September's Guest Review

Published on .

Eric Hirshberg, Executive Creative Director, Deutsch/Los Angeles

Marty Cooke, Creative Partner, SS+K, New York

1. Pepsi "Directions"

Beyonce Knowles updates the Cindy Crawford classic.

Agency: BBDO/New York CCO: Ted Sann ECO: Don Schneider, Chris Curry Director: Joe Pytka/Pytka

EH: This is a winner. First of all, the product (in this case, Ms. Knowles) looks fabulous. And the concept is simple and engaging. Her beauty is transcendent, yet she's down to earth and approachable, all at once. By the end, when she flashes a winning smile and a knowing wink at the camera, I'm sold. I want it all. CDs, concert tickets, T-shirts, just tell me how I can get my little piece of the Beyonce brand. There's only one problem. This is an ad for Pepsi. So, uh, I don't get it. 2 stars

MC: This spot is nice affirmation that all is still right with the world. Some things remain blissfully unchanged. Pepsi spots are one of those things. There's the beautiful star, the silky hair, the perfect legs, the stylized drink shot. Is it Cindy Crawford? Britney Spears? Oh no, it's Beyonce. It doesn't matter. It's Pepsi and the world is good. Young starstruck guys are still hanging out at gas stations by beautifully lit Pepsi machines. So reassuring. They probably could have saved a lot of money and just doctored one of the old spots at The Mill. 2 stars

2. Frontier Airlines "Bi-Coastal"

Frontier's tailfin animal characters come to life with sitcom-ish banter.

Agency: Grey Worldwide/New York CD: Graham Button CW: Shawn Couzens AD: Gary Ennis Director: Steve Marino/Wild Child/Voodoo

EH: I can just hear the pitch. "The animals on the tails of the planes will become part of pop culture. Whenever people see the planes they'll quote the ads and feel good about the brand. We could see people writing letters about which animal is their favorite. Jay Leno will reference the animals in jokes! We could even see a sitcom!" If only these ads were the slightest bit funny, perhaps some of the above would be true. 1 star

MC: Let's start with the strategy. I'm sure Frontier is excited that they can land planes on both coasts, but why should I be? Aren't there at least 73 other airlines that can say this? As for the creative idea, I can see how someone thought animating the distinctive tails of the planes might have been a good branding idea. But not with a script that's so leaden and obvious. You see the lines coming like planes lined up to land at an airport. Even the names - a rabbit named Jack and a hot girl named Foxy? Please, start over. 1 star

3. Kellogg's Special K

"Abnormally Challenged"

An Everywoman's uneasy internal monologue is heard in this spot, part of a campaign that encourages the average woman, to "Help Yourself."

Agency: Leo Burnett/Chicago CD: Mark Tutssel CD/CW: Stephanie Crippen CD/AD: Reed Collins Director: Tom Carty/Gorgeous Enterprises

EH: This certainly doesn't look like most cereal advertising. It's well-shot and the girl's inner monologue draws you in so you really listen. That's where the trouble begins. The message is truly confusing. Her "curves are in" line indicates that she thinks she's heavy. She's not. But let's go with it. Curvy girl's bitter because she can't stop eating chocolates and her hunky co-worker only has eyes for swimsuit models. Got it. Then the tagline says, "Don't be so hard on yourself." OK, I'm with you. Curvy girl should embrace her curviness, lighten up and have a Krispy Kreme. Right? Nope, this is an ad for a low-calorie cereal. So I guess curvy girl needs to be a little harder on herself after all. 1 star

MC: Over the years, Special K has carved out an enviable position of understanding real women. It's been fun watching women in front of mirrors when they don't know we're watching. I liked those women. But that's the trouble with this latest iteration of this long-running campaign. I don't like this woman. She's miserable. I have the feeling she'd still be obsessing, even if she had a nice bowl of Special K with juicy plump strawberries served to her in bed by Ben Affleck. I snuck a peek at "Bus Stop," another spot in this campaign. I didn't love that woman. But at least I liked her. 2 stars

4. Levi's "Car"

A Levi's-swaddled hero breaks a horsepowered beast in a spot that combines Wild West heritage, present-day hip and weird WestWorld futurism.

Agency: BBH/New York ECD: Kevin McKeon GCD: Thomas Hayo CWs: Anthony Goldstein, Clive Pickering ADs: Gavin Lester, Neil Dawson Director: Traktor/Partizan

EH: I thought we had scaled the summit of Mount Obtuseness with the urban-stampede-of-buffalo spot. I stand corrected. Turns out that was just one of the base camps. I actually applaud what they're attempting to do with this campaign. I think Levi's ads should be out there on the edge, speaking directly to your heart and your hips, not your head. And modernizing Old West imagery seems like a good place to start. That said, in order to speak to my heart, or my hips, there needs to be something, somewhere that I can relate to, aspire to, or at least understand. 1 star

MC: Levi's guy as urban cowboy. Car as bronco. What could be more American? What could be more Levi's? It's nice to see BBH taking this great brand back to where it belongs. This spot pushes all the buttons it needs to push. Minimal color palette: check. Ever-so-cool casting: check. Spot-on editing: check. Hardass music track: check. It's fun to watch. Even a bit of surprise at the end, well-executed by director and actor alike. But why won't it go in the Levi's Hall of Fame? Because when spots are this perfect, they make me nervous. Perfection, in the end, is a tad boring. It's the unexpected that takes a spot to the next level. 3 stars

The Street Review: Molly Wasow

Special K: The spot is entertaining, but a little complicated. I had to concentrate to follow the "plot," which under ordinary circumstances I wouldn't do. When I really stop to think, I find the ad a bit contradictory. On its face, it's about female empowerment, but the woman in the spot is at work thinking about clothes, food, and men, rather than anything professional. 3 stars

Ms. Wasow is a budget and policy analyst who eats cereal to fuel herself for the tennis court.

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