The Work

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Campaign: Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art

TBWA/Chiat/Day's new branding campaign for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles is less an ad campaign than it is an existential discussion. The creative team of Maya Rao and Moe Verbrugge took the standard museum tag - the little placards on gallery walls with title and artist and a short explanation - and used the structure to describe L.A. scenes. The black-on-white tags pop up not only on billboards and TV but also on gas pumps, dry-cleaners' hangers and coffee cups. Each tag gives a title to its location or situation and then offers some kind of comment on modern life, like the "Remote Control" spot which ends with the question, "The remote controls the television, but who controls the remote?" OK, so maybe this isn't exactly what Camus had in mind, but it's provocative nonetheless. "Just as contemporary art is very controversial, we tried to raise those conversations with people who are viewing the ad campaign," explains Verbrugge. "You become the art; you become the conversation."

The project included hand-picking the media placement for each tag to make it as relevant as possible. "We drove around L.A. looking for the billboards, asking, `What do we want to say about this area on this board?"' says Rao. They wrote over 80 different executions, and even more are being planned, in the hope that the uniform look and the sheer number of ads will successfully brand the client - as there are no logos and no phone numbers in the work. But even if this clever campaign fails to substantially boost interest in contemporary art in L.A., it has clearly amped the creative team. "We love advertising again," gushes Verbrugge.

Client: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day/Los Angeles CD: Gary Topolewski AD: Moe Verbrugge CW: Maya Rao Producer: Mila Davis Sound: Steven Dewey, Machine Head Editor: Frank Effron/Beth Bootzin

Beetle Mania

In the original campaign for the New Beetle, the car took center stage - in fact, except for a few words of copy and the logo, it was the only visual on an otherwise blank surface. The latest New Beetle campaign takes the opposite tack; it's easier to find Waldo than it is to spot the product in many of these ads. Using mainly photos from the web or from stock books, the creative team found visually arresting scenarios and composited a small Beetle into the background. The copy quotes unseen passers-by noticing not the half-naked woman, or the stampeding bulls, but Beetles a hundred feet away, as in the fashion shoot photo where the copy reads, "Hey, there's a silver one." "It was a pretty tricky campaign because it was the first brand stuff that's a follow-up to the white space campaign," says AD Don Shelford. "We wanted this assignment and we didn't want this assignment."

Client: Volkswagen of America Agency: Arnold Worldwide Group CD: Alan Pafenbach AD: Don Shelford CW: Dave Weist Photographer (Jumper): Bill Cash

Orange Crush

Can low-tech animation drive a high-tech product? It sure can in the case of the new Earthlink campaign. Much like another signature TBWA/Chiat/Day client, Earthlink is identified with pioneers and revolutionaries like Jerry Garcia, Galileo and Magellan. However, nothing could be more visually dissimilar than the stark iMac spots and the beautifully busy Earthlink animation. In "Magellan," a VO explains that people used to think the world was flat. "It's not that they were stupid. It's just that's what they were told," he explains. Meanwhile, the corresponding images, both abstract and representational, play out in black on an orange background and cut throught the clutter like butter.

Client: Earthlink Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles CD: Lee Clow ACD: Rich Siegel/John Shirley AD: Chuck Monn/Margaret Midgett CW: Jeff Maki/Rich Siegel Producer: Guia Jacomin Director (live action): Leslie Dektor Director (animation): Bill White Sound: Daniel Hulsizer, Elias + Associates

What's the Big Idea?

Corn Belt Klllers

In a B-to-B campaign that copywriter Josh Gold calls "a giant Far Side cartoon," The Martin Agency offers existential justification for pesticide use on behalf of FMC Corp.'s Capture (boldly tagged "Any pest. Every time."). Each of the three spots opens with a closeup on a cornfield and a manly voiceover asking, "Why don't we give our corn to the rootworms?" He answers his query with analogies. "Why don't we give our ice cream to the flies, and our sidewalks to the gum?" he intones solemnly. "Why don't we just give our planet to the apes?" he wonders, as the screen flashes surreal, cinematic images of each scene.

"We created this hopeless world where people have given up and accepted that their lives are going to be taken over," says Gold. The scenes do look pretty bleak, featuring dead-eyed actors in post-apocalyptic circumstances. In one, a spooked little girl floats on a pool of scum as the VO asks, "Why don't we give our pools to the algae?" Though the commercials are rather high-brow for the farmers' market, Gold is not worried that the point will be lost. "This is certainly going to stand out a lot in that market, but that's why it will get a lot of attention. I'm sure they get a couple hundred pesticide messages a week in the Corn Belt, and we wanted something to cut through that."

