Creative Focus: Detroit

Adweek’s CREATIVE FOCUS travels to the Motor City, where the automobile is still king and basketball fans hope Grant Hill can take the Pistons deep into the NBA playoffs. On these pages, we feature recent work from Campbell-Ewald, W.B. Doner

& Co., McCann-Erickson, D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and Bozell Worldwide. We also meet two of the creatives behind the new Chevrolet Venture advertising, Marie Abraham and David Goldberg (see ‘In a Family Way’).

W.B. Doner & co.’s latest print effort for longtime client Iams Co. is designed to strike an emotional chord with pet lovers. ‘We want to really play on the relationship and bond between people and their pets,’ says Bryan McPeak, creative director and art director at the Southfield, Mich., agency. ‘People who feed their pets Iams are a bit deeper involved with them. They think it’s worth going a little bit further for them.’ The copy reads: ‘She understands ‘good girl.’ Probably even grasps ‘I love you.’ And knows what you’re trying to say with a pat on the head. But somehow you just want to give her something more substantial.’ To match the product’s packaging, the print ad’s border was colored red, a technique that will be repeated as more ads, highlighting other Iams pet-food products, appear in the coming weeks. The art is deliberately black and white to contrast with the color-coded framing.


Copywriter JOHN MATECZYK —Tanya Gazdik


Past campaigns from D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, in Troy, Mich., for the Pontiac Bonneville have emphasized the sporty sedan’s value. This year’s effort repositions the car to emphasize its luxury aspects, but in a way that’s appropriate for Pontiac. The choice of actor Sylvester Stallone’s distinctive inflection for the voiceover on the two spots, ‘Funeral’ and ‘Yawn,’ plays up the ‘Luxury with attitude’ theme. It was Stallone’s first commercial VO, a coup for DMB&B. In ‘Funeral,’ a traditional luxury car is lowered into a crypt as Stallone discusses the characteristics of such cars: ‘Slumber, serenity, isolation.’ A fleet of Bonnevilles charge into the scene, and Stallone says: ‘But then again, you’re not dead yet. Presenting the supercharged Bonneville. May traditional luxury rest in peace.’ The closing shot, where the camera swoops through the leathered interior toward the cockpit-like instrument panel as the engine roars, was intentionally different. ‘We’re trying to move away from the typical look that Detroit agencies have become too well known for,’ says Mark Zapico, group creative director. ‘You know, the three-quarter shot of the car at the end of the commercial.’

Art director PETE D’AGOSTINO

Copywriter TOM MAYER –T.G.


Television spots for GM’s Chevrolet Venture minivan, from Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Mich., target the typical baby-boomer family with two kids, using the themeline ‘Let’s Go.’ The three spots–‘Freedom,’ ‘Dolphin’ and ‘Baby’–show families taking advantage of special Venture features. For instance, ‘Baby’ highlights the minivan’s separate front and rear sound systems, because ‘kids don’t ever listen to the same music their parents do.’ In the ad, a couple puts their two-year-old in the back and mom inserts a tape of ‘Old MacDonald.’ But the precocious child dons headphones and starts throwing toys at the controls of the rear system, changing the radio stations. While her parents are singing ‘E-I-E-I-O,’ the little girl sings an aria from The Marriage of Figaro–in Italian. The campaign ‘breaks the mold of (cliche) minivan ‘feature, feature, feature ads,’ says Bill Ludwig, CE’s chief creative officer. The goal was to give the Venture a unique personality, he adds.

Art director MARIE L. ABRAHAM



A Pro bono AIDS-prevention campaign from McCann-Erickson, Troy, Mich., for AIDS Partnership Michigan, has stirred controversy because of its explicit nature. Some in the gay community think the billboards, using terms like ‘going down’ and ‘butt sex,’ are too in-your-face and will result in more gay-bashing. One billboard in particular has raised eyebrows. It shows two half-dressed men embracing, ready to kiss, with the headline ‘We’re hoping for some negative responses,’ above a picture of a condom. While the double entendre refers to HIV testing, another local AIDS prevention group says the use of this phrasing in an education message is in poor taste. Senior creative director John Dent doesn’t mind the debate–if people are talking about the ads, then they’re doing the job, he says. The agency targeted four demographic groups–gay white males, intravenous drug users, African-American men and teenagers–and devised creative strategies for each. For example, McCann found that scare tactics do work with IV drug users, but not with gay white men or black males.


Copywriter JEANNE RUZZIN –T.G.


After a 10-year hiatus, Hush Puppies marks a return to TV with six 30-second spots from Bozell Worldwide in Southfield, Mich. The commercials carry the ‘We invented casual’ tagline, used in both spring and fall print campaigns last year, promoting the brand’s resurgence as hip and trendy. ‘We wanted to reach a mainstream audience with a creative campaign that showcases the brand’s fashionable image,’ says creative director Chris Elliott. ‘The campaign was really designed to create a new personality for the company.’ Each of the tongue-in-cheek spots is shot from the viewpoint of a person with his or her feet up and the view around the shoes. In ‘I’m All Ears,’ an attractive man with extremely large ears is seen on bended knee in front of a woman reclining in a chair. As the man asks her to marry him, the woman’s Hush Puppies slowly close in to frame only his handsome face. After concealing his large ears from view, the woman decides to say yes. ‘We wanted to create an emotional bond with the viewer,’ Elliott says. ‘In an entertaining and emotional way, the viewer becomes the person behind the shoes. And reality is altered by that casual viewpoint.’

Art director SAM SEFTON


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