Creative Best Spots

The month of May seemed to be “celebrate-your-manliness month.” Brands such as Burger King, Miller Lite and Milwaukee’s Best Light all pitched their products last month with commercials that rewarded men for their big appetites and beer-drinking rituals and punished them when they strayed. Even new ads for Combos got into the man talk with spots featuring a strangely masculine mom.

BK’s “Manthem” did it best with a 60-second parody of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman.” Promoting the Texas Double Whopper, the tune now becomes a declaration of man’s primal need for meat. The spot, directed by Bryan Buckley, opens on a man on a date at a fancy restaurant. After looking down at his delicate portion, he stands up, walks away from his female companion and starts to sing, “I am man … hear me roar … I am way too hungry to settle for chick food!” He marches out the door and is soon joined by throngs of men who join him “on the prowl for a Texas Double Whopper.”

BK’s agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, also created a new effort for Miller Lite, this time centering on a series of spots about the “Man Laws.” A diverse cast of characters meets at a conference table to discuss problems and identify the new rules of beer-drinking. Burt Reynolds sits in the boardroom with Jerome Bettis, Eddie Griffin and Triple H, among others, who rule on what are and aren’t acceptable drinking behaviors. In “Unopened Beer,” they decide what to do with any unopened beer at the end of a party.

TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York introduced its first campaign for Combos with a series of spots centered on a family whose mother is obviously a man. We watch as they say grace holding hands at the dinner table. The mom gives thanks for the “bounty”—yes, that’s right, the package of Combos on the table—and ends her prayer with, “And please, please let Dallas cover the spread this weekend.” So, why cast a man as the mother? The tagline explains: Combos is “what your mom would feed you, if your mom was a man.”

Yet the most talked-about campaign debut last month came from TBWA\ Chiat\Day’s Playa del Rey, Calif., office and its longtime client Apple. Though it stars two men against a white background, the theme isn’t male-driven habits, but differences in computing experiences. A few years ago, Apple filmed candid interviews with “switchers,” PC users who finally crossed over to the Mac side of computing. This time, the agency fired a more direct salvo at Microsoft and Bill Gates by personifying the differences between PC users and Apple devotees and the two groups’ experiences with clever casting of a Gates type in business attire and a younger slacker type in casual wear, jeans and T-shirt.

The spots are all about the dialogue, and the performances are as humorous and entertaining as they are informative. When the Apple guy talks about all the wonderful things he can do with lifestyle programs, such as easily share pictures and movies with family and friends, the PC guy demonstrates how he too can share the vacation experience using pie charts. No contest. In another spot, PC is all sniffly and sneezy because he’s caught the latest virus that’s going around, and when he warns his co-star about it, Mac tells him not to worry because he’s not as vulnerable to viruses, and helps him blow his nose with a tissue. The ads make what could be cumbersome explanations of the benefits over the competition into friendly banter, and it works.