Guest Review

TiVo, "Cops"

Miller & Ladd: An overweight, incompetent cop relaxes from the stress of his job by watching, you guessed it, cop shows recorded by TiVo. Layered with lots of goodies, this is one of those spots you can watch over and over. On the other hand, it seems like it's slightly derivative of Goodby's very funny campaign for Pacific Bell, "Laurel Lane," which also enlisted the talents of director Chris Smith. The real irony is that soon people will be using TiVo just so they can skip commercials like this one.4

Forsythe: The execution shows a lot of thought and restraint. I appreciate the room to notice the subtle touches, like that he's making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The humorous moments they chose to portray impressively walk the line between brilliant and slapstick. I'm reminded of Rushmore. But maybe it's just the music. I think it's what saves an otherwise average concept and makes it stand out as something worthy of looking into. 3

RNC, "Really"

Miller & Ladd: This is one of those spots that makes you pine for the good old days, when politicians put thought into their commercials and came up with things like the famous "Daisy" ad. This latest attack on Al Gore has all the charm of a long-distance commercial. So what if Al Gore claims to have invented the internet? At least he can vaguely remember what he was doing 10 years ago. Let's all vote "no." No more stupid, bad political ads.0

Forsythe: I can't comment on the creativity here, because there is none. The way they had this woman read the script, and I mean read, is so snotty I had a hard time hearing her points. As a consumer, the last thing I'd find compelling is the opinion of this self-righteous nobody. Maybe if they'd tried to make it sound real and humble, I'd have been able to at least stomach it. But this is so clearly trying to be manipulative, it's laughable. By the time I got to the jarring clip in the middle of the spot I was thinking, "Another ad like this and I'll sell my television." 1

SAG/AFTRA, "Scabs"

Miller & Ladd: In this spoof of a typical car commercial, the shooting of a slow-mo sequence gets out of hand due to a "scab" driver. Frankly, with all the time these union guys have on their hands right now, you'd think they could come up with something better. In the end, this spot is heavy-handed and painfully long. A lot like the strike.2

Forsythe: This is more creative than compelling. I didn't catch the super in the beginning and was really hoping it would turn out to be a car commercial for Daewoo or something. SAG needs to create sympathy for their cause. The last thing they need is to associate themselves in any way with disrupting shoots. I couldn't help thinking what they really wanted to say was: "Support SAG or we'll sabotage the brakes on the car you're shooting tomorrow. Ha!" It is too self-celebratory. Cutting 45 seconds of it and the dramatic music would have made it funnier and definitely smarter. 2

Pringles, "Road Trip"

Miller & Ladd: OK, we open on four cool young people on a road trip. On their dashboard is a can of Pringles, which begins singing as people eat its contents. The only thing more unnatural than this concept is a tin of stackable potato chips. You may not be able to stop after one Pringle, but you'll definitely be able to stop after one viewing of this spot. Bet focus groups loved this one.1

Forsythe: This gets points just for improving upon the "can as a musical instrument" campaign. And there's something charming about the "can guy." But they should have buckled him in or, better yet, let him drive! Anything to take the emphasis off those tragically hip poser people I see in practically every commercial targeted at young consumers. More can-guy, less wannabe VW commercial. 1 1/2

Blue Nile, "Snack Time"

Miller & Ladd: In this spot a mother distracts her kids to create a few minutes of "quality time" with her husband. We liked everything about this spot, right up to the payoff, "This moment made possible by a husband who knows his diamonds." Really? Looks to us like it was made possible by a wife who knows her videos. This could have been a really good TiVo spot.3

Forsythe: The old diamonds-will-make-up-for-your-neglect,-thinning hair-and-lack-of-interest-in-doing-something-really-special-for-your-wife-so-you-can-get-laid strategy. They didn't even bother to take it somewhere new in the execution. It kept my attention until the crucial moment when I realized what it was for. I tuned out right before the logo. 1 1/2

VW, "Boulevard"

Miller & Ladd: To sum up this spot, we see an unusually vain and hunky-looking VW driver being sneered at by a three hot babes in a BMW convertible. The other way to sum up this spot: disappointment. After all the great spots VW has done over the last few years, we don't know what they were thinking. All we can guess is that the usual creative team was taking a much deserved vacation and left some juniors to come up with this one.1

Forsythe: Not a lot here to get me engaged. Casting, location, wardrobe, music, are all stereotypical. It's appropriate to the concept, but uncharacteristic of Volkswagen. An interesting twist at the end, but it's not profound enough to make up for such a cerebral approach to what has become a sexy brand. And regardless, it's an over promise - again very uncharacteristic of Volkswagen. 2

Steve Miller and Brent Ladd are Group Creative Directors at GSD&M, Austin.

Alison Forsythe is a copywriter at Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

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