IdeaConference

BEST & WORST

Published on .

Creatives pick what irks 'em and what wows 'em. By Richard Kirshenbaum, Jamie Barrett, Sally Hogshead, Tracy Wong...and many others.

Marty Orzio, Executive Creative Director, Merkley Newman Harty, New York

Best and worst PSA

Best: Pro-choice public education project campaign, "Hanger," Devito/Verdi. This ad stands out. Its simplicity draws one in, and its message, regardless of one's beliefs, is provocative, if not chilling. Perhaps the execution is a little familiar, but that's probably only to someone in the ad business. Pro choice? I appreciate the alternative to the usual dreck on the subway.

Worst: Partnership for a Drug-Free America, "Heroin," Margeotes Fertitta. Familiarity breeds contempt. In other words, this is what happens when clients all too literally pool out an idea, in this case, the old "This is your brain on drugs" chestnut. The viewer makes the connection to the previous commercial and almost immediately senses where it's heading. As a result, there's no surprise, no chance for empathy. I've OD'd on it before it even ends.

Sally Hogshead, co-creative director, Robaire & Hogshead, Venice, Calif.

Best and worst source of inspiration

Best: Awards books, no question. Especially the ones from before 1983, when the statute of limitations on ripping off colleagues expired. Most of the people who did those ads are in alcohol rehab by now anyway. Foreign annuals are even better, like the Art Director's Club of Tunisia. You only have to go back three years there.

Worst: Knowing that our rent is due.

Tracy Wong, chairman/creative director, WongDoody, Seattle

Best and worst campaign

Best: Cliff Freeman's Outpost.com. It is outrageous, shameless, obtrusive and totally tasteless. It pulls out all the stops to drive people to the site no matter what the price. Particularly noteworthy is that you never really know what Outpost.com is. I can't believe the agency sold this, got it on the air and kept the client. The only campaign my in-laws in Ohio even bothered to mention during dinner conversation.

Worst: Cliff Freeman's Outpost.com. It is outrageous, shameless, obtrusive and totally tasteless. It pulls out all the stops to drive people to the site no matter what the price. Particularly noteworthy is that you never really know what Outpost.com is. I can't believe the agency sold this, got it on the air and kept the client. The only campaign my in-laws in Ohio even bothered to mention during dinner conversation.

Neil Powell, managing partner, Fallon McElligott/New York; design director,

Duffy Design

Best and worst design of a consumer product

Best: The freshest, most forward-thinking consumer product design I've seen this year is Nike's first watch, the Triax Running Watch by Astro Design. It has gigantic numbers on an elliptical face, and the strap fits to your wrist bone like an extension of your body. And the best part is that it comes in a mod plastic pod that reminds me of the eggs in Alien, with the watch waiting to be hatched.

Worst: Here's where it gets tricky. I just don't think it is fair to say a design is bad, because you never know the circumstances in which it was created. But I will say that you're in trouble if your product is served up with a "me too" design, which is neither innovative nor emotive. Copycat designs have a certain stench that most consumers can smell.

Simeon Roane, copywriter, Berlin Cameron Partners, New YORK

Best and worst awards shows

Could efforts in developing my barren wasteland of an awards show shelf be hampered if I were to say something offensive about any of the award shows? In other words, could my future work be blackballed due to some political cluster fuck?

The answer, according to one of my associates, is a definite yes. But to hell with that. This is journalism -- the last frontier of free thought. And I can't be bought, sold or swayed. So, let's lean into this thing full cigar.

One Show kicks serious ass.

CA, although not technically an 'awards show,' kicks total ass.

Cannes Lion, now that's some kick-ass hardware. The Kellys is kick-ass x 100,000.

The Art Directors Club Annual is an ass-kicker. The Andys head, wow, what an ass-kicking head.

Clios kicks television's ass.

Obies kicks outdoor ass.

And the Effies, well, you know, the Effies, they kick ass too.

