March 2007 - Top Spots

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Nike "Breath"
In the manner of the Paul Hunter-directed "Freestyle," Nike's basketball-as-symphony commercial, Hunter's "Breath" takes heavy breathing to new heights. But instead of bouncing balls being the basis of the soundtrack, they're just the punctuation; it's the Timbaland-orchestrated huffs and puffs of Nike athletes that anchor the groove - from Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, to Kobe and LeBron, to Ronaldinho and Rooney, to a trio of Kenyan marathoners - all practicing their respective sports synchronized on the same surface.

Pacifico "Sad Hurts"
This ultra low-budget beer spot features home movie-style footage of joyous Mexican sun-drenched fun, beach campfires, surfing, and ukulele singalongs in an ancient VW bus - accompanied by Nathaniel Papadakis' stripped-down, melancholy score. It's like the party's in your eyes while the hangover sits in your ears. As for the shot of the chicken crossing the road, we assume he was going to get another beer. The wall art-style super: "Because it hurts to go home." Assuming you can make it in those rickety wheels.

Chevy "Ain't We Got Love"
The art of song has been an emotional vessel for mankind's hopes and dreams throughout the centuries, featuring universal themes crossing all cultural boundaries - love, hate, life, death and one's choice of automobile. For its Super Bowl pleasure, Chevy cobbled together a medley of proprietary car tunes, trotting out stars like Mary J. Blige, Dale Earnhardt Jr., T.I., and Big & Rich to sing songs that give a nod to the brand, including a ditty by Nelly, the Beach Boys' "409" and a rendition of Tammy Wynette's "The Jet Set." Super: "People who love cars love Chevy." Well, at least people who love singing about cars . . .


McDonald's "See Things"
A subtly engaging Aussie spot from Leo Burnett/Sydney allows director Josh Baker and Fuel International to employ visual effects that deftly illustrate the differences between the wonders of youth and the doldrums of adulthood. Kids see wondrous things adults don't - like spaceship playgrounds and robotic limbs. The spot reminds us that as we grow older, the ability to imagine is often dulled by the assorted rigors of daily life and the fact we have to pay for our own burgers.

Orange "Flowers"
In this quietly restrained New Age-y wonder, tagged "Feeling the beauty," Orange's HD mobile service, launched recently in France, is treated to the most uncellphone-like visual style imaginable. Shot entirely in-camera in Thailand, frequently underwater no less, and reportedly requiring some 10,000 flowers - which are often strewn on the surface like a luxurious carpet - director Rob Sanders has quite the bouquet on his reel. Even the swimming horse appears to be having a relaxed good time.

GM "Robot"
This is the controversial Super Bowl ad that didn't involve chocolate-covered peanuts, nougat and homophobia. The offended in this case include the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, those sympathetic to laid-off auto workers and rabid Short Circuit fans, who found this lil' robot's plight real enough to ask GM to yank the spot off the air. The company didn't, but it has since adjusted the ending in order to soften any notions of suicide. Perhaps the suggested insensitivity toward both suicide and recent company layoffs can be attributed to Sway Studio's skill at making the robot look and act like a living thing. All the spot needs is a cameo by Steve Guttenberg.
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