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Banzai Pipeline?
This week's Rate the Ad. Let's venture into the rarefied realm of nerd-dom. Here's a company we've never heard of and a product we don't understand, as seen in Wired. Yet the visual is not the least bit esoteric. Are you hanging 10 with this? Rate the ad on a six-degree taste scale of excellence on the Sweet Meter, with 5 being the top score: 5 Very Sweet, 4 Sweet, 3 Semi-Dry, 2 Dry, 1 Extra Dry, 0 Sour. And feel free to write in your comments about the art direction, the copy, the photography, the typography, the concept, whatever. Click here to play.

Double Jeopardy
Last week's Rate the Ad. It's a draw. The tally on Progressive insurance stalls at a 50-50 split on the Good/Bad ratio, comparing the top half of the Sweet Meter to the bottom half. But the Extra Dry/Sour Grimace Zone, as we like to call it, beats the Sweet Zone 34% to 28%. Many pollees complained that this campaign is a futile, misplaced effort, since parents buy their kids' car insurance. Many pollees protested that the scenario is too far-fetched, and some got very specific, trying to calculate, for example, the degree of malodorousness involved in the offense, as if there should be an actuarial table for this sort of thing. Someone even complained about the "phallic wands" the girls are holding "near their mouths." What a tough, analytical bunch! Anyway, here are the results.

5 Very Sweet 7%
4 Sweet 21%
3 Semi-Dry 22%
2 Dry 16%
1 Extra Dry 19%
0 Sour 15%

And here are some of our fave responses.

1 Any "kid" young enough to think this ad is cool isn't old enough to drive anything more than a tricycle!

0 This ad is trying way too hard to be cool. If I were an ad bully, I would beat up this ad.

3 The lack of urinals weren't a clue?

4 Everything about the ad — concept, execution, graphics — has the target audience in mind. I never knew insurance could have a creative side to it. Good job!

4 The first fun insurance ad I've ever seen. Appeals to the geek in all of us.

5 I had to smile.

1 You're not my pal. You're an insurance company!

2 Um, like, isn't that how a middle-aged art director would think a kid would, like, totally do a layout?

3 It's cute, but is reliving one of my, I mean his, most embarrassing moments really going to make him want to visit the site?

1 So what's the backstory here? He's deaf and couldn't hear them right outside the stall? He's visually impaired and wandered into the women's room by mistake? Either way, forget the insurance — this guy shouldn't even have a driver's license.

4 The photo is perfect. I'd give this one a perfect score if the layout weren't a busy, cluttered mess.

0 The only kids who make their own car insurance decisions are the ones smoking cigarettes and huffing glue behind the school. So why not direct this ad toward them?

5 I think they hit the nail on the head with this one.

1 Tapping into bad emotions doesn't motivate.

4 It will get read. But will it sell car insurance? Who cares, it's a great ad.

3 Not too shabby. I'd have liked to know more about what makes Progressive easy, but the humor kind of makes me look past it. Then again, this just happened to me 15 minutes ago.

3 Insurance companies don't usually market to teens, so Progressive will get some mileage simply for making the effort.

0 An assignment paid for by people who either have no children or are no longer in contact with them.

4 Fun graphic design and photography, doesn't feel stock. The small print is hard to read, but the image is compelling enough to make me read it.

1 The message I get from the ad is, "If you're an idiot, Progressive wants you as a customer."