January’s Best Spots

Ilook at this month’s work and I can’t help but think about baseball. No, not because it’s boring. Because three hits in 10 at bats make you a star in advertising. In most other jobs, three out of 10 makes you “employment challenged.”

I suppose this also speaks to the difficulty of coming up with a great spot and then “Sherpa-ing” it past those who would diminish, compromise, sabotage and ultimately kill your great spot by the death of a thousand cuts—all in the name of “tweaks.” So, here’s a big up to all of you who hit your three for Adweek’s top honors.

Here, work I wish I did:

Old Spice “Painted Experience”: In this spot, a man with an ascot comically pontificates about “it” while walking in front of his seemingly endless painting of what appears to be a British frigate, circa 1817. Then he sits, delivers the punch line and his fireplace lights up on cue like a Yule log with comic timing. Great writing. And since the strategic arena of anti-metro-sexual-manly deodorant is crowded, the good artisans at W+K use their own ironic tone to differentiate the work.

Geico “Self-Esteem”: Is Geico a category killer because it’s made the insurance conversation about m-o-n-e-y? Have they won market share by adhering to the rule of one idea per spot while eschewing the laundry list? Or is the work just banging? Answer: (D) all of the above. As for the spot, a caveman confronts his fellow caveman about subscribing to Geico.com for the good rates, and not keeping it real because Geico’s advertising is racist and aimed at keeping the caveman down. Some of the story construction clouds the old USP, but that’s OK considering the strength of the piece and the GRPs they put behind it. However, I do wonder why the cavemen are styled like Tubbs in the ’80s.

Office Max “Jury”: You know how you sometimes get that feeling that the “super-creative” stuff you’re doing may not do as good a job of selling the product as a more straight-forward approach would be? Me neither. But if I did, I’d be glad I did this spot, where the jury is swayed by the nifty presentation help from Office Max. It’s funny while selling the product. As Mr. Bernbach used to say, “Our job is to kill the cleverness that makes us shine instead of the product.”

Jack in the Box “Salad Mobile”: This is about a salad mobile that drives down the highway losing assorted produce and causing havoc for other motorists. CEO “Jack” then chastises an employee for creating the vehicle to simply introduce salads. However, we’re happy he did, as are some vagrant East L.A. deer in the button. People in Hollywood love movies about Hollywood. People in advertising love commercials about advertising. But Jack-as-ad-guy is advertising everyone likes.

T-Mobile “Telegram”: This is one I was happy I didn’t do. A boyfriend sends a singing telegram to break up with his girlfriend because she’s not in his network and it’s costing him a fortune. One of the thousands of definitions of comedy is exaggeration with a strong thread of implied believability. Let’s just say the comedy bar in this category is pretty high, the cost of a singing telegram is also pretty high for a cost-conscious boyfriend and my grade for this spot is not pretty high.

Well, I hear the Academy Awards’ show music playing to cut me off like it does for Ellen DeGeneres in one of this month’s spots, but I can’t leave the stage without hoping that you all go four for 10 this year, sports fans.