What’s New: Portfolio

AGENCY: Clarke Goward, Boston
CLIENT: Commonwealth Brewery, Boston
MEDIUM: consumer print, outdoor
COPYWRITER: Colin Nissan
It’s a tribute to the growth of the microbrew niche that a brew pub will resort to boorishness to differentiate itself from the effete competition. But if you want to avoid blueberry ale, you needn’t seek out “Boston’s Original Brew Pub.” Or if you’re looking for the sort of noisy camaraderie the headline seems to promise, you’ll find that elsewhere. In short, while the ad grabs attention, it doesn’t give a compelling reason to try this place. For instance, nothing here suggests that Commonwealth’s beer is good, fruit-free though it may be. The ad will assure the post-grad frat boys that they can drink at a brew pub without compromising their manhood. Surely, though, the micro phenomenon passed that milestone years ago. If nothing else, does this sort of ad secure the loyalties of drinkers who enjoy rudeness? Not really. Once you start playing the “shut the hell up” game, anyone with a firm grasp of the vernacular can come along and steal the lead from you. The pretensions of the micro scene are an easy target for mockery, but it remains to be seen whether anyone but Budweiser and Miller benefits from such a message.

AGENCY: Rodgers Townsend, St. Louis
CLIENT: Schultz Co., St. Louis
MEDIUM: consumer, trade publications
CREATIVE TEAM: Mike Dillon, Tim Varner
If you’re a serious rose enthusiast, it’s not that your love is like a red, red rose. Your love is a red, red rose. The term “hobby” doesn’t begin to capture the emotional investment avid gardeners have in the activity. This ad is smart to tap into that sentiment, and to do so by commiserating with the struggles it entails. “Growing exceptional roses isn’t easy. It takes time, effort and a little help from Schultz.” Quite so. A product that blithely promised to make the process simple would violate the mystique of the rose grower’s discipline. Instead, by offering simply to help, Schultz bonds with the target audience. One other thing that’s smart about the photo: By focusing on thorns rather than blossoms, the ad gives readers no chance to feel that a Schultz-assisted rose isn’t up to snuff. After all, people who love their own roses tend to be stern critics of everyone else’s.

AGENCY: Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York
CLIENT: Sony Electronics, Park Ridge, N.J.
MEDIUM: consumer magazines
CREATIVE DIRECTORS: Lee Garfinkel, Gary Goldsmith, Simon Bowden, Kevin McKeon
ART DIRECTOR: Maria Kostyk-Petro
COPYWRITER: Steve Doppelt
PHOTOGRAPHY: Howard Berman (main visual), Steve Bronstein (product)
The client invents something that’s highly ingenious and nearly useless. How does the agency advertise it? The people at Sony’s shop are entitled to feel they faced such a challenge in this case. It’s impressive, no doubt, that Sony’s NightShot Infrared System can “record in complete darkness, both inside and outdoors.” But this sounds like a feature that most people would seldom use–which may leave them wondering whether they want to pay for it. The ad’s funny visual works gamely to charm readers out of thinking such prosaic, negative thoughts. In a suitably G-rated way, it also helps sustain the idea that the hours of darkness are “when all the good stuff happens.” On the downside, by using a shot of something that would scarcely ever happen in real life, the ad emphasizes that it’s resorting to a “simulated picture,” as small type discloses. And that, in turn, may bring potential customers back to asking themselves whether there are many unsimulated situations they’d want to record in the dark.

AGENCY: DDB Needham, Chicago
CLIENT: McDonald’s, Oak Brook, Ill.
MEDIUM: 30-second TV
CREATIVE DIRECTORS: Jim Ferguson, Bob Merlotti
COPYWRITER: Shelton Scott
AGENCY PRODUCERS: Monica Mooney, Joel Goldsmith
PRODUCTION CO: Johns + Gorman Films, Los Angeles
DIRECTOR: Jeff Gorman
When applied to a movie or a novel, “predictable” is a damning term. But it’s a sign of advertising’s peculiar nature that predictability is as often a virtue as a failing. In this spot, we see a father leaning on the railing of his baby’s crib, dangling french fries just out of the infant’s reach. We don’t see the kid, apart from his hands, but we can tell from the tone of his noisemaking that he’s getting a bit distressed by this game. The oblivious daddy keeps prattling away, though, until the inevitable denouement: The kid grabs his tie and pulls him head first into the crib. At the tag end, we hear the father meekly surrendering the whole box of fries. Even the least prescient viewer will have seen this coming a mile away. And that’s just fine: At the end of a long day, plenty of us are relieved to see something unfold just the way we thought it would. We aren’t intellectually stimulated by this spot (or if we are, heaven help us), but we are vaguely reassured by it. Keep in mind, too, that predictability is a big part of what McDonald’s is selling. The food may not be great, but there won’t be any bad surprises. If you liked it last week in Louisiana, you’ll like it just as well next week in Nebraska. An amiably predictable spot helps reinforce that positioning.

What’s New submissions should be in the form of proofs, slides or (for TV spots) videotape. Please list creative director, art director, copywriter, agency producer, production company (and its location), director and illustrator or photographer. Describe the media schedule, including break date for the ad. Preference will be given to the newest work. Materials cannot be returned. Send submissions to: What’s New Portfolio, Adweek, 1515 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10036.