Ad of the Day – January 30 (Los Angeles)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency:Conill
  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Client: Argentina New Cinema Film Festival
  • Name: “Stakeout”
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: The humorous gag has always been prevalent in advertising, but quite often these days it’s used a “surprise!” reveal at the very end – your brain connects the dots, you smile, and then the ad is quickly over while you still have the “taste” of it in your mouth. This one feels a little different, because the reveal comes early…and then they continue to play out the gag with full gusto, giving us plenty more time to enjoy and smile knowingly as they squeeze the joke for it for all it’s worth. Throw in little executional flourishes and a very clever/insightful/humorous tagline, and this becomes a clip that is well-worth sharing.

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Ad of the Day – January 29 (Toronto)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Red Urban
  • Location: Toronto
  • Client: VW Jetta
  • Name: “Butcher”
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: I promise not to make this an “all VW, all the time” blog entry…but damn if they don’t keep making great, simple ads. How do you talk about price/value in a manner that is visually arresting, different, interesting, and (above all) without cheapening the product? Well, this ad is one example. The first challenges above (arresting, different, etc.) they totally nailed through the super-simple idea and a fantastic, no-compromise execution (they actually had to construct a set where they could hang real Jettas…it’s not CGI!) But the part about “value vs. low cost” is interesting, because it’s so fraught with danger. By going waaaay over the line into the realm of the ridiculous (a car being bought like a cut of meat), they actually get the value point across with crisp clarity…without compromising the integrity of the real car. A very fine line, but artfully managed here. Great work coming at us from Toronto.

Ad of the Day – January 28 (Amsterdam)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: W+K
  • Location: Amsterdam
  • Client: Booking.com
  • Name: “Booking.yeah”
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: Very strange, because I love…1/2 of this ad. “Less is more” or “More is more”? It depends. Think back to some of the great ads of late and you’ll see many of them are 1 minute or more. A narrative with a heavy emotional impact quite often benefits from just a little more time to truly develop. But that assumes you’ve got an amazing, crisply defined idea at the core! In this peculiar case for Bookings.com, I wish they’d cut the ad half way through, because the extra time allowed the idea to meander all over the place, effectively creating 2 separate ads, which we’ll call “The hold-your-breath moment” and “Booking awesome”. I loved the first one…the dramatic build-up to that hold-your-breath moment when the key goes into the door…that all-or-nothing feeling…it felt very real, very human, and it sets up the brand as the ace-up-your-sleeve in these pivotal moments. Excellent. Except that we then continue into the “second ad”, more irreverent and featuring a brand-centric play on words that could have been funny/memorable in a different setting – but here the shift in tone is so at odds with the first half that the whole thing comes off as just…a little strange. A reminder that “more is more” and also “less is more”…it’s all relative, and you’d better know the difference!

Ad of the Day – January 24 (Richmond)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency:The Martin Agency
  • Location: Richmond, Virginia
  • Client: Pizza Hut
  • Name: “Hut Hut Hut”
  • Category: Film
  • Apologies: Unlike all other Ads of the Day, this one is very US-centric, and will not work as well if you are not somewhat familiar with American Football or have not grown up or spent a lot of time in the US. Here’s a tip: in American Football, the quarterback says the word “hut!” so that the Center will release the ball to him. The amount of time he say the word varies greatly so as to confound the opposition.

Why I like it: In the two weeks leading up to the Superbowl, I expect that Pizza Hut’s target audience in the US will love this ad, it wouldn’t surprise me if the ad spawned some pop culture/viral momentum. I loved it for two reasons: It’s flawlessly mixes editing, soundtrack and casting to produce a powerful mix of energy, friendship, celebration, nostalgia, anticipation…overall it’s the shared, communal experience of Americana. This is a powerful stuff, you’re tapping into the inner sense of cultural togetherness of an entire nation. Not bad for a pizza ad! But what about the product, the brand, you ask? Well, as I got carried away watching the ad, I thought the same – how could they possibly link it back to Pizza Hut? The payoff line “to quarterbacks everywhere…thanks for all the shout-outs” is brilliant for being completely unexpected…and obvious…and simple all at once. A very complex, emotional ad capped off by charming, colloquial play on words to bring the tonality back down. Just right! Lovely work from The Martin Agency.

Ad of the Day – January 23 (Curitiba)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Terremoto Propaganda
  • Location: Curitiba, Brazil
  • Client: Ecovia (road safety association)
  • Name: “Drive Safe”
  • Category: Print, OOH

Why I like it: yes, yes, and yes! “Road safety” has been done to death, so when you come across work that is completely different and unexpected, work that is expertly crafted to deliver a unique and arresting visual “punch”, and work that is intellectually honest and on message…well it just makes me happy:) Furthermore, it’s proof that creativity can truly flourish anywhere: yesterday it came from Minneapolis, and today it comes from a small independent agency in Curitiba. One day inspiration strikes, and the next day you’re shortlisted at Cannes (my prediction). Believe it: your next project could be “the one”…and why the hell not?