Luke Sullivan, chief creative officer, WestWayne/Atlanta

Best and worst celebrity endorser

Best: Jeff Goldblum for Apple Computers. Mr. Goldblum personifies what I already feel about the Apple brand: brainy, cool and slightly left of center.

Worst: I think I could learn to like the Tom Skerritt spots for Aleve. If, right after he held up the product an alien creature burst out of his chest. Maybe the voiceover could say, "Relieves the discomfort associated with sternum-cracking symbiotic life forms." Otherwise, I don't see a good connection to the product.

Billy Pittard CEO/President, Pittard Sullivan, Culver City, CALIF.

Best and worst Web site

Best: I love my dog. Her name is Sophie. We are a great match for each other. She's a French bulldog. We found each other through the Dog Breed Selector on the Purina Web site. Thanks, Purina!

Worst: There are way too many bad Web sites out there to pick a 'worst.'

Jamie Barrett, CD, Fallon McElligott/New York

Best and worst product category

Best: The best product category to work on is a category where nothing good has been done. A category where if you did anything that was even flirting with decent, you'd be a hero. For example, I think about clear, non-greasy rectal itch medications, and no great advertising comes to mind. Which is too bad. Because I would really like it if all those times that I spend thinking about clear, non-greasy rectal itch medications, great advertising would come to mind.

Worst: The worst product category is the one where you had a great client, plenty of time, lots of money and the work you did still sucked. As soon as you know that the work is going to be turd-like, be sure to let people know that your creativity has been constrained by working on the 'worst product category.'

Jamie Graham, Senior VP, Associate CD, Arnold Communications, Boston

Best and worst use of a defenseless

animal in advertising

Everyone has an animal shoot story. From blowing up cats for Bissell vacuum cleaners, to dressing them in briefs ('Frisky Business') to elephants peeing on talent ('Airports these days are like a Zoo . . . checking your trunk, sir?'). My modest contribution is a one-take elimination of 50 pigeons, expensively trained to fly up majestically as a racing bike rode through. (They didn't, it did.)

First, though, a judgment call. With so much work being done to animals in post, when is an animal really a robot? Or some other rendition? I decided that intent is what counts; manipulation, after all, is the whole point of the genre.

Lots of brilliant dogs; Spuds, Alex, Little Caesar's conga line of Afghans, ESPN's football fan poker pooches, and the Taco Bell Chihuahua.

Wonderful pachyderm performances for Rolo and Coke; a whole insect category featuring fleas, roaches, the unfortunate Tabasco mosquito, and the bumbling Interflora bee; journeymen campaign critters with splendid sales records like the Energizer Bunny, the Bud Clydesdales, frogs and lizards; even smokin' Joe Camel.

In the aviary, we find Nissan's pooping pigeons, the Pepsi-fueled geese, more chickens than you could shake a drumstick at, and Toilet Duck. So many gems, so little space. (And far too few sheep for this Brit's liking.)

OK, the envelope, please:

Best: With apologies to HBO's movie buff gorillas, the winners are Nick Park's utterly delightful zoo creatures, for the British Electricity Board.

Worst: A tie between Snuggles the Bear, the odious Omnipoint parrot, and any advertisers using puppies just for the sake of it.

Phil Gayter, Creative Director, Euro RSCG Tatham, Chicago

Best and worst

billboard

Unfortunately, spotting a truly brilliant billboard is difficult, as many are designed like direct mail pieces. "Hey, that's a huge space up there, I'll say everything!" The truly memorable have been simple.

I remember that as a young writer back in the U.K. in the late '70s, I was blown away by the sheer audacity and beauty of the Benson & Hedges Gold campaign. A true demonstration of visionary 'poster' design. Government legislation on tobacco advertising had conspired to create the brief from hell, and yet the B&H team created what was to become one of the most revolutionary advertising campaigns ever. These were billboards that turned over more sacred cows than a Nike campaign. Billboards that acknowledged that advertising needn't be dull, and the viewing public needn't be seen as two IQ points above slime mold.

