Agency: Campbell Mithun Esty/New York Director: Bennett Miller, Hungry Man
Hogshead: A guy sits in a waiting room, and starts making those fart noises by squeezing his palms to the rhythm of the Muzak. In theory, this could be engaging. It's a simple, quirky premise. But unfortunately, it looks like the AEs got their hands on it along the way. Instead of just letting this moment feel inherently interesting, it's been embellished with a fancy edit, formulaic music, and a faux-cool Gen Y dude. If a spot is going for quirky, it should be genuinely quirky. Not the kind you buy at the mall. 2
Maki: If the "desired consumer response" from the brief was, "Ha-ha, funny fart sounds. Let's go out and get some Gardetto's, dude!" then congrats on a job well done. Hey, I'll admit it; I laughed at the guy in this spot. You can't help but enjoy the absurdity of his performance. But as it wrapped up, I was disappointed. If you're going to do a joke and then plug in your product at the end, you have to make it at least a little more relevant than this spot did. 1.5
Agency: Leo Burnett/Chicago Director: Kinka Usher, House of Usher
Hogshead: When I was in school a copywriting teacher told me, "Cereal is the hardest category to work on. It's totally uninspired." So I give major points for difficulty. And the first half of the spot is handled in a really interesting low-key way, as a bunch of farmers wait to `audition' their corn for the boss, who turns out to be a rooster. But when we get to the part where the rooster throws the guy whose corn doesn't cut it through the glass door, my ribs hurt from being hit with that elbow. 3
Maki: Being from Wisconsin, I know all about farm animals with attitudes (especially those cantankerous goats), but this just doesn't feel like the Kellogg's that we all know and love. Corn Flakes are not hip and cool and that's OK. When you try to force something to be hip and cool, it just doesn't feel natural (See Al Gore review.). Furthermore, I don't want to think that people are getting hurt trying to make my breakfast or see some filthy farmer kissing the corn that's eventually going to be in my cereal bowl. My mornings are rough enough as it is. 1.5
Agency: Cliff Freeman & Partners Director: James Gartner, Gartner, LA
Hogshead: Two longtime best friends say their heartfelt goodbyes at graduation. But when they realize that neither brought Cokes to celebrate the occasion, a catfight breaks out. Having worked on Coke, I can say that getting work through their approval process is like that scene in Dances With Wolves when Kevin Costner rides in front of battle lines with his arms outstretched. So I'm sympathetic to why the spot might feel a little watered-down. I just wish it could either be less broad (i.e., nobody gets pulled to the ground), or more extreme (i.e., "Yo bitch, I'm the one who gave your boyfriend herpes.").2.5
Maki: Dear home run hitter Cliff Freeman, I bow down to you and I am not worthy, but you hit a long foul ball with this one. Each spot in this campaign features a slice-of-life situation that's all warm and fuzzy until it's discovered that there's no Coke to be enjoyed: Then all hell breaks loose. These spots are formulaic and the pratfalls come a little too expectedly. I want to like it, but I just can't. Please forgive me. 2
Al Gore, "Life Story"
Agency: Campaign Company Director: Anonymous
Hogshead: If I were voting for Bush, I'd be positively gleeful. This spot is tedious. For one thing, there are about 17 benefits. There might have been more, but I lost track. Now, I realize that Democrats are more intelligent as a whole. But asking them to recall 17 points is a bit much. Score: 1
Maki: This straight-forward, show-us-what-he's-done spot about Gore doesn't really teach us anything new but it feels good anyway. It highlights the achievements of his career with old black and white photos and home movies from the early days of his marriage with Tipper. While it shows that Al has been around the block, it doesn't try to make him something he's not, and for that I respect it. 2.5
Agency: The Martin Agency/Richmond
Hogshead: I've been a fan of the Timberland work for years and years, so I feel a little shy about saying this. But regarding this particular execution, hasn't this graph idea been done a few times (BMW, Adidas etc.)? 2
Maki: This campaign is cool. I like its simplicity. It takes Timberland a step beyond hiking gear and adds a lot of aspiration to the brand. It's subtle, smart and it takes a refreshing leave away from other extreme X'er advertising in the category. 3
Sally Hogshead is a co-founder and creative director at Robaire & Hogshead, Venice, Calif.
Jeff Maki is a copywriter at TBWA/Chiat Day/Los Angeles.