Guest Review

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E*Trade, "Mr. Chappy"

Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners Director: Bryan Buckley, Hungry Man

Milla: Profits at the Mammon Corporation are down, and at a shareholders meeting, the CEO goes nuts, introducing productivity changes like a parrot for a CFO, locked bathroom doors, and tube top/flip-flop casual Fridays. This spot is absolutely hilarious, and makes a strong point about the ability to make instant stock transactions in today's incredibly volatile stock market.

Kawalec: Four words: Hi Lare Ee Us. It takes a strong, simple concept - instant trading online with E*Trade - and executes it perfectly by demonstrating a situation where you need to sell lickety-split. Great casting, especially the CEO. This spot is written and acted brilliantly, from shell-shocked tube top and foot pajama models to the serious and proper CEO breaking character by speaking in a parrot's voice. I laugh every time I watch it.

TeenPregnancy.org, "Reject," "Useless"

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather/New York

Milla: Sullen models, slouchy poses, shock-value type: The latest anti-fashion fashion campaign from CK? Nope. It's a precautionary message about the consequences of teen pregnancy. Wisely, the perils of pregnancy highlighted here will truly strike fear into this audience: changing dirty diapers, getting bad-mouthed by friends and telling your parents.

Kawalec: The other day, I turned on the TV to find a guy willingly getting pepper-sprayed, shot by a Taser, and dumped upside down in a portable loo full of poo. I doubt that a shot of some young kid, straight out of a Gap ad, with the word "Prick" printed over him is going to shock anyone under the age of 65. Once you read the copy it all makes sense, but it does so in a quiet way. If these ads are meant to scare kids straight, they've got to try a lot harder. Or, just focus on a solid concept rather than trying to break through with sheer shock value.

Taco Bell, "My Chalupa"

Agency: FCB/San Francisco Director: Bruce Nadel/Christopher Bean, Onesuch Films/MacGuffin Films

Milla: "My Chalupa?" Ay caramba. Reworking the Knack song "My Sharona" for their own evil purposes, this spot succeeds only in creating the "Help, I've got a song in my head and I can't get it out!" effect. The client probably feels good about the eight-or-so mentions of Chalupa in 30 seconds; but with Chalupas held high, and four demographically-correct guys shimmying in their seats to the beat, this made me long for a certain spokesmutt like never before.

Kawalec: Knock, knock. Who's there? Certainly not a concept. The acting is clunky. If they were going for quirky, they missed by a mile. The film is flat and overlit. And there's no concept. I think the idea was to sell bad Mexican food with the borrowed interest of a 15 year-old song. One question: how are they going to fit "Gordita" into a Duran Duran song for the pool-out?

Mazda Tribute, "Zoom Zoom Zoom"

Agency: Doner/Detroit Director: Steve Ramser, Unscented

Milla: Fun premise: What happens when an SUV is raised by a pack of sports cars? Well, the SUV runs playfully along a winding road until it exerts its freedom by breaking from the pack in wild off-road abandon. Nicely shot, well edited, and featuring a neat worldbeat music track (with a catchy "Zoom-zoom" refrain), it gives the definite impression that SUV driving doesn't have to be dull.

Kawalec: There is a simple idea here: The SUV with the soul of a sports car. Sounds like a creative's dream. But instead of coming up with a good concept that ties the two worlds together, all we get is a cookie cutter car ad. Sure, it's beautiful film, but we've seen it all before - the same camera angles, the same curvy wet roads. In the end it's just empty advertising.

Project Surefire, "Meet Your Cellmate"

Agency: Young & Rubicam/Chicago Director: Kevin Smith, Backyard Productions

Milla: Warning to all potential illegal gun owners: if the prospect of doing time isn't harrowing enough, your cellmate-to-be ("Bubba, I'm home!") might just take a fancy to ya as well. It's scary stuff for a middle-aged ad guy sitting at his computer, but will this spot, complete with strip-search scenes and catcalls from a gauntlet of good ol' boys, be a deterrent to hardcore criminals? I'm not so sure.

Kawalec: The idea itself is strong. The spot is well written. It is, however, the direction that could use a little more juice. Prison is frightening. But the film that was chosen seems just a bit too calm. I'm not saying that it has to be riot scenes, but a little more tension could help.

Joe Milla is a partner and creative director at Peterson Milla Hooks, Minneapolis.

Dolph Kawalec is an art director/associate creative director at BBDO/Chicago.

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