What’s New: Portfolio

camel lights
AGENCY: Mezzina/Brown, New York
CLIENT: R.J. Reynolds, Winston-Salem, N.C.
MEDIUM: consumer print
ART DIRECTOR: Anthony Turi
The “Viewer Discretion” label uses the vocabulary of TV advisories. But in this context, the rectangular message atop the ad mocks another bit of nanny statism: the Surgeon General’s tobacco warning. Pretty nervy, eh? As if that weren’t enough, the “subliminal imagery” schtick sends up the activists who accuse the cigarette industry of Svengaliesque manipulations. (“Word ‘Lights’ blinks on and off when no one’s looking. Ad slogan read backwards is ‘Ytsat Ythgim.’ “) In short, the ad could scarcely be more provoking to tobacco’s opponents. What will smokers (and potential smokers) make of all this? I suspect they’ll thoroughly enjoy it. Do-gooders are always a ripe target for derision, as are the busybody feds. And on a gut level, smokers will relish the chance to laugh at the notion they’re putty in the hands of Big Tobacco–even if they are putty in the hands of Big Tobacco.
molson’s black ice beer
CLIENT: Molson Breweries, North York, Ontario
MEDIUM: outdoor
CREATIVE DIRECTORS: Stephen Creet, Michael McLaughlin
ART DIRECTOR: David Houghton
illustrator: Fiona Smyth
digital retouching: ReBecca Nixon
The billboard at left, touting a bogus fragrance named Siren, appears as is for its first week of posting. In the second week, it’s graffitied into an ad (right) for Black Ice beer. If people think the original ad has been altered by a roving band of Black Ice partisans, that’s fine. If they realize it’s a calculated ploy on Molson’s part, that’s fine, too, since it imputes to the brewer an audacity that big companies are thought not to possess. Either way, Black Ice scores points with the laddish target audience. In another ad in the series, the graffiti is rather objectionable, making a lighthearted allusion to poison-gas warfare, of all things. There’s a point at which irreverence becomes stupidity. The campaign fares better with an execution that turns an overly posed underwear model into “Snake Boy,” complete with Medusalike hair and reptilian tattoos.
slammer crankbaits
AGENCY: Cramer-Krasselt, Milwaukee
CLIENT: Slammer Handmade Crankbaits, Pewaukee, Wis.
MEDIUM: consumer print
ART DIRECTOR: Matt Herrmann
Here’s one of the rare cases in which weird typography amplifies a sales pitch instead of muting it. You could hook your daily limit of fish on the barbed descenders and ascenders of this ad’s headline. As for its content, it’ll get a knowing chuckle from readers. But the workplace analogy also seems labored. There’s no shortage of populist resentment in the land, but do people wish to impose that sentiment on their avocations? Anyhow, readers may not be eager to place themselves as low on the totem pole as the words here suggest. The ad’s perspective seems too lumpen for Slammer’s own good. Few sports have a more complex hierarchy of class than fishing, from the toffs who plan their vacations around the salmon run in Scotland to the blue-collar sorts who populate the local pier’s party boat. An advertiser must take care not to place its target audience on the wrong stratum.
partnership for a drug-free america
AGENCY: Jordan McGrath Case & Partners, New York
CLIENT: Partnership for a Drug-Free America, New York
MEDIUM: 30-second TV
ART DIRECTOR: Ian Plimsoll
COPYWRITER: Charles Hipsher
producer: Chris Ott
director: Lori Hoeft
production co.: HKM, Los Angeles
Commercials often try to deglamorize drugs. This one goes a step further, deglamorizing the victim status of anyone foolish enough to use methamphetamines (a.k.a. “meth”). There’s no stern voiceover as we see an attractive girl become a mess under meth’s spell–compulsively scrubbing her bathroom with a toothbrush, scratching herself bloody, etc. Instead, the soundtrack offers a mockingly upbeat jingle, as if this were a spot for meth instead of against it. “Look at me, busy as a bee. Where’d I get all this energy? Ohhh, meth! Umm, meth! I don’t sleep and I don’t eat. But I’ve got the cleanest house on the street. Ohhh, meth! Umm, meth!” No one cajoles viewers to shun the drug. Nor does the spot express sympathy for this girl. With its peppy song as accompaniment to her torment, the tone is closer to one of ridicule. And ridicule is worth a try. It’s among the things kids fear most. By the same token, one reason they use drugs is because they’re hungry for sympathetic attention, and that’s what anti-drug spots often give them. As such, kids reasonably infer that drug use gives them an importance they wouldn’t otherwise achieve. This spot doesn’t make that mistake.