The AdCritic

Nextel, Adidas, FedEx and Red Tail Ale

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This week, our editors rate recent spots for Nextel, Adidas, FedEx and Red Tail Ale.

Nextel "The Deal"
Nextel: The Deal

Two kinds of people might not like this new Nextel campaign from TBWA/Chiat/Day/N.Y.: hardcore entomologists and office workers who are squeamish about being compared to insects. The former might protest that bees wouldn't really need Nextel's handy GPS and walkie-talkie features, so charmingly demonstrated in this spot, since bees have an innate sense of geographical positioning and can communicate situational information by using intricate and amazingly accurate "dance" steps. The latter, on the other hand, might feel that the thrum of his brethren's wing beats a little too loudly in his ears in his own bug-like existence, and for him -- well -- the spot might hit a bit too close to the hive. No matter. The rest of us love these babies.

This spot looks and sounds fantastic. The bee-people are rendered in a compelling but not creepy manner, courtesy of directing team Stylewar and effects wizards The Mill, while the action is backed by a delightfully weird, hymenopterically correct soundtrack. The spot also represents a nice vibe for Nextel -- it makes the gear and services look cool and covetable with nary a pouty urbanite in sight -- and the endline, "Nextel helps groups get things done," is a refreshing build on the "Done" tag. It might seem like a leap from the old school booty-shaking of the superb "Dance Party" to these large scale effects-kissed lovelies, but the spots have a similar, accessible feel. Whether Nextel users are grinding to Salt-N-Pepa or buzzing around a city like bees, they make the product demonstrations seem real-world practical and fantastical at the same time. (TI)

Adidas "Improvisation"
Adidas: Improvisation

Wow. Digital Domain and RSA's Jake Scott nail the effects from way downtown in this spot from TBWA/Chiat/Day/San Francisco. A followup to an equally stunning spot in which Tracy McGrady takes on a small army, this one features the Detroit Pistons' Chauncey Billups as he goes one-on-one with a menacingly animated basketball court. Visually, this is a great spot. What's even more important, however, is that we're starting to see a consistent, and compelling, interpretation of Adidas' somewhat blah "Impossible is Nothing" tagline. It's hard to envy any marketer that has to go up against Nike on the latter's home court, but with these last two commercials, Adidas seems to be making headway into the sports-star-as-superhero space that Nike used to own. Heck, a few more executions like this and people might even realize that these commercials aren't for Nike. (JH)

FedEx "Bus"
FedEx: Bus

The problem -- from a reviewer's point of view -- with brands like FedEx that do consistently clever, on-message advertising is that when a new round of work comes out there's not much to say. "Oh yeah, here are some more of those consistently clever, on-message ads for FedEx." The best of the latest crop is "Bus," if only because the setup is intriguing and the payoff is pure. Directed by Hungry Man's Hank Perlman, we see a corporate team head to a retreat in the country, where they're presumably going brainstorm about pressing business concerns. The powwow comes to a record-skip stop, however, when a team member suggests using FedEx, which leaves the rugged CEO with nothing to add. Retreat over. Simlarly, this kind of laser-guided messaging leaves us just as speechless. (JH)

Red Tail Ale "Art"
Red Tail Ale: Art

Hey, have you ever noticed that women are all, like, clingy and baby-wanting and feeling-expressing? And, that men are sort of closed off, simple and sports-loving, and they seem to like boobies a lot? No? Look closer, you'll be amazed at this enduring, ironic and ALWAYS accurate fact of evolution. The makers of Red Tail Ale and their agency have harnessed this remarkable insight in order to sell a beer that is positioned as being "brewed differently." Differently than what? Who cares? Linking male/female difference to beer (which men like, too) will no doubt work brilliantly.

Oh, wait, I've just been informed that this whole man/woman conflict dynamic has been used before. A lot. But "Art," -- and its sister, "Carpet" -- are still awesome, because instead of depicting the male tuning out, or seeking escape with his same-sex companions, as has been done many times before, the campaign features men who remain silent until their heads actually explode. So Red Tail becomes the beer of the terminally whipped. It's a COMPLETELY NEW take on an eternal struggle and will therefore no doubt work brilliantly. (TI)

(THE REVIEWERS: Jim Hanas is the editor of Teressa Iezzi is the editor of Creativity magazine.)

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