Best: I'd nominate the B&H Gold pack in the birdcage as my all-time favorite. Looking at it today reveals it to be as fresh as the day it was posted. I actually met Alan Waldie, the AD on B&H in the men's room at CDP London, and expressed how much his work had influenced my work. He said, memorably, "Fuck off, I'm trying to take a piss here." (True).

Worst: The worst poster I ever saw was actually this weekend. It was for 'Baby Dolls Men's club' on Highway 41, in Waukegan Ill. Bad art direction, bad idea. Also, as it turns out, bad timing, because my 7-year-old saw it with me and bugged me for the next 10 miles to take her to see the 'exotic dancing,' convinced that it was a secret outlet for Beanie Babies. Ah, the power of the billboard.

Richard Kirshenbaum, co-chairman, Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners/New York

Ten things about the business that still get me up in the morning

It's the industry where art meets commerce. People, usually under the age of 25, often adopt the pose of a starving artist (living in Williamsburg with a boxcar full of strangers). This, alas, only works for the first year post-college; I have rarely seen anyone, artist or otherwise, embrace creative poverty. Sooner or later everyone wants the paycheck. Advertising often allows one to feel like an artist yet live like an investment banker.

Get published -- today! Faulkner couldn't hack it as a copywriter. He was too busy struggling over those damn words. Why sit in a freezing garret sipping absinthe and going mad when you can see your genius in print, aujourd'hui! Client and agency deadlines will force the Peter Principle out of any procrastinator or perfectionist. And that means every brilliant pearl or design idea you emanate can end up in the newspaper before you can say 'deadline.'

See the world on someone else's nut. All of the ad people I've encountered complain about the red-eye and next week's shoots week in Budapest or Prague, far from family and friends. But they're dancing inside about going on a post-Iron Curtain tour and being allowed to expense it! Show me a forlorn creative or account type staying in a youth hostel and I'll buy them a fanny pack as a going-away present.

Meet your favorite supermodel. Do you like Cindy, Christy or Marcus? Whatever your proclivity, all you have to do to live out your fantasy is cast your favorite crush. The client may not understand why Linda needs to be in that Mutual Fund ad, but you'll find a way to explain it, won't you?

Join the Clean-Plate Club. Let's face it, if you want to diet, go into retail. Love food? Advertising is the place to be. From h'ors d'oeuvring with clients to scamming free Chinese takeout and M&M's at a focus group -- Mangia! Calista Flockhart wouldn't last a day on Madison Avenue.

Wardrobe it! Try, just try, wearing that Gucci or Prada number at an insurance company. Need I say more?

Punch a time clock -- ha! Now, we all know that tumbleweed rolls through most ad agencies at 9:00 a.m. Of course, everyone is breaking their cojones working nights and weekends. But they're also working it around their pilates, yoga and therapy sessions. Om shantih!

Throw a tantrum! In what other industry is it permissible to not only throw a hissy fit but have people actually relate to it? Act this way in a post office and they'll haul you away. Client or agency got you down? How about slamming your door, stamping your foot, throwing an ashtray or threatening not to show up? Chances are, someone will see it exactly as you do and offer to calm you with cigarettes, a walk in the park or a shoulder to cry on.

Get to the top of your profession before you physically mature. I don't know about you all, but Clearasil is still on my shopping list. Yesterday, I met a creative director who was just graduating Dalton. She has no experience but comes with a $20 million account. She's hired!

Fund your screenplay with ad dollars. Fund your Web site. Fund your band. Fund your trip to Bali. Fund your documentary. Fund your directing career. Fund your new reel. Fund titles for your new reel. Fund your Hamptons share. Screw the Hamptons, fund your theater company. Fund your new freelance network of Web site developers/writers/directors or the new agency paradigm for the 21st century. (I have news for you, you'll be back.)

So, there you have it, my top ten list. Frame it. Laminate it. Commit it to

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