WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA?

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"I just really wanted to screw these people," growls Sal DeVito. DeVito, creative director at DeVito Verdi, New York, is referring to the three-card monte dealers who set up tables around town to scam tourists and even the occasional New Yorker. While "screwing the dealers" is nice, DeVito's main mission is getting across the low-prices message for Daffy's, a chain of East Coast discount clothing stores. At the end of the monte spot, which looks like a public service announcement, the narrator intones, "We hate to see anybody get ripped off in this town." A title card with the Daffy's logo and the payoff, "Clothes that will make you, not break you," concludes the spot. The voice, by the way, belongs to none other than hard-boiled New York newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin.

Why Breslin? DeVito wanted the narrator to sound like "a New York kinda guy, maybe a cop. I mentioned the cop idea to the producer, Linda Tessa, and she suggested Breslin [instead]. It was no problem getting him and he seemed really interested in doing it." Breslin, whose working class wise-man-of-the-people timbre just drips with penny-pinching sincerity, warns of different ways you can get cheated in New York, and offers Daffy's as at least one solution.

Daffy's and DeVito/Verdi have a history of strong print ads (like the one that shows a picture of a straitjacket, headlined, "If you paid more than a hundred dollars for a dress shirt, may we suggest a jacket to go with it?") These new commercials aren't quite as zingy, but they break through the clutter and should still generate lots of sympathy for Daffy's.

In a second spot, filmed with what looks like a surveillance camera, viewers are told, "You are about to witness a robbery." A shady-looking customer reaches into his back pocket and pulls out . . . his wallet. "Paying full price," snaps Breslin. "It happens that quickly."

Credits to copywriter Dan Kelleher and art director Mark Schruntek; directed by

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