BY MARK DOLLIVER
AGENCY: Bates USA, New York
CLIENT: Kinney Shoe Corp., New York
MEDIUM: consumer magazines
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Mike Robertson
ART DIRECTOR: Aubyn Gwinn
COPYWRITERs: Stevie Pierson, Walt Bishop
PHOTOGRAPHER: Michel Comte
Isn’t the headline presumptuous? You might be willing to buy the company’s economical shoes, but that doesn’t begin to mean you see yourself and Kinney forming ‘the perfect pair.’ Even the least status-conscious consumer must aim higher than that. Meanwhile, the ad’s cramped visual style–as if Kinney has taken a long-limbed model and tried to fold her into a shoe box–conveys nothing so much as discomfort. One would have thought a shoe ad would make sure to avoid evoking that sensation. Anyhow, this model looks as if she’d sooner spit than shop at ‘america’s shoe store.’ Nobody will believe Kinney has suddenly become a pantheon of high fashion, but they’ll note that it has adopted a certain hauteur–not a big plus for a chain whose true selling points are value and convenience.
AGENCY: Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis
CLIENT: Formica Corp., Cincinnati
MEDIUM: consumer magazines
CREATIVE DIRECTORs: Jud Smith, Kerry Casey
ART DIRECTOR: Penny Duerr
COPYWRITER: Tim Cawley
PHOTOGRAPHER: Zan Ng
Kitsch is the last refuge of those who’ve run out of fresh ideas and are hoping to conceal that fact. But it’s used judiciously here to reshape our view of Formica, and of the people who might have it in their kitchens. The ad doesn’t pretend that Formica has gone hip. Instead, it makes the plausible claim that you can use Formica without branding yourself as terminally square. You know it’s convenient stuff, so what you really want is permission to go ahead and install it. Sure, the brand may be a fixture in the kitchens of white-bread housewives, but it also passes muster with the individualist who collects items like this napkin holder. In this artful context, the array of the brand’s new colors conveys a useful subtext: Your choice of Formica can be a mode of self-expression, not a surrender to tract-house conformity.
BURLINGTON COAT FACTORY
AGENCY: Norman J. Stevens Advertising, South Orange, N.J.
CLIENT: Burlington Coat Factory, Burlington, N.J.
CREATIVE DIRECTOR/COPYWRITER: Joel Harrison
ART DIRECTOR: Debbie Howarth
With its jocular take on kidnapping, this ad will offend some people. But should it? It’s not as though we believe the company thinks serious crime is a joke. There’s plainly no intent to hurt the feelings of people who’ve been on the receiving end of genuine ransom notes. Still, there is something about the ad that doesn’t sit right. What’s offensive isn’t that the Burlington Coat people think the topic is funny but that they take it for granted we’ll think it’s funny. It’s not just a display of the advertiser’s level of taste but a comment on ours. Retailers must sell people on a certain self-image before it can initiate them as customers, and the image offered here is a little tacky. Thus, the problem is not that the ad is offensive but that it’s unappealing. As Tallyrand may or may not have said, ‘It’s worse than a crime; it’s a blunder.’
DOW ANTI-BACTERIAL CLEANER
AGENCY: Campbell Mithun Esty, Minneapolis
CLIENT: DowBrands, Indianapolis
MEDIUM: 30-second TV
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Rick Gibson
ART DIRECTOR: Clark Lamm
COPYWRITER: Pete Demarest
PRODUCER: Jane Sircus
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Bedford Hills, Los Angeles
ANIMATION: Planet Blue, Los Angeles
DIRECTOR: Barry Young
When commercials show household bacteria through a microscope, what are the little critters up to? Swimming around aimlessly, with no evident purpose in life. I can’t help feeling they’d seem more menacing if they remained unseen. But this spot is carefully measured in the amount of menace it doses out. For one thing, the usual overbearing male voiceover has been replaced by the testimony of a mother who happens to be a Dow scientist. ‘My kids, I love ’em,’ she says with a chuckle as the spot opens with shots of her boys mugging for the camera. ‘But sometimes they don’t see the mess they make,’ she adds, as the boys crack open eggs and wildly stir some batter. ‘So they’d never see bacteria here. Even after washing, this counter can be teeming with germs.’ And the inevitable microscopic shot shows salmonella, staph and strep germs doing the bacterial dog-paddle. ‘I see them because I’m a Dow scientist.’ Sure enough, there she is in her lab coat. She explains that Dow created a cleaner that ‘removes grease and kills germs for a microscopic clean, unlike ordinary cleaners.’ People find germs scary these days, but lots of them find science scary, too. So Dow is smart to embody its expertise in the form of a droll mother. Thanks to her reassuring presence, we take in the germs-are-everywhere message without feeling Dow has subjected us to unwelcome scare tactics.
Copyright ASM Communications, Inc. (1997) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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