The AdCritic

New Belgium, Target, THQ and Dove

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This week, our editors rate recent spots for New Belgium Brewing, Target, THQ and Dove.

New Belgium Brewing "Tinkerer"
New Belgium Brewing: Tinkerer

Not since David Brooks identified the bourgeois bohemian demographic in his fin de siecle treatise Bobos in Paradise has an advertising campaign nailed it so beautifully -- both strategically and artistically. The strategists at Amalgamated identified New Belgium's target as "pastoral amateurs," and that's what we see here: an affluent bohemian rebuilding a bike from spare parts, just for the love of doing it. The execution, meanwhile, is sublime -- all the way from Jake Scott's meditative direction to the sweetly melancholic song by singer/songwriter Devendra Banhart. One missed step could have made this ponderous and hollow -- so it's fortunate that there aren't any. This commercial is to Bobos what VW's legendary "Milky Way" commercial -- which, you may recall, featured a sweetly melancholic song by Nick Drake -- was to restless teens. The fact that it's for a beer -- currently the most stale category in adland -- makes it all the more astounding. (JH)

Target "Design for All"
Target: Design for All

Imagine all of the things Target could have been in its advertising -- all the cheapo, price-comparing, busy Moms with drooling kids, fluorescent-lit, plain old discount store things. Now look at what it is. This ode to "Design for All" just makes explicit what Target has stood for forever in its branding. That the spot does so in such a beautiful, colorful, approachable way is just a perfect little cap on a hall of fame career of design-focused and people-friendly advertising. (TI)

THQ "Fantasy"
THQ: Fantasy

We watch a lot of ads for videogames, so we're grateful to this one for MX vs. ATV Unleashed for a) going meta, b) getting a good line in along with the obligatory in-game footage and c) finally doing what we're always thinking when we are warned not to do something at home. Here a pair of doofi don't miss a beat. "We should try that home!" one of them enthuses as soon as the warning appears. The line is delivered with such timing and conviction that we are helpless to resist. Next thing you know, they're making Jackass look tame. (JH)

Dove "Three Women"
Dove: Three Women

What happened to the real chicks? The big girl and the old girl and the freckled girl? I liked them. They didn't make me all that interested in the product, but I liked them and they made Dove look like a real friend of women for going the daring "real" route (quotes employed because even these non-model types are pictures of Turlingtonian perfection compared to the really real that you see coming at you on the sidewalk on any given day).

Why should re-coiffed versions of old school cartoons make me think more highly of Dove or gain any insight into the formulations or functions of its hair care products? There is neither hair nor character here for a girl to admire, identify with, or even like that much (and no nifty packaging or catchy track to distract and amuse!) That Wilma and whatsername from the Jetsons (I really don't know her name, which speaks to the character's resonance) were oppressed housewives, and that the one likable thing about barely gender-specific Velma from Scooby Doo was that she never would have given a rat's ass about her hair are details that could be overlooked in another ad. But isn't Dove's whole shtick these days about female empowerment?

The brand should get points for attempting to move away from computer-enhanced shots of blindingly shiny hair and ridiculous performance promises, but the power hair and power goo best be replaced with something else -- like the real women device that's been used so effectively in previous ads. But this spot only offers a weird, tenuous nostalgia, which isn't exactly going to smooth my cuticles, now is it? (TI)

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

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