Guest Review

Published on .

Mark Figliulo

Chief Creative Officer

Young & Rubicam/Chicago

Steve Rabosky

Chief Creative Officer

Saatchi & Saatchi/Los Angeles

1. NISSAN "Shift"

The new Nissan campaign weaves scenes of the cars with diverse footage that includes black and white shots of Jackson Pollock splattering paint on a canvas; leather-clad bikers contemplating art in a museum; two men embracing; destruction of the Berlin Wall; and a one-legged female surfer. A super reads throughout in the form of an all-caps "SHIFT" followed by changing lowercase nouns: "assumption"; "conformity"; "fear"; "devotion." A VO announces: "A shift can change a person, a life, the world, or, it can simply change the way you move through it." Spots end with consecutive, accelerated zoom-outs from various Nissan models.

Agency: TBWAChiatDayLos Angeles ECD: Rob Schwartz CD: Chris Graves CWs: Neal Hughlett, Don McKinney AD: Jason Stinsmuehlen Agency Producer: Mila Davis Director: Ralf Schmerberg/

RABOSKY: Call me one of the crazy ones, but didn't Apple do this already? It's a nice homage to changing the world. (I haven't seen Berlin Wall footage in a while.) And I think I get what they're trying to say. "Take an alternate route." "Zig when they zag." "Eat dust, status quo." "Bring new meaning to the term 'revolutions per minute.' " Or maybe "Drive different"? There's a worthy sentiment here, but I can't connect it back to the car. Everyone knows that Apple has been an alternative company from day one. But Nissan? They pretty much look like every other car company to me. This campaign brings to mind a bit of Nissan folklore I once heard: Twenty years ago, when they changed their name from Datsun, the chairman was asked why he would abandon a marque the company had spent millions behind. His reply: "In 100 years, you'll understand." So how long do we have to wait for the ads? 2 stars

FIGLIULO: The automotive category is doing some incredible work lately. VW, BMW and now Saturn and the Mini have pushed the category into new and unexpected places. But they get there by staying true to their brand and product. The new Nissan campaign, however, claims a big emotional high ground that they can't pay off or legitimately own. I actually believe that Saturn is focused more on people than on sheet metal, but I don't buy that a Nissan will shift my perspective. Why should I shift my perspective? Just because a commercial tells me to? Besides, I kind of like my current perspective. 2 stars

2. T-MOBILE "Anthem"

Catherine Zeta-Jones makes her first appearance introducing the rebranded T-Mobile, succeeding Jamie Lee Curtis for what was then Voicestream. Scenes of the actress luxuriating in a tub and bowling in a living room are interspersed with whimsical shots of hipsters chatting away on their cell phones, lounging in the park as giant donuts roll by, and jumping into a swimming pool. Zeta-Jones' VO litanizes "more mystery, more picnics, more glazed donuts . . . " culminating in the tag, "More minutes, more features, more service."

Agency: Publicis/Seattle ECD: Bob Moore CW: Kammie McArthur AD: Nancy Aquino Agency Producer: Derek Ruddy Director: Tarsem/

RABOSKY: Which cliche should I start with? You've got your celebrity endorser with absolutely no logical connection to the product. You've got your pretty models jumping in the pool fully clothed. You've got your inane copy promising more, more, more! But that's nothing compared to the giant rolling donuts and the scene of bowling on a red carpet in the living room of a mansion. Genius. Now, ready for the truly heinous part? It's a :60! It's baffling why a celebrity like Catherine Zeta-Jones would get involved in crap like this. Either T-Mobile was a wedding present from Michael, or he lost so much money in the divorce that she has to take any job that comes along. No Stars

FIGLIULO: I've watched this spot a number of times now and I still don't understand it. What's worse is that I can't remember the name of the advertiser. I'm not exaggerating. Yet another telecommunications company with an ill-defined product using its ad budget to sell the spokesperson instead of the brand. Maybe the strategy here is to further confuse and add noise to the category. If that's true, then it's brilliant. 1 star

3. HUMMER "City"

A fresh-faced redhead complacently cruises through the streets, peering down on the world from her monstrous banana yellow Hummer. A quirky synth track with alienesque female vocals accompanies vibrant, quick-cut scenes that bounce between shifting camera views of the bloated SUV against changing backdrops and various scenes from the cityscape. A stark white super reads, "Threaten men in a whole new way." Cut to a view of the globe from outer space with the tag, "Like nothing else."

Agency: Modernista! CDs: Lance Jensen, Gary Koepke CW: Shane Hutton AD: Will Uronis Agency Producer: Jill Andresevic Director: Snorri Brothers/Stink

RABOSKY: I wanted to like this commercial. I like the car. I like the print ads. I like the outdoor. But after watching this four times, I'm lukewarm at best. It's nicely edited, the music is fresh, I don't even mind the male-bashing copyline. But in the end, it's just another car commercial. Which is more disappointing than usual because the Hummer is anything but just another car. Normally I'm more forgiving of car advertising. I've worked on five different car brands on two continents, so I'm sympathetic to the degree of difficulty. But c'mon, this is a Hummer. Hummers turn heads. Hummers get talked about. Hummers are one-of-a-kind. Wish I could say the same for this commercial. 2 stars

FIGLIULO: As I've said, the automotive category is doing some great work - but the new Hummer campaign can't quite keep up. This is a well-crafted spot, but with such a highly differentiated product, I expect more. It's just contemporary driving footage with cool music, but that almost works against it (think about how powerful the piano track is in the Saturn spot). But a Hummer is so unique as a product; why does it need all this shellac of technique? 2 stars

4. FRUIT OF THE LOOM "Ceremonial Fruit"

The Fruit of the Loom guys return, not as the boisterous pranksters of yore but as wisecracking sad sacks in a docu-style spot on the set of a runway show for models clad in the brand's line for women. The fruit guys are there "ceremonially," helping the babes primp and prepare on the sidelines, as they toss out one-liners. "There's no I in fruit," the one that looks like wilted cabbage meekly announces. "Yes there is," responds the apple.

Agency: The Richards Group CD: Ron Henderson CW: Bill Milkereit AD: Ashley Boll Agency Producer: Jeanne Dooley Director: Craig Gillespie/MJZ

RABOSKY: Take an old-fashioned brand, add a half-dozen models in skimpy underwear, throw in a mnemonic that dates back to the '70s and you've got the perfect recipe for disaster, right? Not this time. Kudos to the client for not taking themselves too seriously. You'd never associate this brand with sexy women's underwear, and these guys are willing to admit it. Contemporizing their human fruit characters and saying they had nothing to do with the new product line is a smart idea. The mockumentary genre has been done to death, but at least they did it well. The dialogue seems real, the acting is nicely restrained and there are models parading around in next to nothing. Works for me. 3 stars

FIGLIULO: I feel I've seen this approach before. I guess it's because I have. There's something about guys dressed up as brand icons talking like real people that seems too familiar now - the irony is no longer ironic. I like what Snapple did better with the anthropomorphized bottles. I know Fruit of the Loom was one of the first to do this and I'm sure there were a ton of brand equity discussions to justify it, but it's just not fresh. 2 stars

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