BELL ATLANTIC YELLOW PAGES
Arnold Communications, Boston
Bell Atlantic, Philadelphia
CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER
PRINT PRODUCTION MANAGER
The headline on another ad in the series: “That’s a very stylish look you have going there. For 1985, anyway.” What we have here, plainly, is the accusatory school of advertising. The genre has its virtues. It lends itself to vivid language, and it ties in well with sales pitches that call consumers to prompt action. The obvious downside is that people don’t enjoy being accused and are likely to resent an advertiser that subjects them to such treatment. Indeed, there are cases in which you’d like to tell this Yellow Pages series to keep its opinions to itself. In its more successful executions, the campaign finesses the problem by seeming to ascribe the jibes to some unspecified third party. It’s not the Yellow Pages saying you look like holy hell; it’s a hectoring spouse, perhaps, or a meddlesome friend. The Yellow Pages are here in the role of helpful bystander, ready to aid you as you deal with the problems life presents.
POWERBAR HARVEST ENERGY BAR
Citron Haligman Bedecarrƒ, San Francisco
PowerBar, Berkeley, Calif.
Matt Haligman, Kirk Citron
Jason Farrand, Fahrenheit Films (live action); Mathew Brady, Mathew Brady Films (product)
Clad in a track suit, a young woman runs as the soundtrack lets us listen in on her interior monologue. “When they said I couldn’t make it, I didn’t listen. When they told me I was a dreamer, I could not hear them.” Yet another spot for running shoes, right? So one would assume from the close-ups of running feet and the pompous rhetoric of self-actualization. But no: “Well, here I am, and I have the energy. And I will [pause] catch my bus.” As our heroine settles into her seat, a voiceover extols PowerBar as the tasty energy bar “for life’s daily marathons.” Another spot shows a man bounding up a stairway as he concedes, “Sure, there are times when I ask myself why I do it–when my body aches and I feel like quitting.” So why does he do it? Because “in my building, there is no elevator.” Often, a parody amuses us without doing much to sell the brand. These spots work because we’re grateful, as well as amused, to see ridicule directed at the hortatory genre. Having endured countless sneaker spots that summon us to pre-dawn marathons, we’re relieved to see a commercial acknowledge that real life might be putting other demands on us. And that leaves us with a sense that PowerBar is on our side.
3M’S PANAFLEX SIGN MATERIAL
3M Commercial Graphics, St. Paul, Minn.
Properly used, clichƒs are our friends. The notion of cops as donut-shop habituƒs is as old as law enforcement. And there’s nothing inventive about the headline: “Our new sign material is so realistic, it’ll stop your customers in their tracks.” But when you combine these elements with a suitable photo, they cohere into a message that’s fresh and engaging. Indeed, the familiarity of the constituent ideas helps make the message clear, while the novel way in which they’re combined holds the reader’s attention. Copy then delivers practical information about the client’s Panaflex sign-facing technology. In addition to selling this specific product, the ad helps sustain 3M’s image as a company that brings imaginative solutions to prosaic problems. Incidentally, someone should give this agency a donut account.
SMINT BREATH MINTS
Chupa Chups USA, Atlanta
We now have an answer to that often-asked question, “What product category has the weirdest ads?” Mints. Think about it. Altoids, Velamints, Mentos–they all have weird ads. So does a brand named Smint in a series of ads distributed in the form of postcards (which, of course, is a bit weird in its own right). Among other headlines in the campaign: “Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby” and “Do that to me again, big daddy.” The unexplanatory message on the back of each card: “Another fresh phrase brought to you by those shockingly cool, frightfully stimulating triangles of instant freshness known as Smint.” And the motto: “No Smint, no kiss.” That’s a good, simple line, which is all the more welcome as counterpoint to the archness of Smint’s sexual motif. In this competitive category, you can’t blame Smint for acting as though it already has achieved cult status. The trouble is, there’s something annoying about the aren’t-we-clever tone the campaign uses in that effort.
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