David Smith and Joe Baratelli, Rubin Postaer and Associates/Santa Monica

By Ad Published on .

Most Popular
David Smith and Joe Baratelli created one of 2003's brightest spots in advertising, the understated masterpiece "Best Friends," for Honda. Directed by Malcolm Venville, the spot likened the mugs of car owners to their automobiles and showed that the Cog-creators of the world can't lay sole claim to groundbreaking work for the client. The ten-year team soon followed up with more stunning turns like "Purpose" in which Lego-like blocks fall into place to illustrate the importance of every part of the Element. In addition, the two have teamed on award-winning work for AM/PM MIni Marts as well as campaigns for ARCO and VH1.

In a nutshell, how did you get into advertising? Smith: Strangely, it's something I wanted to do for as long as I can remember. My mom saved a radio commercial I wrote for a local Western Wear store when I was 8 years old. I remember watching and deconstructing television commercials as a kid. I guess I was born, not made. Baratelli: I thought I was going to be the next Saul Bass. I studied graphic design, and knew I wanted to work at either a design firm or an advertising agency. At the time, it seemed like you could make more money at an advertising agency.

Can you describe how "Best Friends" originated? Honda is number one in owner loyalty. People love their Hondas. We were simply trying to capture this strong relationship. We loved the idea from the beginning, but we also had concerns about whether we could pull it off. We did a test with still images of people and Honda vehicles and it helped us sell the idea to our client. But even during production, we were always looking at each other, saying, "Think this is gonna work?"

Was "Cog" an inspiration? Not really. Honda in Europe is in a much different situation than Honda in America. They are dealing with different issues and selling different strengths. Our clients here in America certainly took notice of the publicity buzz the "Cog" spot created. But for us, we try to do something original and daring and effective every time we sit down to work on Honda. Always have. Always will. For the record, we think the "Cog" spot is amazing.

Any anecdotes behind the shoot? We looked at well over 500 people for the spot. We quickly discovered that people either look like a Honda, or they don't. It was a fascinating process.

Any special techniques to coming up with ideas? Not really. We just kind of show each other stuff and ask, "Does this suck?"

What kinds of cars do you drive? Smith: Honda Pilot Baratelli: Honda Accord

Do you look like your cars? Yes, in the sense that the Pilot has no hair and the Accord is rather stylish.