Steffan Postaer, EVP/Chief Creative Officer, LB Works, Chicago
1. Spam "Dinner"
Splashy vintage graphics and music introduce this self-consciously loony '50s TV parody, in which a family gushes over a mac and cheese dinner spiced up with key ingredient Spam. Disappointment ensues when the main dish disappears from the plates. The cook/father claps his hands and summons "More Spam!" upon which a Spam van crashes into the house and a delivery guy presents plenty more cans of the alleged food. Audio tag: "Crazy Tasty!"
Agency: BBDO/Minneapolis CD: Karn Knutson CW: Dan Armstrong AD: Dustin Black Agency Producers: Dustin Black, Kris Wong Barrie Director: Martin Granger/A Band Apart
LP: Screeching to the choir-mainly Hawaiian elders and those on the mainland restocking their bomb shelters-won't sell another can of that venerable ham. In fact, the character assassinations in this, one more '50s sitcom spoof, will most likely send Spam fans hopping-mad to the baloney section. This spot reeks of a new creative team on a Hormel honeymoon. We all know what happens next. [No stars]
SP: A parody of a parody of a parody. This is like what SNL would do for a fake Spam commercial in 1981. As such, it's fine. Everything is suitably over-the-top. The cast is corny. But here's my rub: Spam has crossed over. It should and could be cool. I mean, really cool. Making fun of its corny heritage seems like an easy out. "So bad, it's good" is a dream strategy. Believe it or not, I want more from Spam. 2 stars
2. Fuji "Date"
A scrawny preteen nervously awaits his date in her family's living room, accompanied by her little brother and super-masculine father, who offers him some candy. The boy reluctantly eats the candy as the daughter descends the staircase. The father eagerly proposes taking a picture and captures the precious moment when his daughter freezes in shock at her beau, who now has a mouth of black teeth.
Agency: Publicis/N.Y. ECD: David Corr ACD/CW: Mark Bernath CD/AD: Tom Godici Agency Producer: Mary Ann Kurasz Director: Speck & Gordon/Omaha Pictures
LP: The music seems Sopranos-esque, but, oddly, these suburbanites are cast as four-square Wasps with the surname Green (so squeaky clean). Like Spam, it opens with '50s-style title work just so you know a clever parody is coming. But the funny thing is there is nothing funny about it. The gag is predictable as pabulum. And the product? I guess it's Fuji film. So what's with the computer filling the foreground? And why does Papa Green's camera look so digital? Something's missing here. [No stars]
SP: I wanted to like this spot more. Casting was good. Tone set. Yet, why and how does the candy really impact the date? He wipes his mouth and he's in the back seat with her later, anyway. And why wouldn't the evil jock dad have a problem with his own dork son? The tiny imp looks essentially like the "date" being ridiculed. Still, a cute spot with a Simpsons-like edge. 2 stars
3. Caroliva Olive Oil "Bread"
The :30 opens onto a baguette, anthropomorphically resting poolside on a lounge chair. Switch to the bread's POV and we see a couple of bikini-clad blondes frolicking in a pool and then expressing their hunger in poorly accented Spanish. They approach the priapic loaf, smothering it with Caroliva olive oil. They bite down simultaneously on the bread and the VO announces: "When bread dreams, it dreams of Caroliva, Spain's finest olive oil." Camera pulls out to reveal a trio of Spanish children in the background proclaiming "Caroliva!"
Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners CDs: Jeff Goodby, Rich Silverstein, Jamie Barrett CW: Matt Smukler AD: Mark Wenneker Agency Producer: James Horner Director: Smukler & Samuels/Biscuit Filmworks
LP: Somebody at the illustrious shop was glued to VividTV. This Freudian slop - the phallic baguette and bottle, the low-cholesterol lubricant, the two-headed bite and smile - will cause stirrings at frat houses across America. Except that ain't the market for olive oil. And those 10-year-olds cheering at the finale -world's first visual applause track? - feel like a salutary concession, but, sadly, they just add to the sophomoric unseemliness. One star for sliding it by the censors. 1 star
SP: Those chicks look like rough trade, although maybe (hopefully) it was the digital quality or something. So, the bread is a penis. The olive oil is a lube. The girls can't wait to go down on it. If that's the story, then what in the hell are those children doing in it? A sexism issue aside, my biggest issue with this spot is that bread can't dream. I don't like creative solutions where one has to take this much license. And for the love of God, send those kids home! 1 star
4. Volvo "Sightings"
In this cinema spot for the new Volvo SUV XC-90, a family road trip brings parents and kids in close encounters with mythical icons like the Loch Ness Monster and a unicorn. The elegant orchestral track builds and climaxes before the final scene, in which Elvis apparently still lives. The VO intones, "To the list of things you'd always hope you'd see, add one more - an SUV from Volvo. "
Agency: Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners CW: Jason Holzman AD: John Tumelty Agency Producers: Tom Meloth, Megan Mindler Director: Rad-ish/Go Film
LP: To introduce Volvo's first SUV is a creative team's dream come true. And dream they did in this quirky melange-a-trois. Imagine making sense of the Loch Ness Monster, creamy white stallions and an Elvis impersonator, lumped together through languid cinematography and all having something to do with "the list of things you always hoped to see." Of course, the sleepy family has already bought its vaunted Volvo. So, like most dreams, this one doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. But it's benignly beautiful. And the vehicle looks comfy. 2 stars
SP: Big money. High concept. A brand with cachet. This is the kind of work I expect from a company like Volvo. I guess I'm the target so I guess I'm hypersensitive to all the details. Like the Loch Ness Monster. I'm OK with the unicorn. Kind of unhappy with the Elvis sighting. Billions of Elvis lookalikes abound. Wasn't there something more magical they could have picked? Plus, do you really want to see another kickass car in a car commercial? 3 stars