Brian Lefkowitz and Sean Burns, Grey Worldwide, New York

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In recent years, things have been picking up at Grey Worldwide, in the halls of one of the agency's villages known as "Sticky," where Brian Lefkowitz and Sean Burns have continued to roll out unusually fresh-even daring-work for Starburst. Since its inception, their "Isn't life juicy?" campaign has maintained a quirky sense of humor, bringing the candy into everyday situations that take bizarre twists. "Originally, we'd been selling Starburst as a 'juicy' candy," notes art director Lefkowitz, 32. "In this campaign, it became part of your life and the spots became all these little insights into Starburst." Initial work featured a guy who digs into a car's back seat and unearths, among various grubby bits, what may very well be a 5-year-old orange one, but still eats it because it's in a wrapper. Also, stupid mouth tricks: a girl unwraps a Starburst orally, later to be one-upped by the dude next to her who tongue-folds his wrapper into a tiny origami crane. The humor since has outrageously carried onto spots for the candy's "sour" extension, in which precious moments are compromised when people make puckery faces while eating the tart chews. That was "one of our most challenging and rewarding" projects to date, 37-year-old writer Burns notes. The idea actually took four months to sell, but ultimately yielded truly unforgettable scenes, like one in which a prom-goer crinkles his face just as his date makes her graceful descent down the staircase, crushing her and enraging her entire Latin family, ending in the tag "Sour Starburst. Use Responsibly." As the candy launches even more extensions, the team continues to broaden their oeuvre. One music-video-like spot for the Fruit and CrÅ me line features a crew of lanky hipsters who stride through car crashes and explosions with oblivious ease, reminiscent of Olive Oyl under a somnambulent spell-accompanied by a catchy lilt known as "The Whistle Song." It doesn't hurt that they're blessed with a cool client, but also "We treat our ideas like babies," notes Lefkowitz on the duo's M.O. "We're extremely passionate in trying to get them through but at the same time we're willing to be open to hearing from other people who could help us sculpt them-creative directors, producers, directors. " Between them, the two maintain a symbiotic balance. "I'm a little bit country, he's a little bit rock and roll," deadpans Burns. "When I first met Brian, he was this big dude with long hair from Long Island with this just-out-of-college enthusiasm for the business. He wasn't jaded, and he still has that today, which I really admire. I'm sort of curmudgeonly and surly and he still has that sort of wide-eyed love of advertising, and I'm like, 'Oh my god, you're still there?'" In contrast, "Sean's really dedicated and pokes at every issue in an assignment," Lefkowitz notes. "If I have an idea, he wants to make sure it hits every point. He has great attention to detail and wants to make sure we're a hundred percent covered. He looks for the problem to find the solution."
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