This spot seems a little familiar at first. Open on rugged cowboys rounding up cattle. As they rope, tie and brand, they all smoke furiously. OK, so it's fairly obvious one of our Marlboro types is going to come a cropper thanks to his disgusting habit. But just as you're about to flick channels (fast-forward in my case), one of the horses keels over and dies. Super: "Secondhand smoke kills." A funny and unexpected way to make a very serious point.
agency Jean Robaire and Mark Cohen (freelance)
Director Aaron Greene, Villains
REX MINI ORGANIZER
We always complain about the brief, we're creatives, that's our job. So imagine you're given the task of selling "The world's smallest pocket organizer" . . . on outdoor. Not bad, huh? Why, then, did the agency end up doing a spoof of Godzilla's advertising? Could it be that the product is called Rex, as in Tyrannosaurus Rex? Surely not. Or was it that other thing we love to complain about, the client? Either way, it's a flop. Two thumbs down.
TV channels are the late-'90s equivalent of pro bono -- the perfect opportunity to strut your creative stuff and stun the judges with your genius. As a consumer, these spots made me laugh. As a creative guy, however, I couldn't help noticing similarities to the Jack in the Box and ESPN campaigns. A company chairman who's a clown, together with a pseudo-documentary-style look behind the scenes of a TV channel . . . Sound familiar? But thanks to some good writing and excellent deadpan performances, I think they just about get away with it. I wonder if the judges will be quite so generous.
Agency Dweck & Campbell
Director Hank Perlman, Hungry Man
FOX SPORTS BASEBALL
Being Irish, I don't claim to know a whole lot about baseball. But I saw a documentary about Babe Ruth recently, and I loved his audacity. Especially the moment when he pointed to the stands and then proceeded to hit the ball there. Cliff Freeman is a skinny advertising version of Babe Ruth in the way he sets, and consistently achieves, the highest standards -- always with a fun- loving swagger. The new Fox Sports Baseball campaign is no exception. A wonderful follow-up to the hockey stuff, it plays to the irreverent, obsessive nature of true sports fans. And it even delivers a couple of product differences along the way. Thwack, home run, high center field.
Agency Cliff Freeman & Partners Director Noam Murro, HKM
Let's torture the sports analogies. For years, Wieden has been like the Chicago Bulls -- consistently good, and capable of genius. Sadly, this campaign is not of that vintage. Built on the dubious premise of "fun police," it shows a group of famous basketball stars running around in long yellow coats bringing "fun" to their fans. It's not awful, it's just all over the place. In their defense, there are a couple of nice spots in the campaign. But with any great team, expectations are always that much higher. This time, the Wieden creatives are victims of their own success.
Agency Wieden & Kennedy/Portland
Directors Brian Buckley, Hungry Man; Kinka Usher, House of Usher
Another elegant-looking campaign. Good agency, good brand, good photographer, good layout, so why is it not good advertising? I think the idea is that Starbucks has a coffee for all our individual moods (duh!). But instead of celebrating individuality and connecting with us emotionally, the work ends up being a lot like Starbucks itself -- slick, homogenized and soulless. Which reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw in L.A.: "Friends don't let friends drink Starbucks."
Agency BBDO WEST
Logan Wilmont is a creative director/associate partner at Kirshenbaum Bond &