MENTOS SNICKERS

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Flog me, kick me, pelt me with your awards and shun me at the Palais des Festivals, it won't change my mind: I like the Mentos commercials. You know the ones: those fantastically chipper spots in which some youth who looks like he belongs in the tail end of a Clearasil commercial gives passers-by a glimpse of fresh thinking. Now, I don't mean I like the Mentos advertising in that post-modern, wink-wink-nudge-nudge, love-your-lavalamp kind of way. I admire those spots because, in a few of them at least, the idea behind them is excellent.

The best example is the one in which a whippersnapper in a dark suit sits down on a white slatted bench, which happens to be freshly painted. No problem: inspired to think different by his Mentos habit, he rolls around on it until he's got himself a nice pinstripe. What's not to like about that commercial?

All right, I know -- almost everything. The acting coach must have been Steven Seagal. The music sounds like the Osmonds are being forced at gunpoint to do an Up With People song. The editing is right out of the Helen Keller School of Postproduction. But the spot's idea could easily have blossomed, given the right choice of directorial and postproduction talent; it coulda been a contender had it not been brought to the brink of awfulness with an almost comically subpar execution.

Which leads me to the six directors featured in this issue. I sometimes think directors are glorified a little too much in our business -- that is, if we really believe that it's great ideas that make great advertising. No offense, but directors are typically not the ones who come up with the concept. They execute someone else's. So why do they get so much credit? Easy: Imagine how cool the Mentos spots could've been if the rough draft had been given to a director like Kevin Donovan, or Nicholas Barker, or Ramaa Mosley, or Jaume, or Eden or Noam Murro (all of whom are not-so-coincidentally written up in these very pages). A good director and a bad idea will still make for a mediocre spot. But the best directors can make a good idea tapdance and croon and run circles around the competition. The best man or woman for the job is more than a

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