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Nissan Sentra

Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day/Los Angeles CDs: Rob Schwartz/Chris Graves _AD: Mike Czako_CWs: Raymond Huang/Bob Fremgen__Director: David Denneen Production Company: Anonymous Content

Pafenbach For some reason a Nissan Sentra is parked on the set of Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation" video. All dark and apocalyptic. Off camera, the sounds of some sort of a scuffle. Moments later a couple of really pissed-off crash-test dummies stumble into frame, locked in mortal combat. No cartoon violence here. They're duking it out big time. The reason for the fight? They both really want to drive the car. Yikes! Can't we all just get along? I'm sure the intent was to make a funny commercial, but in the end vibe is kind of nasty. Those goofy dummies in the old seat-belt PSAs were pretty likable but these guys come off like Night of the Living Dead meets Raging Bull.

Herlehy I've been to my share of bars in Wisconsin and I always appreciate a good fight. So I really wanted to like this. Besides, it's Chiat. But, as with fights in God's country, it would be better if there was a little more clawing, scratching and kicking. The use of actors instead of computer dummies might've helped things.

Sears DieHard

Agency: Ogilvey & Mather/Chicago Group CDs: Andy Madorsky/Jeff Long CD/AD: Mark Wiegard CW:_Conrad Winter Director: Sean Thonson Production Company: MJZ

Pafenbach This is a classic case of a potentially good, simple idea being smothered by way too much production value. Jumper cables, presumably no longer of any use because the owner has an omnipotent DieHard, are used for mundane gripping tasks: hanging laundry, holding a gate closed. Each scenario is filmed like a David Lean epic backed with a music track to match. Once you see the first scenario you pretty much get the point. It's too bad. The premise actually has potential. The whole thing could have been stripped down to one sequence and paid off with a clever alternative use for jumper cables. Go minimal on the music and you'd have a tasty little spot.

Herlehy This is basically a montage of the different ways people use jumper cables now that they have DieHard batteries. But those uses, if you were to go in this direction in the first place, aren't very interesting. In fact, nothing really goes on. They're print ads. And not very good ones.

Romano's Macaroni Grill

Agency: GSD&M CD:_Daniel Russ ADs:_Sam Bonds/Diallo Mervel CW:_Kristen Livolsi Director: Mike Bigelow

Production Company: Space Program

Pafenbach Having done time on a chain restaurant account, I know how hard this stuff is. I admire the spunk of this spot. Two chefs pitch their latest offering with minimum cooperation from their sweet and slightly loopy old Nana. She's interested in everything at the shoot but the featured dish. Finally, she gets it. "Oh, we make-a da movie!" This nails the maddening habit old folks have of getting with the program when they're good and ready. Good performance from Nana. The guys are pretty good, too. I'm not sure whether we're looking at real people or just great "real people" casting. To me, that's a good thing. The spot succeeds in investing an otherwise typical mall restaurant with a little bit of authentic charm. High degree of difficulty, but a well-executed dive.

Herlehy The mother of one of the Italian chefs gets to introduce a new chicken dish. Then the spot breaks into a tabletop of the meal. Why do this when there's so much material with Italians? Are Italians the only ethnic group that will let you use the stuff? The least they could do is a Sopranos rip-off. The tabletop stuff is very sad. Can we stop using jazz music in spots? Mama is funny enough to earn the only star.

Verizon Super Pages

Agency: Deutsch/New York CD:_Kathy Delaney AD:_Matt Meyers CW:_Cheryl Van Ooyen Director: David Shane Production Company: Hungry Man

Pafenbach A noble effort with a noble beast. I never looked at it from Lassie's point of view, but come to think of it, Tim was kind of a pain in the ass. Always getting into a fix and expecting poor Lassie to bail him out. An amusing time-lapse sequence of disembodied heads chronicles Timmy's numerous predicaments, until Lassie, fed up, logs on to Verizon's online Yellow Pages to find herself a new gig. The spot ends with Lassie being fed caviar by some sort of French bombshell. Admirable on several counts, not the least of which is managing to do a Verizon spot without an on-screen appearance by James Earl Jones. Lot's of nice little details in this commercial. One question: Instead of the babe with the caviar, wouldn't Lassie prefer steak tartare served by a hunk with six-pack abs? Hmmm. Is there something Lassie's not telling us?

Herlehy After Lassie saves little Timmy one too many times, he goes online to be adopted and ends up living large. Yes, it's borrowed interest. Yes, it's a pet thing. But it's very funny. The writing is incredible, right down to the reference of Timmy being kidnapped by "circus folk". The only criticism I have is it looks like they had too much material and ended up with a bit of a strange edit. But that's being really picky. Other people may not mind so much.


Group Creative Director, Arnold Worldwide


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