Gold credits director Stacy Wall, erstwhile CD at Wieden & Kennedy, with the outrageous feel of the campaign. "Stacy looked at the boards and said, `You sold this stuff?'" laughs Gold. "His vision of it was really similar to ours, but he pushed things." In a scene featuring a picnic overrun by ants, it was Wall who decided to cover a young model's forearms in ants (pictured). The actress was a good sport; in the name of realism, the creative team decided to forgo CGI and use real ants for the unhappy picnic.

Though they ultimately chose scenes featuring insects and animals, the creatives originally contemplated some more far-fetched analogies for pest management. They considered "Why don't we give Florida to Castro?" with Castro on a log ride at Disneyworld. "It didn't seem like our client drew any lines, but they had one there," says Gold. They also considered "Why don't we give football to the comedians?" and even investigated the logistics of producing "Why don't we give air control towers to the narcoleptics?"

Client: FMC Corp. Agency: The Martin Agency/Richmond, Va. CD: John Mahoney AD: Cliff Sorah CW: Josh Gold Broadcast Producer: John Noble Director: Stacy Wall Production Company: Hungry Man Editor: Chuck Willis, Crew Cuts

Business as Unusual

Corporate Express, billed as "The office and computer products sourcebook," transcends its dreary tag with wry workplace humor. In this case, "name badges."

Client: Corporate Express Agency: TDA Advertising & Design CD: Jonathan Schoenberg AD: Jon Randazzo/Thomas Dooley CW: David Baker Photographer: Brooks Freehill

Quest for Bandwidth

In a sunny living room, a young couple listens earnestly as some kind of computer consultant explains that they lack sufficient bandwidth. As he talks, the couple begins to exhibit odd mannerisms. The husband peers quizzically at the computer guy's shirt and hair. Then, curious, he grabs a lighter out of the guy's pocket. "You like that?" says the unsuspecting techie. "My old man got it in Guam." He lights it for them and they jerk backward, frightened. The husband begins to beat his chest wildly while the wife goes to a corner and claps her hands like a seal. As the room disintegrates into Neanderthal chaos, the Pac Bell tagline comes up: "The internet has evolved. Have you?" In other spots, two female roommates face off with bone clubs and a family dinner gets primitive.

Client: Pacific Bell Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners CD: Paul Venables CW: Alex Grossman AD: Mark Wenniker Director: Bryan Buckley Production Company: Hungry Man Editor: Hanes Hall, Spotmakers

Horse Sense

After the cowboy-hatted semi-letdown of "Music," Madonna is back in the saddle with "Don't Tell Me" - not only a great countryish song but a video so postmodern Wild West it makes the Marlboro Man look like an urban cowboy. Madonna sex-struts a stretch of lonesome highway interspersed with vaguely drive-in movie style screens of cowpoke action that looks like Martha Graham percolated through digital filters. We wouldn't have expected less from celebrated fashion shooter and music video auteur Jean-Baptiste Mondino, whose Madonna meditations go way back to 1986's "Open Your Heart."

Director: Jean-Baptiste Mondino DP: Alex Barber Exec. Producers: David Naylor/Sam Aslanian DNA Prod.: Maria Gallagher DNA Art Director: Bill Doig Choreographer: Jamie King Offline Editor: Angus Walls, Rock Paper Scissors EFX: Chris Staves, Method

Thinking in the Box

Here's a probable awards-aimed effort for a two-bit client that we haven't seen before: Bert and Bud's Vintage Coffins, conveniently on the web at Copy: "You only get one shot at this death thing. Don't let your friends and family screw it up." Nice sentiment. The art direction is awfully dark, but so's the subject matter. Pictured at right: the Victorian Toe Pincher. Who needs legroom when you're six feet under?

Client: Burt & Bud's Vintage Coffins Agency: Mark Russell & Associates CD: Rich Wakefield CW: Dan Miranda AD: Rich Wakefield/Chris Bakay

Bad Heirloom Day

In a parody of the popular PBS program Antiques Roadshow, BBDO creates the Bad Gifts Roadshow, a low-budget expo complete with a life-size stuffed pink flamingo, a velvet painting of a fisherman and a plaster beagle. In three spots, experts assess a bottle of blush wine, a bag of potpourri and a coffee mug. During the mug appraisal, the expert begins by explaining that it was made in Taiwan. "See right here?" he asks. "The pickle handle? The fact that it has nothing to do with the overall turtle theme? That makes it even less desirable." He ultimately concludes that the mug is worth "two-fifty" - that's two dollars and 50 cents. The link to the product itself, Celebrations mini candy bars, is tenuous at best (the VO suggests Celebrations as a better gift), but the perfectly produced spoof is funny enough to withstand pretty much anything.

