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Workers Are Busy Bees (and Ants) for Nextel

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NEW YORK Nextel enlisted Swedish directing collective Stylewar to depict workers as bees and ants in two new fanciful spots portraying how Nextel helps groups accomplish tasks.

In one, workers buzz around a hive-like building as Nextel phones and GPS technology keep track of where they are. In the other ad, construction workers behave like ants at a building site, crawling atop a truck to carry away materials in a long line. Onscreen copy: "Nextel helps groups get things done."

"The idea was really just plain testimonial stories showing how Nextel helps people in the construction and real estate industries, but that would have been kind of boring, so we thought of an interesting way tell pretty simple stories in a kind of fun way," said Gerry Graf, executive creative director on the account at TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York.

Stylewar in Stockholm was selected because of its experience with effects-laden commercials, such as last year's spots for Snickers and Ikea.

"They did a test before we even shot anything to show us how people would look flying that kind of blew us away," Graf said. "It was fun to watch. It was a seven-second test, and I must have watched it 25 times in a row."

The ads were shot in South Africa in November. Joel Rodriguez served as creative director, John Patroulis was the copywriter, and Ozzie Spenningsby was director of broadcast production. The Mill in New York created the special effects.

Nextel, which said in December it would be bought by Sprint, spent about $260 million on advertising in 2003 and $230 million through September 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.