Upfront 07

Editor's Note

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First up this month a little tub thumping on Creativity's behalf: the Ad Age Group, Creativity's parent, has acquired the adcritic.com website. Expect a relaunch of that site soon with a couple of key differences: one, it will be tied to Creativity's existing electronic service, and two, contributors will not be able to pay to have their work posted. Instead Creativity journalists will decide what goes up, based on bribes and flattery. Or, failing that, our editorial judgment. We hope to continue to bring you the newest, hottest work around. Until the relaunch please keep signing on to www.GetCreativity.com.

One aim of the new adcritic.com would be to bring you the first sighting of the work of the next Crispin Porter + Bogusky (see p. 28). The Miami agency is currently the sexiest independent in the United States - and, arguably, the hottest agency in the country. Its new work for the relaunch of the BMW Mini Cooper and the "Truth" antismoking campaign is some of the most thought-provoking and refreshing around. Intelligent, imaginative advertising that encapsulates strong strategic thinking, while going a long way on a relatively small budget. Crispin's on a roll with recent new-business successes such as Mini, Ikea and Molson. What's more, it's all been done without being part of a network, and out of Miami - not traditionally a major advertising center in the United States.

How are they bucking industry trends away from independents and toward a greater conservatism among big-name clients? Chuck Porter and Alex Bogusky will claim that they are not doing anything particularly different. However, they do casually refer more than once to "hiring ever smarter people." The other key to me is that the agency - like last month's cover stars, Mother - actually believe in principles by which it conducts its business; principles that really have cost it money.

It is a courageous company that will risk losing revenue in a recession. The squeeze continues to bite in post and effects. This month even the renowned Industrial Light & Magic shuttered its commercials division - despite working on 65 spots last year! Rumors continue to swirl around several high-profile production companies. There is precious little risk taking. When we see it, the ambition really stands out. If there's one campaign this year that has tried, it's AT&T's "mLife." Nothing this year has so polarized opinion or created such a stir. But is noise enough? Where is it going? Is the reveal worth the tease? We asked some of the country's leading creative directors: is it any good? (See p. 25.)

No such doubts about some of this month's featured talent: Chris Robinson the hot music video director who has just shot his first commercial, for And 1, through Partizan; Trey Laird, the former Donna Karan creative whose startup has just landed the Gap account; and Dennis Ryan, recently returned to Omnicom as ECD of a $400 million startup, Element 79.

This month in our postproduction Special Report, we feature one of the more low-profile but vital areas of commercials-making, the editors. You may not know Adam Pertofsky's name, but you will know his work, and that of the other hot editors we feature this month. There is a lot of talent in the U.S. ad business - if only braver scripts gave more of you the chance to show what you can do.

Stefano Hatfield is editorial director of Ad Age Global and Creativity

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