The AdCritic

Nike, Great Indoors and Harley

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Nike's "Great Return" and the return of the Great Indoors top this week's list as our editors rate the latest campaigns. Let us know what you think by sending us your comments.

Nike "The Great Return"
Nike: The Great Return

As noted in the most recent issue of Creativity, sports-related advertising is often among the few things, commercial-wise, that make it worthwhile for us to get up in the morning. Here is an ad that makes us not want to go to bed in the first place.

We run the risk of sounding redundant by noting that Wieden + Kennedy has crafted another fine commercial for Nike, but the beauty of this spot makes that risk an acceptable one. The spot's premise is simple -- a young football enthusiast runs through a seemingly endless loop of environments, from leafy frontyard to desolate underpass to industrial wasteland, dodging all comers until he runs into a team of real football players on a night-lit field. The jumpy, slightly unreal look and the progression of our hero through different scenes, facing different adversaries, mimics the look and feel of a video game -- which sounds a little precious, but it's not. The effect was achieved with a complicated camera rig created by director Rupert Sanders, but the end result isn't all about the gimmick. Instead the technique works quietly to support the "Made to Move" campaign tagline, drawing the viewer in to the athleticism on display and into a fit of dreamy infatuation with the brand. The action is backed by an absorbing funkified techno track, courtesy of Clint Mansell, the music man behind Darren Aronofsky's excellent Requiem for a Dream (and, as it happens, former member of fond '80s memory, Pop Will Eat Itself), and deftly edited by Neil Smith of The Whitehouse. In all, the spot manages to achieve, seemingly effortlessly, the cool urban sports aesthetic that other spots fall all over themselves trying to pull off. (TI)

The Great Indoors "Mobile Home"
The Great Indoors: Mobile Home, Lampshade and Gallery

These spots continue one of last year's great unsung campaigns. It was sung, particularly at the Chicago Windy awards, just not enough -- in my opinion -- and it failed to bring home a Lion. The premise is simple: The Great Indoors is for people who are fanatics about decorating their homes. Accordingly, we see people who are so obsessed that they remodel inappropriately. Last year, we saw a woman tearing up carpet in a hotel room. This year, a woman makes a daring leap to spruce up a mobile home, while another can't help adding her flare to an art gallery. The clever thing about this campaign is that it's based on a cliché from another category: the Zany Sports Fan. The ZSF is invariably shown out of his or her element, acting zany in situations that have nothing to do with sports -- such is the ZSF's devotion. In sports advertising, this trope is thankfully dead, but in the context of home décor it feels like a breath of fresh air, one that nicely rides the cable craze for "extreme" remodeling as seen on shows like Trading Spaces and Crib Crashers. That strategy, combined with the bone dry touch of Spanish director Pep Bosch -- who's won scads of Lions for European work -- leaves me scratching my head about why this campaign's first installment wasn't more widely acclaimed. Maybe this year. (JH)

Harley Davidson "Bridge"
Harley Davidson: Bridge

This new spot for Harley Davidson is one of a number of marketing initiatives undertaken recently to mark the hogmaker's 100th anniversary. In it, a drawbridge begins opening to let a sailboat pass, then changes its trajectory and closes hastily again, toppling the boat's mast, to the great consternation of the sailor, whose name we can only imagine is Chip. The reason for the bridge's change of heart, of course, is seen in the following frames: the bridge operator's priority was to allow the unfettered passage of a Harley in flight. The end line, "100 Years of Respect," alerts us to the company's milestone and conveys the weight and character of the legendary brand. With the hullabaloo of Harley's centennial, one might expect a grand, earnest anthem spot touting the brand's place in the pantheon of American free spiritedness. To its credit, this spot takes a quieter approach but conveys maximum Harley 'tude. Without depicting the Harley rider as he exists in popular mythology (we don't see the rider clearly in the spot), the commercial's pot shot at the yuppie/sailor says all that needs to be said about the Harley brand essence. The company recently published a book, 100 Years of Harley Davidson Advertising and a quick flip through it reveals that this spot is exactly in line with the somewhat understated, yet unmistakably badass, tone of Harley ads in recent history. So, well done. There's only one thing wrong: considering the cost of the bikes and the changing demographic profile of Harley buyers, it's likely that the average hog rider would also cringe at the thought of someone damaging his sailboat. (TI)

Mervyn's "Claw Hands"
Mervyn's: Claw Hands, Bumper Drag and Spruce Up

Goodby refugees Paul Venables and Greg Bell deliver a classic Goodby campaign in these spots for Mervyn's. The pair worked on campaigns for Discover and Pac Bell -- including the great "Laurel Lane" DSL campaign -- before setting out on their own, and in these spots you can definitely see the family resemblance. In "Claw Hands" and "Bumper Drag," small details about shopping are followed to their comic conclusions, when shoppers develop gnarled hands from carrying bag loads of bargains and then ruin their cars' suspensions with all that loot. The campaign is simple and well wrought by directing duo Joe Public. Not a huge idea, but a good idea well-executed. (JH)

(THE REVIEWERS: Jim Hanas is the editor of Teressa Iezzi is the editor of Creativity magazine.)

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