I recently heard a great story about a critique of sorts. The late Tallulah Bankhead went to church one Sunday (unusual) a little tanked (not unusual). When the priest walked down the aisle swinging the incense, she said: “Nice dress, but your purse is on fire.”
Well, on this month’s reel there were a lot of nicely dressed spots, but here are the ones I thought had the most fire:
Lee Dungarees/”Car”: This spot (pictured, left) is literally on fire. “Buddy Lee, Man of Action” (I think it’s Lee’s original icon) is brought back, but not to life. He’s a little bald doll in miniature dungarees (when are dungarees not jeans?). Anyway, he tries to save a runaway car (he never ever moves–just sits) goes over a cliff car bursts into flames Buddy ends up not alive, but sittin’ pretty. Distinctively weird.
Hollywood Video/”Action”: It all takes place in the action-adventure section of the video store, where a Hollywood cowboy is trying to teach two young employees how to fake a punch. But employee No. 1 keeps cold-cocking employee No. 2. No production values (except the punches look terrific). No heavy or deep strategy. But real laugh-out-loud Hollywood-ish entertainment.
Coca-Cola/”Delivery Truck”: A colorful little Coke truck is on its merry way to a thirsty little black-and-white town, but breaks down because the engine (a mouse on a treadmill) needs a little refreshment, too. Ultimately, the town gets colorfully refreshed (pictured, right). It’s classic yet contemporary.
Virgin Cola/”POW”: Yo! These spots couldn’t be further from classic soft-drink territory. There’s a soapbox with a logo and themeline: “Say something.” (How’s that for a new product badge?) Each ad has a different speaker saying anything on his or her mind as long as it meets two strict continuity criteria: (1) it must be controversial and (2) it must have nothing to do with the product. Most of the spots are humor-driven, but one is deadly serious–attacking the government for screwing over the families of Vietnam POWs. It’s kind of Benetton meets MTV, but it does stand out and goes way beyond a Pepsi challenge.
Florida Anti-Tobacco Program/”Second-Hand Smoke”: OK, here’s another parody of the opening to The Brady Bunch, but this time mom and dad are chain smokers and their smoke drifts into the kids’ individual mortises while we hear that melody, but with new lyrics. In the usually dark and dramatic PSA world, this spot sucker-punches with sweetness.
Nike/”Jerome Bettis”: It’s another execution in the “What are you getting ready for?” campaign. This time there’s a football player rolling down a mountain into trees, over boulders, etc. Two things always happen whenever and wherever I see this spot:
(1) somebody always laughs out loud and (2) somebody else always says, “Have you seen the soccer ad, where the kid pours beef blood over the ball?” I know that one isn’t on this month’s reel, but it is still on my mind.
Which reminds me of another story about a rabbi and a monk
Ric Anello is executive vice president and executive creative director at DMB&B in St. Louis. His accounts include Skittles, Twix, Combos, Milky Way from M&M Mars and Southwestern Bell/Pacific-Bell.