Agency: Mojo Partners/Sydney Director: Roman Coppola, The Directors Bureau
Landsberg: Young Danny Riley (who keeps looking off camera) says, "I'm into horror movies, soccer and mambo music." Cut to zombies playing soccer. Torn limbs and mambo music are in the air. Telstra.com tells us it's the one place all your interests come together. "It's your dot-com." All of which is pretty generic. Sometimes a great execution can overcome a familiar strategy. The thought of combining three unrelated interests has possibilities, but it just doesn't score here. Plus, the production values seem unintentionally bad.
Werner: Let it be said: this spot is damn funny. Unfortunately, at some point we've all got to face the ugly truth that advertising is business. And as a business message, this spot has no legs, so to speak. Most Websites, unless hosted by ChristianCoalition.com, will allow you to post whatever you like. Telstra doesn't claim anything unique here. But the agency does an admirable job attempting to distinguish just another generic dot-com.
Agency: The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va. Director: Bruce Hurwit, Crossroads Films
Landsberg: Grandma destroys her car while attempting to pull out of her garage. "People do some strange things to their cars. Get the real history of any used car," says the announcer. It's simple, relevant and insightful. I just think the spot would have been funnier if it didn't try to be comical.
Werner: I find this spot amusing in spite of myself. It's base, it's slapstick, it's a 30-second punchline. Despite all that, I couldn't hold back a chuckle and the kind of knowing smile you get when standups talk about airplane peanuts or toilet paper turned the wrong way. One thing this spot's got going for it is strategy. I recently bought a used car and found myself very suspicious of the previous owner's conduct. Even used Carfax.
Agency: FCB/San Francisco Director: John Mastromonaco, Bravo Zulu
Landsberg: Listen.com creates an involving metaphor for a music site with the line, "There's music everywhere if you know where to look." It's a well-crafted study of everyday sounds heard in a diner that gradually builds to a full rythmic beat. I like the waitress at the end just groovin' to herself. It's also a smart solution to the problem of demonstrating music without using an existing song.
Werner: I really enjoyed this spot the first time I saw it. Of course, back then it was for the Volkswagen Jetta. OK, it's different, but not different enough to waste another 30 seconds discerning why. Lack of originality aside, I'm not even sure what Listen.com is trying to communicate. If music is everywhere, why should I bother going to their site?
Holiday Inn, "Room to Work"
Agency: Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis Director: Jesse Peretz, X-Ray Productions
Landsberg: To demonstrate the benefits of staying at Holiday Inn, this surreal sitcom stars a no-good freeloading young man, too lazy to get a job, too cheap to move out on his own and too demanding to appreciate the nice home his tolerant parents and slightly out-of-it grandma allow him to live in. In this episode, slacker son turns the kitchen table into his workstation, forcing Grandma to eat on an ironing board. He's cranky because he wants a room with more room to work in. His Mom sets him up for the signature sarcastic reply: "What do you think this is, a Holiday Inn?" Then Mom, Dad and Grandma all laugh at him. This work is unconventional, intelligent and courageous. I hope it's filling rooms.
Werner: This spot takes on the daunting task of establishing new brand connotations for an old household name. And it does it with humor. The setup is somewhat contrived and the mother's punchline delivery sounds a little like they're on the hundredth take, but the main character gives me a chubby. And the grandmother should get her own gameshow. If you've ever lived at home after college, you might shed a tear of empathy.
Diadora, "Boot Camp"
Agency: Hammerquist & Halverson, Seattle
Landsberg: Italian guys in jockstraps, cups included, stand in line, waiting to be issued their Diadora soccer equipment. "This is Diadora Boot Camp," the copy proclaims. Diadora may be the authentic brand of soccer equipment in Italy, but the ad comes off a little fake, with dogtags and the ironic Armed Services takeoff. There's a good idea here, but the execution just doesn't measure up to the competition: Nike and Adidas.
Werner: I'm not sure what Diadora is hoping to claim in comparing their products to military-issue clothing. Maybe that soccer is a grueling sport and this gear is essential to your survival. That might work for rugby or that Irish sport where they beat each other with sticks - but not soccer, famed for its fake-injury thespians. Too bad. I like the mullet.
Steven Landsberg is co-chief creative officer at DDB/New York.
Max Werner is a copywriter at Duncan/Channon, San Rafael, Calif.