Creative Best Spots

The last month of the year usually isn’t the best time to break new campaigns, and this December was no exception. Most of the new work consisted of pitches for year-end car sales and retail spots pushing last-minute gifts. However, in a relatively ho-hum month of average and well-below-average ads, there were some redeeming spots.

The best of the month, by far, was a Nextel commercial from TBWA\Chiat\ Day, New York. A rhythmic percussion track accented by Nextel ringtones and distinctive visuals by Swedish directing team Stylewar and effects house The Mill combine to turn a construction site into a bustling ant colony. Workers behave like ants—climbing over each other and up beams, and carrying materials too heavy for the average man, as they use their phones to “get things done.” The inventive approach takes what could have been a routine product demonstration and makes it a fun visual treat.

Fallon introduced a new PBS series last month, and like past imaginative spots, the 60-second “Bedtime” emphasizes that watching PBS programming helps you “Be more.” A father reads his daughter the story of Little Red Riding Hood and is joined in the soon-crowded bedroom by a host of celebrity personalities—from Jim Lehrer and Charlie Rose to Lara Spencer and Bernadette Peters—who give their takes on the children’s classic. The idea is to illustrate that “there’s more than one side to a story, and you deserve to hear them all.”

There were few Christmas-themed spots of note—most of them were too sappy. In a spot featuring its yearly holiday-delivery-truck procession, Coca-Cola served a souped-up punk version of “White Christmas,” providing a nice contrast to visuals of holiday spirit and good deeds—kids sharing a toy after some initial hesitation, a man sharing his newspaper during a commute.

Holiday cheer was harder to come by in the animal kingdom. An unexpected ending to a holiday spot from Budweiser drew chuckles from editors reviewing the reel. What looks to be a budding stable romance between a male and female horse under the mistletoe turns into a snub. After drawing “Kitty” under the mistletoe, “Homer” reaches over and instead grabs a candy cane to munch on. Not exactly a happy ending, but enjoyable nonetheless.

And Publicis took its award-winning frozen-rooms concept for Stolichnaya from print to TV, turning an apartment complex into an icebox. In the spot, the vodka, “best chilled,” is served at a party, and the frost spreads to neighboring apartments.

The beaches of sunny Mexico provided respite from the snowy December themes in a Corona spot from The Richards Group that plays with the “ship in the bottle” concept—a man holds an empty beer bottle up to the horizon, and a passing boat appears to sail into it. With the limited canvas of two people sitting on the beach, this campaign still manages to offer new twists on “Miles from ordinary.”

In a new spot for Target, “Target Dog” comes to the rescue of two people—a boy who loses his soup when a friend jumps onto the couch (the music and art direction are superb) and a mountain climber who gets dirty. One scenario plausible, the other not, but they combine for another impressive “See. Spot. Save” spot.

The rest of the picks ranged from a quirky 15-second animated spot for Barnesandnoble.com, advertising its delivery service with a stick figure receiving a package from an alien spaceship, to the absurd “Mannequin Arm” from Dairy Queen, which, yes, shows people who strap on a third arm in order to handle the chain’s big burgers. Certainly not award-winning, but still funny.