Agency: DDB/Chicago Director: Nicholas Barker, Chelsea Pictures
Sullivan: Two caveats before I begin. For the record, Bill Bernbach is a Big Kahuna. I am not. Secondly, I do not believe in publicly criticizing other agencies' work. (That is best saved for the awards shows.) That aside, let me begin. In this Finesse spot, guys are seen doing "un-manly" things in order to win favor with women who use the shampoo. Including a guy who actually gets out of his car and asks for directions. Did the spot kill me? No. But in a category where most clients force agencies to depict slow-motion shots of silky hair and women admiring themselves in mirrors, it's certainly a step up.
Fegley: I guess I have to commend someone for trying to do something different in the category. I'm sure these went through about 20 rounds of focus groups and multiple high-level meetings concerning the "hair stroke" shot. Just not sure if it comes off. The performances aren't great and that woman bugs me. Mostly I wish the men are from Mars/women are from Venus situations weren't such cliches. But then, you know how fickle us girls are.
Agency: Citron Haligman Bedecarre, San Francisco Director: Bryan Buckley, Hungry Man
Sullivan: A couple in a hot-air balloon use a faulty computer to triangulate their position. They think they're over France but land instead in the hands of some desert warriors. As they are led away, captives, the VO says, "Before you buy technology products, read the reviews on CNET dot com." The whole dot-com category seems to be giving birth to a lot of intrusive, way-out-there advertising, as is usually the case with startups. Does this particular spot blow me away? No. But it is out there, it's kinda funny, and I get their point. That's better than 90 percent of what's on my TV every night.
Fegley: Huh? Took a couple rewinds to understand what's going on here, but then I'm just a Little Kahuna. It's just so confusing, the production gone mad, and after three viewings I still had to look at the front of the reel to remind myself what it was for. There must be a simpler way to communicate what this dot-com does.
MindSpring "I Love You"
Agency: Fallon McElligott/New York Director: Mark Pellington, Crossroads
Sullivan: A Gump-like character has one-way conversations with strangers on park benches, always bringing his odd little speech around to a benefit of MindSpring. I think they're terrific. Kudos to the client for allowing themselves to be personified by a guy some might say is daft. But he's not daft; that's the thing. He's cool, smart, humble, friendly, left-of-center -- all things I think about MindSpring. He also gets MindSpring's main points across very well: they're fast, friendly and simple.
Fegley: Forrest Gump meets an ISP. As par for the category, they haven't given the creatives very sexy or compelling information to communicate, and I think they've done a pretty good job of making it a bit interesting. I found myself drawn into this guy's tangential banter, though he does at times come off as a "very special" spokesman. All I can say is thank God it's not more lifestyle scenarios showing people behind their computers empowered by the miracle of the Internet.
Sony PlayStation "Strip Tease"
Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day/Playa del Rey Director: Tony Kaye, Tony Kaye Pictures
Sullivan: This is my favorite spot of the bunch. In a parlor full of old ladies attending a party, a policeman suddenly begins doing a strip tease. The old ladies make catcalls and begin stuffing dollar bills in the guy's briefs. The action is interrupted with a silent super that reads: "If you can make $99 doing it, it's worth it." Next frame: "Sony PlayStation. Now just $99." Totally great. Very intrusive.
Fegley: Tee-hee. The connection at the end is a tad fuzzy, but who cares. I had no idea where this was going and loved the ride -- so to speak. Great casting. I think I saw this guy perform at a going-away party as a cowboy.
And 1 "Scoreboard"
Agency: Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami
Sullivan: Clean. Simple. Cool.
Fegley: And 1. And what? I know this ad was meant to be urban and inside. Which it would have been. In 1990. I've just seen so much of this playground ball genre. The fact that I get it probably isn't a good thing. And is it me, or is there some kind of sexual subtext here?
Luke Sullivan is creative director at WestWayne in Atlanta