The AdCritic

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This week's notable new campaigns come from some of America's sexier agencies. Love them or hate them, they are a pretty standout bunch. That's half the battle, isn't it? (Just click on the titles to view the spots.) If you agree or disagree, please feel free to e-mail me. The address is shatfield@crain.com.

Outstanding
Good
Does a job
Wallpaper
Dreadful

Fox Sports: Wind, Lightning and Hail

Here Cliff Freeman delivers some of the most compellingly funny work we have seen in a while. These three spots demonstrate that "God is a Celtics fan," and each has a laugh-out-loud moment: the 76ers fan being struck by lightning through the golf clubhouse window; the Nets fan being the target of his own personal hailstorm; the Knicks fan who finds the elements against him as he walks down the street. Director Baker Smith is in a rich vein of form. It's the little things -- the smug look on the 76ers fan's face as he watches the golfers playing in a storm, the way the Nets fan tries to find shelter with the stranger next to him -- that make these memorable. And, as for God's preferences? Every Knicks fan knows he's against them right now!

Boost Mobile: Party and Skater

These spots are undeniably funny, directed with some verve by Kuntz & Maguire -- particularly the "Party" spot. They are noticeable and interesting. However, the question is whether the joke actually gets in the way of the product. Boost Mobile phones, say the ads, are designed for young people, but "it's just more fun" to show old people. And perhaps it is. We understand the advertising conceit, but why exactly is Boost for young people? Is two-waying and gaming unique to Boost? I'm not even sure, having watched these spots a couple of times, if Boost is the phone or the network. I want to like these, because I can see where the effort's gone, but I'm just not sure what the viewer will take out.

Caroliva Olive Oil: Bread, Cabbage and Spaghetti

Here's a funny, quirkily observed trio of commercials for Spanish olive oil. We should be grateful for the humor and the novel setups. I particularly enjoyed the guy trampolining with his spaghetti, and the other man sharing his Jacuzzi with his cabbage, then massaging it with oil on the sofa. Not only are they funny in their own right, and well branded with the trio of child musicians chanting Caroliva at the end of each spot, and we should be thankful, given just how bad olive oil ads like this can be. A good opportunity well grasped by directors Smukler & Samuels.

Value City: Soda, Car, Men's Room and German Shepherd

Good to see Cliff Freeman ending the year on a strong note. These new spots are entertaining and intriguing. They require something of a leap between scenario and brand, but there's not necessarily anything wrong with that. Quite the opposite, in fact. The trick is to know where you are going to land. One of these, "Car," in which a wife climbs into the back seat of the family sedan as her driver/husband eyes her with silent resignation, is a real gem of a commercial. I prefer the "Soda" spot of the rest of the bunch; the character is highly believable. He could be your dad, my dad, any dad. Neil Harris of Smuggler has done a lovely, light-handed job behind the camera here. I would be intrigued to see all the collateral work that goes with these spots -- and it's not often a journalist writes that sentence! All concerned could be on to something!

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

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