April Spots: Comparisons & Contrasts

NEW YORK Awards show season is officially upon us. Clios and One Show are this month and Cannes is next. It seems like every time I see an ad, I’m comparing it to work that is short listed in this year’s shows. As I watched the April Best Spots reel, I felt compelled to whistle during most of them (if you’ve been to Cannes, you know that’s not a good thing), but there were a few that stood out. So, in the spirit of awards shows, I’ve created categories to compare and contrast this month’s spots.

Two Guys Talking: New Mexico Tourism; Apple; Crunch.

New Mexico Tourism has two aliens talking, but they are guy aliens. The idea that New Mexico is the one place in the universe a couple of co-worker aliens want to vacation is funny. A nice approach to what could have been a very expected tourism ad.

The “Mac vs. PC” campaign is smart, but I’m a little bored with it. In “Stuffed,” PC is so full of useless programs he looks like Violet in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I kept waiting for an Oompa Loompa to squeeze him back to normal.

Ads on a Sugar High: Starburst; M&M’s; Orbit.

It’s tough to compete with Skittles and Starburst, as these are some of the best ads coming out of the U.S. Making this month’s best list are M&M’s, Orbit and hey, wait … Starburst! While this isn’t my favorite Starburst ad (that would be “Factory”), it’s just disturbing enough to be funny. And it makes me want to dance around singing, “Berries and Cream, Berries and Cream” like a British schoolboy/girl.

Tell Me a Story: Travelers; HP; Home Depot.

I like the new Travelers campaign. This spot personifies “risk” as a klutzy insomniac knocking gargoyles off buildings and blowing up mattress stores. It’s well executed and a lot more interesting than watching cars wreck and houses burn.

HP was a letdown. In this spot, Vera Wang magically shows us everything in her computer via a Dickens-village-meets-Wicked-Witch-of-the-West crystal ball effect. They could have at least put her in better clothes.

I’m still trying to figure out why Home Depot’s is a Best Spot. It’s a “story” about a woman who waters plants, talks about plants, plants plants and waters some more plants.

Best Use of an Athlete: ESPN SportsCenter; Gatorade; Reebok.

Not a bad bunch of spots. “Hip Hip Jorge” is good, but not as funny as most ESPN SportsCenter spots. In fact, I liked one on the reel called “Betrayal” better. It had the subtle humor I love in this campaign and was sans the pun.

The Gatorade spot featuring Derek Jeter looking to steal second and Harvey Keitel as an “I dare you” tough guy wasn’t bad. I like that they took the “is it in you” idea beyond the literal interpretation.

Reebok did a nice job making running and the idle chit-chat people make while running interesting. Plus, Vince Young was in the spot (Hook ’em Horns!).

Actually, I expected more breakout ideas in this category. Where’s Nike when you need them? Oh yeah, on its way to Crispin.

Winners: New Mexico Tourism; Starburst; Travelers; Reebok.

Overall, I must admit that I was a little disappointed. Maybe spots like Guinness’ “NoitulovE” and Honda’s “Grrr” have set my internal bar at an unachievable height. But I will continue to be hopeful. After all, awards season is not over for a few more months.