Creative Briefs

World View: You go, chica!

Using atypical advertising images of Mexican women, a Nike campaign that will run south of the border features female athletes proudly asserting their abilities.

The team from Wieden + Ken nedy, Portland, Ore., used non-actors and no “European or Nordic” women, who they say are used too often in Mexican ads. “If you want to show beauty and strength, you should show Mexican women,” says art director Danielle Flagg.

Not many campaigns in Mexico provide “platforms for women to speak their minds,” says creative director Joe Shands. “We wanted to start that with this campaign.”

The theme is women reciting “love letters to their country.” Each spot begins with a female voiceover saying, “Querido Mexico,” (Dear Mexico). In one ad, slow-motion images of a swimmer are coupled with a voiceover that translates as, “It has come to my attention that you’re not noticing my involvement in sports. No offense, but are you blind? … And when you see me pause in front of a department store window, I’m not looking at the dresses, I’m checking out my arms.” The camera focuses on the woman’s muscular back as she lifts herself out of the pool. In another spot, a little girl sings, “My sister scored a goal today.” The spots will break Aug. 13; a similar print campaign broke Aug. 1.

Exhibit Studies Women in Ads
NEW YORK—An upcoming show at the William F. Eisner Museum of Advertising & Design in Milwaukee examines how advertising has reflected the changing roles of women in the past five decades.

Titled “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby,” the exhibit will display more than 200 ads, grouped by their representation of women: “The traditional female role,” “The new woman” and “Mixed messages.” Included are such iconic campaigns as Miss Clairol’s “Does she or doesn’t she?” and L’Oréal’s “Because I’m worth it,” as well as the Virginia Slims campaign that gave the show its title. A 1951 Schlitz ad shows a wife taking a beer to her tired husband after he has mowed only one row of their lawn. An ad touting Cosmo politan’s advice for career girls says, “You’re always hearing about inequality between men and women … I decided long ago just to do the most fabulous job I could and try not to worry about ‘inequality.’ … I’ve just had a wonderful promotion. … I always knew men were wonderful, especially in offices!” The year? 1969.

Curator Charles Sable says the exhibit, opening Aug. 14, “doesn’t take a positive or negative view,” but simply shows how advertising has portrayed women over time.

Jason Alexander Champions Chicken
For its first brand campaign for KFC, BBDO needed a pitchman who could rescue burger eaters from the “gray and tasteless travesty” of fast-food burgers, telling them, “Grab a drumstick, we can change the world!”And who better to play this savior than Jason Alex ander, who has the role of a motivational speaker in ABC’s fall sitcom Bob Patterson? BBDO New York creative director Al Merrin says any similarities in the characters are coincidental, since the KFC spokes person was conceived before the shop decided to approach Alexander. A year’s worth of future executions have already been written. The campaign, and Alexander’s character, will be further developed as he compares KFC with other varieties of fast food. As a commercial actor, Alexander gets high praise from executives at KFC, BBDO and Backyard Productions, whose director Rob Pritts shot the current campaign. “He nailed his lines, sometimes on the first take,” says Backyard executive producer Kris Mathur, who has worked with other Seinfeld alums. Unlike other film and TV notables, Mathur says, Alexander didn’t blink when asked to shave a second or two off his delivery. “In commercials you live and die by seconds.”

Economist Shows Some Skin
New work for The Economist from Weiss Stagliano Partners drops the newsmagazine’s longtime use of smart copy and replaces it with smart images. The four executions feature only colorful graphics on a background of the magazine’s signature color, red, with no tagline. One ad is an illustration of the layers of skin, labeled epidermis, dermis, nerves and The Economist. The not-immediately-apparent message: The publication gets under the skin and hits a nerve. Another execution shows a piece of light-blue litmus paper that is red on the bottom (i.e., The Econ omist isn’t afraid to be acidic in its reporting), and a third features a pressure gauge with the needle in the red, where the recognizable Economist logo is seen. Why the cryptic approach? “Economist readers are supposed to have an opinion,” says Ralph Watson, associate cre ative director and art director on the campaign. “When consumers look at these ads, they can put one plus one together and add it up. It’s a magazine that acts like a catalyst for thought and debate.” The work is a marked departure from the shop’s previous campaign, begun in 1997, which employed witty copy and journalistic-style photography of high-profile politicians. The new ads were launched last week in airport dioramas and urban panels in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas and Miami, and will run in September issues of magazines including Foreign Affairs and Red Herring.