Production Guest Review

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Quizno's, "Stick"

Agency: Cliff Freeman & Partners Director: Wayne Holloway, Basecamp Entertainment

Wax: A likeable young on-camera spokesman tells us that Quizno's (some sort of sandwich shop) "pioneered the oven-toasted sub," and we cut to some badly costumed cavemen lounging around a Malibu beach armed with stones. "Sorta like that guy who had a pointed stick instead of a rock," continues our spokesman. A guy straight out of a 5000 B.C. sitcom approaches the ice age loungers with a pointed stick and, when laughed at, stabs his nearest tormentor in the chest. Cut to a product shot of a meaty sub conveyoring out of a Quiznos toaster oven and another "pioneering" boast. I can only assume this is the commercial equivalent of a prank call.

Belsey: As a viewer, I groan and roll my eyes. But I'm not their target audience; they're talking to adolescent boys. As a director, I think this is really cool and quite funny. It's very well made. The scene with the geeky announcer contrasts wonderfully with a B-movie flashback of manly cavemen. There are so many wonderful details in the lighting, lensing, performances, sets, props (love the meat slicer!), even bad hairstyles. The spot is perfectly cheesy.

Snickers, "Subway"

Agency: BBDO/New York Director: Phil Morrison, Epoch Films

Wax: Phil Morrison goes uncharacteristically broad for Snickers, as a subway conductor crunches annoying people in his train doors. This spot is straight out of the BBDO school of "entertainment first, bring in your product last" - no matter how tenuous the connection, entertainment is the goal. The spot is hilarious, but - age-old question - why should I buy a Snickers instead of a whatever bar?

Belsey: This could have been a great spot. The concept is excellent - funny, smart, relatively fresh. But the execution simply does not live up to the idea. It starts on the right note - the first blaring sound from the bagpipe jolts you. But then it gets confusing. The biggest mistake is that the train conductor and the guy on the cell phone look too much alike. People don't watch commercials that carefully, you've got to help them. Granted, I did laugh spontaneously at the slapstick humor in the end, but even that could have been better. This could have been a hilarious 30-second Buster Keaton movie about crunchiness; instead, it's just another commercial trying to be funny.

Mitsubishi, "Start the Commotion"

Agency: Deutsch Director: Big TV, Propaganda Films

Wax: This spot effortlessly celebrates an L.A. night out, following young Mitsubishi owner/occupants cruising and grooving to "Start the Commotion" by the Wiseguys. Set in the cold, nocturnal world of strip malls and slithery neon, what's warm and inviting here is not the local bar or a distant living room, but the intimate cocoon of one's ride. How very L.A., indeed. I don't see a big idea here, mostly a music-driven, executional tour de force, but if it moves cars at $100 bucks a horse (and I suspect this spot does), more power to them.

Belsey: It's all about the music. I'm hooked. The beautiful palette and rhythmic lights just bring the music to life. It puts me in a good mood. The talent and the camera moves are wonderfully sexy. This spot brings me inside their world and makes me want to be part of it.

Volkswagen, "Aqueduct"

Agency: Arnold Worldwide Director: Dayton/Faris, Bob Industries

Wax: This is part of the VW "Round for a Reason" campaign, and it's a sendup of the BBC documentary genre, illustrating the connection between the shape and strength of the Roman arch and the Beetle's curvature. The idea is kind of silly when you think about it, but unlike the Quiznos pointed stick/salami thesis, you don't think about it. It's charming and utterly in keeping with the VW sensibility. And every time I walk by a new Beetle, I want to jettison my SUV and buy one, even though I've got three kids and haul around more crap than the Beverly Hillbillies. Now that's marketing!

Belsey: Here's a perfect example of form fitting function, on many levels. This brilliant spot reveals itself slowly, as the product literally creeps into frame. The look of the commercial is perfect - no bells or whistles, just a single brownish shot. The badly dressed spokesperson comically represents everything that the brand is not. This commercial gains credibility for me precisely because it doesn't take itself too seriously. I'm seduced by the clever humor. The dialogue is hilariously pretentious, but it makes relevant points. By the time the supers come on, I'm really impressed. I didn't know, for instance, that Beetles were comparatively safe. By mocking its own ancient history, this spot manages to present the Beetle not as a nostalgic icon of the `70s, but as a timeless icon of design.

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