Jason Stinsmuehlen, Group Creative Director, Mullen, Wenham, Mass.
1. Pizza Hut "The Ring"
A young man stands at the door of his girlfriend's pad and announces, "I got you something special." The girlfriend proceeds to interrogate him about the gift, obviously alluding to an engagement ring: Does it come in a box? Is it round? Gold? He tells her to close her eyes. Later, we see him eating the Stuffed Crust Gold Pizza he brought as she continues to cover her face.
Agency: BBDO/N.Y. CCO: Ted Sann CD/CW/AD: Donna Weinheim Director: Tom DeCerchio/Incubator Films
GM: Simply put, it's just more of the same-old, same-old. Another ad. So it's hard to get excited, or care. In a month, I'm afraid, no one will remember it. And if you're thinking that you need a button at the end of your spot it should tell you that there's something wrong with the spot. When the button is by far the best part of the spot, something's really wrong. 1 star
JS: This is a dumb ad. But dumb ads can be good. This is a good dumb ad. I'm not sure I'd have liked it so much if the casting weren't so perfect, but the guy's face cracked me up. Little stuff like his eyebrows and half smile and hilarious sincerity made this spot very funny. Sometimes giving a good actor a place to be really funny is all the genius a creative needs to provide. The director got everything right and that "Can I open my eyes yet" line at the end while he's stuffing his face is perfect. 3 stars
2. Budweiser "Motormouth"
A guy pokes his head into a car and asks designated driver/country music stud Tim McGraw, "Do you mind giving my uncle a ride, too?" No problem, until it turns out that the new passenger happens to be last year's "Out-of-Towner." McGraw opens the floodgates: "How you doing?" The motormouth hick reprises his rambling salutation shtick and, not coincidentally, gets dropped off first.
Agency: DDB/Chicago CCO: Bob Scarpelli GCD: Don Pogany CW: Tim Nichols AD: Pete Taylor Agency Producer: Gary Gassel Director: Neil Tardio/A Band Apart
GM: A pool-out spot using a joke that has now worn thin. I guess they hope this will become part of culture; another "Whassup?" While I applaud the effort, as far as I can tell, it hasn't and won't. 1 star
JS: Watching this spot is like watching the cheerleaders skit on SNL. I'm not sure it was funny the first time, but I know it's not funny the hundredth time. An exaggeration, but this bit just doesn't seem to have enough going for it to keep bringing him back. Especially when people at DDB/Chicago are so obviously good at coming up with fresh, hilarious work for the Super Bowl. Considering the ads during this year's game, this still makes it into the top half. But I'd put this guy to bed. I've yet to hear anybody in the halls of my office answer the question, "How you doing?" with, "Thank you for asking, I'm doin' fine." The same can't be said for so many other great Bud spots. 2 stars
3. Hot Jobs "Rainbows"
On-the-job daydreamers sing the Muppets' "Rainbow Connection," accompanied by scenes from factories and offices. The spot gets progressively more hopeful as the music picks up pace and the singing becomes more enthusiastic. It ends with a closeup of one drone's smiling mug. Super: "Dreams found faster."
Agency: Brand Architecture International ECD: Marty Weiss CD/CW: Rick Condos AD: Matt Ferrin Agency Producer: Liz Graves Director: Dante Ariola/MJZ
GM: This spot looked like it was going somewhere, but ultimately it didn't. A bit of a bummer in a category that has produced some interesting work. I saw an attempt to make good theater here, but it came off flat. 1 star
JS: I thought this was a really good idea, but it's let down by the execution. Why did these people all work in the same factory? It whittled down the universality of the message. Seems like everyone can identify with the dreamer sentiment, but they chose to execute the thought with one awful, dreary company with dreary workers doing dreary, awful things. Of course we don't dream of leaving great jobs, but this place was a mess. Still, the storyboard was damn good. The choice of song was inspired, so I'll just choose to see the spot my way and like it. 3 stars
4. Levi's "Stampede"
A ghostly bison herd rumbles through a city with a glass-shattering din. But a cool denim-clad couple in new Type 1 jeans holds hands and stares down the oncoming beasts, raising their heads in glory as the animals leave them unscathed.
Agency: BBH/N.Y. CD: Thomas Hayo CW: Anthony Goldstein AD: Gavin Lester Director: Jorn Haagen/Academy
GM: This spot troubles me most of the ones reviewed here. I first saw this during the Super Bowl; I was disappointed then and I'm disappointed now. I'm all for trying to do something strictly visceral, powerful and beautiful, and this spot at least dared to try to be different. But it didn't go far enough, and the effects aren't there. I desperately want this brand to get back to where it was. I've been waiting for that truly special Levi's piece from BBH here in the States. I'll have to wait a while longer. 1 star
JS: When I saw this ad, I knew from the first frame that something cool was coming. The cinematography and art direction looked right up my alley - a cool, detached fantastic world with a vague sense of menace. The buffalo looked a little fake, but I was intrigued by the "wild thing in the urban environment" setup. Then the couple comes in and I instantly can't stand these two. First of all, they're decked head to toe in product, so they're not nearly as cool as they appear to think they are. The casting and hair of the guy is ridiculous and pandering and obvious. And they take themselves so seriously, like they're on some mystical mission. I started to think that it might become a parody of some kind where we'd see the buffalo run the guy down and drag him down the street. But it just gets more and more pompous when they turn to face these buffalo and hold hands- as though these two are the center of the universe - and they turn their faces up like they're taking on the world! Ugh! 1 star