SPOT OF THE YEAR: Starbucks "Glen"

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Starbucks "Glen"
Starbucks "Glen"
The first time we saw this spot, in a conference room, at Fallon/New York, in the company of the agency's creative director and president, we laughed out loud. That almost never happens. We usually only laugh (or die) on the inside. That was a while ago. Now, when we see the spot on the TV, we still laugh. We also feel a bond with Starbucks, which we formerly didn't like very much. Fallon/New York has provided the world with a disproportionate share of strikingly original, smartly written work that's funny in all sorts of different ways without just being about the easy laugh. This spot continues that tradition.

First of all, his name is Glen. His name could have been anything, but it's Glen. From there it's just a 30-second-long demonstration of how right how many things can go in the hands of a great agency and the always inspiring director Noam Murro. From the simple use of the Survivor motivational classic, to the purple shiny shirt, to the lyrics, to Glen's quietly chuffed demeanor. It's on message, it's on target, it's on our minds after we see it, it's on everything a spot can possibly be on.

RUNNERS UP


Toyota "Girlfriend"
Toyota "Girlfriend"
Saatchi/L.A's Toyota Tacoma effort, in which a woman takes her anger out on her boyfriend's indestructible truck, won Gold at Cannes and was on the top spots list in Creativity's Awards Report.

It seems easy, but the expert direction of Baker Smith just makes it look that way.



TBS "Wings"
TBS "Wings"
An impressive effort out of the gate from David Droga's new Publicis/New York regime, the TBS rebranding campaign gives the nondescript channel some new ID and gives us all the pleasure of some of the slickest spots of the year, all of which live up to the station's expectation-elevating new tagline, " Very Funny." The writers and always-on director Jim Jenkins deliver a veritable lush garden of earthly comedic delights via the futuristic call center devoted entirely to evaluating the comedic value of mildly absurd daily incidents. In "Wings," a pair of idling waiters seek help assessing a scenario involving a company jerk (who looks uncannily like a young George Bush) manhandling the sensibilities of some Japanese clients while sporting trousers soiled by contact with a saucy Buffalo wing. Great pacing, great casting and performances, nice bonus touches (the waiter sidekick interpreting the Rorschach wing stain as a ladle).



Volvo "Video Game"
Volvo "Video Game"
There were bigger, flashier spots this year, certainly. And we are always eager to recognize the raw power of executional brilliance. But this spot, while oodles of fun to watch, was backed by a great idea, having been produced by genuine gaming gurus (see Creativity, April 2004). "Video Game" and its sibling "Music Video" from director Dave Meyers, felt fresh and relevant for Volvo, delivering all the performance and sheet metal action, but with a memorable, contemporary twist. Plus, the spots were done out of EURO RSCG MVBMS under a creative director who has since moved on (Kevin Roddy) and a freelance writer who has since started his own agency (Ernest Lupinacci), so the campaign has the feel of a collectors item.



HP "Francois"
HP "Francois"
Even after a year, we apparently haven't had our fill of cool, watchable HP ads. This Nth execution in the legendary "+" campaign furthers the picture taking cause started last year with "You" which introduced the frozen frame antics of director Francois Vogel. The inventive director is up to his tricks again here, going so far as to star in the spot, capturing his own mug over and over in a repeated act of auto photography. The effects are gee whiz magnetic, but the spot is really driven by a simple, almost old school charm that transcends the visual trickery.

(This article appears in the December 2004 issue of Creativity. For more notable spots of 2004, see the print edition.)
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