Creative Best Spots: Visitor’s View

Ken Mandelbaum Chief Creative Officer, BBDO West
disclaimer: Adweek prohibited me from reviewing any work from BBDO on this page. I would like to reassure my new bosses that, had I been permitted, I would have praised it, without any reservations whatsoever.
Fox Sports: Why is it that some clients get consistently great advertising out of their agencies, while others get schlock? (Sorry, it’s only a rhetorical question; you already know the answer.)
Fox Sports is a client that seems to be getting more than its fair share of great advertising lately. This campaign is based on a deceptively simple premise: Since Fox Sports has a full day of Super Bowl pregame coverage, you’ll want to get everything out of the way beforehand.
In “Birthday,” a father rouses his family out of their beds at 2:23 a.m. He claps his hands obnoxiously, shouts at them, even wrenches his 6-month-old infant from its crib, carrying it under his arm like a piece of lumber. Once gathered in the kitchen, they all grumpily sing “Happy Birthday” to his wife (pictured, top).
She does not look happy. The baby screams its little head off. It’s good stuff.
Excite: A simple idea, well executed: A woman opens a sliding screen door and walks out onto a suburban patio. She puts some cutlery down on a table. She turns around, walks back inside, then comes out with more things for the table.
Title: “With, she instantly sends photos to friends around the world.”
The woman realizes she’s forgotten something and heads back into the kitchen. The only problem: She neglects to open the screen door and crashes right through it.
Title: “If she can, why can’t you?”
In the nascent world of the Internet, those products that can quickly build distinctive brands and create likable personalities will thrive. The rest will disappear.
Hallmark: You’re probably surprised to see me single this one out for praise. But not half as surprised as I am.
No, Sam Bayer didn’t shoot it. No, it’s not for Nike. But view it with an open mind, and I think you’ll recognize what I saw.
It is late afternoon. A woman walks through snow-covered streets with her 5-year-old son. The kid asks questions that quickly tell us it’s Christmas Eve. But the mood is weirdly down. The color temperature of the film is ice cold.
They get home. Dad embraces son. But then we find out it’s not home. Through some economical dialogue, we gather she’s dropping the kid off to spend Christmas with Dad (pictured, below). Because they’re divorced. Because Dad’s got custody for the big day. Because Dad had the pipe-hitting lawyer.
The kid pulls out a Christmas card for his father. A Hallmark card. Dad reads it. Deadpan. The man and woman say, “Merry Christmas.” She walks back out into the cold. He goes out on the porch, calling to her.
Man: “Would you like to come over tomorrow morning for a coffee or something?”
Woman: (Beat) “That would be nice.” (She does not smile.)
Man: “OK.” (He does not smile.)
She turns, trudges off alone into the bluish snow, probably to spend an evening watching the Yule Log, parked in front of a frozen turkey dinner.
There is no happy ending. Only the possibility of one. Maybe. The Hallmark card does not magically make everything OK.
In its own quiet way, this spot is as daring as anything else on the reel.