Client: Mars, Inc. Agency: BBDO CD: Susan Credle/Steve Rutter CW: Susan Credle AD: Steve Rutter Director: Frank Samuel/Leo Knocking Prod. Co.: Gotham Central/Will Vinton & Jam Productions Editor: Don Kleszy, Image Maintenance/Will Vinton%%

Huge Humor

As a kid walks home, eating Doritos from a tubular container, his mother announces that his relatives are here to visit. Across the room, two enormous people rise from the couch. First the boy's aunt grabs him and gives him a big hug, while his mulleted uncle stands behind her saying, "Lemme at 'im." After the adults have expressed their Neanderthal chub love, his twin cousins, each about twice his size, descend the stairs and enclose him in a sandwich hug. So what happened to his snacks? They're safe in Frito-Lay's new crush-resistant packaging. Thank God it's still OK to laugh at fat people, even though they're probably the client's biggest fan base.

Client: Frito-Lay Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners CD: Rich Silverstein CW/ACD: Josh Denberg AD/ACD: Paul Hirsch Dir.: Bryan Buckley Prod. Co.: Hungry Man Editor: Tom Muldoon, Nomad

Logo du Jour

When your restaurant shares space with Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang and Anna Sui, it had better look good. That's why Nordstrom's new in-house cafe turned to the design experts at Duffy for everything from the take-out menu to the sandwich labels to these elegant logos. Whether the food will be able to compete with the eye candy remains to be seen.

Client: Nordstrom Agency: Duffy Design CD: Alan Colvin Designers: Alan Colvin/Ken Sakurai/Craig Duffney Photographer: Richard Klein Illustrators: Alan Colvin/Ken Sakurai/Craig Duffney Print Production: Tracy Hogenson/Bridget Duffy

White Trash Talkin'

Oh, those loony men and their sports. Will their crazy hijinks never end? Not as long as cable sports channel spots are still being made. Cliff Freeman and Fox Sports are at it again in a new campaign for the NBA, this one a cavalcade of comedy compositing. Two distinctly white boys converse in a homeboy patter about their basketball exploits. "Yo, David, you may be bigger than me, but you need to get yourself some Coppertone lotions, 'cause you just got burned," one exclaims delightedly, recounting his recent face-off with David Robinson. The commercials are complete with images of the funky duo playing in the NBA and schooling the stars.

Client: Fox Sports Agency: Cliff Freeman & Partners CD: Eric Silver CW: Eric Silver AD: Reed Collins Dir.: Tom Kuntz/Mike Maguire Prod. Co.: Propaganda Editor: Gavin Cutler Effects: Quiet Man

Make Baskets, Not War

In a series of spots vaguely spoofing Woodstock, Ground Zero and ESPN contemplate what might have happened if Janis Joplin and Dick Vitale had some love children. In one spot, a hippie gives directions to Rupp Arena (home of the Kentucky Wildcats) to another hippie. "You wanna take the 25 and take it over to the 421," he begins. He corrects himself, "No, no, no - take it to the 60," says the helpful flower child. He looks pensive for a moment and then grins. "`Cause if you add it up you get 85." The guy in need of directions understands the logic perfectly. "In '85, the Hoyas got slammed by Nova!" he responds brightly, and the two nod knowingly. In another spot for the same campaign, a tie-dye-bedecked man explains his love for "Jerry" - not Jerry Garcia, we come to realize, but Fresno State coach Jerry Tarkanian.

Client: ESPN College Basketball Agency: Ground Zero CD: Court Crandall/Kirk Souter AD: Hobart Birmingham CW: Anne Katherine Friis Agency Producer: Heidi Hawkings Director: Todd Phillips Prod. Co.: Moxie Pictures Sound Design: Peter Ricon/Mark Meyuhas, POP Sound

The Electric Slide

In a suburban home, a father expounds on electricity usage. "We're at a crucial stage with energy usage," he begins. In the background, his wife prepares the table for dinner, dressed normally except for her thick wool socks. On her way to the table, she doesn't walk, she scuffles. "That's what drove us to attempt the first static electricity-powered home," continues her thrifty and resourceful spouse. As he admits that the experiment has not been entirely successful, we are shown the unfortunate side effects of their energy plan: the doorknob shocks, static cling, stand-up hair and a painful goodnight kiss.

