Steve Johnston, Creative Director, Sedgwick Rd., Seattle
1. Nextel "Antennalope"
Mullen's swan song for Nextel poses, in typical nature-doc style, the unlikely explanation of how the client could have managed to provide coast-to-coast walkie-talkie services: antelope-like creatures with antennae for horns.
Agency: Mullen CD/CW: Jim Hagar CD/AD: Jason Stinsmuehlen Agency Producer: Alyson Singer Director: Traktor/Partizan
JR: Aw, who can resist a baby antennalope? I'm not usually taken in by the "Nah, that's not how we did it" rug pull, but this one works. A simple concept brought to life by a faux demo. And not oversold - it's not had to grasp the benefits of such a service - just break through and tell people you have it. The easygoing tone adds a layer of likability to sometimes less than likable cell services. I still can't tell if the antennalope were done in post, or on set/savanna. Just good natured, well executed. Nothing wrong with that. 3 stars
SJ: Probably a funny idea when it was presented ("They're antelopes, and they wear antennas, so we call them 'antennalopes!' Great, huh?"). OK, so maybe it wasn't a very funny idea when it was presented. Either way, the execution of it didn't make me laugh. And apparently that's all it was going for. It's 25 gratuitous seconds of, "This isn't how we did it." And in the absence of a laugh, there's no reason why I should believe their claim, or care. Plus, the whole Wild Kingdom spoof seems a little played. 1 star
2. Orange "Spike Lee"
This U.K. cinema spot for the European cell phone company shows a befuddled Spike Lee pitching his film script to the "Orange Film Commission Board," which egregiously twists each of his ideas into its own self-promotion. In effect, the client cheekily disses itself as it cautions moviegoers and their ringing phones: "Don't let a mobile phone ruin your movie."
Agency: Mother, London Director: Bryan Buckley/Hungry Man
JR: I love this. It's a dead-on movie pitch, run amok for a captive movie audience. Great doltish characters, really nice underplayed Spike performance, excellent writing. Nice roundabout way of getting to the point. And from the inside view, every creative will recognize the promising meeting going rapidly to hell. Well, a lot of comedy comes from pain. This one's painful, and equally funny. 4 stars
SJ: I usually like a company when it has enough self-confidence to mock itself. These guys portray themselves as a panel of patronizing putzes, and I love them for it. A completely charming spot. Great concept. Clever writing. ( The line, "We know you love hats," is inspired.) Terrific execution. And a surprising, but totally relevant punchline. Lots of nice touches throughout, like the guy stuffing his face with a donut, and the guy showing Spike how to wear the hat. The more you watch it, the more there is to admire. An interesting communication challenge: buy - but don't use - our product. This spot thoroughly convinces me to do both. 4 stars
3. Snuggle "Swimpool Bliss"
It all seems familiar when a leggy looker on lush estate grounds dives into one end of the pool, emerging at the other in wet fashion-like glamour. That is, until her ogler on the other end turns out to be the Snuggle Bear, pulling down his shades to reveal widened eyes before he hands her a fluffy towel scented with the new Sunkissed Breeze.
Agency: Lowe/N.Y. CCO: Gary Goldsmith ECD: Dean Hacohen Creative Supervisors: Bob Hinden, David Kaminsky CW: Adam Fels AD: Shawn Kelly Agency Producer: John McAdorey Director: Marcus Nispel/MJZ
JR: The Snuggle Bear busts out in a big way. Tired of being tickled and cuddled by everyday housewives, he makes a play for the leggy, beautiful, high maintenance category of woman. And she digs him. I worry what their children will look like - six feet tall, little black noses, curly beige fur. Style points for being different. As cologne spoofs go, I prefer the Canis for Dogs spot that Saturday Night Live did several years ago - the one where the golden retriever swims across the pool only to hump his male owner's leg. Of course, I worried about their children too. 2 stars
SJ: When did the Snuggle Bear turn into such a lech? I think I liked him better back when I wanted to kill him. Sure, he was insipidly sweet, but at least you knew where he stood. Leering at the babe as she climbs out of the pool, he just seems kinda creepy. Dirty ol' bear. Nice executional knockoff of a spot that came out about a million years ago, though. And the woman, of course, is fantastic. She alone is worth two stars. 2 stars
4. Brawny "Dinner"
The lustiness continues in another spot for a domestic helper. Here, an ubermasculine Brawny guy brings his towel's "Triple-action performance" to the floor, sink, and CDs, from which he sensuously wipes what very well could be his own testosterone, in preparation for a fireside rendezvous with his woman.
Agency: Fallon/N.Y. CD: Kevin Roddy CW: Linus Karlsson AD: Paul Malmstrom Agency Producer: Tammy Auel Director: Paul Goldman/Partizan
JR: I face my inner weeniness on this one, loathe to criticize guys and a shop responsible for brave work in the past. And I wanted to like this for the same reason as Snuggle - because we should all applaud package-goods companies and agencies who engage us in a less robotic fashion. But the key word is engage. With this spot - soft-core cable porn meets paper towels - I was creeped out. It's the rare spot that'll ensure I'll never buy a product. Just the wrong tone. To be fair, I figure I'm not the target. But my wife is, so I showed it to her. One word: "eeew!" 1 star
SJ: Lots of foreplay and no satisfaction. The campy music, the looks into camera, the tongue-in-cheek tone - it all gets me hot and bothered for a punchline that never comes. The first time I saw the spot, I figured I must have missed something. After all, it was done by the Swedes, and I pretty much love everything those guys do. So maybe there's some innuendo around absorbency and "right into the towel" that I'm just not getting. Or maybe the point is that if I use Brawny paper towels I'll get lucky with the wife. Which, you know, seems like a stretch. I don't know, but I think this spot is a bit of a mess. 1 star