January's Guest Review

Published on .

Steve Chavez, Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles
Steve Chavez, Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles
George Prest, Copywriter, Lowe, London
George Prest, Copywriter, Lowe, London

JC Penney: Wake Up
Rise and shop, zombies!

SC Good retail is possible and this is a prime example. Well-executed from the look of the film to the performances, this spot tackles the inevitable after Thanksgiving sale assignment with effort and insight. Though some might say the setup is too long and superfluous, I believe it clicks with those heading out the door before dawn on our nation's biggest shopping day. To them, the spot's battle cry rings true: it takes a certain kind of crazy to shop the day after Thanksgiving, a kind of crazy JC Penney understands. Four Stars

GP This ad was scary. Scary idea, scary acting, scary music, scarily big rug pull. I'm a Brit and don't know much about JC Penney but I can tell you one thing, I won't be rushing down there in the near future. Or maybe that's the idea? Maybe the place is so mobbed at sale time that they're trying to put people off from going there? Three stars for brave minus one for how it makes me feel about the brand. Two Stars

Foundation Against Drug Addiction: Cocaine
Are we treating drugs like they're everyday products?

SC This print ad takes the tack that cocaine can be mistaken for a fashion accessory. Well, drawing only from what I've heard and can vaguely remember from the '80s, I will agree that there are people who wear cocaine like a necklace, using it as a tool in whatever social war of acceptance they're fighting. And in doing so, they risk slipping into addiction. So the foundation of this ad has merit. It was just a little formulaic and lacked emotion for me. Two Stars

GP Yup, you'd have to be pretty far gone to mistake cocaine for aftershave. This one, I'm afraid, is a bit smelly. Surely the biggest danger is taking so much of the stuff that it kills you, eats your face off or makes you run into the traffic? I understand the brief; in fact I think the brief shows loud and clear but this strikes me as a trivial solution to a massively important problem. One Star

Bouygues Telecom: Mathieu's Phonebook
Step inside the busy phonebook.

SC I know that the French win when it comes to culture, food and their ideas on monogamy. I also know that crystal-clear symbolism is for losers. Even with that in mind, I couldn't get past my initial take of this spot's setup; a man talking on a headset finds a cartoon magnet underneath a big sign in the middle of a hilltop meadow. That's a symbolic trifecta you don't pull out of easily, and I didn't. I don't think the consumer will embrace it either, French or not. One Star

GP Here's to the crazy ones. The ones who go bonkers in the middle of an Alpine meadow. I liked this. A quirky ad for a boring brief. Being really harsh, it feels a little sub-Mother of about five years ago but you can't beat a comedy Japanese fella in a helmet. It's not world-beating, ground-breaking or earth-shattering but it communicates and leaves you with a smile on you face, a bit like the Ecstasy sweeties from another execution in the previous campaign. Three Stars

Electronic Arts: Crysis
Presenting a first-person rumble in the jungle.

SC This "experience" was well-produced and full of details that bring interactive to life. In particular, the sound design kept the scare-the-bejeezus-out-of-you vibe going (you welcome the chance to say a prayer, for example). Once in, the graphics get very, very dark. So dark that I reached for my virtual lighter a few times, only to discover I didn't have one. But overall the raw, authentic gameplay rewarded by actual game footage should be a potent, effective combination to gamers. Three Stars

GP Hmmm. What is this? Is it an extension of the JC Penney ad or is it an interface for some otherwise fairly standard games footage? The sound is great but once you've reached one of the red lights and been catapulted into the game for a few seconds it's a bit one-dimensional. Some deranged mums on their way to a Thanksgiving Sale might have helped spice things up. Or maybe a Japanese dude in a helmet. Two Stars

Street Review

Dan Pacheco
Dan Pacheco
Dan is a program coordinator at a New York City non-profit.

JC Penney "Wake Up"
A zombie apocalypse or alien invasions will always have my undivided attention, even if they take the form of a holiday sales ad. The ominous piano loop and War of the Worlds imagery gives JC Penney a sense of gravitas one wouldn't normally associate with the department store or with a Thanksgiving sale for that matter. It is the rare exception of an ad that I wouldn't mind coming on while waiting for a film to start at the movie theater. Four Stars To discuss this article, visit the Creativity Forums.
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