Does a job
This is the world standard for jeans ads -- in fact for most advertising. After "Slugs," his slightly disappointing first commercial for Adidas, the inimitable Frank Budgen links up with Bartle Bogle Hegarty/London and Levi's again. Last time out they gave us the wonderfully weird "Twist." This time it's an equally enigmatic and enthralling film, "Worn," promoting Levi's range of lived-in denim. It's both bizarre and hypnotically sexy, but not overtly so. Budgen draws us in with a riveting series of un-missable images. All are of people rubbing themselves -- but that description hardly does the spot justice, especially as the images are married to one of the more daring music tracks you have ever heard used in a commercial. Not to downplay the role of Fred & Farid, the creative team behind the ad (now moved on to Goodby Silverstein & Partners), but this really is directing craft of the absolute highest order. It sets a standard for cool that BBH must now aspire to for Levi's advertising in the U.S. What's more, as ever, it is all about the product. Outstanding.
It must work, I guess, or the formula wouldn't keep being trotted out. But the sight of Brazilian supermodel Giselle strutting her stuff on a rooftop, wearing not much more than her Victoria's Secret underwear -- while being stalked by a nearby helicopter -- seems so last century, so 1980s. One questions the ultimate effect. Does the brand come across as sexy and contemporary, or tacky and outdated? The formula appears in need of updating. It's not Michael Bay's visual pyrotechnics that prevent the spot from being wallpaper however, but Giselle's unbridled sexuality. It's still difficult to believe she would wear the brand in everyday life.
Is it me, or is Volkswagen's U.S. advertising not currently in one of its more purple of patches? One is loathe to be harsh to a brand that has given us so much, but this is a largely forgettable commercial. It's notable only for director David Kellogg's simulation of a fish-eye view of the world. There's nothing offensive about it, but nothing special either. Where are VW's unique brand values? It certainly lacks the subtlety and understatement one has come to take for granted. The actress, in particular, is hammy, and the denouement too obvious from the setup. What's more, how does being able to hold a relatively small fish tank in its trunk make the Golf a car that is big inside and small outside?
Funny comedy from TBWA/Chiat/Day and Rocky Morton. As weeks go by, guys go through ever more painful personal physical experiences without feeling anything. Why? Because they've become desensitized to pain by watching the tough Detroit Red Wings hockey team. It's all very nicely done, if more likely to appeal to established hockey fans than attract any new ones.
There are almost as many Priceline Shatner commercials now as there were Star Trek episodes. This remains the dot-com campaign with legs. Why he has survived is plain to see. A dry premise -- that the Priceline super-computer is taking in everyone else's prices to calculate the best ones for you -- is transformed into an eminently watchable and enjoyable commercial by way of slick directing from the Dayton/Faris duo, and a typically magnetic Shatner performance. It's unmistakeably Priceline too. That's no mean feat. All concerned should be congratulated for at least trying. But it's better than that.
Now, if you think creating good ads for hamburger chains is difficult (but, strangely, not too difficult for the likes of Leo Burnett on McDonald's in London, Singapore, etc.) try advertising deodorant sprays. Wherever Unilever has launched its Axe deodorant spray some impressive and category-leading advertising has introduced it (or Lynx in the UK, where the British male could only view a brand called Axe ironically). The result, allied to Unilever's huge clout with retailers -- especially outside the U.S. -- is a brand that almost everywhere has become number one or two in its sector. The strategy stays the same: the Axe/Lynx effect. It's not exactly original to suggest a scent will drive women wild, but it's a big claim for a deodorant. And the wit with which the delightfully tongue-in-cheek first spots from Bartle Bogle Hegarty/New York are laden should ensure the launch here is every bit as successful as the rest of the world. The huge media spend should help too.
(Stefano Hatfield is the editorial director of AdAge Global, Creativity and AdCritic.com.)