Best Spots of the Month

NEW YORK Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but I would hope that most people in the business aspire to create rather than imitate. That’s why it was so surprising to screen a spot for Whirlpool that is a blatant copy of one of the most award-winning commercials of the past year, Ariston’s beautifully produced Italian spot, “Underwater World.” What was Publicis New York thinking?

The Ariston commercial turns laundry (socks, shirts, etc.) into sea creatures. The result is dreamily poetic. Whirlpool does more or less the same to highlight the large loads it can handle, but the results are tepid. Adding insult to injury, Whirlpool throws in a ridiculously blissful woman in white who frolics underwater with a school of dolphin-like jeans.

There were some ads, though, that actually displayed a bit of originality.

We’ve come to expect fantastically freakish candy ads from the folks at TBWA\Chiat\Day and they haven’t let us down yet. This time, a Sour Skittles ad takes us inside a dairy barn where milk is being pumped not from a cow, but from a gray-haired, flannel-wearing guy who nonchalantly answers, “Beats me,” when the boss asks him why his milk tastes so sour. The visual itself, six pumps noisily pulling at his chest while he pops the candy pieces in his mouth, is enough to grab you, but the dialogue and the performances make it even funnier.

“Maybe it’s something you’re eating,” suggests the farmer. The man being milked shuts down the machine. “What are you driving at?” he asks. “Maybe if you ate less Sour Skittles, I’d have less sour milk,” he’s told. Smirking, the candy man answers, “Well, that’s a risk I’m going to take.” He turns the machine back on and continues eating his candy. The other guy just looks on stupefied.

We’ve also come to expect the deranged from Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Burger King. This month, the agency brands the fast-food chain’s Western Whopper sandwich using mustaches of all shapes and sizes. The spot begins with a young man examining his barely there facial hair in the mirror and a banjo-backed, burly voiceover urging him to “Feed that mustache, son.” The spot then cuts to an image that’s hard to forget, the King in front of a desert backdrop doing a knee-slapping hoedown with his spindly legs flying. He does this sporadically throughout the spot, which consists of a montage of people (including office workers and elderly women playing cards) sporting handlebar- and walrus-style mustaches. The spot ends with the King dancing and twisting his mustache and the voiceover: “Bring out your inner cowboy, cowboy.” Yee-ha!

There were a few other notable, if more familiar-feeling spots. Apple’s highly anticipated iPhone commercial features close-up images of a product demonstration in the palm of a user’s hand—a method the agency used in the past for the Nano. The playful music and conversational voiceover also remain true to the brand’s friendly feel.

The showdown of two neighboring car owners—in this case, the cars are Minis—is another familiar scenario. Backed by a western banjo track (yes, that’s two spots with banjos this month!), each scene in this charming spot shows the men trying to one-up each other with the decoration and custom-detailing of their cars until, finally, one of them pulls into his driveway sporting an entirely new model.

And Mountain Dew features a young man whose roommates are convinced he has lost his mind when he accuses the toaster of stealing his Dew. The friends brace themselves for what turns into an explosive rant and, as he yells, “The toaster’s got my Dew!” they intervene by holding him back from the appliance. When the friends have their backs to the kitchen, the truth is revealed: The toaster is indeed the thief and it spins into a snickering gremlin-like robot with its stolen soda, teasing the guy as he becomes crazier and crazier. “It’s not over dude, it’s not over!” he shouts. It’s a movie tie-in for Michael Bay’s Transformer, and though not as unexpected or interesting as the Skittles or BK work this month, it’s nonetheless fun to watch. (I’ll take that over the excruciatingly mundane any day.)