Rate the Ad: Pillsbury: Home is Calling

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Last week, we offered up a spot that recasts a classic scene from the movies with pants-less sports heroes. For the latest version of video game Guitar Hero, Kobe, A-Rod, Tony Hawk and Michael Phelps reenact Tom Cruise's famed lip synch in the living room from "Risky Business," complete with copycat costumes, set and dance moves. To show that anyone can play Guitar Hero 4 (though most have experienced the title's new capabilities via competitor Rock Band), each sports titan picked up an instrument—in Kobe's case, a microphone—and rocked out to Bog Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll." Was resurrecting one of the most memorable moments in film worthy of the spot? Was star power enough? And, overall, is this spot good, bad or just plain ugly?

Not hiding the fact that this commenter hails from an agency in the same network as the spot creator DDB, Los Angeles, "ddbseattle" sings the "Risky" rip-off's praises: "I'm in a cheeky mood, but I find this spot delightful. To me, it really gets at the core of what GH is all about—that everyone can win. Skateboarder, accountant, swimmer, lawyer . . . it's one of those rare video games that doesn't take years to play and understand, and I think they found a clever way to express that idea. And is celebrity a bit of borrowed interest? Sure. But I think this is an example of it working."

Another commenter, reflecting the Rate the Ad crew's majority opinion, could not be called a fan of the work. "Bwbutton" says, "Worst. Ad. Ever. If the budget is going to get blown, why not have fireworks and explosions instead of people who can't act? They're athletes for a reason. Why spend the money on them?"

This week, we take a look at the first major brand campaign for Pillsbury since 2001. From Gerry Graf and Saatchi, New York--Graf left TBWA/Chiat/Day to be Saatchi's CCO early this year--this warm fuzzy spot "Home Is Calling" borrows a trope from another classic film: "The Wizard of Oz." In the spot, a handful of people ranging from a factory worker to a schoolgirl take a deep sniff and click their heels (a la Dorothy's "There's no place like home") in away-from-home places. The distinct movement draws from our collective movie knowledge to suggest the desire to go home that, here, is also synonymous with a giant whiff of freshly baked crescent rolls. Mark Addicks, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at General Mills told in the New York Times about motivation for the spot: given the current economic downturn, people need to go back to the comfort of home. What's more, the iconic Pillsbury Doughboy is neither poked nor giggling here—he only appears for a moment peeking around a corner at the end, watching a family gather around freshly baked rolls in their home.

So what do you think? What's with all the movie references in ad land lately? Do you miss the Doughboy? Can Pillsbury forge forth into the wild blue Recession with Pop 'N' Fresh in a supporting role? Does the spot work to evoke images of home or make you hungry for the comfort of baked goods? Weigh in on Pillsbury's new message, below.
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