Agency: BBDO/New York Director: Tarsem, Radical Media
Woodall: The Mountain Dew series is a brilliant campaign that has always been a strategic bull's eye, creatively anarchic and executionally astounding - until now. Am I right, or was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon a big hit last year? But as I recall, there weren't exactly hordes of skateboard-carrying teens queuing up to see it. Here we see two classically-clad female Zen warriors (Zenettes?) battling over a can of Mountain Dew. There's lots of flappy flying, a Grasshopper-style VO and mandatory Chinglish-type subtitles. Then, after all this, they share the soda. Fab execution (it's Tarsem after all). But we all expect a lot more from this brand.
Frank: Hey, have you seen that new Levi's ad with the singing bellybuttons? It's totally about the jeans and how they're low-cut to expose everyone's bellybuttons, and the bellybuttons are so happy to be out that they're singing. And boy, is it funny to watch those bellybuttons singing away. Plus, the song's still cool years after its release. Damn, that ad is cool.
Agency: J. Walter Thompson Director: Colin Gregg, Stark Films
Woodall: The bods over at Lipton have obviously come up with another stroke of genius - iced tea bags. All you need to do is add is cold water. Geddit? To demonstrate this, we see a fantastically fake demonstration. Young people fresh from making dot- com commercials are heckling the police and holding up signs like STOP! RESIST! and GO GO! (whatever that means). The police turn a water cannon on the rabble. Suddenly, a dashing young man appropriately dressed in a Lipton yellow sports jacket, runs amok and starts catching the water from the cannon in a glass. He then sits, plops in his Cold Brew bag, a slice of lemon and drinks deeply. Full marks for pushing the envelope. Pity it didn't have a decent idea inside.
Frank: Those FoxSports ads that show those weird sports from other countries are awesome. They're so simple - there are sports you want to watch because they're local, and there are sports you don't want to watch because they're not local. And then they just exaggerate the heck out of how not local the other sports are. Now those are some funny ads.
Agency: Young & Rubicam/San Francisco Director: Michael Wright, Aardman Animations
Woodall: Finally, the cuddly Aardman Chevron cars have now gone to a drive-in. When everyone breaks for drinks at the intermission, the cars do likewise and escape to their local Chevron gas station for some refreshment of their own. "Let's all go to the Chevron" they sing, while guzzling petroleum. The usual classy Aardman animation cannot mask the lack of an idea in this spot. I think it's an attempt at one of those "feel good" executions. With one small problem: You don't feel good after seeing it.
Frank: That Budweiser ad where the yuppie guys all say "What are you doing?" rules. I mean, everyone was getting pretty tired of the same old "Whassup?" characters doing the same old "Whassup?" gag, but that ad just puts a whole new spin on them. What am I doing? Laughing my ass off, that's what.
Agency: FCB/San Francisco Director: Mike Wellins, Will Vinton Studios
Woodall: An odd little animated man shows us how we can make marinade in just 30 seconds. He pours the sauce into a bowl, whistles a tune, rolls his Peter Lorre bug eyes, and then after 23 riveting seconds the bowl in front of him magically transforms into a plate of delicious animated food. I think we've all seen this old chestnut before. Can't think of an original idea? Animate the strategy!
Frank: You know which ads are great? Those Volkswagen ads where the guys are talking about how an arch is strong or a dome is big, and then this Beetle pulls up way in the background, and it totally demonstrates how the car has the same things the guys are talking about by matching up with the arch or the dome. I love those.
Graham Woodall is executive creative director at D'Arcy Worldwide, New York.
Kevin Frank is a freelance copywriter in San Francisco.