Guest Review

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Sweet 'N Low

Agency: Pedone & Partners Exec CD: Tom Cook AD: Janice Salcrup CW: Ted Sabarese Agency Producer: Matt Pedone

Director: Tenney Fairchild Production Co.: M-80 Films

Campbell: Cheesy sci-fi is a genre I've loved since I was 6, and I'm the perfect sucker for a spot like this. A young janitor is mopping the floor of an observatory at night - then he lets his curiosity get the best of him. He targets a distant planet with the telescope and becomes a galactic peeping Tom. What he sees are aliens pursuing the same ordinary activities we engage in on Earth, like vacuuming and working out. In one of the very last scenes we see a female alien grabbing a packet of Sweet 'N Low, as the camera zooms in for a product shot. A super comes up: "Wherever you go." You have to admire the writers for coming up with this interesting bait and switch; otherwise, who would be willing to spend 30 seconds watching something as ubiquitous and uninteresting as artificial sweetener? I only wish the drama was more intriguing, the actor behind the telescope a little less bland, and the ending made the cheese a little sharper. Now wouldn't that be sweet? 2 stars

McKinney: I'm confused by the strategy behind this commercial: Sweet 'N Low is "Wherever you go." I just can't figure out how this makes Sweet 'N Low special. Given our generic, consumerist society, isn't pretty much every product wherever we go? Wouldn't a better strategy be to talk about how Sweet 'N Low tastes good, or something? Or am I just a knucklehead who is completely missing the point? 1 star


Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi/New York CCO: Tod Seisser

CDs: Mariano Favetto/Mark Cacciatore AD: Carlos Figueriedo CW: Larissa Kirschner Agency Producer: Sheldon Levy

Director: Errol Morris Production Co: Radical Media

Campbell: The new Kodak spot featuring a very, very pale Wednesday Addamsesque student photographer is full of woe, and so am I. We follow our tragic heroine as she seemingly takes pictures of the dark side of nature, the shadows rather than the light. All the while, Bobby Darin sings "The World Is Full of Beautiful Things." It's a great notion that not every picture has to be of sunsets, puppy dogs and sweet little things. But it tries too hard to make its point and it's not consistently edgy enough to capture the darker instincts of the FOX/WB/MTV generation. It could have really succeeded had it truly captured Charles Addams' family values - darkness with a twist of humor. 2 stars

McKinney: First off, I think we can all agree that any commercial that uses Bobby Darin on its soundtrack has a leg up on the competition. The fact that the rest of the spot is well done is just a bonus. There are no features, no benefits to slow you down. Just a goth girl walking around taking goth-girl pictures. I get it - this camera is a tool that lets you express your individuality. If I have a beef with the commercial, it's that I didn't really care for the concepty ending where the girl shocks her classmates with her work. I would have liked it much better if she had just kept walking around taking her pictures with the music. 3 stars

Agency: Arnold Worldwide CCO: Ron Lawner Group CD: Pete Favat AD: Lee Einhorn CW: John Kearse Agency Producers: Paul Shannon/Bill Goodell Director: Kinka Usher Production Co: House of Usher

Campbell: The choice of a smug Brit to narrate the new spot - featuring Gordon, a man in a clam suit performing an aquatic ballet in an oh-so-cool bar that must serve only Cosmos, Mojitos and aspiration - is downright ingenious. It saves everyone on these shores the embarrassment of having to take credit for it. After hearing the potential career options Gordon is forgoing, you are confronted with the cliched punchline about being as happy as a clam, or only pretending to be happy in a clam suit. Even with the deluge of ex-dot-comers, I can't imagine being flooded with resumes as a result of this. Though it must have cost a lot of clams to produce this beautifully-shot spot, this soggy :60 unfortunately deserves a burial at sea. 1 star

McKinney: Boy, talk about an unenviable task - working on You're always going to be toiling in the shadow of that "I want to grow up to be a middle-manager" commercial. Well, whoever did this spot wasn't cowed. They came out swinging and ended up with a good spot. I especially like the funny writing. A bit overlong, perhaps, but who am I to cast stones? Will it persuade people to use Monster. com? Lord, I don't know. You could argue that it's maybe a bit too silly. But better too silly than too serious, in my book. Hats off to the last line: "Or are you just a person in a happy clam suit?" 3 stars

Mercedes M-Class

Agency: Merkley Newman Harty ECDs/ADs/CWs: Andy Hirsch/Randy Saitta Agency Producer: Chris Ott

Director: Victor Garcia Production Co: MJZ

Campbell: This beautiful spot - which depicts the creation of the new M-Class SUV from design pencil sketches, to automated manufacturing, to location road-testing in harsh climates - is stylish and graceful. So much so that it could even convince a prospective Hyundai Santa Fe buyer to shell out the extra 20 grand or so for that very sexy emblem. The final and only voiceover states: "We didn't build a better SUV, we built a better Mercedes." In the process, they built a better commercial. 4 stars

McKinney: This spot looks great and sounds great, but substance-wise it comes across as pretty much like every other car commercial out there. Don't get me wrong - it's nice to know that Mercedes' engineers are working to build a better car. But that's what I figured they were doing before I saw the commercial. I'm just disappointed that such an extraordinary carmaker is delivering such a generic message. 2 stars

mike campbell


Creative Director, J. Walter Thompson/New York

raymond Mckinney VP-Senior Copywriter, The Martin Agency/Richmond

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