For a small agency in an out-of-the-way locale, Charlotte, N.C.'s BooneOakley has caused some serious ruckus in the eight months since its inception. The agency was first known for its 123hire.com billboard featuring a picture of George W. with the logo for the Gore/Lieberman campaign. After confusing highway drivers for a few days, the creatives added a banner to the board: "This week's job on 123hire.com: proofreader." More recently, agency founders John Boone and David Oakley have taken on Continental tires. Tires may have once been a pretty staid category, but the Firestone/Ford scandals seem to have made everyone a little touchy. When the team created an ad featuring the tires in a Lifesavers-like wrapper and ran it full-page in USA_Today, Lifesavers parent company Nabisco wanted out. To get as far from possible from the recently morbid world of tire sales, they forced BooneOakley and Continental to pull the ad after a single day.
Even if you're an award-winning copywriter with some incredible campaigns under your belt, could you write a more attention-grabbing headline than: "We're Jeff and Tracy. We're your good neighbors. We smoke pot."? Jeff and Tracy, a couple from Oregon, took out space in a local paper, Willamette Week, as well as radio time on a regional station. The print work includes a rather pointed attack on PDFA ads: "Contemporary Drug War advertising, which you fund with your tax dollars, insists that we are a threat to society." The innocuous photo of the couple in the corner of the ad does not exactly conjure images of a latter-day Bonnie and Clyde. The radio station has received so many calls about the ad that the reefer-loving duo has been invited onto a show, and they've accepted, noting how terrifying it is to talk live about illegal drug use. "We're scared shitless," writes Tracy on her site. So far, though, the response has been quite positive. In an effusive letter to the public, Tracy reports, "We have been sooo pleasantly surprised to find that less than five percent of responses are of a negative nature!" Hey, we're just impressed she still has the brain function to calculate percentages!
This scene was unappealing enough the first time around. Anyone who saw Trainspotting - or even just the ubiquitous clip of Ewan McGregor's head-first plunge into a filthy toilet in search of a narcotic suppository - will recognize the muse for this 3DFX (a computer design program) ad immediately.
DiMassimo Brand Advertising may have found some of the strangest marketing statistics out there with a "Caloric Traveler Survey." Among the esoteric findings were that people with low-calorie diets are five times more likely to travel alone, and that gluttons prefer the Grand Canyon and Disney World while ascetics opt for the Caribbean and California.
Imagine how great it would be to have a client who never visits: no meetings, no impromptu checkups, no boring business dinners. Birmingham, Ala.'s Dave Smith knew what he was doing when he teamed with Mindvolt, a small local agency, to take on the advertising duties for Henry Hill. By day, Smith is a CD at Slaughter Hanson, but he occasionally freelances with Mindvolt, especially when the gig is this good. Hill, the prototype for Ray Liotta's character in Goodfellas, is in the Witness Protection Program; though Smith has spoken with him on the phone, the two will never meet in person. On his site, goodfellahenry.com, Hill is hawking signed Goodfellas DVDs and posters, and he has plans to launch a cookbook soon. Smith has begun to write copy for some of the ads, including "We told this guy we'd help him execute a few ads, but that's it." Smith describes the strategy as "very tongue-in-cheek, in-your-face. It's not going to be subtle."
Wieden & Kennedy's Nike "Freestyle" spot was dissed at Cannes this year, but some fans in the business admired it enough to make a parody. In a spoof featuring primarily white bumpkins, Savion Glover's smooth choreography is replaced by groin shots, missed passes, and a woman birthing a mucus-covered basketball. Director Jason Moore and producer Cris Dupont of Santa Monica's Monkeywrench Studios decided to create the spoof as homage to the original spot. "I think it's one of the best spots of the year," says Moore. "Our goal was to not only get laughs, but also to include the goofy, oddball, sports fans who don't have style, but who have a lot of heart." As they hoped, a web guerrilla campaign paid off; the spot was an instant hit on Adcritic.com and will now be included in a Campaign magazine compilation of the year's most creative advertising.
Why ask why?
It's been a while since the late Tibor Kalman was shocking readers with photos of a black Queen Mum; now, Milwaukee agency Serve has turned the tables and aimed the pointed social commentary at the ad community. An Indian Mr. Clean, a black Morton's Salt girl, and an Asian Cap'n Crunch stare out of these posters with the slogan, "Why not?" Serve created the campaign for the Strive Media Institute, an afterschool program for minority high school students in Milwaukee. The endeavor has a focus on mass communications. "We've seen all sorts of stuff dealing with the minority issue, and it seems to be the standard formula to have an emotive headline," says copywriter Jeff Jenkins. "We wanted to go in a different direction. It's a couple steps down the line, but if you get involved, you can change the face of pop culture."
Beer for the month club
Though it hasn't yet reached the kind of widespread acceptance of, say, Black History Month, Kalamazoo's Copper Advertising did its part to create a new American tradition this July: American Beer Month. Longtime Copper client and local microbrew Bell Beer have traditionally launched modest campaigns that were paid in product, but this year they decided to get more ambitious. "They came to us and said, `We have 28 grand. Can you help us do something?" relates managing partner Steve Kunkel. In response, Copper creatives came up with a web branding campaign touting American Beer Month, complete with virally-distributed spots, directed by Hungry Man, featuring superheroes Captain Brew and Microbrew (a midget). Among other things, americanbeermonth.com features the spots, a list of ale-related events, and consumer reviews.