The AdCritic

DirecTV, Snuggle and Virgin Mobile

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This week, our editors rate new spots for DirecTV, Snuggle and Virgin Mobile. Let us know what you think by sending us your comments.

DirecTV "Jumpin' Jehosaphat!"
DirecTV: Jumpin' Jehosaphat!, Greater Than Greatest and Lies

Deutsch is arguably the best agency in the country at creating entertaining campaigns that still adhere to tried-and-true (or, as critics might suggest, old and dusty) advertising principles. Show the car, describe the service, bump the logo bigger and back it with a thumping audio-tag. The success of the Mitsubishi campaign (which creative snobs love to loath) and the longrunning "Installation Guy" are both great examples. But here comes an even better one. Combining celebrities, precise product benefits and entertainment, the latest DirecTV effort features Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia and Danny DeVito doing dramatic readings of letters from satisfied customers. DeVito's spot is the weakest. This is exactly the kind of thing you'd expect DeVito to be doing. But the other two are hilarious. Fishburne -- who, thanks to The Matrix, is about as hip and credible as you can get and still be famous -- takes it completely over the top, blushing a bit at the effort. Garcia's mannered annunciation of Di-recTV, meanwhile, is practically a jingle, as he pronounces the brand name three times in about 15 seconds without being cloying. In any other context, these scripts would be insufferable, but Deutsch has found a way to make them sing. This is a smart four-star campaign that has another half-star coming to it if and when Christopher Walken comes on board. (JH)

Snuggle "Swimpool Bliss"
Snuggle: Swimpool Bliss

This new Snuggle effort from Lowe/New York raises a serious question. In the spot, an untouchably stunning woman takes a dip in the chateau pool, a la Carole Bouquet in those hall-of-fame Chanel ads of yore. As she emerges from the drink, a cartoon of wet woman gorgeousness, the Snuggle bear is on hand on a poolside chaise, ready with a new scent Snuggle-infused towel and a lift of the sunglasses. The spot is well executed, courtesy Marcus Nispel, down to the music, an original track from Human that sounds like it was ripped from the same Nina Simone-era soundtrack that defined the Chanel spots. But the question remains: Is it ever okay to employ the old animals-scoring-with-babes saw -- a just plain weird and bad approach first explored by Spuds Mackenzie and trotted out by numerous misguided marketers since? Well, apparently it is. In this spot, the Snuggle bear manages to show appreciation for the flesh on display without making us nauseous -- he bugs his eyes slightly at first, before assuming an unthreatening and -- um --snuggly mien. The final effect is to render the Snuggle bear more likeable -- no mean feat considering the sheer hatefulness the little oaf has embodied in his commercial career thus far. For this category, this spot is a winner. Extra points for difficulty here. (TI)

Virgin Mobile "Cut the Cord"
Virgin Mobile: Cut the Cord

Frankly, I felt letdown when Leagas-Delaney lost this account -- a little like Christmas might not come this year -- although for entirely selfish reasons. I like advertising when spots like Cheese Sandwich -- a dada allegory about calling plans -- make it on air and a tagline like "Live Sexy" actually works for a telecom (or when any straight-faced non-sequitur works for any company besides Nike, for that matter). But this isn't about me.

After all, it's not like Virgin demanded hard sell solutions from the agencies in its recent account review. Rather, after a foray into ultra-oblique sales messaging, the client seems satisfied getting some sell meshed with the inscrutable and campy hipness that the first campaign no doubt had. On that brief, Fallon/New York succeeds in this anthem spot. Keep the non-sequiturs and the kitsch, add an explanatory voiceover (disguised as an unusually wise teen who has had enough of the big telecoms) and come up with a suitably anthemic -- if pretty straight -- tagline: "Live without a plan." The trick to marketing to teens is to find that elusive balance where the pitch blends in with the environment, in this case MTV. Leagas-Delaney's work probably did fall short by camouflaging the sell too well. By indulging the well-worn rallying cries of rebel marketing, however, "Cut the Cord" fails to conceal it enough, and Virgin comes off like just another telecom telling us how smart and special we are. (JH)

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

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