WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA?

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Proving once again that he is quite the Renaissance, um, doll, Buddy Lee is back taming wild animals, dealing with crazed Japanese fans and proudly serving his country.

Lee, an advertising icon from the 1920s, made his comeback last year as "Buddy Lee, Man of Action." The campaign, from Fallon McElligott/Minneapolis, uses the tagline "Can't bust 'em" to drive home the durability of Buddy and his favorite jeans.

Comments creative director David Lubars: "A great client once said, 'A brand is the sum of everything you've been.' And what that means is that you want to take the best equity -- attitude or tone -- of the product, and see to it that you can evolve it into something new and relevant."

The new campaign, while still following the "Can't bust 'em" path, gives Buddy a break from being blown to bits or trying to survive a raging tornado. In fact, we now see the character's sensitive side, as Sarah Michelle Gellar (that's Buffy the Vampire Slayer to you) talks about how Buddy pushes her to be a better actress. Appropriately, they are shown doing a scene from Ibsen's A Doll's House. In perhaps the funniest spot, R&B great Bobby Womack waxes poetic about Buddy and how he was quite the ladies man. Really? Sweet, diminutive Buddy Lee? Seems Womack thought they were discussing Buddy Guy. A picture of the denim-clad hero clears things up. "Oh, the little jeans guy," says Womack with just the right combination of annoyance and bemusement.

Another new addition to the campaign is the parting butt shot (go ahead and snicker). The jeans are shown on actual humans as well as on Buddy. "It's fashion, and people need to see that [the jeans] look good," says Lubars. "Also, the label has the tagline on it. It's a smooth way to show the product and how it fits."

And the humans are actually human-looking; Kate Moss types need not apply. Lubars stresses that's no coincidence. "These are real people. Jeans look really good on real people."

And, we might add, on 13-inch dolls.

CGH Harvey Marco AD Andy Azula CW Greg Hahn Executive Producer Judy Brink

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