The idea here is to use Janet Jackson as a spokesperson for Pepsi. The problem is, that's not an idea, that's an assignment. The agency that brought you Cuba Gooding Jr. for Pepsi One proves once again that it's not enough to throw a pile of money at a celebrity and another pile of money at a production company. What you need first is an idea. Many think that using celebrities is a cop-out, but it can make for some great advertising, as long as there is an idea that comes off, an insight, maybe even tied to a benefit of the product (see Jerry Seinfeld for American Express or any Nike ad). They've tapped into Janet's sexiness but they haven't built enough of an idea around it. It ends up being lyrics that use soft drink metaphors that talk about sex, a tagline and a product shot that uses sex to sell more soft drinks served up in a very dated music video format. True, any Pepsi spot with Janet Jackson is going to grab the attention of teenagers and get them to talk about it, but that doesn't make it a great spot. Which is a shame, because I like Janet.
DIRECTOR Peter Smillie, Smillie Films
I like these. And the more I see them, the more I like them. There is something very off that I like. Is it the casting? The way they're shot? The editing? It's all that, but most importantly, at the core of these spots is a good idea. All of us have had a parent look at us and say "What do you think this is, a hotel?" (I'm on my way to saying that same thing to my son.) They have taken this kernel of truth and found an unexpected, memorable and unique way of getting across the points they want to get across about the hotel. Everything is just a little odd and uncomfortable and funny. And that's what makes these spots more fun to watch each time you see them.
AGENCY Fallon McElligott/Minneapolis
DIRECTOR Jesse Peretz, X-ray
There's a lot going on here. A witty headline. ("Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Bauer! It's a cardigan!") Entertaining body copy and of course, the math problem. They all have more or less the same weight and I'm resistant to give in to it. But there's a bigger problem here that goes back to the strategy. This is a tricky category to begin with because it's fashion. It's really about image, and for some reason any time someone attempts conceptual advertising here, it doesn't play. Because the category of fashion advertising is totally different, the consumer views it with a completely different set of expectations. Therefore, the typical agency formula works for Jaguars, not clothes. Look at fashion advertising. Even brands that are Eddie Bauer's competition -- Banana Republic, Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch -- there's a reason they work. Because they tell me what's going on now. I like the idea of trying to leverage the brand's heritage period. But "since 1920" is as far as I want to go. These ads are about the past. I want to know what image Eddie Bauer wants for right now.
AGENCY Lowe & Partners/SMS/N.Y.
Southern States Volkswagen
Stop the madness. It's time to let Bill Bernbach rest in peace. The NHL has the decency and respect to retire Wayne Gretzky's number throughout the league. Can we please do the same thing here and vow never to parody this campaign again? There are so many things wrong with these ads, that taking a shot at them is as easy as doing a Volkswagen parody.
AGENCY West & Vaughan
Dennis P. Levin, Divorce Attorney
Every creative has come up with a great idea for a campaign and then gone out to find someone to spend the money to produce it. I really like the idea of using the inscription on wedding rings as a voice for husband and wife. But there's something that's a little off here. The punch lines, "I do everyone," "I did your sister," and "I used to be a man," are all about sex, and there are more reasons for divorce then this. I think that makes them almost better ads for condoms or HIV testing.