In a series of cinema spots for Moviefone.com, New York's Mad Dogs & Englishmen pays tribute to supernatural thrillers, science fiction cult classics, and gangster movies. The latest installment, now in theaters, takes on animated musicals. The spot, titled "Enchanted Cockroach," features an unusually buxom Cinderella who can't make it to the movies because of all the slaving away she's forced to do by her wicked sisters - until, that is, the cockroach speaks up. A tear from the oppressed lovely transforms the talking vermin into a prince, who whisks her away to a showing of a movie called Lethal Death. Character Builders of Columbus, Ohio, whose credits include work on actual animated musicals like Anastasia, animated the spot. The result is equal parts The Little Mermaid and Fractured Fairy Tales. "Basically what we were doing was picking on all the classic cliches," says Mad Dogs ECD Dave Cook. (JH)
The Dallas office of DDB Worldwide is encouraging its workers to think globally. Employees can get $1,000 in tuition reimbursement for foreign language classes, a $1,000 bonus when they pass a proficiency test, and $1,000 every year on the anniversary of passing the test. Cooper Smith, a spokesperson for DDB/Dallas, explains that Texas is actually a natural location for this kind of program. "Texas is going to be a minority majority state within the next decade or so," he explains, meaning that English-speaking Caucasians will soon comprise less than half of the population. "Since English is a worldwide language, it's like that's all we need to know. But the truth is, it's extremely disrespectful to the rest of the world."
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and for one aspiring copywriter, the current job market is looking less than stellar. Jake Benjamin, a recent graduate of Creative Circus, has been looking for a job for the past month or two. No luck. So he sent an e-mail message to about 160 people in the ad business, with copy sure to get noticed. "She began to melt in my hands, her Swiss mocha dripped from my lips," reads the message. "Her French vanilla streamed from every pore on her body. The walls became misty as her sugary sensuality was thrust upon me. . . I was her boy toy and she, she was my www.lovetownusa.com." Anyone intrepid enough to actually click on the URL finds a portfolio of Benjamin's student and spec work, which isn't as bad as his erotic musings. No job yet, but some of the reponses were still "pretty good," he claims. We're so happy to hear it, our Kenyan vanilla is just oozing down our glistening buttocks.
It's hard to know if Arnold would have had such success with VW if their charge had been the modernization of the old bus instead of the Beetle. At Link Studios in New York, Johannes Loutsch and Nick Ericson decided to do a little experiment, spoofing the Turbonium work in a spot called "Slobonium" that features not the diminutive Beetle but bulky buses. They found some source material at vintagebus.com, old factory drawings that they used to model the bus. "Once we found the source materials, it all fell into place," says Ericson, who directed the CG spot. They created the spoof to bulk up their reel, which lacked automotive CG work. When Ericson realized that the domain name slobonium.com wasn't taken, he nabbed it. In the two weeks since the site has been live, it's gotten about a thousand hits. One unexpected side effect: "A lot of VW geeks are requesting merchandise," laughs Ericson.
Survey Says ...
The Creative Group, a staffing service for advertising and marketing professionals, recently conducted a survey about the requests that agencies receive from their advertisers. Agency folks reported pushy clients requesting that a family member be cast in a spot, and that the agency design the interior of the client's jet. Other requests were even more bizarre; one admaker was asked to help a client's son with his homework, and an agency was called upon to host a client's wedding reception.
The Recycling Plan
"Just Plain Smart" is the kind of tagline that appeals to our simple, down-home American sensibilities - whether it's supposed to refer to the American Freight Company, Southwest Airlines, or H&R Block. Southwest Airlines won the slogan "Just Plane Smart" from Stevens Aviation in an arm-wrestling match between company CEOs in 1992. Now there's a new version: Campbell Mithun's new campaign for H&R Block uses the tagline "Just plain smart." So far, no WWF-style face-off.
Donations Now Accepted
With the market feared to be taking a turn for the worse and dot-coms suffering universally, even popular advertising sites are beginning to feel the pressure. Visitors to AdCritic.com, which has over 1,800 commercials on its site, may have noticed a new feature on the front page: an icon that, when you click on it, enables you to donate a sum of your choosing. Peter Beckman, AdCritic's founder, finds himself having to figure out how he's going to make his site profitable. "Bandwidth costs so much. We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a month just to stream these ads," he explains. The site is weighing other options to solve the cash flow problem. One possibility is to continue to offer the current content for everyone but to charge industry users for expanded service.
TBWA/Chiat/Day/Los Angeles' recent feel-good work for Earthlink (see Creativity, February 2001, p. 14) is a hit with the public and the ad community, but it has rubbed animator Bob Sabiston the wrong way. The iconic orange and black animation features voiceover narratives describing the experience of the internet. The animation technique is called "rotoscoping," and it involves painting over live-action film. Chiat/Day contracted with Class-Key Chew-Po, the animation house representing rotoscoping impresario Sabiston. Sabiston ultimately opted against the work, choosing to focus on his film, Waking Life. Jeremy Miller explains, "Bob Sabiston originally committed and then his film took him away and he backed out." Even without the hands-on contributions of the animation star, Class-Key was able to produce beautiful spots for the agency. Maybe too beautiful; Sabiston found the spots too close to his own work for comfort and is reported to be considering legal action. Neither Class-Key nor Chiat think there's merit in the case. "These spots are now original work," claims Miller.