Guest Review

Published on .

Kathy Delaney

Managing Partner,

Executive Creative Director

Deutsch/New York

Ronald Lawner


Chief Creative Officer

Arnold Worldwide

1. Levi's "French Dictionary"

Cinema-quality visuals capture a pair of model-esque lovebirds riding a muscle car in a high-speed chase with an SUV. They successfully dodge their pursuer and shove their auto off the dock into the water. After a brief pause, the beau plunges in after it and retrieves something, which he stuffs in the back of his super-low jeans. Above water, he rejoins his girlfriend, who then whispers to him sexily in French. Arm-in-arm they turn to reveal a French dictionary tucked into his pants. Tag: "Levi's low-rise jeans. Dangerously low."

Client: Levi's Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty/N.Y. GCD: Thomas Hayo CW: Peter Rosch AD: John Hobbs Agency Producer: Mary Cheney Director: Ivan Zacharias/Smuggler

Delaney: Cool soundtrack. Sexy casting. Beautifully shot and edited. A cinematic, intriguing, "dangerous" storyline is a great approach. While it's revealed at the end that the guy jumped into the water to retrieve his dictionary so he can communicate with his French girlfriend, I'm pretty sure "talking" isn't high on the agenda for these two. Both spots I've seen in this campaign have a more European sensibility, which I think is interesting since Levi's is such an American brand. Perhaps it's an attempt to add more edgy sex appeal to the image. I just hope walking away from a more authentically American approach hits the mark with the consumer. All in all, I found it entertaining, intriguing and sexy. 3 stars

Lawner: What do you do when an iconic brand becomes less relevant to a new generation? You look for ways to make it cool again. So Levi's introduced a low-cut version of their famous jeans. "Dangerously low," as the tagline reads, and as the spot goes, and it just might work. The spot is well shot, well edited and the music is pretty cool. But all the things that Levi's are - authentic, real, functional - have faded from the message (a problem not helped by casting models). The question is, do you have to pander to a younger audience to be cool? Or is it cooler to put your stake in the ground, be who you are and be proud of it? 2 stars

2. Mad River tea "Bear"

A Jason Lee lookalike encounters a bear in the woods, via home video-style camera work. "Whoops! Seems you've stumbled onto a bear," says the blase male VO, which then instructs him to back away slowly and drink a Mad River Red Tea. "How does its echinacea and gingko repel bears?" the VO continues, with the camera cutting back and forth from the terrified guy swigging his beverage, to the beast. "It doesn't. That bear is going to stomp you like an Italian wine grape. But since you'll be soon denied the use of your limbs, why deny yourself a great tea?" Tag: "Mad River teas and juice drinks. Nature's a mother. Drink to it."

Client: Mad River Red Tea Agency: Lowe/N.Y. ECD: Dean Hacohen CDs: John Maxham, Hank Kosinki CW/AD: John Maxham/Hank Kosinki Agency Producers: Susan Shipman, Erin Goodsell Director: Frank Todaro/

Delaney: The guy alone in the woods, the creepy camera work, the confrontation with an evil force: I feel the same way about the guy in this spot as I did about the kids in The Blair Witch Project. I want him to meet his demise - quickly. And watching this doesn't make me feel thirsty, just oddly disturbed. When I took the time to listen to the monotone voiceover several times, the product actually sounded like an interesting one, but the message is lost amid all the maiming, limb-crushing references. 1 star

Lawner: With a small budget, the spot needs to grab your attention, get across the product attributes and be different. It's not easy. But that's what separates the admen from the boys. And that's what this self-indulgent production feels like: Two young ad guys talking to themselves. The only thing that makes this spot even less inspired is the rip-off Mark Fenske voiceover. 1 star

3. Lee dungarees "Cheese"

A guy wants to satisfy his late-night craving for a cheese sandwich, leading to a series of bizarre coincidences. He attempts to build a bike but gets shot into the trunk of a stranger's car, which takes a 400-mile road trip to Mexico, where he finds himself standing before a huge House of Cheese. He asks, "Is this coincidence, or part of something bigger?" The camera then pulls out from above, and the cracks in the pavement he stands on bear an eerie resemblance to Buddy Lee.

Client: Lee Agency: Fallon/Minneapolis GCD: Harvey Marco CD: David Lubars CW: Scott Cooney AD: Eric Cosper Agency Producer: Rob Vandeweteringebuys Director: Dante Ariola/MJZ

Delaney: What I think is interesting about the Buddy Lee campaign and this evolution is that it gives the somewhat forgotten, unstylish Lee brand edge and relevance. This is a dreamlike, quirky torture test that reinforces the Lee toughness positioning in a modern, unexpected way. It makes the brand seem stylish and hip - not an easy charge. And, anyone who can work something called The House of Cheese into a commercial is all right with me. Is there really a House of Cheese? Please, can I go? Or, at the very least, do the advertising for them? 3 stars

Lawner: I like this spot. It's fun to watch, doesn't pretend to be anything but fun and doesn't try to sell too hard (the kiss of death to twentysomethings). And with all the silliness, they've managed to make me feel that, for their audience, Mr. Buddy Lee is keepin' it a lot more real than Mr. Strauss. 3 stars

4. Sprite "Rikkia"

"What's your thirst?" kicks off O&M's first Sprite work. Documentary-style footage, accompanied by music from the Donnas, follows drag racer Rikkia Miller as she tears it up on the track. Scenes of her cohorts, who call her Lady Racer, are also quickly cut into the mix. Her VO explains her love for the sport, then she addresses the camera, asking, "What's my thirst?" She gulps a Sprite and answers, "Speed." The familiar tag: "Obey your thirst."

Client: Sprite Agency: Ogilvy & Mather/N.Y. ECD: Chris Wall CD: Brenda Gibbons, Chris Curry Agency Producers: Tami Esson, Lisa Stieman Director: Len Dorfman/

Delaney: A lady Speed Racer with a thirst for speed and a thirst for Sprite. Makes sense - too much sense. I'd rather see the "What's your thirst?" idea manifest itself in something less expected than a sports figure endorsement. I wonder if it was the client's idea to use her in a spot. Even if that was the case, I still feel the execution could have used her in a more creative way than just showing her doing her racing thing. Maybe they thought the fact that it's a female driver makes it interesting and unusual. It doesn't. I love the "Obey Your Thirst" campaign, but this is nowhere near as original as some of the past work. 1 star

Lawner: I've always thought that "Obey Your Thirst" carved out an interesting niche for Sprite. Ignore those highly paid endorsers and drink whatever satisfies you. Hey, it's more of an idea than you find in most soft drink ads. And the spots always had an unmistakable energy. In this latest incarnation, thirst equals passion. As in, what are you thirsty for? In this case, the young woman's passion (thirst) is drag racing. It's a smart evolution of the original idea, and it works. But the energy has been sucked out of it with a generic execution that just isn't very memorable - it (pun intended) goes a bit flat. 2 stars

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