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Best Spots: December

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This holiday season, while eating fruitcake and watching all of the bowl games, I came across a few spots that I think are worth mentioning. Let's start with Emerald Nuts.

Gone are the days of dissecting E-M-E-R-A-L-D N-U-T-S to make the point that everyone (even bizarre characters) eats them. This new effort points out a true benefit of eating almonds during the day. Energy! Simple, right?

Remember The Swiss Family Robinson? Many of you probably read the 1812 Johann David Wyss novel. Not me. I was lazy. Instead, I saw the 1960 Walt Disney film based on the novel. Regardless, bringing those characters back made this idea.

The spot opens with girlfriends talking in the kitchen and eating Emerald Nuts. They hear a sound and one woman says to her friend, do you have mice? The woman of the house replies, "No. We have the Swiss Family Robinson!" Classic. We then follow the sound into the living room where the clever Swiss family is building a fortress on her husband's head as he sleeps. The voiceover then says, "Stay sharp at 3 p.m. with natural energy from Emerald Nuts." Strange? Yeah. Unexpected? Yeah. But it's nut advertising for goodness sake. Simple is tough. This spot made it look easy.

As long as we're in the food category, let's shift to Burger King, which in the last few years has done some memorable advertising. Furthermore, the king character has been elevated to an industry icon. I can't lie, I bought and played "Pocketbike Racer" from the Xbox 360 "King Games" series, and I dug it.

Their latest campaign takes a slightly different approach. Burger King boldly removes the Whopper from the menu, and hidden cameras record the "freak out." In a nutshell … that's it. Personally, I found the online program more interesting than the spot because I understood more clearly why the customers were freaking out.

If you go to whopperfreakout.com, the film begins with a title sequence that shows Day 1. From that point on you'll see BK's new marketing angle that explores the ultimate "what if?" What if Burger King discontinued its signature burger, the Whopper? What if cameras captured customer reactions? And finally, what if at the end the king himself planted a big fat "Punked" stamp on that entire Whopper-loving community? Bedlam? Not to worry, the king enters the restaurant to save the day. Whoppers for everyone!

If you ignore the familiar Candid Camera-like execution, the length to which Burger King goes to make this point is a trip. I can recall a scene in the film when a customer is served Big Macs and Wendy's burgers in place of Whoppers. That's ballsy. Hats off to Burger King for having the courage to take a chance (for a few days) and do something irreverent. I'm not a big Whopper fan, but unless you're vegan it kind of makes you crave one. All in all, too neatly tied at the end for my taste, but fun regardless.

Let's wrap this up with Net10. The campaign takes the side of the consumer in a battle against evil cell phone companies. I dig the premise and I love this spot. The character "Evil" tries to cancel his cell phone service and is enraged when he's told that it will cost him $175. The style and the performances sell this spot. The animation, done by World Leaders Entertainment, is reminiscent of many of the animated skits done for SNL by J.J. Sedelmaier, but the idea is fresh and stands out in the category. Plus you've got to love a tagline that tells the truth: "No bills. No contracts. No evil."

If only life could promise the same thing.