Adidas "Cabbie vs. Atlanta Fan"
Agency: Leagas Delaney/San Francisco Director: Joe Public
Kirshenbaum: I'm sorry, but I have a problem with any commercial where you don't know what the product is. Not to say it isn't creative, but if you told me they were promoting the Yankees, I'd say -- sure, I get it. The fact that it's supposedly for Adidas leaves me scratching my head. Two unexplained logos in any commercial either signify joint venture or confusion. Now, we wrote the book on Under the Radar, but this is so down under I'm booking a ticket to Australia.
Koelfgen: Some British bigwig once said that the biggest problem with American TV is you know what's going to happen eight seconds into every spot. Sadly, this spot proves that theory in spades. The front half of it is brilliant: Joe Torre's dutiful reminder setting off a redneck Braves fan. I wanted to be surprised. I really did. But when the boorish traveler gets dumped in Scaryville, I wasn't. Which brings us to the button that tries incredibly hard to resuscitate the spot. A 300-pound transvestite. Wearing sequins! In winter!! No way. Winter is black taffeta season. The frightened expression of the stranded Atlantan is unforgivably bad. All in all, predictable.
Sega "Anxiety "
Agency: FCB/San Francisco Director: Kyle Cooper & Mikon Van Gastel, Imaginary Forces
Kirshenbaum: Well, I think we've all seen The Matrix a few too many times, haven't we? Other than casting Keanu, I think the spot plays off the product in an interesting way. One that's sure to appeal to restless, discontented youth!
Koelfgen: I think what wallops me about this agency all the time is that they have amazingly good taste and execution. In the wrong hands, this :15 about a Sega Dreamcast that watches and listens to you to counteract your every move might be a yawn. But Kyle Cooper's deft handling of this simple idea makes it jarring. Nice job, guys. Am I the only one that thinks they deserve another crack at the 501s?
Agency: Crispin Porter Bogusky, Miami Director: Eddie Chu, Voodoo Arts
Kirshenbaum: I have a basic problem with any commercial making fun of people who are mentally ill. Using a scenario of a suicidal person to depict a job opportunity is not only in bad taste but leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. Sorry! (The half bulb is for production value.)
Koelfgen: I feel like I've seen this guy-on-a-ledge scenario about a billion times. It feels dated to me. Has anyone really stood on a ledge in a funny way since The Woman In Red? The guy's performance is funny as hell. At one point, he looks at the Interim career counselor as if she's on crack. My thoughts exactly. She is hot, though. Just not Kelly LeBrock hot.
Agency: Arnold, Boston Director: Kinka Usher, House of Usher
Kirshenbaum: As usual, the ads for Volkswagen rule. The work is always fun, witty, intelligent and well-produced. In this spot, Kinka Usher did a great job simulating a chase scene in a movie. The concept of an average person tapping into their wild side through a great product experience is both smart and cute. Hey, maybe I'll even buy one!
Koelfgen: I hear a lot of industry-wide moaning about the downfall of great advertising. Nike stock in a tail spin. Miller Lite sales flat. Levi's collecting dust on the shelves. I think a lot of people forget about this stuff. Totally razor sharp. Near flawless executions. No exception here. The Caucasian Huggie Bear in the back seat is a nice touch. Beautiful. Really beautiful. And I hear it sells cars.
Stand Up New York "A Time and a Place for Comedy"
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather/New York
Kirshenbaum: There's funny and there's trying to be funny. The reason this ad isn't funny is it lacks the one ingredient that makes things funny: a human truth. Take this ad, please!
Koelfgen: This is pretty much bad in every way an ad can be bad. Bad idea. Bad line. Bad models, badly overacting in a badly contrived scenario. Maybe it's just me, but when I get some micro client to bankroll a pseudo-ad for my book, I try to make it count. Sly levity. Sharp wit. These things count when you're doing an ad for a comedy club.
Richard Kirshenbaum is co-chairman at Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York.