Ad of the Day – January 22 (Minneapolis)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Mono
  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
  • Client: Target (an everything-retailer, sor of like a Tesco)
  • Name: “Bake Sale” one of many in a series
  • Category: Film

If you like the one above, do check out the other 7 ads in the series by clicking here

Why I like it: Because it’s so good! Look, I get it. Everyone wants to work on a beer account. Or Coca-Cola. Or Virgin. Or Mini…Only a very few get to do so! What about the other 98%? They work on things like light bulbs, candy, oatmeal, diapers, and detergent. Dull, you say? Don’t be so quick to throw the towel on your creative ambition! This series of ads by Target, out of a small shop in Minneapolis, are an inspiration to me. Sophisticated yet approachable, visually stylish, product-centric, slightly tongue-in-cheek, sporting a rocking soundtrack, simple, upscale yet also self-aware. What else is there to ask for? There are two lessons here: 1. There is creative potential in anything, anything at all…find it, seek it out. 2. If you can’t, or don’t know how, get truly talented people on it and (…wait for it…) let them do their work. Account folks and brand managers, am I suggesting that once it gets to creative development and execution you learn to trust just a little more and “leave your mark” just a little less? Why yes, I am:)

Ad of the Day – January 21 (Portland/Tokio)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: W+K
  • Location: Portland/Tokio
  • Client: Nike
  • Name: “Vapor trail”
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: Idea and execution. Content and craft.  “A great story…well told”. It all comes back to these two critical ingredients of good advertising. In most cases we strive for a balance, because that is how you maximize the chances of hitting the creative jackpot. A great idea, told in an amazing way – that’s the ticket! If the balance is tipped towards either ends of the scale, it gets really hard, because then your idea or execution has to compensate for that imbalance, and most simply cannot. But…every once in a while, you see it. Especially on the execution side – an execution so different, so unique, so well done, so all-absorbing…that it becomes the idea, too. Here’s a great example. Not much of an idea there, as traditionally defined. And personally, I dislike the player, so the celebrity angle doesn’t even work. But man…I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. The execution is so good that it crosses over and becomes the idea, and along the way converts an ad into entertainment. Quite rare (although perhaps less rare for W+K: Old Spice and Honda “Cog” come to mind,) and always fantastic to see.

Ad of the Day – January 18 (Los Angeles)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Deutsch
  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Client: VW Passat
  • Name: “Toss”
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: VW has reached a stage with their advertising where they just “make it look easy”. Like a seasoned basketball pro that can swish basket after basket, or an illustrator who sketches brilliant caricatures on demand, or a street musician that can play any tune on their piano…the VW reel of late is consistently and self-assuredly a level above the competition. This ad, like many that precede it, has a warmth that is not common in the category, along with the confidence to sell without over-selling. It has humor that delights, but does not overshadow. It appeals to the emotions, while still delivering a product message. It features the product, without breaking the narrative. It lets you think you’ve figured it out, and then turns the tables on you. And so forth. This stuff is really, really hard to do well! Yet VW has been doing it now for a couple of years… Four days ago they announced a global sales record for 2012. Coincidence? I think not.

Ad of the Day – January 17 (Paris)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: BEING\TBWA
  • Location: Paris
  • Client: Martell XO (Cognac)
  • Name: “Rise Above”
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: Lovely. In this day of kinetic editing and super-short attention spans, it’s a nice departure to come across work that feels more mature, work that asks a little of your patience as it takes its time to build to a satisfying conclusion. For a high-end Cognac, it feels just right. What truly delivers here is the superb execution: the lush cinematography, and especially the fantastic musical score where you can feel the crescendo coming but it still surprises you when it bursts through – both of these elements feel suitably luxurious and refined. Yet also, a tip of the hat to the tagline “we all have wings…few of us know how to use them. Martell XO, Rise Above”. Quite intriguing because it’s both a bit elitist and yet also inviting and inspirational…all at once. Some really nice nuance and texture to wrap up this lovely little film from Paris.

Ad of the Day – January 16 (Rio de Janeiro)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Ogilvy
  • Location: Rio de Janeiro/Sao Paulo
  • Client: Coca-Cola
  • Name: “Let’s go crazy”
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: Wow. ok…where to start..? One of the top 3 ads of the year for me so far. Powerful. When I see an ad like this, I’m so inspired I can’t think straight, so let me share  my thoughts in stream-of-consciousness style: [BEGIN RANT] This film is an example of why I love to be a part of this industry. Advertising breaking from the chains of mediocrity and aspiring to transcend, to be something more, to touch lives, to impact our human experience in this world. This is pantheon-level work: superbly executed to be immediately interesting, well branded, infinitely expandable to any media, and embracing you on an emotional level. You’ve heard the one about “don’t tell people you’re funny, make them laugh instead” – here Coke doesn’t tell you they’re about happiness, they…make you happy. When a brand does that, wow, they’ve really nailed it. The whole concept of “going crazy” by being kind to strangers…what an inspiring, interesting twist on a universal message. And so lovingly executed…we’ve talked about the critical importance of music…this Super Tramp song…it doesn’t just kill me, it murders me! This ad is a grand manifesto for Coke, so very fitting in the year they will be crowned Marketer of the Year at Cannes. A few companies like Apple and VW can look to their side as say “welcome to the club”, most others can look up and see where the benchmark is at (and if I were Pepsi…I’d be upset…). Wow. So good! [END RANT] When I see work like this I’m overcome by a benign professional jealousy. In this case I’m lucky to know many of the talented people in Ogilvy Brazil that worked over a full year to get this done, so I can thank them directly. Superb, superb stuff- Gracias chicos, Obrigado galera!