Creative Briefs

The Deepest Cut

Having collected a variety of awards for its stylish print campaigns for Swiss Army Brands, Mullen seemed equipped for nearly everything—except keeping the account.

The Wenham, Mass., shop retains public relations work, but the seven-figure ad assignment was switched to Lloyd (+ Co.) in New York, which is preparing a fall magazine campaign. A full-scale review may follow.

Two years ago, Mullen’s Swiss Army work won Best of Show at the Ad Club of Greater Boston’s Francis W. Hatch Awards, beating heavily favored Arnold Communications and its far better-known efforts for Volkswagen. Mullen’s work also took honors at the One Show and the Andy Awards in 1999.

“They made huge contributions,” Swiss Army Brands marketing director Marcella George says of Mullen. “But creatively we felt we needed to go somewhere else and evolve that positioning.” With and L.L. Bean also recently leaving the roster, Mullen’s own evolution appears to be at a crossroads.

JPC Reprises Labor Charges

Rhetoric is again heating up in the actors’ strike against the ad industry in the wake of last month’s failed contract talks.

In a statement made late last week, the Joint Policy Committee on Talent Union Relations, which represents the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, wrote that an op-ed piece in the Sept. 29 New York Times offers “further evidence that the Screen Actors Guild continues to violate the National Labor Relations Act.”

In “A Strike No One Can Win,” nonunion actress Leslie Saint Bornstein described crossing the picket line. “[Protesters] harangued me and took my photograph. When the strike was over, they warned, I would be forever barred from joining the union. This sounds like a Hollywood blacklist to me.”

Bornstein also detailed SAG’s catch-22: Actors can’t join the union without a union job, and nonunion actors are rarely auditioned for union jobs. Bornstein said, however, that she could quickly get her SAG card by refusing to cross the picket line after booking a commercial.

Ira Shepard, chief counsel for the JPC, says it submitted the piece to the National Labor Relations Board. “It’s considered unfair labor practice for either side to take pictures of the other side,” he says. SAG/AFTRA spokesmanGreg Krizman says the unions are not breaking any laws and no blacklist exists. He adds, “People who walk off of principal roles, yes, they have been offered memberships.”

Separately, the unions temporarily postponed a boycott of Procter & Gamble products protesting the company’s shooting of nonunion ads.

JPC Reprises Labor Charges Hotline

Geared Up for Casting

The actors’ strike slowed but did not derail casting for the latest KB Gear ads from Campbell Mithun, Minnea polis. Bob Industries director Lisa Rub isch, who has been mainly working out side the U.S. since the strike began, was nervous about casting in New York but pleased with the results. As CM producer Tom Sann puts it, “You see a lot of people who suck. On the other hand, you definitely get people who are a bit more unexpected, more believable.” He says the strike allowed the team to do what all producers and directors say they want: to cast a person who really is the character in the spot and not just playing the part. He points to “Teapot Scandal,” a spot for the electronics company’s digital cameras in which a girl catches her brother in an odd song-and-dance routine. “When he sings ‘Little Teapot’ you see his whole aura and personality,” Sann says. Originally the spot had no music, but the team turned to Big Foote Music in New York for a subtle, tinkly track to “lighten the mood,” Sann says.

Click the Vote

Collaborate in San Francisco premiered TV spots last week as part of a campaign for MTV’s Rock the Vote initiative. The effort, which includes print, outdoor and online ads, pairs images that represent controversial issues—such as a boy with a pistol, representing gun control—with boxes representing “Yes” and “No” votes. Robin Raj, agency partner and creative director, says he wanted to “provoke and confront kids with issues that might ordinarily turn them off.” Steve Grimes, creative director of RealNetworks, says the click-through rate of 15 percent for the online portion of the campaign is one of the highest Real Networks has had. “It’s a combination of being a compelling piece and in the right place at the right time,” Grimes says.

Home Run

As the playoffs get rolling, West & Vaughan’s campaign for Baseball America capitalizes on baseball fanatics’ love of trivia. Only the rabid fan would recognize images in the ad, such as a lone red bleacher seat in an ocean of blue in Fenway Park. Upside-down at the bottom of the ads is the clue: It commemorates Ted Williams’ monster home run, of course. In another, a photo of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson is half-hidden on a 1969 baseball card. Why? Because Gibson was so overpowering in 1968, the mound was lowered five inches to put hapless batters on equal footing. Alex Epstein, copywriter for the Durham, N.C., agency, wanted to position the magazine “for people in the know. If you don’t get it, you may want to buy it.” The ads for the North Carolina-based tabloid start appearing in playoff programs this week.


Steve Johnston was promoted from senior copywriter/group head to creative director at McCann-Erickson, Seattle. Johnston, who joined the shop in January, will lead creative on all of the agency’s accounts, including Mercata, Washington Mutual and the Experience Music Project.