Bart Culberson, VP-Creative Director, True Grey/New York
1. Old Navy "Yard Work"
A kid is thrilled to mow the lawn because of "feel good fashion" in the brand's first departure from campy spots featuring Morgan Fairchild and Fran Drescher.
Agency: Deutsch/L.A. ECD: Eric Hirshberg ACDs: Karen Costello, Chris Ribeiro CW: Craig Ghiglione AD: Scott Trattner Director: Dayton/Faris, Bob Industries
KF: OK, I get what the agency was trying to do: campy, over-the-top, absurd science-meets-fashion molecular mind control. So far so good. Where I get lost is in the kid's performance. I thought Old Navy molecules made you feel good? This kid is dripping with sarcasm. Is this spot intended to work in different ways against different age groups? Parents think it's cute, while kids think their lucky little wiseass peer has gotten away with dissing the old lady? This could be multi-audience targeting genius. Or it could just be a crappy acting job. ONE STAR.
BC: Old Navy spots have always been about mindless fun. Morgan Fairchild prancing with boy toys. George Hamilton sunbathing on the sun. This spot actually attempts to inject an idea into this tired camp palette, but to mixed results. The "effects of feel good fashion" isn't surprising enough to be funny nor irreverent enough to be campy. It's just somewhere in-between that's not really honest, campy or fun. TWO STARS.
2. Segway "Engineer"
A warehouse worker interrupts an engineer about to give a product demonstration, calling him out on his claim that the Segway is the greatest invention ever made.
Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day/N.Y. ECD: Gerry Graf Creatives: Scott Kaplan, John Patroulis, Tom Kraemer Director: Overall & McQuoid/Go Film
KF: Three words describe this spot. Smart. Fun. Smart. It's smart because they didn't get bogged down in explaining how this odd-looking technological marvel works. Many agencies would. Chiat was wise enough to leave people curious. Fun: understated casting and writing are perfectly matched with the pregnant pauses needed to make the comedic timing work. And speaking of timing, here's the second smart: it's a :60. This spot needed room to breathe. Three cheers for a client willing to pay for it. THREE STARS.
BC: I've seen one of these in action on Michigan Avenue. It's cool, but really silly looking-you can't take it too seriously. Which is exactly why this spot is so brilliant. It compares the Segway to the world's greatest inventions, but knocks it down a few pegs until the spot's emcee is eventually humbled into saying, "It's nothing to sneeze at." That's a smart place for the Segway-cocky yet self-deprecating. It's fun, witty and true. FOUR STARS.
3. Delta Airlines "Map"
Pushpins fly into a map after being poured in front of a fan, coincidentally flying exclusively to cities in the 464 countries that Delta serves.
Agency: BrightHouse Live, Atlanta CD/CW: Jerry Cronin CD/AD: Markham Cronin CW: Scott Biear Director: Peter Darley Millerfirstname.lastname@example.org
KF: This is a product demonstration without the product. And that's what makes it work. No airplanes, no busy airports, no arrival and departure boards. Just a map, pins and a fan. The execution is simple and flawless. Spartan sound design and the absence of music draw you into an already intriguing visual experience. Yeah, I guess other airlines fly all over the world, too. I just like Delta more for the way they told me. And that's the tiebreaker when I'm buying a ticket. THREE STARS.
BC: What is nice about this spot is its purity. It's a clean, simple demonstration that Delta flies to a lot of cities. It works. And I suppose that is a vital, responsible message for an airline on the cusp of bankruptcy. TWO STARS.
4. Toyota "Steal"
A truck rather unsuccessfully tries to steal second base in a mock telecast, complete with scoreboard, stats and snarky commentators, as Toyota congratulates ESPN on its 25th anniversary.
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi/L.A. CCO: Steve Rabosky CD/CW: Matt Bogen CD/AD: Bret Ridgeway Director: Larry Frey/Villains
KF: The super at the end of this spot says it all: "Maybe we should stick to being fans." It isn't funny enough to make me laugh; it's not bad enough to make me call TiVo. It's one of those "congratulations" ads that's 99 percent about the company giving the congratulations and only 1 percent about the one receiving it. It's a swing and a miss. But hey, at least they went down swinging. ONE STAR.
BC: The telecast looks authentic. The players act natural. Even the broadcasters' banter sounds right. But with the assignment to celebrate ESPN's 25th anniversary, it's just too silly. Even the endline is apologetic: "Maybe we should stick to being fans." What I do like is the ESPN-esque scrolling text at the bottom of the screen that reads, "Synchronize swimmer barred from competition for using illegal nose clip." TWO STARS.