Cannes Lions 2005

Ian Reichenthal & Scott Vitrone

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A chainsaw-wielding psycho, double-headed freaks, drooling alien creatures, half-sheep boys, dancing office drones, a Starburst candy bust. Such is the stuff of Scott Vitrone and Ian Reichenthal's reel. The team has made weird, but lasting imprints onto the commercials-scape for Nike, Mike's Hard Lemonade, and Fedex during their tours at Wieden/Portland, Cliff Freeman, as freelancers at BBDO, and now, as GCDs at TBWA/Chiat/Day/N.Y., where they've continue to slap us silly with their excellent work for Nextel, Skittles, Starburst, and work to come for the oddly-shaped cheese-filled snack, Combos.

C Judging from your work, you seem to be quite twisted.

IR We've been working on brands that call for it, teenager things. Starburst and Skittles, Nike. But Nextel and Fedex aren't so dark. Where it's appropriate, we like to do it.

SV Then again when we were at Wieden, I always had this feeling that we were somehow a little different. We tended to try to inject dark slightly off center humor. There were times, I thought, maybe I don't fit in here, because other people were doing Nike in a totally different, more traditional, cool way.

C How did you come up with Nextel's "Office"? It' one of our all time favorites.

IR It comes straight out of the product. It makes you more efficient, so the next step was, if you had extra time, how would you squander it? Then it's a race to find the dumbest, funniest thing for people to do. We kill ourselves over examples before we pick one. Maybe there are people for whom it's natural to say "I've got the idea!" We're not like that. We make the teams come in with lots of examples too. We put them through what we put ourselves through.

SV And once you come up with an idea, you leave it behind immediately. If you start investing everything into it, it's so limiting. And I think we try to teach our teams that as well, to stop early. Quite often, I think you'll find you're going to come across something that's even better.

C Now that you're at TBWA-known for the disruption process-do you incorporate that into how you work?

IR Definitely in candy. So much of candy advertising seems the same-a lot of CG fruits, vibrant kid-like colors. Skittles had some historical elements attached to it already-a rainbow, something magical-so we wanted to do a more contemporary version of that but put it in a more real world setting.

SV The idea of the rainbow kind of sounds a little corny, but the brand had personality and I think if we would have wiped it out entirely, it would have been a mistake. I think the client appreciated that we didn't come in guns blazing and say, "All wrong!" I think that's a good way to start a client relationship.

C Is it easy to create for a young demographic?

IR Since our sense of humor never progressed past the 8th grade, I guess in that sense it's easy. In another sense, it's hard because this group of people is more cynical than others and they don't like to feel like they're being marketed to.