The AdCritic

American Express, Washington Mutual, Coors Light

By Published on .

This week, our editors rate new spots for American Express, Washington Mutual, the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority and Coors Light. Let us know what you think by sending us your comments.

American Express "Scorsese"
American Express: Scorsese

This is one of those spots that makes you wince in anticipation. The set-up -- a notoriously prickly director at the photo counter -- comes at you like a randy poodle. Ha ha in advance. Lets all just go home early. So many commercials suffer from the big, telegraphed setup -- and provoke exactly this response: 1) See premise coming down Route 5; 2) Think: "OK, here we go," 3) Roll eyes or emit sterile, ultimately joyless chuckle. 4) Move on, unmoved. Well all those ads give this one, from O&M/New York, a bad name, because it's funny as heck and it says cool things about the brand. It could have gone very wrong. Handled with ham fists, it could have been just plain unpleasant for all but the most devoted fans of Martin Scorsese. The director could have come off like an abrasive, braying parody of himself, an unlikeability that would have transferred to American Express. Instead, thanks to some nice writing and, most importantly, the suave comic stylings of Hungry Man director Jim Jenkins, Marty comes off as cool -- like someone you certainly don't want to mess with, but who might be fun to hang with just the same. The whole enterprise feels like something you want in on. True, the celebrity at the checkout counter thing is starting to feel a little played, but this time we don't care because the end product is a slick, brand appropriate spot that ties up Scorsese, perfectionism and the Tribeca Film Fest nicely. Just check out the eye twitch on the kid behind the counter when Scorsese berates himself for being "far too nostalgic."

While you're at it, spend a few moments here on watching Jim Jenkins' comedy oeuvre, with includes spots for Animal Planet and TCM laffers like "Ben Hur," and the recent "Multiplex." At this rate, Jenkins could be the guy in the AmEx spot a few years down the line. (TI)

Washinton Mutual "Pickpocket"
Washington Mutual: Pickpocket and Runaround

McCann-Erickson's Seattle outpost, Sedgwick Rd., has gained a beachhead on the national scene in the last year, thanks to client Washington Mutual, which has been buying up regional banking chains and converting them to WaMus at a pace that might even impress that other juggernaut from the Pacific Northwest, Starbucks. It's good to see that the shop hasn't squandered the opportunity. Following an aggressive guerilla campaign in New York and a series of spots in which Washington Mutual's loan policies change people's attitudes toward life, a new round shows us what WaMu doesn't do. In one, a new customer gets patted down for loose cash to cover all his account's hidden expenses, while in another a man gets bounced from closed teller to closed teller. Both scenarios are shot unpretentiously by Joe Public, and from any other bank might seem to overpromise. Sedgwick Rd., however, has the good fortune of working for a different kind of bank that really is different, featuring cash machines that chat rather than order and laid-back, Starbucks-style interiors that appear to deliver what these spots promise. These aren't as good as the recent loan executions, but they're still on target. (JH)


You've got to like this spot. It's whimsical, dryly comic and more entertaining than any spot in the energy conservation category has a right to be. The premise is that Kevin O'Neil saved so much money after adopting energy saving measures that he could afford to buy a Shetland pony, which he keeps in his tiny Manhattan apartment. Phil Morrison shoots this absurdity as though it were the most natural thing in the world, as the voiceover deadpans, "Kevin can now experience the love and companionship that only a tiny horse can give." Very funny, just like "Static Electricity House," the last conceptually wacky conservation spot to come out of DDB/Seattle, an agency that now appears to have a corner on that very small genre. But will it actually persuade anyone to buy energy efficient appliances? That's a tough call. The VO does do plenty of heavy-lifting, but will anyone notice as they're trying to tear their attention away from a pony in the middle of the living room? (JH)

Coors Light "Here's to Women"
Coors Light: Here's to Women

"Well she's all you'd ever want She's the kind I'd like to flaunt and take to dinner. But she always knows her place ..."

With these words from the Tom Jones track "She's a Lady" a beer spot finally tells it like it is. Babes sure do have their place in the world of brew. Which makes this spot -- some sort of answer to the T&A orgy in certain other beer ads -- all the more silly. Here we have sexy babes dancing like strippers intercut with "real" babes (still really thin and really attractive, mind you) doing things like wearing firefighter's gear, standing beside motocross bikes, and -- most importantly -- delivering and serving beer. Then cut to a trio of leering fools at the end. This lame attempt to dimensionalize women is transparent and would be forgettable if it didn't provoke such an atomic eye-roll. What beer marketer's wife cut off the nookie long enough to make someone think this was a good idea? (TI)

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

Most Popular
In this article: