It Was a Glorious Season for the Phillies; DirecTV, Not So Much

A Roundup of Ads We Saw During an Improbable Postseason Run

By Published on .

We never thought we would see this day.

Even with the world so topsy-turvy, it just seemed so quixotic, so improbable, so unattainable. Knowing what we know going back to the earliest days of the Reagan administration, we wondered if we could even dream of such a thing. But now we have our answer.

Yes, we can. Hope is alive. Change is in the air.

The Phillies are World Series champions.

It's been a tough eight months for AdReview, sitting through 100-some ballgames on DirecTV and with them -- for some reason -- the same Ricoh copier commercial again and again and again and again and again ...

We looked forward to the playoffs partly out of chronic, debilitating Phillies fandom and partly just to see some different ads. Not new, necessarily, but different.
(Sanders/Wingo, El Paso, Texas)
This is the one with a bunch of mythical beasts in the woods checking out the new Traverse crossover. They're vaguely scary -- especially the female with blank eyes (lifted from a 15-year-old Tony Kaye spot for Dunlop tires) -- but why are they there? Why? Why? Maybe it's because of the Halloween introduction. Maybe it's because the beasts are crossovers themselves. But the imagery is off-putting, the production is cheesy and the "idea" -- if in fact there is one -- is elusive at best.

( McCann Erickson, New York)
We still have absolutely no idea what special advantage "the network" is supposed to confer, but when the spooky desk clerk at the dive hotel says, "Towels are a little scratchy!" we laugh every single time.

( DraftFCB, Irvine, Calif.)
OK, guys like steak, so they go out for steak. Got that. And one guy likes steak so much he has the parking valet sneak him a Taco Bell Triple Steak Burrito. Got that. But why make your hero a smirking, smarmy creep with greasy, disgusting hair? We are not by nature violent, but we'd like to yank this guy out of the open window, drag him to the alley and beat the living crap out of him. That's thinking outside the bun.

( Deutsch, Los Angeles)
Yeah, the CGI on Christie Brinkley reasonably updates "Vacation" (the voice, not so much). But what in the world does a 25-year-old movie have to do with HDTV? Permit us to answer: nothing special. For a satellite-TV service, this is just an absolute non sequitur. It comes from nowhere, and that is exactly where it leads.

( Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco)
Remember Martin Balsam falling down the steps in "Psycho"? That's how CEO Dan Hesse looked last spring in the first few way-too-stylized spots for Sprint. Now he's sitting at a diner, the camera is locked, and he sounds charming, confident, helpful and kind. In cinematography, if not telecom profitability, less is more.

( Saatchi & Saatchi, New York)
Mere words cannot convey how much we love Windell Middlebrooks, the actor who plays the Miller High Life delivery man in this campaign inherited from Crispin Porter & Bogusky. We thought we loved the Wieden stuff for this brand, but Middlebrooks as the arbiter of down-to-earth beer drinking is simply genius. He is angry, confused, joyous and charismatic all at once. And the one in the baseball skybox, with pitch-perfect casting and direction by Bryan Buckley, is his magnum opus. The cheese-nibbling elites aren't even watching the game, and Middlebrooks is right: They don't deserve their High Life.
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