Venables, Bell Scares Oz Fans Straight

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In its first campaign for HBO Home Video, San Francisco agency Venables, Bell & Partners turns to the great motivator -- fear. Rather than heralding the video and DVD release of the first season of HBO's prison drama Oz with quotes and praise, two spots that break this week show viewers who have been scared straight by the series. In one, a would-be jaywalker steps off the curb before a swirl of prison riot footage from Oz flashes before his mind. He decides to wait for the light. In another, a viewer accidentally takes two newspapers from a vending machine but pays to put one back after visions of concertina wire assault him. "Eight straight hours of Oz," the tag reads. "It'll make you think twice."

Former Goodby creatives Paul Venables and Greg Bell launched their agency last year on the strength of the UltimateTV account, which was being run at Microsoft by former SBC executives the pair had worked with at Goodby. Similarly, the shop's work for HBO Home Video follows the move of a former PacBell/SBC executive, Sofia Chang, to the cable network's video and DVD division.

"This is very different for the category," Venables says of the work. "Our rationale strategically was that anything that could appear to be a simple 'tune in Sunday night' thing would fail us, because we're trying to sell tapes and DVDs." Thus the focus on the concentrated effects of eight hours of Oz "We really tried to position it as intense. As intense as the show is, this is more dangerous," he says. Additional credits to art director Nick Spahr, copywriter Kevin Frank, and director Tom Routson of Tool of North America, Santa Monica.

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