> Martin/Williams, Minneapolis, 1.5 stars
|Soccer mom as life-size cutout.
She's OK; the commercial isn't, because the reason the real mom is absent is that she's running around to buy school supplies. Had she only shopped at "well-organized and easy-to-shop" Staples, she could have seen the game in the flesh.
Yeah, sure. First of all, it's a stretch, in narrative terms, to get from a soccer game to an office-supplies store. This exercise has all the inklings of a joke that had been peddled to other clients unsuccessfully before, rising here from the ashes. Secondly: not far from the ashes. What a silly and terrible positioning. Easy shopping? Vs. Walgreen's, Wal-mart, Target, the supermarket? Come on.
Staples should just run Cliff Freeman's old "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" commercial, the most wonderful back-to-school ad ever.
> Devito/Verdi, New York, 3.5 stars
|Pencils in each nostril.
Brilliant, and real. How much Meijer stores indeed deserve "high marks for low prices," who knows, but they have a unique and memorable price claim. The third spot shows perfectly unreal kids celebrating their school supplies and expressing extravagant gratitude to Mom. As if. Opposite tack, same message: Save your money on the little brats.
Kmart Joe Boxer
> TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, 3 stars
|Vaughn Lowery's goofy dance works.
But, lo and behold, Joe Boxer has created a hot franchise within a stone-cold franchise, mainly on the strength of actor/model Vaughn Lowery and his goofy dance. Yes, because he's black and because he so giddily surrenders his dignity, there are minstrel-show echoes here ... but only echoes.
This is a character who just happens to be black having some self-deprecating fun, not a caricature of blackness dancing for the condescending amusement of whites. His incandescent charm brightens even this dim and dated Kmart brand.