Guest Critic

This isn’t high art here. We make ads. That said, we should still aspire to make the most of each execution—to start with smart concepts and execute them as best as possible. And great executions don’t happen by accident. The saying “God is in the details” is never more true then when crafting entertainment.

The Gap: Hey, you got your Audrey Hepburn stuck in my AC/DC! Fortunately, these two things do taste great together. A young Hepburn, in a scene taken from Funny Face, declares, “I rather feel like expressing myself,” and then dances with mirrored images of herself as “Back in Black” plays. A title card announces, “It’s Back. The skinny black pant.” The animation and editing are seamless, the roto-scoping perfect and the spot is actually cool. It may not be destined to resonate for years to come, but it is entertaining for 60 seconds. Much like Gap clothes themselves.

Travelers Insurance: The creative team took a small idea, life can snowball, and executed it to the nines. It starts with a guy tripping and falling down a San Francisco hill, accumulating debris in his path including a car door, some yuppies and, judging from the end scene, a Lindsay Lohan lookalike. Eventually it hits a building and breaks apart, leaving everyone dazed but unharmed. The VO states, “When your insurance is in sync, you can roll with anything.” Special effects were handled by Weta, the group responsible for King Kong and Lord of the Rings. It’s hard not to think that the execution wasn’t inspired by Katamari Damacy, a video game where you roll the objects in your path into a giant ball. The spot also feels reminiscent of the PlayStation2 “Mountain” spot from a few years back, and took over 12 weeks and 87 people to complete, which begs the question, was it worth it?

Volkswagen Passat: The spots are impactful. I liked the campaign from the beginning—it’s well written and well shot, and I like the bravery it took to show the beauty shot of the car after impact. It must have been a very difficult client sell. This one takes an interesting turn as two girls in a car are actually talking about the previous spots when, wham, they’re hit. As a new father, though, these spots make me want to go out and buy a new Volvo. In fact, it may be the best Volvo commercial in a long while.

Jimmy Dean: In this spot, the sun and the moon—men in foam suits, wearing office clothes underneath—are changing shifts. The sun notices the moon is not full, which he’s supposed to be, and offers a quick solution: a microwave breakfast sandwich. They nuke it in the breakroom, the moon eats it and presto, he’s a full moon. Silly? Yes, and it made me laugh.

Yahoo: This spot makes it clear that Yahoo has an unexpected benefit. I like the neighbor’s performance and I really like the dog returning to life, but I wish the spot had ended there instead of going to the wide shot of the little girl saying, “Scruffy! You’re alive!”

US Air Force: Part of properly crafting a spot is to know when the real thing is better than any super-slick execution. This spot is the opposite of Point Break, high-fiving, X-treme cool dudes swilling Mountain Dew in mid-air. It’s reality. No edits. No multiple takes. No rock’n’ roll music bed. No father having a fake emotional conversation with his son. When I watched it, I felt the rush of adrenaline associated with a jump of this kind.