Creativity editor Teressa Iezzi rates new ads for Haagen-Dazs, Dreyer's and Nike.
Premium ice cream Haagen-Dazs seems like a brand custom-made for the sophisticated ministrations of an agency like Goodby -- always the consummate traveler of the high road. And with this new "Anthem" spot, that road does indeed open up before us -- and it's paved with silky soft, gracefully lit imagery, a lulling piano score and lower case aphorisms meant to convey the purity and superiority of the product. Parts of the film are quite beautiful, and that untouchable quality message is a worthy one for the brand. But the spot asks viewers to stay with a whopping 10 or 15 seconds of film that give us random imagery, and text that could really be about anything (sample: "there is a school of thought that says less is more. that elegance is simplicity. and simple ... [long, long pause] can be beautiful."). Only about a third of the way in do we get wise to what this zen holiday is about. And then comes more text explaining the link between all of this soft sweeping imagery and the high-end ice cream, which is likened at one point to "a blueberry haiku." Wait, you might interject, are we actually coming out in favor of more product shots here? No, but if you're going the elliptical route, you best make the array of words and images cause for pause.
There's nothing extremely wrong here -- and Lord knows we're grateful for being spared some sofa-bound chiquita purring about "deserving" to scarf liters of the fatty treat, but it all just seems a little generic. The imagery, the piano, even the end line: "Made Like No Other." How many products have recently tagged a "like no other" onto their ads? It seems like more than five, but fewer than 15.
And, "a blueberry haiku?" Perhaps our sensory intake orifices are so choked with the irony and pornography that forms our cultural milieu that we no longer have the ability to appreciate things earnest or tinged with allegorical whimsy (for that, we should grieve; and we would, except that we've lost the capacity to feel emotional highs or lows), but that's just silly. (TI)
Dreyer's "Parking Lot"
Now, for the sake of symmetry, and purity and all that is good, a word on the new spots for Dreyer's new Grand Light ice cream product. Goodby again tackles the sweet treat brief and this time the result is amusing and effective. It's not an earth-shattering creative moment and it doesn't have to be -- the ads make a clear cut and engaging point about a new product's benefits. "Parking Lot" gives us a faux suspense scenario, with a Dreyer's exec harassed in the manner of countless Gene Hackman thrillers about an alleged fat content cover-up. A movie trailer execution covers even more familiar territory, but it's written and executed with flair. In one scene, our Dreyer's man is accosted by a shadowy figure in the back seat who thrusts a spoon forward and snaps, "You put that in your mouth and tell me it's light." It's all capped off with, yes a product shot -- but damn that's a swirly, jones-inducing shot. And no doubt the stuff is an ice-crystal crusted shadow of good old full-fat HD. But, egged on by these spots, I would try it and find out. (TI)
About that lack of emotional extremes thing. Forget it. We've just seen the Nike "Magnet" commercial. The spot centers on the magnetic Lance Armstrong, cycling along a stunning range of terrain and pulling everything -- trains, people, bison -- in the magic force of his wake. From the opening ocean panorama -- in which dolphins are only just perceptible chasing a tiny Lance cycling along a bluff -- to the final shots of the wheels of a little kid's bike and Armstrong glancing back at his young pursuer, it's just raw power. The scene that causes the knees to buckle has Armstrong sweeping by a hospital and giving a power salute to the kids who chase him briefly from behind the windows. Nothing much more need be said about it -- another fantastic Nike spot, another inspired collaboration between Jake Scott and Wieden, another perfect track. (TI)
(THE REVIEWER: Teressa Iezzi is the editor of Creativity magazine.)