TWISTED ANIMATION ON TARGET

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Last year creative directors Rich Herstek and Peter Favat were waiting in line to see "Spike & Mike's Twisted Animation Festival" when it hit them. "This is a phenomenon," Favat recalls thinking. "Our target audience is fighting to get into this."

Hence a series of three :15s for Converse All Stars from Boston's Houston Effler & Partners, part of a larger new campaign, employ the talents of a handful of these underground animators, whose eclectic styles are matched with their lewd and invidious humor. "Lupo the Butcher," a spot animated by Danny Antonucci through International Rocketship, in Vancouver, Canada, is based on a short in which a disgruntled Italian butcher spews blood when his arms and legs start falling off. In the spot for All Star's low-cut shoes, the wolfish Lupo appears lugging a cow carcass-sized Converse hightop into a meat locker. But when he chops off the shoe's top he inadvertently flattens his face with the back of the ax blade. "We were trying to reach a broad audience," explains Favat, who AD'd, and animation appeals to everyone from "the far-out to the conservative." Other credits to writer Herstek and producer Harry McCoy.

The similarly eccentric style of Chel White, whose animated photocopy short "Photocopy Cha Cha" won First Prize at the USA Film Festival in '91, is featured in two Fila commercials for the Mash shoe, named after Dallas Mavericks' newcomer Jamal Mashburn.

Created at FCB/LKP/New York, and produced through the Underground, Los Angeles, the two :30s promote the little-known Fila endorser by accentuating his prowess as an all-around athlete, playing off the slang court terms: slash, crash and splash, explains CD/AD Sam Gulisano, who teamed with CW Phil Guthrie and producer Tony Macchia.

The commercials project Mashburn's thoughts through warped and distressed animated photocopies. For instance, a closeup of Mashburn shows the word "splash" radiating from his eye before he tosses a long shot, which swooshes through a basket ringed with water. "It's the externalization of all those demons athletes confront on the court," Guthrie says. Lance Limbocker of White Horse Studios in Portland supplied the eerie audio track.

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