Joe Alexander, Senior VP-Associate Creative Director, The Martin Agency, Richmond
1. Dairy Queen "Labor of Love"
A man and his pregnant wife are apparently stuck in traffic, the woman huffing and puffing as if in the throes of labor. Turns out the couple is trapped in the DQ drive-thru and the woman's just having a hissy fit because she can't get to her pecan praline parfait fast enough.
Agency: Grey/N.Y. ECD: Jonathan Rodgers CWs: Jonathan Rodgers, Paul Spencer, Michael Vines, Joe Gatti ADs: Peter Foster, Doug Bartow, Janet Ricards Agency Producer: Margaux Ravis Director: Sean Mullens/transmission@RSA
JN: This pushes Dairy Queen beyond the mountains of ice cream and rivers of chocolate you expect, but it uses the time-worn "pregnant woman on way to hospital" scenario to do it. But what if I step outside my jaded point of view and ask a member of the target audience? So I described the spot to my wife. She said, "I saw that spot! It makes women look like insane lab rats who turn into screaming maniacs when they don't get their DQ ice cream pellet. I'm thinking about writing a letter to the CEO." Now I'm really confused. The last time a spot made her so irate, it won a Pencil. 2 stars
JA: Sometimes you just have a craving for the punchline before the setup. It's the music, the casting, the pace, the camera angles, the double entendres. You can hear the creative team pitching the idea to the client: "You think the couple is stuck in traffic, but they're really stuck in the DQ drive-thru." I love a good misdirect like the next guy, but I didn't buy this one. 2 stars
2. Adidas "Toe to Toe"
A montage of quickly cut docu-style scenes, from the gym to the asphalt, shows various one-on-one basketball players "check ball" with each other, all to a spare sonic backdrop comprised of terse dialogue, shoe squeaks and basketball thumps.
Agency: TBWAChiatDayS.F. ECD: Chuck McBride CW: Scott Duchon AD: Ben Nott Agency Producer: Jennifer Golub Director: Lance Acord/Park Pictures Editor: Adam Pertofsky/Rock Paper Scissors
JN: This spot is well-crafted, and the idea of focusing on the "check ball" moment that takes place before every point is a new way to capture the intensity players bring to the game, even when no one's around to watch. The best thing is this spot shows me there's a brand out there I can relate to that isn't Nike (which I've been boycotting ever since I saw Carl Lewis in an Olympic track suit emblazoned with an American flag that had a swoosh where the stars belong). 3 stars
JA: I love this spot. I love the edit. I love the direction. I love the language, so true. I love the casting. I love the sound. I love the locations. I love to see adidas going toe-to-toe with Nike, capturing what it means to "Just do it." And that's my only problem. This spot does a better job of capturing "Just do it" than a lot of "Just Do It" does. "Forever sport" works, but not quite on the visceral level of The Best Strategy Ever Written. That said, I would kill to have it on my reel. But it will probably sell more Nikes than ah-de-dahs. 3 stars
3. SBC "Double"
A bathrobed man steps out to pick up the morning paper and sees double everywhere he turns: two coffee cups in his hand, a double-spectacled kid, a neighbor who awkwardly attempts to drive two identical muscle cars simultaneously. All this to obliquely demonstrate the single-billing convenience of subscribing to both SBC local and new long-distance service.
Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners CD: Harry Cocciolo CW: Will Elliot AD: Stacy Milrany Agency Producer: Barbra Eddy Director: Stacy Wall/Epoch
JN: OK. The point you have to make in your 60-second commercial is, "You'll only have to deal with one phone bill." The question becomes, What do you do with the other 56 seconds of your spot? If you answered, "Set yourself up to make the point in a way that's entertaining and memorable for the viewer," I like the way you think. The kid with the double nerd glasses is funny. (Just the phrase "double nerd glasses" is funny.) The guy leap-frogging his car down the street being chased by cops leap-frogging their car down the street is funny (I wish the cop part of the story was more clear in the cut). The kid getting off the school bus with two trombones is funny. I got a laugh. I got the point. 3 stars
JA: The old "incongruous world" gag, taken to another level. Director Stacy Wall and the creatives didn't miss a detail. Where did they find two identical '72 hazel-colored Impalas? The shot of the kid's POV through his two pairs of glasses, perfect. The two trombone cases. The two stop signs. I watched it 10 times and found two new gags every time to smile about, especially Jelly Helm's cameo. 4 stars
4. Kit Kat "Office"
An office drone bites into a Kit Kat and he gets the sudden urge to breakdance and do the worm in the workplace, to a garage-pop tune that kicks in from nowhere. A VO announces: "Get your break going with the light, crispy, chocolatey taste of a Kit Kat."
Agency: DDB/N.Y. ECD: John Staffen CWs: Eric Herrmann, Adam Cook ADs: Eric Herrmann, Tenney Fairchild Agency Producer: Lisa Goore Director: Dewey Nicks/Epoch
JN: I imagine the brief for this spot started something like this: Communicate the unique break Kit Kat brings to your day. Simple. Focused. Believable. But looking at this spot makes me think that wasn't enough. I imagine the brief got less brief. Dozens of storyboards and rounds of research later, the machine spits out an answer that meets all the criteria. In my opinion, the writers and art directors are the ones who need a break. 1 star
JA: Check out the crazy manager guy dancing in his office to a new updated jingle! He's nuts! His co-workers can't believe he's acting this way. What? He just knocked over a shelf? Get out of here. Don't tell me he took a bite of a Kit Kat bar again? Didn't operations send out a memo saying no more candy bars in the office? At least the guy does a great worm. 1 star