Creative Focus: Boston | Adweek
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Creative Focus: Boston

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This month, Adweek's CREATIVE FOCUS points east to the capital of advertising in New England. Featured campaigns include TV spots from Arnold Communications; Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos; and Houston Herstek Favat and print work from Mullen and Holland Mark Martin. Also, meet Ernie Schenck and Jamie Mambro, the Hill, Holliday team that put its John Hancock on financial-services advertising.


Lightbulbs are just not sexy. So, to market Osram Sylvania, Mullen crafted a print campaign that emphasizes how lighting affects life, rather than showing any lasting benefits of the product itself. The print campaign features interior and exterior shots of homes that radiate warmth and feeling, as well as headlines that appear to glow. Copy surrounding an image of the type of bulb advertised in each execution describes how the proper lighting can enhance everyday situations. One ad shows a well-lit bathroom, with the headline, "Every light uses energy. The good ones give it back to the room." "The campaign was difficult because people are not that enthused about lightbulbs as a product," says copywriter Michael Hart. "But when you ask them about light, they really give you an entirely different set of answers. There's a real basket of emotions that comes with how [people] feel in a room." - Sarah Jones
Art director: CHRIS LANGE
Copywriter: MICHAEL HART

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A relative newcomer to the Boston advertising scene, Holland Mark Martin has stirred up the normally staid world of bank ads with an aggressive, unconventional campaign for USTrust. "We saw an opening," says creative director Bob Minihan. "Fleet and BankBoston were the big banks, and the rest are the alternatives to the big banks." That left USTrust to stake out a claim as the "alternative big bank," a positioning communicated in what copywriter Tim Gillingham calls "the kind of advertising people actually want to look at." In one ad, an alien is disappointed to learn that, although the bank has 65 branches in the Boston metropolitan area, there are "absolutely zero in the outer atmosphere." In another, the headline "The big bank that says boo! to the rest of the big banks" is accompanied by a cartoon illustration of a frightened man cowering with his teddy bear under the bed covers. The copy reads: "Those other big banks are going to sleep with the lights on now that we're here to change their cozy little arrangement. Be afraid. Be very afraid.'" -David Gianatasio
Art director: SCOTT O'LEARY
Copywriter: TIM GILLINGHAM

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Winning the Grand Clio in television and cinema in May and a silver Lion at Cannes in June were just the latest award milestones for Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos and longtime client John Hancock Financial Services. The Tony Kaye-directed campaign seeks to illustrate "the issue of self-reliance," says art director Jamie Mambro. "You really need to take care of yourself and provide for your financial future. The government won't do it for you. No one will do it for you." The affecting "Insurance for the unexpected. Investments for the opportunities" campaign addresses financial planning for all stages of family life, including the "Shepherds" spot (pictured), about saving money for college. The challenge for the current creative team: to take Hancock's message beyond insurance, into the realm of long-term financial planning, while maintaining the high creative level for which the campaign has become known. -D.G.
Art director: JAMIE MAMBRO
Copywriters: ERNIE SCHENCK, MIKE SHEEHAN

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Who would have guessed that the Volkswagen of America creative team at Arnold Communications, which tirelessly sells its "brand essence" approach to prospective clients, considers its funky work to be potent retail advertising as well? Lance Jensen and Alan Pafenbach are responsible for Volkswagen ads since Arnold won the account three years ago. "We don't put our egos first. We have to sell these cars," says copywriter Jensen. He and Pafenbach maintain that building "trust" with Volkswagen executives and dealers-that is, boosting North American sales 25 percent during Arnold's tenure on the account-now frees them to steer the campaign in unexpected directions. The "Da Da Da" execution featuring the slacker guys, their Golf and a musty, old chair has garnered the most attention, especially among young adults. "These guys just drive around, doing nothing," Jensen explains. "You don't even see much of the car. It's real people just driving. Try selling that to a room full of dealers!" Look for the same attitude in upcoming spots for the redesigned Passat later this year and the Beetle in 1998.
Art director: ALAN PAFENBACH
Copywriter: LANCE JENSEN -D.G.

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For the last five years, Houston Herstek Favat has crafted starkly serious messages in its efforts to convince Massachusetts smokers to quit. But the agency took a humorous tack in its most recent campaign for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Tobacco Control Program, when it unleashed a series of three funny but pointed commercials. "If you're out there with a hard message, you should also be there with a light, loving message," explains Dr. Greg Connolly of the Department of Public Health. In a spot that copped a bronze Lion this summer at Cannes, a Marlboro Man look-alike gets his comeuppance for smoking when he drops a lit cigarette on his saddle. Another ad, a parody of the famous "Gremlin" episode of The Twilight Zone, features an obnoxious smoker balanced on the wing of a plane and taunting a nicotine-starved traveler. The ads depict moments in which people may decide not to smoke. "We wanted to crystallize that one moment . . . in a light way," says Houston Herstek copywriter Stu Cooperrider. Using humor to underscore the message gives smokers a little something extra to think about and keeps a strong campaign from getting stale, Cooperrider says. -D.G.
Art director: MARC GALLUCCI
Copywriter: STU COOPERRIDER