The AdCritic

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Here's my take on some notable new campaigns. (Just click on the titles to view the spots.) Feel free to disagree and e-mail me at shatfield@crain.com.


Outstanding
Good
Does a job
Wallpaper
Dreadful

Ikea: Moo Cow Milker

The new Ikea campaign -- and, to a lesser degree, my review of it last week -- has clearly polarized opinion. To me that's normally a good thing. You have to have a view about it because it is different enough to cut through the clutter. Some people find the denouement, and particularly the Swedish Ikea executive coming on to harangue us for our over-sentimentality, not rewarding enough. Me? I think it's funny, while at the same being tonally and strategically unique. Ikea could really be on to something here, and I look forward to each new installment. And it's not often one can say that about ad campaigns.

Kia: Race, Hooded Dealer, Boyfriend, Launch and Raise

Some of these really are pretty lame, with scenarios we have seen one hundred times before: the employee whose colleagues mistakenly believe he has been given a raise because he is driving a new -- cough! -- Kia; the Kia accountant who has to be tied up because the company is selling its cars so cheaply; the woman who can rely on her car and Kia's warranty more than she can successive boyfriends. However, the campaign is rescued from total mediocrity by two elements: one, the little jibes at other SUVs in "Race," and secondly, the use of the fabulous Tom Tom Club as the soundtrack on "Boyfriend." I suspect buying a Kia offers a more unique value-for-money package than watching the ads.

Chocolate Milk: Fragile, Rescue, and Stereo

The Bozell boys really are onto something with a campaign which returns for its second year with even more extreme scenarios. Director Frank Todaro has a lot of fun playing with the notion of "Shake Stuff Up." It's a little edgier this year, particularly the Arctic explorers finding their long lost colleague only to use his shivers to shake up their chocolate milk. I also love the guy mailing himself a fragile package knowing that it will get bashed around. It's fun, creative and clearly working: chocolate milk sales are booming.

Coco de Mer (UK): Screamers

It's a laugh, but it's a cheap laugh. Worth watching for the acting though. Funny how one can never watch a simulated orgasm without thinking of Meg Ryan. A lot of people in the ad community will like this. But as many of them will probably see it on AdCritic as they will in real life in London cinemas. Lacks a little of the understatement of Frank Budgen's "War Faces" print campaign.

DirecTV: Animal House, Airplane and Karate Kid

This is a nice little campaign with a very simple, if not earth-shattering idea: we know exactly what is going to happen next in our favorite movies. So, why don't we "check out the 100s" (that's the DirecTV channel numbers) to see what pay-per-view movies are offered there? It may make a pleasant change not to know the exact dialogue by heart. That's all well and good, but not much use to me: the co-op board still won't let us put up a dish on our building!

(Stefano Hatfield is the editorial director of AdAge Global, Creativity and AdCritic.com.)

READERS WRITE BACK
Disagree? AdCritic welcomes your opinions at shatfield@crain.com.

Two Stars???
Everyone's got an opinion, and I applaud you for the frankness of your review style. However, as part of the creative team that worked on the new Burger King campaign, I have to take exception to your write-up and your two-star rating. First of all, last time I looked anyway, all four spots were in your Top 20 (ironic). That aside, just what in god's name is wrong with being on-brief and serving it straight up to consumers, especially when it gets done with a breakthrough campaign? Why are big, expensive, strategically nebulous, MTV-meets-independent-film spots always so lauded as "fresh" and "pencil-worthy," while commercials that happen to sell stuff in a memorable way get blasted in the ad press? Aren't commercials supposed to sell stuff? Aren't they supposed to solve business problems for clients in a creative way? I mean, it's been a while since I've been in a marketing class, but if ads aren't for building a brand while moving some kind of merchandise, what the hell are we doing?

Don't get me wrong. I love campaigns that break creative molds. The new Mini campaign, the recent Emmy-winner from Nike (hell, everything from Nike), not to mention VW and ESPN. But I maintain that agencies with retail clients like Burger King (who live and die by daily sales numbers) should get extra points for taking a narrow brief and telling it like it is in a new, engaging and memorable way. Instead, they get dinged unfairly by reviewers like yourself. In my opinion, the "low bar," as you refer to it, is doing amazing work for a pure brand account like athletic shoes or a sports network. Anyone who couldn't write at least one amazing commercial for Nike or ESPN shouldn't even be in advertising. It's the shops that can crank out amazing work for a fast-food company or a car manufacturer or a department store, despite the need to move burgers, sheet-metal, or cotton sweaters that are doing the job that should be celebrated. What's the point of even having a brief if the creative is going to dance so far around it in the pursuit of little gold trophies (or positive reviews from Creativity) as to leave people in TV-land scratching their merkins wondering what just happened or what they're supposed to do?

These spots are on brief. They sell stuff. And they're hysterically great. A lot of people outside our agency agree with me. And as far as "not being able to recall these spots long enough to use them as an example," in focus groups held just two days into the flight, consumers who had seen the spots on TV could recall all four of them unaided almost word for word, and they simply raved about the creative. Even better than that advertising rarity? They went to Burger King for lunch. I'd say that's worth a few extra stars.

Chris Ribeiro
SVP-Associate Creative Director
Deutsch/L.A.

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