REVIEW

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JIM WALKER

Creative Director/

Managing Director

McCann-Erickson/Seattle

Client: Isuzu

Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

Directors: Bruce Dowad, Bruce Dowad & Associates

("Giant"); Craig Henderson, Stiefel & Co. ("Whisper")

I love this campaign. We all know the rules of this category. The target is more adventurous; they consider themselves unpredictable rule-breakers. But instead of logically telling the consumer all this, these spots for the Rodeo just make the consumer feel what it's like to be all those things.

My favorite of these two is "Giant," (although "Whisper" has one of the best two-word punch lines out there right now). The music is inspired. The lighting is right out of "The Wizard of Oz," right down to the back-lighting in the closeups against painted backdrops. And when the Giant (the big man in the suit who is destroying all that is good) sees the Rodeo, he has that same befuddled look on his face that King Kong used to get when the planes buzzed around his head.

The only false note this spot hit for me was the type at the end. In a spot that takes classic filmmaking seriously, the computer effect of the type flying into place at the end was a bit much.

Client: NCAA

Agency: DDB Needham/Dallas

Director: John Komnenich, Komnenich Films

This is a campaign for NCAA football starring The Universal Fan, who paints himself blue and orange and is a little bit crazy. Sound familiar? We've all seen the previous iterations: the brilliantly funny Nike "Play Ball" campaign during the baseball strike (the reason there were no players in this campaign is because they were on strike. I don't know why the stadiums are empty here); the Dennis Hopper fan fanatic, who was fascinating because of his obsession, while the spots were about the game and the players, not cheerleader costumes and body painting; and the recent NFL campaign for Coca-Cola where they, yes, feature the fans who paint themselves in a bunch of different colors, but are passionate about the game and their connection with it.

Maybe my problem with this campaign is that I actually like college football, but I tend to forget why. College football is a great game. If you're trying to get more people into it, tell 'em why. I agree with the janitor in one of the spots who has to clean up after this character: "What a freak."

Client: Volvo

Agency: MVBMS/Euro RSCG

Director: Jeff Darling, Black Productions

This spot is beautiful and dreamlike, and I watched it over and over. It's about Volvo's all-wheel-drive Cross Country, and it shows people who have made it in their Volvo doing spectacular things in spectacular places. The attention to detail is very cool. The car shot at the end with the falling water is one of the best shots in the spot. The music is great, and it captures an exotic quality in a place that seems to be accessible to the rest of us.

It would have been perfect if it had ended with "Volvo-Drive Safely." It has only one fatal flaw, which so many advertisers make: It crosses the line and tries to give the product too much credit. The line at the end is, "A Volvo that can save your soul." Ask Billy Graham, it's not that easy. Although I would love to be in this car when I slip off a muddy road and hit a tree.

Client: Little Caesars

Agency: Cliff Freeman & Partners

Director: Mark Story, Crossroads

Don't you get tired of reading about Little Caesars spots all the time? Well, for me, the answer is no. Not when they keep cranking out spots like this. They seem to keep doing what the rest of us have such a hard time doing-make a simple, straight-forward point (in this case, the pizzas are now bigger) and make the audience laugh out loud while they learn this. In one spot, a message from earth announcing this simple fact to a silver dog with a silver helmet apparently living on another planet, leads to the logical question, "Will everything get bigger?" A giant baby that gets slapped on the butt by a delivery doctor and punches the doctor in the face, and the spot even includes the best comedic line delivery by an actor under 12.

Client: Lee Riders

Agency: Fallon McElligott

Director: Dick Sittig, Radical Media

I probably need to qualify this review by saying I'm not a woman, so maybe I'm missing something. Here's a spot about jeans that fit a woman's hips. This spot is amusing, and seems to have all the elements to be really funny. It's got a girl with no pants on, it's got panic in the streets, it's got a megaphone and the product shot is imaginatively done as a mug shot parody. Unfortunately, it never gets really funny. Maybe that's because the lines that come out of the woman's mouth all sound like they originally came out the mouths of women in focus groups. It's fun, it's just not funny.

Client: Riven

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi/San Francisco

Imagine this-a print campaign that is so good, it doesn't need any words and doesn't just sell the product, it provides a virtual experience of what the product does. This print campaign for Riven is brilliant, brave and knows its audience. The ads are mysterious, they have clues you need to figure out. You have to find things, like the name of the advertiser.

When I first saw this ad in magazines for gamers, it stopped me cold. It's fascinating. When people around the office saw it on my table, they stopped and stared and studied it. Then they asked, "What's the piece of paper mean?" Exactly!

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