What's the Big Idea?

Published on .

Gen-Y slackers get their fair share of mockery, but Deutsch puts a new spin on the category's cliches in an animated campaign for Snapple's sporty alternadrinks, Elements. The laconic couch potatoes are not goateed and pierced college kids, but rather a quartet of woodland animals - including a squirrel, a rabbit, a weasel, and a gopher. They face normal Real World-esque dilemmas like overdue rent and boredom, but their odd personalities and the freedoms of animation rather than live action afford old jokes a new life. When the landlord comes knocking for the rent, the animals remember that they asked Weasel to pay it. Weasel strolls into the living room looking like a pimp. "Is that the door?" he asks. "I'm having a diamond brooch and a riding lawnmower delivered." As the animals scurry down the fire escape to avoid the collector, they inform Squirrel that he'll have to donate another kidney, assuring him that kidneys grow back, "like hair."

The Deutsch creative team, writer Mark Koelfgen and art director Tuesday Poliak, found animated characters to be the perfect vehicle for their dark humor. They note that details like the gopher's gynecomastia (that's breasts on men) or animal porn would have been much more difficult, even taboo, with live-action. "We wanted to be bold and brazen, and you can get away with a lot more in animation," says Poliak. Koelfgen agrees. "We love stuff like the Sick and Twisted Animation Festival. Animation in this country is underutilized; it's not synonymous with cool advertising."

In fact, one spot takes direct aim at America's idea of "cool advertising." The animals sit in their junky apartment and discuss the extreme sports feats that their Elements drinks are inspiring, including paragliding behind an aircraft carrier and rappelling down a national monument. Then they look at each other and sigh, returning to their sedentary activities.

"Animation is so often used to leverage this utopian socialism to children. We wanted to turn it on its head," says Poliak. So far, the spots will only run on MTV, where such a view is likely to be readily accepted. Poliak and Koelfgen are not expecting everyone to warm to the acerbic humor, though. "When we sent it to distributors, we put on a warning label: if you're over 25, you're not going to get this," laughs Koelfgen.

Client: Snapple Agency: Deutsch CD: Kathy Delaney AD: Tuesday Poliak CW: Mark Koelfgen Agency Producer: Nicole Lundy Production Company: Passion Pictures, London Company Animator: John Robertson/Tim Sanpher

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