Creative Briefs

Close-up: TalentOne in a Million

For Cossette Post’s $20 million TV and radio effort for Amica Mutual Insurance Co., the New York shop could think of only one actor to capture the “sense of beautiful weirdness” that characterizes the idyllic “place called Amica”: John Lithgow. They managed to move up the L.A. shoot by a few weeks and schedule the star in between his Chicago run of Sweet Smell of Success and its Broadway debut.

“I honestly don’t know what we would have done if we hadn’t gotten him,” says Steve Crane, Cossette’s president and creative director. “John was perfect.” And expensive—Lithgow’s fee was an estimated $1 million.

In one spot, set in a salon, Lithgow pops up from under a hair dryer and introduces “Miss Margaret Malone,” who’s shocked that she likes her haircut. Customer satisfaction is rare these days, Lithgow says, but common at Amica. He swats away the hairdresser with an ad-libbed move that cracked up the crew. Says Crane, “From the moment he did his first line, we were all laughing.”

Kerstetter Lands DGA Award

SAN FRANCISCO—Bob Kerstetter, co-founder and creative director at Black Rocket Euro RSCG in San Francisco, didn’t attend the Directors Guild of America awards ceremony earlier this month. Had he been at the Los Angeles gala—hobnobbing with the likes of Ron How ard and Alan Ball—Kerstetter could have personally accepted his award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials for Black Rocket’s Musco Olives campaign. As it stands, he’ll get it in the mail.

Kerstetter says he feels “a little silly” to have missed it. But no full-time agency creative had ever won the award, and he was up against four veteran directors—Joe Pytka of Pytka, Joe Public (the team of Adam Cameron and Simon Cole) of Headquarters, Craig Gillespie of Morton Jankel Zander and Baker Smith of Harvest. Upon learning of the win, “I was completely shocked and horrified,” he says. “I thought it was a mistake.” Kerstetter tips his hat to the selection committee, which, he says, picked nominees based on work rather than experience.

Kerstetter has directed spots for other Black Rocket clients, including MTV, Morgan Stanley and Fusion One. But he’s far from a full-time director. “It’s exactly 23 percent of my job,” he gibes. Kerstetter directed the Musco Olives campaign through production house Tool of North America in order to lower expenses. The three quirky spots feature everyday people with olive fingertips and the tagline,”Believe in Olive fingers.”

Will Kerstetter now be turning from an adman to a feature-film director? “Not yet,” he says. Although he does admit that he’s wanted to work in film since age 11.

Kerstetter Lands DGA Award Between the Envelopes Lifetime Achievement ClioRain and Shine

Several advertisers will launch new work on Sunday’s Academy Awards broadcast. JCPenney, the exclusive retail sponsor of the program, will introduce creative from DDB, Chicago. The spots continue the tag line “It’s all inside,” but add the theme “timeless values” in celebration of the chain’s 100th anniversary next month. The company’s media buy—six 30-second blocks—will likely be combined into longer spots. … McDonald’s will break a new spot in its “Smile” campaign, also from DDB, Chicago. In “Kids’ table,” a father joins the adults at a dinner table but would prefer to sit with the kids and eat McDonald’s. … Cingular will break a 30-second spot from BBDO New York. As with previous work, “Wing tips” centers on the jack-shaped brand icon, opening with a businessman’s shoe and ending in outer space with a shot of a jack-shaped satellite. … Salton Inc. makes its Oscar debut with two 30-second spots from J. Walter Thompson, Chi cago, promoting the new Ultra sonex toothbrush. … Morgan Stan ley is expected to break a global branding effort from Leo Burnett, Chicago.

David Abbott, founder of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in London, will be in Miami to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award at the Clio festival in May. But don’t expect him to perform a head-banging concert in lieu of an acceptance speech, as director Tony Kaye did last year. “I don’t think I shall be doing that,” he says amiably. “I haven’t decided what I’ll do, but I suspect it will be quite a lot more conventional.” Abbott’s work, however, doesn’t inspire the word “conventional.” Most recently, AMV BBDO has produced award-winning commercials for clients such as Guinness, Volvo and Dunlop. Some of his favorite early work includes gutsy print ads for Volkswagen (with comedian Marty Feldman), Chivas Regal (listing “drinking somebody else’s Chivas Regal” as one of life’s pleasures) and Luf thansa (openly admitting the inconveniences of air travel). Laments Abbott, “The ’60s were so much more daring than now.”

To create the illusion of a thunderstorm chasing a runner for a New Balance spot, Mess ner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmet terer/Euro RSCG enlisted Lola, a special-effects shop in London. The spot is one of two in the campaign—both directed by Iceland’s Agust Baldersson of Headquarters—and shows a woman fleeing a storm with the question, “What keeps you running?” The biggest challenge of the week-and-a-half shoot, which took place in Iceland about eight months ago, was not the animated weather but the real weather, says Raul Piña, a creative director at MVBMS. “It rains, and then it stops. You start shooting, and then you have to stop,” he says. “Luckily, there are really long days”—nearly 24 hours of daylight during the summer.