As the lazy days of summer drew to a close, Delta Air Lines this month gave us a brief reprise from the vacation-is-over blues by making us want to book a luxurious escape on the airline. A woman enjoys a serene swim in a lush villa on a seaside hilltop, as the voiceover welcomes the viewer to "one of the most idyllic places on earth" and the on-screen copy notes in parentheses, "travel time: none." It's a place "where the waters beckon," but the copy notes, "you'll never get wet." Wait a minute, if I'm not going to be able to make a graceful dive into that beautiful pool like the woman on screen, what's the point? "Come," beckons the voice-over, "to the new Delta.com." I felt a little cheated, but nonetheless may consider the site for more than just flight information. (Considering Delta just filed for bankruptcy, it needs all the help it can get.)
Like Delta, most of the Best Spots this month serve up familiar images that, in the end, give viewers a bit of the unexpected: Nike gives us people playing soccer on all sorts of terrain; Hummer and Minnesota State Lottery spots both star bears; Jack in the Box's hero plays cards with forgotten TV stars (Gary Coleman) and wannabe wonders (American Idol's accidental star William Hung); Yahoo! promotes its music service with pixilated animated clips of band performances (reminds me of Napster); and Verizon touts its DSL service by showing the alternative: a molasses-slow video download. But while they tease with familiar ground, they give viewers a fresh take with useful info, or even a laugh or two.
The Nike spot opens with the voice of an announcer bashing soccer. "Let's take two seconds to talk about soccer, which is two seconds longer than it deserves," as aerial shots give a distant glimpse at games in play. "Real men don't play soccer!" the announcer barks. "Let's be honest, soccer just isn't important to anyone in this country," he says, as the bouncy drum beats to Joy Zipper's "Go Tell the World" begin and the visuals zoom in on shots of Americans playing soccer anywhere they can—cornfields, parking lots, basketball and tennis courts—and the spot ends with the pros on the field. The cheery music, editing and visuals all build to the challenge of "Just do it."
My favorite pick of the month by far is Modernista!'s spot for the smaller Hummer 3. Instead of more moody music montages, storytelling sells the new smaller model with a modern spin on a children's classic: the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Only now, the bears live in an ultra-modern home in the 'burbs. They come home to find somebody's been doing the crossword puzzle in Papa's chair, there's a dirty dish in Mama's kitchen, and someone's been sleeping in Baby Bear's bed. They all rush to the garage and, one by one, open their doors. Mom and Dad's Hummers are safely parked, but Baby Bear's is gone. The spot, directed by Jake Scott, cuts to a blond woman enjoying a ride in the stolen SUV. It's charming, holds your interest and delivers the product point—Hummer comes in various sizes, even one a girl could love. I'd rather give my money to something that counters the effects of those gas-guzzlers, like Minnesota State Lottery. Its spot notes its donations to environmental causes. In it, a man comes upon a bear during a hike, but instead of attacking, the big, furry animal gives him—what else? A bear hug. Sweet.