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Guest Critic

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I almost feel the confusion of business and brands in this batch of spots. It's like they better get results, but man, they gotta be weird creative. Though a few are great, and some are good, the majority of them seem to stop short.

BMW: What's up with BMW? On one hand, you have this spot that uses underplayed charm to tout a Batman-like feature—it's well done, by the way—and on the other, you have the Benedict Arnold spot that is dark and corporate-cliché speak. One is focused on the company, the other on the car. Is the brand The Ultimate Driving Machine, or The Company of Ideas?

Brawny: Who is this alien Brawny man, and where's the Brawny man from "Innocent Escapes"? He was in touch with his feminine side. Unless the target has changed, I prefer the first generation of Brawny spots. And what the hell is this guy doing with that chain saw down there any way?

Cingular: Though this is well acted, it's so over-the-top manipulative that even if you connect with it, you feel bad about it in the end. Yeah, they're saying nice things to each other, but it's still shrill and annoying.

Comcast: The Skittles Effect. I'm assuming the client brief said the offer had to be direct, so the execution offset it with weirdishness. Doing weird with a relevant tieback is so much harder and ultimately more respectable.

ESPN SportsCenter: Love it. They're just continuing the brilliant genre they created: backstage scenarios with real people playing actors instead of vice versa.

Geico: In the end, the lizard is more interesting than any B- or C-list celebrity. And why go from "15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on your insurance" to "Real service. Real savings"? Give me the Brit gecko anytime.

Juicy Fruit: Another attempt at a loveably creepy, offbeat premise in the confections category. Sorry JF, but it's no Skittles.

Las Vegas CVA: I can imagine the creative team saying, "This spot will live or die by the talent," but the directing, casting and acting pull it off well. I like the William H. Macy-esque character. My only question is, what happened to the "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" line?

Levi's: This flat music video feels more spooky than cool. And not like a good spooky, either. They have other spots that are more compelling and reflect the brand (for example, the "Loyal" spot and "The Going Away Gift").

Mobile ESPN: Product is way cooler than the ad. You really feel aware of the athlete trying to act here.

Red Stripe: I don't know who's more creepy, the foot-fetish guy, or the Jamaican guy. I don't think I'd have a beer with either one. And I love this beer.

Sharpie Mini: I like the mini-moment campaign approach. It's strategic and funny. Because of the idea, it's probably OK that the vignettes are rushed, but they do feel a bit premeditated.

Sprite: I love it. It's a brilliant blend of the "Obey" campaign of the '90s with the Lymon campaign of the '70s. What should have been a conceptual/strategic train wreck ended up being a category-busting campaign. I also love the tip of the hat to Little Shop of Horrors.

TLC: While the guy and his little dance are funny (in an Everybody Loves Raymond kind of way), I found the tone of this to be a bit of a stretch from what the program really appears to be about.

T-Mobile: How much longer can CZJ be a tag for this brand? She's a disconnect from the content of the spot. The scenarios felt kind of stale. And what kid wants unlimited minutes with their parents anyway?

VW Rabbit: I love the idea of bringing the Rabbit back. It's a bold business move. Though the position of expensive living in the city was intriguing, I found this spot confusing. Was he looking at his car in the last shot or a couple who was coming to see the apartment? What? Either way, the effort wasn't worth it.