Creative Focus: St. Louis


This month, CREATIVE FOCUS travels to the heart of America, the Gateway City of St. Louis. Featured campaigns include print work from Core and Simmons Durham, along with television spots from Advertising Savants, Veritas and Waylon Ad. Also, meet Eric Tilford, a 29-year-old creative director at Core, where vivid photography, distinctive art direction and evocative copy bring print work to life.
casting for ideas to pitch Zebco’s Quantum line of saltwater fishing gear, Core had a strategic decision to make. Call it the Jimmy Buffet vs. Ernest Hemingway conundrum: whether to advertise fishing gear with the laid-back tropical theme of Margaritaville or the mano-a-pisces approach of Old Man and the Sea. Papa won out, and the agency produced print ads that portray fishing as a rugged, violent sport. “I don’t want to eat him. Or put him on my wall,” reads one ad. “I just want to look him in the eye so he knows I’m the one who beat him.” John Huet took photographs in the Gulf of Mexico–blurry renditions of windswept anglers fighting monsters from the deep. “When you talk to people [who fish], you find it’s more than a hobby,” says copywriter Wade Paschall. “It gets to be a personal thing, a one-on-one battle. I think referring to the fish as a ‘he’ was the key.”
Art director JOHN DAMES
–Trevor Jensen

The game had lost much of its luster when Waylon Ad took over advertising duties for the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the 1996 season. Baseball was coming off a strike that resulted in the cancellation of the 1995 World Series. Faced with fans who had grown tired of overpaid players and imperious owners, Kipp Monroe and the creatives at Waylon Ad decided it was time to sound a call for the game’s underlying virtues: “Baseball like it ought to be.” The agency has kicked off each ensuing season with new executions in the campaign, the latest featuring Cardinals’ home-run king Mark McGwire playing tennis and hitting every serve out of the court. Earlier work, such as 1997’s “Playing Hurt,” stressed the fundamentals of baseball that fans appreciate: The spot featured an injured stadium organist who plays on. In another ad, Cards manager Tony LaRussa argues with an umpire over which cartoon character is best. Monroe acknowledges the influence of Wieden & Kennedy’s TV work for ESPN. “Humor is a natural with sports teams,” he says.
Copywriter JOE LEAHY

This bus-side advertising is part of Veritas’ “through the windshield” campaign for the local Volvo dealers association–it gets to people “when they’re in their unsafe cars,” says creative director Frank Oros. The work attempts to establish authority for its message by using “well-known American colloquialisms and extending them into the safety message,” Oros says. “Yes, life is what you make it. We suggest you make it longer,” reads one ad. Another says: “No, you can’t buy happiness. Security, however, is another matter.” And a third: “Yes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. What kind of car are you driving?” Subtle background art in the executions includes a farmer’s almanac, a fortune cookie and a piece of embroidery, all designed to give the message further weight and wisdom. “These lines take on a sort of higher intelligence,” Oros explains. “They’ve always been words of wisdom. This is just a new way of looking at them.” The campaign won an Addy in the mass-transit category at this year’s St. Louis show.
Copywriter FRANK OROS

jack daniel’s tennessee whiskey has achieved icon status with the help of 43 years of some of the most famous black-and-white advertising ever made. So why change? “Research had found among a younger audience, say, legal drinking age to 25, that the black-and-white ads just weren’t getting read,” says Tim Halpin, creative director for Simmons Durham’s color campaign that broke last year. “The idea was to tell the same story, but more telegraphically, to use color to pop out.” With typeface and paper stock from Hatch Show Print in Nashville, Tenn., a century-old poster company, Simmons Durham retained the down-home, country feel long conveyed in the agency’s folksy black-and-white work (which continues to run). Copy stresses the whiskey’s heritage. “One hundred thirty-one years, seven generations, one recipe,” reads one. Such messages “really resonated,” Halpin says. “People respect those things that have resisted fads and trends.”
Copywriter BRAD FELS

Zoological gardens are usually considered a place where people look at animals. But Advertising Savants took the animals’ perspective in a three-spot campaign for the St. Louis Zoo. “We were talking about how funny people act at the zoo,” says group creative director Donna Hagerty-Payne. “We had to somehow show that it’s a very live experience; it’s not passive.” The result: three Rick Gould-directed spots suggesting what must go through the minds of animals as people stand, mug and stare at them. Two polar bears attempt to amuse a chubby Boy Scout and his father. “So whaddya think, the ball or the pool thing?” one bear asks the other. The orsine antics fail to get a rise out of the father and son, much to the bears’ dismay. “Who’s entertaining who, at the St. Louis Zoo?” says a voiceover, followed by the campaign’s tagline, “Can you come out and play?” Another spot features lizards in an aquarium, confronted with a woman compelled to flick her tongue like a reptile. “You couldn’t catch a dead fly with that thing,” one lizard says. Parrots watching a family round out the fun. Much of the scripting was done after the footage was shot, Hagerty-Payne says. “It was opportunistic creative.”
Art director VINCE COOK