Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, Calif.
American Honda Motor, Torrance, Calif.
Saddington & Baynes
Let's hope the windshield wipers are good. This amiable ad illustrates a basic truth of advertising: Slight exaggeration (which looks sneaky) will activate our sales resistance, but huge exaggeration (which couldn't deceive a fly, or two flies) will lull it. While this is scarcely the first ad to hearken back to Noah's ark, the sight of all those animals manages to make it fresh. (But couldn't the aquatic beasts fend for themselves?) The best touch: copy's offhand reference to the "creature comforts" of the roomier Accord. When an ads boasts of how much a product has been improved, we may recall that the company spent years boasting about the unimproved version. That, in turn, can leave us skeptical about the advertiser's new claims. But this ad's genial humor disarms such wariness.
Clearnet Wireless Phone Service
Clearnet Communications, Pickering, Ontario
The most distinctive element of this campaign comes in the closing line of each ad: "The future is friendly." We're all too accustomed to ads that describe the future as exciting (if the message is upbeat) or as scary (if it's downbeat). But friendly? The adjective sounds so modest in this context that it gets our attention--more than can be said for most ads that seek to soothe anxieties about technology. The piscine humor doesn't make much of a case for going wireless--couldn't you order out with an ordinary phone?--but it contributes to the sense there's nothing to worry about. And that's good, since copy promptly asks us to choose Clearnet's digital wireless service over cellular service. The former, we're told, is "much more affordable" than the latter. That's nice. But then, a Yugo is much more affordable than a BMW, so that selling point may raise uninvited questions from consumers who weren't even aware that cellular and digital service are two different things. Could it be that the future isn't so friendly after all?
Sonic Skating Gear
Poppe Tyson, Los Angeles
Sonic Sports, Los Angeles
Obviously, the ad is offensive, but not so much for what it says about the homeless. The people who should feel offended are the hardcore skaters at whom the ad aims. After all, Sonic blithely takes it for granted that these readers will lap up a witless joke about society's most hapless losers. How flattering is that? It's a bit like having some yahoo tell you a racist joke on the assumption you'll find it as amusing as he does. And it's not even as though the ad gets points for daring to break the bonds of political correctness. By now, all but the knee-jerkiest liberals have given up pretending the homeless are nature's noblemen. Since we're well past the days when such pieties dictated the terms of discussion about the homeless, the ad isn't being obnoxious-but-brave. It's just being obnoxious.
Moet & Chandon
Kirshenbaum Bond, New York
Schieffelin & Somerset, New York
Richard Kirshenbaum, Bill Oberlander
Pam Clinkard, Tom Kuntz
Karen Dunbar, Mike Maguire
Palomar Pictures, Los Angeles
Marketers have toiled to persuade us it's permissible to drink champagne outside the octave of Christmas eve through New Year's eve, plus the occasional wedding. You know, the old "champagne, it's not just for breakfast" schtick. They've little to show for their efforts, perhaps because people like the festiveness of champagne better than they like its taste. This spot smartly markets the bubbly's festive aura (and says not one word about its flavor) by focusing on the distinctive pop of the cork. And it does so without linking champagne to the holidays--also smart, since people have had their fill of synthetic cheeriness by the time the holidays actually arrive. Instead, the spot wraps the stuff in an aura of (here's a concept) sex. We see a pair of picturesque women lying on their backs in a field; an amorous couple in a dark cafe; a woman tantalizingly rising from a bathtub; a woman and two men in a rowboat. The outdoor scenes are explicitly unwintry, and there's nothing seasonal about the indoor shots. All the characters become alert as they hear a sound (unheard by us until the end of the spot). "Is it possible for one sound to do more than break the silence?" asks a sultry female voiceover. "Can one sound be inherently French, yet transcend every language? Can one sound be more seductive than the millions that preceded it?" The spot answers its own question by shooting a Moet cork toward us, accompanied by that unmistakable "pop." Sounds festive to me.