phil Calvit
PHOTOGRAPHER Bruce Wolf
On the contrary, men won’t commit to reading 80 words of copy if it’s based on a metaphor that wears thin. Stick with it to the end and this ad makes a sound point: Mazda’s willingness to offer an exceptional warranty is telling evidence that these trucks run forever. But the ‘commitment’ theme is a mixed blessing in helping us get that far. ‘You don’t jump into a relationship with a Mazda Truck for the short haul. As we speak, some are out there pushing 400,000 miles.’ So far, so good. ‘Ah, loyalty. The kind of loyalty every Mazda Truck inspires.’ Sorry, but that sort of puffery is white noise, giving readers a cue to turn the page. The fear-of-commitment theme is such a cliche these days that the reader is poised halfway out the door to begin with. And the visual is unhelpfully ambiguous. Is it alluding to men who are hounds (and averse to commitment) or to hounds who are hounds (and famously loyal) or to the man’s-best-friend relationship as emblem for the bond between man and truck? Hard to say.
AGENCY Foote, Cone & Belding, Santa Ana, Calif.
CLIENT Mazda Motors of America, Irvine, Calif.
MEDIUM car-enthusiast magazines
CREATIVE DIRECTOR/ copywriter John McKee
ART DIRECTORs Len Zimmelman, Imke Daniel
PHOTOGRAPHERS Alan Kaplan Photography (mammals), Craig McMillen (truck)
One new VW spot shows two 20somethings driving aimlessly around a bleak town. A voiceover says the car fits your life, ‘or your total lack thereof.’ It’s clever, but Gen X anomie is easy to capture. An agency can do that in its sleep. (And plenty do, from the looks of things.) Given the irony that permeates pop culture, what’s awfully hard is to convey enthusiasm without sounding phony. Another new VW spot does just that, which is why it’s the impressive one in the batch. We meet John Tyler, ‘breeder of champion Volkswagens.’ We first see him running along with leash in hand and a pack of VWs in merry pursuit. ‘You gotta love these cars,’ he tells us. ‘They’re so playful and friendly.’ The spot sustains the car-as-dog gag without letting it get tiresome. ‘You gotta feed ’em right (he brandishes cans of gas and oil), keep their coats clean and glossy (an assistant lathers up a coupe). This breed loves to run, so you gotta give ’em plenty of exercise (cars maneuver in an open field). You can tell by the gleam in the daytime running lights, these are happy cars!’ With the accent and manner of an Aussie sheep rancher, the breeder is an entertaining companion for 30 seconds. And we can enjoy the spot’s enthusiasm for the cars precisely because we’re not asked to take it too seriously. But we are left with a hunch that these cars may truly be more fun than most.
AGENCY Arnold Communications, Boston
CLIENT Volkswagen of America, Auburn Hills, Mich.
MEDIUM 30-second TV
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ron Lawner
ART DIRECTOR Alan Pafenbach
COPYWRITER Lance Jensen
PRODUCER Keith Dezen
PRODUCTION COMPANY Atherton Associates, New York
DIRECTOR David Denneen
Copyright ASM Communications, Inc. (1997) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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