Client: Alliance to Save Energy Agency: DDB/Seattle CD: Laurie Fritts AD: Randy Gerda CW: Eric Gutierrez Agency Producer: Deb Narine Director: Gord McWatters Production Company: Spy Films

Gridiron Gags

In a series of spots featuring NFL stars, Y&R takes a slightly less saccharine approach to United Way advertising. In one, Troy Aikman coaches a grade school touch football game. "So far this has been unacceptable," he begins. "We're gonna go I right jet scat right O 68 F hook swing. Everybody got that?" In another spot, O.J. MacDuffe sits at a miniature table in a classroom, where he gets conned by a child in a Pokemon trade.

Client: United Way Agency: Young & Rubicam/New York CD: David Skinner AD: Hunter WIlliams CW: Matt Aselton

Zoology 101

"If you don't watch a lot of movies, you may never learn certain valuable things, like what to do when an animal talks to you," intones a voice-over. The scene begins with a group of kids sitting around a tree stump when a groundhog emerges and announces, "Jimmy needs your help down by the lake!" The kids look surprised that he can talk, and brainstorm about what to do with a talking groundhog. One suggests that they kill it, another that they turn it into a hat, and another that they cook it. Then, the scene replays, but now the kids have gotten NetFlix, a DVD subscription service, so they know how kids sitting around a stump talking to a groundhog are supposed to behave. This time, one of the kids has a guitar and another is reading the Book of Goodness. When the little rodent appears, they all leap up readily to save Jimmy, trotting off into the sepia sunset.

Client: NetFlix Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners CD: Paul Venables/Greg Bell CW: Paul Venables AD: Greg Bell Director: Joe Public Prod. Co.: Headquarters Editor: Gordon Carey Music: Elias Music

With the way things are going now, just about everyone in the dot-com world is headed for the fate of this schmendrick in a chicken suit. In the meantime, advises those precariously employed techies in the telecom field to keep informed by checking industry news on its website. Which we can only hope was not designed by people who now wear chicken suits for a living.

Client: Agency: DeVito/Verdi CD: Sal DeVito AD: Brad Emmett CW: Erhan Erdem

Florence Frightingale

In a bizarrely entertaining campaign for the American Association of Blood Banks, some frustrated nurses create their own opportunities for blood donations. In one spot, a man gets his face shaved at a barbershop. Just as the barber leans down with his straight razor, face tense with concentration, a waiting nurse prepares to enliven the proceedings by adding music - a cymbal crash. In another, the nurses travel to a construction site and use shiny materials to blind the workers with the glare. "We're tired of asking nicely," reads the tagline. "Give blood." We're guessing there won't be any juice and cookies afterward, either.

Client: AABB Agency: The Martin Agency CD: Joe Alexander AD: Mark Peters/Cliff Sorah CW: Josh Gold Director: Martin Canellakis Production Company: Hungry Man Editor: Chuck Willis, Crew Cuts

Hockey Schmuck

Perhaps the popularity of football is on the wane in Texas; why else would Southwest Airlines have a campaign touting its sponsorship of the NHL? In one execution, a husky businessman puts a token into a subway turnstile but isn't let through. Frustrated, he goes to hop over the barrier, but falls on his face. Cut to a shot of hockey players gracefully leaping over the boards from the bench to the ice. In another spot, two people in a conference room prepare to leave. "Nice meeting," says the woman. "Productive," agrees the man. In the middle of the table is a plate with one cookie on it. They glance furtively at the cookie and then at each other, then lunge for it. Cut to a face-off on the hockey rink and the campaign's tagline, "It's tougher than it looks."

Client: Southwest Airlines Group Creative Directors: Brent Ladd, Steve Miller AD: Brett Stiles CW: Christopher Staub Director: Tenney Fairchild Prod. Co.: M-80 Producer: Peggy Moore Editor: John Hopp, Jigsaw

Garbage In, Gold Out

Outdoor advertising has rarely been as inspired as these Matthews/Mark-created stick-on nutrition labels for trash cans around the San Diego area. If passers-by aren't moved to contribute to the food drive, maybe they'll at least make an effort to throw away more food.

Client: San Diego Food Drives CD: Michael Mark AD: Ben Davis-Duarte CW: Christian Andersen

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