The AdCritic

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Here's my take on some notable new campaigns. (Just click on the titles to view the spots.) This week, some of the U.S.'s big gun agencies unveil major new campaigns. Feel free to disagree and e-mail me at, or if by some miracle you agree with me, you can let me know that too.

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Infiniti: Long Time Dreaming

Yet another beautifully shot car commercial, deftly edited to depict time passing backwards and set to a haunting music track. It's also a refreshingly different strategy to ask consumers when we started dreaming of owning a car such as this. And that, I am afraid, is where the problem kicks in: who spends their life a) dreaming of owning an Infiniti, or b) going through life having the kind of seminal car experiences depicted in the spot only to end up with an Infiniti? Maybe I am in the minority here, but the leap between setup and reveal is too great. However, if you do not -- like me -- think the car is ugly and uninspiring, then this spot will work way better for you.

Ikea: Living Room and Kitchen

Those fertile imaginations down in Miami are on to something with this campaign. Crispin Porter + Bogusky's second wave of television for Ikea is more subtle than the first round, which polarized opinion. You either loved or hated the Ikea Swede interrupting the spot with his admonition "You are crazy!" I think he could go on to be one of the great advertising icons, and that catchphrase could really take root, if they stick with him. He has disappeared from these Wes Anderson-directed spots, however, although they are no less daring for it. In one spot, parents try to deal with the news that their daughter is pregnant, and in the other a married couple have a blazing row. The camera pans back in each case to reveal that the location is in fact an in-store kitchen or living room, and a friendly Ikea staffer is soon on hand to see if he can help. They are road-testing the environment for real life. It's a delicious, black slice of life, and continues in the "knowing" vein of the first round of work. The fly-posters plastered everywhere are funny, challenging and different, too.

Pepsi Blue: Slam Poet and Car Stereo

These spots are directed with real gusto by Sam Bayer, even down to the subtle blue hue that washes over them. They achieve the really quite difficult task of introducing the new product, describing what it is, and giving it a modicum of cool while allowing that it is not a drink for everyone. No mean feat. While they are pretty forgettable after the event, they will stand out during the break. These spots should be able to have consumers intrigued, although the idea of the berry/cola product is not going to rock everyone's world.

eBay: Do It eBay

In a recent interview with Creativity, the director of the new Goodby Silverstein eBay extravaganza -- the classically-trained musician Noam Murro -- professed his dislike for ads that massacred all-time great pop standards. And, now, here he is messing with Sinatra's "My Way"! Did he lie to me? Actually, the only reason he gets away with it is because he stayed well, well away from the original and its lyrics. Instead he plays on the song's universal appeal to put a face on the previously faceless eBay, one of the few great success stories of the dot-com era (there was even a Cannes Lion up there recently). It is a thoroughly beguiling execution that rewards repeat viewing with the ability to notice new moments. There are many cute touches, and eBay is well branded. But, in the end, you are all still destroying Frank's song. I was going to write "he'll be turning in his grave" but it probably bothers his fans more than it would have him!

Nike: Wild Horses and Pull Up

These are fine spots by anyone's standard, but as part of an overall body of work this year, they show that Nike and Wieden really are back to their respective bests on this account. "Wild Horses" is a classically simple Nike spot that needs no words, nor commentary from the likes of me, in truth. Just watch it and you will get it. And then think about how much less well it could have been done. Kudos to director Gerard de Thame for his restraint. Like the sound design too. "Pull Up", with its gang war scenario, could have been plain awful. There is a thin line between wonderful and terrible, because you have to dare. Starting as it does with a kitsch construct, "Pull Up" could also have been hammed up even more than it already is. However, Rupert Sanders pulls off the key trick here: to relay drama and character without resorting to caricature, and therefore spilling over into comedy. Critics say anyone could make Nike ads. Two points: a) only these guys actually do, and b) others have subconsciously tried, and failed.

(Stefano Hatfield is the editorial director of AdAge Global, Creativity and

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