January is when advertising tries to capitalize

January is when advertising tries to capitalize on the guilt and struggle associated with New Year’s resolutions, with a lot of weight-loss promos, gym specials and the like. Citi tapped into the instant satisfaction most new gym enthusiasts long for with Tony, an overweight man who does one quick lap of the gym and rushes back to the scale, only to get the same verdict on his weight. We’ve been there. It’s a clear, memorable way to pitch the “faster rewards” of Citibank’s Premiere Pass card.

The month also brought us another Apple iPod ad. Yes, we’ve become more than accustomed to the Day-Glo colors and dancing silhouettes, but the campaign still offers something entertaining to keep eyes (and ears) engaged. Last month it was the Shuffle, a new, lower-priced product that shuffles the music stored on a sleek, ultra-mini iPod worn around the neck. The graphics send swooping arrows around, over and under the dancers, to the sounds of the Caesars’ “Jerk It Out.”

The best use of music in a spot last month, however, has to be Starburst’s use of Lionel Richie’s “Hello.” It serves as the soundtrack to a teen’s unusual homage to his high-school crush. A boy drags the object of his affection into an art room to show her a large bust of her, made entirely out of the candy. The girl looks on, first in confusion, then in disgust. He can’t resist—he kisses its lips and gorges on its nose. It’s certainly the most original courting ritual (and product demo) we’ve seen in a while.

The most interesting visuals last month came from FedEx. Chimney sweeps talk about how FedEx can help them expand the business, while puffs of black smoke float out of their mouths, accenting each word. “We don’t have to give up our chimney-sweep jobs do we?” asks one. Of course not, replies the other, as all three guffaw and spurt more soot from their lungs. Very funny.

Cola-Cola introduced another “real” teen drama—a documentary-style spot that follows a teen girl group through its band business. As one member narrates, we see the friends writing songs, rehearsing, performing and splurging a night’s pay during a thrift-store shopping spree. The spot stays true to the tagline, “Make it real.” It’s also nice to see some interesting girls in usually boy-dominated teen-targeted spots.

One of the best low-budget spots last month came from Explore Minnesota Tourism. Not the first place that comes to mind when you think of midwinter escapes, Minnesota turns that disadvantage into a selling point, with spots that feature a bear who decides to skip hibernating to soak in the art scene and other winter attractions.

OfficeMax maximized its media placement and the popularity of ABC’s hit drama Lost with its own “lost” story line. The Rubberband Man solemnly goes about his office duties after losing his rubberband ball. Fliers posted around the office, however, prompt its return with a spot reminding viewers that the office-supply chain always has copier supplies in stock.

The gross-out moment of the month came from a Purell spot that reminds viewers how disgusting the handles of supermarket shopping carts can be, to MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.” A sloppy-looking dude lets out an enormous sneeze, and two seconds later a woman and her daughter pick up the same cart. Gross enough to bring out the hypochondriac in all of us.