License to Laugh

By Ad Published on .

Move over Comedy Central-TBS is taking a stab at the throne of network laughs, according to an outrageously funny rebranding campaign out of Publicis/N.Y. In five :60s, masterfully directed by Hungry Man's Jim Jenkins, various citizens faced with possibly humorous situations dial into TBS headquarters, manned by jaded operators who give callers permission to guffaw and tell them how hard they should do it. "TBS wanted to rebrand themselves as very funny, so they said, 'Can you give us a campaign that says we are the the arbiters of funny?' " explains Publicis ECD Howard Willmott. Which, of course, led directly to the idea behind the spots.

The work is so good, Publicis appears to finally be on the brink of the reinvention that's been much anticipated since the arrival of worldwide CCO David Droga. The spots are rich with comedic layers, including impeccable wall-to-wall dialogue that doesn't miss a beat, thanks to great editing and perfect performances-one of the reasons director Jenkins was brought on board in the first place. "The trick to the whole thing is casting," notes Jenkins of the thespian search that spanned five cities. "Being able to pull off the operator is a difficult thing, because it has to be played totally straight, as if this is their 50th call of the day and they're going to have 50 more." See. p. 27 for complete credits.

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