THE WORK THIS MONTH: AMATEUR HOUR

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Not unlike the Estee Lauder school of cosmetics (use lots of makeup to achieve a 'natural look'), it takes gobs of hard work and raw talent to make what appears to be a low-budget (and sometimes intentionally crappy-looking) commercial. Then again, sometimes it just takes a low budget.

A lot of this month's commercials look as if your Uncle Ed, the family's self-proclaimed jokester, has been getting creative with the Handicam again.

But we know the truth. We know how hard you slave over this stuff, and that no expenses nor Avids and Henrys are spared to achieve just the right degree of faux hobbyist genuineness.

Still, a lack of money can apparently be inspiring. For its new Green Burrito spots, L.A.-based Mendelsohn/Zien had to produce about 30 spots for under $100,000. So they did 30 that look as if they were all done for $65 and a couple of Green Burrito Happy Meals. The thing is, this campaign, featuring an immovable singing dot that looks like a character in a 1981 Atari game, cuts through the clutter right away. The soundtrack -- a combination of a badly strummed guitar and a doped-out, lackluster voice -- is as oddly mesmerizing as the minimalist-to-the-bone image. We walked around singing the stupid but somehow endearing jingles for days.

And this month's print? Some of the pieces do look like student projects (stop throwing stuff, we mean that in a good way), but they don't have the same Super 8/trailer park feel (we said stop it!) as many of the commercials we watched. Don't tell the client, but maybe the budgets could have been a little smaller.

West Coast restaurant chain Green Burrito has not exactly bought the whole enchilada with its new animated regional TV campaign. It consists of nothing but a tiny, singing green happy face, reminiscent of folkie-naif Jonathan Richman (the sound, not the look), treating us to lyrics like, "Green Burrito smell my feet-oh," and "If it's green it's good. If it's green and spewing, call a priest." There may be a lot of singing dots around these days (e.g., Blockbuster's happy yellow fellow), but none are as charming as this green guy.

CLIENT Green Burrito AGENCY Mendelsohn/ Zien, Los Angeles ECD Jordin Mendelsohn CD/DOT Voice Josh Weltman CW Kim Genkinger PRODUCER Michelle Miller POST John Muller, The Finish Line, Santa Monica MUSIC PROD/GUITARIST Greg Arreguin

Are your label-application ideas stuck in a rut? Well, Starluxe has some suggestions for you -- 500 of them, to be exact. With uses like #74, bikini-line waxing, and #116, instant dalmation, you'll never look at labels the same way again. The brainstorming session that brought this one about must have had a lot to do with #267, cocktail umbrellas.

CLIENT Starluxe labels AGENCY Brokaw, Cleveland ADs Steve McKeown & Kim Rowland CW Erin Friedman The High Life Man is back!

No more pansy-assed guys who can't back a boat into a driveway. Wieden & Kennedy shows us what being a man is all about: Duct tape, greasy doughnuts and mayonnaise. There's even a big lug who has room for the last deviled egg, because as the VO tells us, he's drinking Miller High Life Light, and "when you live the High Life, you can live it both ways."

CLIENT Miller High Life AGENCY Wieden & Kennedy, Portland AD Jeff Williams CW Jeff Kling PRODUCER Jeff Selis DIRECTOR Errol Morris PROD COMPANY @Radical Media

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