Sega Manx TT
Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco
Sega of America, Redwood City, Calif.
What are the helmet-heads doing here? Praying "to the motorcycle gods," of course. Like many ads for electronic games, this one is of the let's-shock-the-grown-ups ilk. But should the grown-ups be shocked? The mockery seems aimed more at the juveniles who buy these games than at real churchgoers or real prayer. Copy explains that "killer arcade game" Manx TT (named for the Isle of Man, on whose track the game is modeled) is now on PC--hence the need for prayer before you take on "one of the most treacherous race tracks on the planet." The ad must help you ignore one central fact: You won't be racing a motorcycle; you'll be twitching your thumbs. Is it any wonder the category's ads hyperventilate in their efforts to imbue that activity with an aura of macho? At least the churchy approach injects some wit into the process. Nothing sacrilegious about that.
Duck Head for Her
The Buntin Group, Nashville, Tenn.
Duck Head Apparel, Monroe, Ga.
In case your knowledge of cross-dressing is incomplete, Duck Head is a brand of men's clothing that women routinely purloin from their boyfriends and/or husbands. So we're led to believe, anyway, in ads for the company's new line of apparel for women. It's a smart claim, implying that retailers will find a ready-made market for the fledgling Duck Head for Her. But because it's presented so matter-of-factly, as one of those things everyone already knows, the claim flies under the radar of the reader's usual skepticism. The campaign's dump-that-man humor doesn't have what you'd call a light touch, but it does give the spin-off brand (and its likely customers) an easily identifiable personality. A woman who's just ditched a change-stacker may well be in the market for new clothes as she tries to trade up to a better grade of boyfriend next time around.
Leonard/Monahan, Providence, R.I.
Providence-Southern, Providence, R.I.
If your eyes have glazed over amid the scads of ads for phone companies, just wait till you see the onslaught from utilities as that sector deregulates, too. It's not going to be pretty. As this clever ad acknowledges, the gas-and-electric monopolies haven't had occasion to learn the fine art of competitive advertising, so they'll be making lots of rookie mistakes. And it's not exactly a high-involvement category in the best of circumstances. Since the warm-and-fuzzy genre of utility advertising is among the most boring phenomena on earth, it's a relief to see a company take a different tack. Nobody is going to buy this ad's attempt at
aw-shucks naivetƒ, but people will enjoy its send-up of "gigantic sales event" hucksterism. By utility standards, this qualifies as hilarity. And in case readers can't multiply 3 x 3 x 3, copy is careful to note that 27 cubic feet is the same as one cubic yard. Another piece in the series takes a stab at side-by-side comparative advertising as it features visuals of "Their" natural gas and "Our" natural gas--showing, of course, two pictures of nothing visible.
Ogilvy & Mather, New York
Kimberly-Clark, Neenah, Wis.
Tony Kaye & Partners, West Hollywood, Calif.
"There are 3 million kids in this country who wet the bed, often for no other reason than their bladders haven't grown as quickly as the rest of them." We meet one of them in this spot as it shrewdly defuses what is often a tense issue for parents. With its calm recital of anatomical fact, the voiceover banishes any notion that bed-wetting represents a shameful failure, whether by the kid or the parents. Indeed, by casting it as an affliction of kids who've grown so robustly as to temporarily outpace their bladders, the text implicitly assures parents they've produced vigorous offspring. Meanwhile, we watch the black-and-white visual as a boy awakes to discover he's wet his bed. He's plainly distressed, but not self-pitying. In tandem with a well-chosen music track, deft camera work creates a mood that is sad but unmawkish as the kid patiently changes out of his damp pajamas and settles down on a throw rug on the floor. He's doing his best to cope, so his parents should do likewise. Instead of struggling with bedwetting in a pigheaded way, they can use Goodnites--a post-toddler diaper "that protects yet looks and feels like real underwear"--and wait for time to resolve the problem.
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