The AdCritic

Nike, Las Vegas, SBC and GE

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This week, our editors weigh in on new campaigns for Nike, Las Vegas, SBC, GE and on a notorious new credit card campaign from France. Agree or disagree? Let us know what you think by clicking here.

Does a job

Nike "Streaker"
Nike: Streaker and Pretzel

Nike's challenge, here and in general, is to leverage its prowess as a shoe designer without suffocating the viewer in the rare air of giants-walk-among-us, elite athlete performance porn. With Shox, Nike is plugging a shoe technology well over a decade and untold millions in the making that was slow coming out of the gate when it was first launched. With this campaign, Nike brings the Shox action to the streets, using the promising tagline "More Go." And who could be a more fitting illustration of "Go" than the hero of "Streaker," a man whose very liberty depends on it. The great Nike ads span styles and tones, but are remarkably single-minded in conveying the essential coolness and likeability of whatever sport they are exploiting. So, a spot like "Streaker" looks and sounds different from the great "Freestyle" ad from a few years back, but both spots allow a sport's goodness to rub off on Nike product. "Streaker" delivers the look of the soccer match and the banter of the soccer announcers dead-on, which lends the spot its authenticity and its considerable humor. Lines like "I do hope he's not headed for the Royal box," and references to "who ate all the pies," should move shoes off shelves in themselves. The "Streaker" spot has the added bonus of being buzzworthy because of its subject matter, while still being a spot of substance. And speaking of Shox, it's no shock to see director Frank Budgen's name attached to this one.

Budgen's Gorgeous rostermate Tom Carty also acquits himself winningly with "Pretzel," in which a subway-bound New York runner gets a jones for some salty carbs and goes on a Shox-driven thrill run to a vendor between stops. This spot feels a little less fresh because of the street running and subway themes that have appeared in Nike's recent work, but overall the spot works and the campaign is a spring-loaded step in the right direction for Shox. (TI)

Las Vegas "Mistress of Disguise"
Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority: Mistress of Disguise, Tattoo and Wedding

Randy Snow, creative director at R&R Partners in Las Vegas, says the new campaign for the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority was tested both with and without its brilliant tagline: "What happens here, stays here." The focus groups, in this case, made the right decision. The line perfectly captures the escape from the ordinary that a Vegas vacation promises, an escape vividly filmed by Hungry Man director Bryan Buckley in a series of spots that feel like outtakes from Taxicab Confessions. In one, we see a woman who is shocked -- but titillated -- to realize she has married some young Latin hunk. In another, parents embarrass their teenage daughter, not by being dorks, but by deciding to get mom a tattoo. These post-dawn scenes will resonate with anyone who's ever pulled an unplanned all-nighter, and -- more importantly -- with those who'd like to again. Down to the retro Vegas logo at the end, this campaign reasserts Sin City's lost legacy as a playground for adults, without once mentioning Dean, Sammy or even Frank. (JH)

Egg "Swiss"
EGG: Swiss, Sports, Cat and Soup

This campaign has caused a furor in France. No, more than a furor. There have been questions in La Maison, calls for a re-examination of the way French advertising is regulated, and the possibility of a rift with Switzerland larger than the one currently brewing with the United States over the coming war with Iraq. Are the Swiss so slow you can walk up to them and set them on fire? Can cats be dropped from the top of a high-rise and land on their feet? Will eating soup make you grow? We all know the answers to these questions in real life (even the Swiss one). So, why are they so shocking in a television campaign? (The print ads were actually naughtier, asking if black men do really have larger … well, you get the picture.) The whole campaign is designed to let the voiceover make the leap to what Egg's financial services can do for you, the customer. And you know what? It does it wonderfully. Who knew financial advertising could be such fun? And it will standout during French commercial breaks, thanks to Traktor-esque direction from Argentine team Peluca, out of London's Brave Films. And -- shh! -- that's the real reason the French are up in arms. A whole whopping TV campaign, and not one nipple! How did that slip through? (SH)

SBC "Double"
SBC: Double, Small Business and House of Twos

The new campaign for SBC out of Goodby Silverstein & Partners asserts that "sometimes two is one too many." Illustrating the point, we see quotidian scenarios in which people are beset by an additional…everything. In the first spot, "Double," it's morning in the suburbs and troubling doubles are everywhere: a guy encumbered by two coffees, a teenager trying to mow a lawn with two mowers, a little kid struggling to see the world through two pairs of coke-bottle glasses. All of the neighbors, then are struck by the sight of the mailman delivering a single SBC phone bill. So the point is made: one is sometimes better, phone bills being no exception. The spots deliver a simple message and are lovely to look at (another nice job from director Stacy Wall). Two things though: the "one is better than two" setup could be applied to any number of products and, to pick a very small nit, the neighborhood scenes and quirky music in the "Double" spot feels a little too much like Goodby's recent "Sheet Metal" ad for Saturn. (TI)

GE: Orville & Wilbur
GE: Orville & Wilbur, Hall of Records and Down Time

What to say about this campaign? It's really very beautiful. Mr. Pytka turns in yet another impeccable performance behind the camera to create an engaging and illuminating piece of advertising. And, yes, it does a job by telling me that GE is a super fabulous company that has been involved in the development of the airplane, some groovy new plastic that makes painting robots redundant, and new ways to distribute information, but what then? What am I, as a viewing consumer, supposed to do about it? Is this simply GE trying to come back from its bad Jack Welch-related press? This is a return to corporate advertising that is a very welcome sign for a beleaguered ad industry. What's more it's very well produced corporate advertising. But, in the end, I am not sure whether corporate advertising belongs to the same bygone era of corporate greed and aggrandizement these spots are trying to help us forget. This campaign does a job, but what exactly is it? (SH)

(THE REVIEWERS: Jim Hanas is the editor of Teressa Iezzi is the editor of Creativity magazine. Stefano Hatfield is a contributing editor to Advertising Age and Creativity.)

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