Creative Briefs

R.I.P.Changing the Channel

When Toyota’s “TV Guy” first appeared in 1998, few expected his full-screened face to have much staying power. Yet despite current spots bidding farewell to the New York Toyota Dealer Association’s icon, he’s not quite gone for good.

The TV Guy—known for such wise cracks as “It’s a government thing” during legal disclosures—will appear in a few more commercials.

“The TV Guy campaign scored in message retention and unaided awareness like nothing I’ve ever seen,” says Jay Montgomery, creative director at the dealer group’s agency, Saatchi & Saatchi in New York. Even so, it was time for a fresh face. “In the life of retail automotive advertising, two years is a pretty long time,” Montgomery says.

Ads to be unveiled this month show the TV Guy meeting past Toyota spokespeople in heaven. The actual demise of the TV Guy may come in March, however, when a group of fictitious Toyota dealers hire Robert Wuhl—star of the HBO comedy series Arli$$—to find a new spokesperson. Wuhl interviews such pop icons as Garfield the Cat and Mr. Clean.

Festival Honors Comic Spots

U.S. and Italian agencies took home Best of Show prizes at the New York Festivals International TV and Cinema Advertising Awards last Friday.

DDB in Chicago won best commercial for Budweiser’s Whassup? follow-up, “Wasabi.” Headquarters in New York won best campaign for’s 1999 Christmas sing-alongs out of FCB, San Francisco. Independent in Los Angeles won best creative/production achievement for a Pacific Bell DSL campaign featuring “Web Hogs” from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. McCann-Erickson Spa in Milan, Italy, won best PSA for “Mr. Parkinson,” depicting Parkinson’s Disease as a man in black causing a woman’s hand to shake.

As a network, BBDO led with six gold medals. The McCann-Erickson, Ogilvy & Mather and Young & Rubicam networks won three golds each. Sep arately, McCann swept the festival’s AME International Awards for effectiveness and creativity in marketing and advertising.

Festival Honors Comic Spots Groovy, Baby Up for the Game Hops to ItHere Come the Judges

In a plot worthy of Austin Powers, Modernista! is looking to hijack government space travel. The initiative comes from the Boston shop’s new Special Projects Department, a five-person team formed to “investigate hot social issues and nontraditional business territories,” according to Ilya Rozhdestvensky, director of new business and head of the group. “It’s like a cultural research department,” he says. For its first act, the dep artment joined the Space Frontier Foundation, an organization fighting to open space exploration to all. “It’s about the commercialization of space, and an ad agency should be part of that,” says Lance Jensen, co-founder and partner at Modernista! The department is also looking into projects including custom publishing, video production and music. Meanwhile, Jensen is on the lookout for that first “space-based account,” though the former Volkswagen copywriter was hard-pressed to name a celestial client that could make that dream a reality.

“All you have to do for $1 million, my friend, is make this simple shot.” With that hook, The Martin Agency plunges an ordinary Joe into a halftime show of Fellini-esque madness: Hootchy-cootchie girls plunge live lobsters down his pants and a volleying machine fires tennis balls at his head. The tagline, “Play a game you can win,” underscores the Rich mond, Va., shop’s launch for AllTel’s wireless telephone service, the “Local Freedom Plan.” The 30-second spot, tied to ACC and SEC college basketball games, will air in Southeast cable markets through the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in March. Josh Gold and Joe Alexander handled copywriting chores; Mark Peters art directed.

A handful of spots for Hops Restaurant-Bar-Brewery running nationally on network and cable TV exalt the comic intensity of the chain’s employees, including a store manager, salad chef and brewmaster. Saturday Night Live veteran Gary Weis of Cognito Films directed the spots. “We tried to get personalities that fit the job description; they’re all passionate in their own quirky way,” says copywriter Duncan Stone of Austin Kelly, Atlanta. He based the campaign on a real Hops prep chef, seen in the background of several spots. Meanwhile, the actress playing her claims, “I run this place. They’d be grilling air without me.”

Ron Mather, national creative director of The Campaign Palace in Sydney, Australia, will chair the executive jury for TV and radio for the 2001 Clio Awards. James Lowther, executive CD of M&C Saatchi in London, will lead the print and poster executive jury. U.S. members of the two juries include CDs Chuck McBride of TBWA\Chiat\Day, San Francisco, and Bob Moore of Fallon, Minneapolis. Director Bruce Dowad of Bruce Dowad Associates will chair the technique jury.