Q&A: Jim Jenkins, Director, Hungry Man

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C: Overall, what do you think the quality of work was from 2004 compared to previous years, or even to what you're starting to see this year?

Jenkins: 2004 had some nice work, but I didn't think anything equaled Nike "Tag," for example, or Noam's homage to The Omen for the California Milk Board. Maybe what 2004 needed was more spots starring the antichrist.

C: What was your personal creative highlight of 2004?

Jenkins: Getting nominated for the 2004 DGA Award alongside Dante Ariola, Frederic Bond and Noam was a personal highlight, second only to fulfilling my lifelong dream of using a Salt N Pepa song in a spot [Nextel]. I thought TBS was great because I loved working with Duncan Marshall, Howard Willmott and Dave Droga. They're terrific guys and you know work is going to be supported, which is the way it was with Gerry Graf as well. I think my personal favorite shoot of last year was Discovery. It was in a great city, Cape Town, the client was great, and I'm really happy with how particularly two of the spots came out, the "Antler" spot and the "Milk Truck" spot.

C: What work from others stood out for you last year?

Jenkins: There were a couple things, I believe, out of Europe. One of my favorites was a two and a half-minute piece for Toyota called "Donkey" [out of Saatchi/Sydney]. It's a fantastic piece of storytelling. I also really liked a spot called "Life in a Day" for VW Golf, and the Virgin Mobile spot "Snowflakes." These three are definitely among my favorites from last year.

C: Where did you see some of the best work coming from?

Jenkins: Gerry Graf, Dave Lubars, and Dave Droga have all done excellent work wherever they've been, and now they're all here in New York. Plus, Eric Silver is still here, and Fallon/N.Y. is doing great things. That's why I think 2004 really saw this city starting to emerge, creatively.

C: Did you observe any interesting trends, good or bad, from last year?

Jenkins: I do think it seems like clients are kind of more nervous than ever, maybe they go for safety a little bit more. Personally, it bothers me when I see actors used over and over again. A lot of that is because they're good and you have to go with the best actor for the role, but I wonder if some of that is sometimes driven by clients who might feel more comfortable producing spots that feel more familiar to them.

C: As for trends, in comedy, did it seem to you that last year there appeared to be a lot of "absurd" work, for example as with Skittles or Burger King?

Jenkins: Nextel "Dance Party" is also completely absurd too. I don't necessarily think of it as a trend because I think you just named work out of pretty good agencies. Good agencies seem to consistently try different things. And that Burger King work is different. You asked what noticeable blunders happened. To me, noticeable blunders are work that blends in and disappears at a time when there's more competition than ever. That sort of work that you at least notice, that is a big part of what the work is supposed to do in the first place. Not daring to stand out is just a waste of money-that's the real risk. So I don't know about the absurd humor. If it makes you laugh, it's appropriate.

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