CAMPAIGN INTERNATIONAL: WHAT’S HOT IN THE US

For some reason or other, there isn’t much about to get tongues wagging when it comes to US advertising these days, with one or two notable exceptions. Which is a shame, because tongue-wagging is such a delightful pastime.

For some reason or other, there isn’t much about to get tongues

wagging when it comes to US advertising these days, with one or two

notable exceptions. Which is a shame, because tongue-wagging is such a

delightful pastime.



My first choice is the campaign for the mint sweet, Altoids, by Leo

Burnett Chicago. It’s been going for a couple of years now, but the

campaign is still curiously strong. With print executions such as ’macho

mint’, ’freeze’ and ’wintergreen’, it’s one of the best things out

there. It’s taken the quintessential little old lady’s mint brand (or at

least it looks that way to me; I’d never heard of it before) and made it

cool.



The cultural iconography is as venerable as the Village People and

Hawaii 5-0. Which makes me say book this advertising, Danno, because

Tony the Tiger has, apparently, been putting some wacky tobaccy in the

ordinarily staid Leo Burnett’s pipe.



Number two is the TV campaign for the website, CNET, by Leagas Delaney’s

outpost in San Francisco. These spots feature a drab, yet cheery

fluorescent-lit yellow room, in which genial folk wearing captioned

T-shirts act out various consumer electronics dramas.



They’re just very funny. You remember them, you talk about them. It’s

relevant; it tells you how the business functions. It’s a totally

hi-tech field done in a totally lo-tech way. Nobody speaks; it saves

money on voiceovers.



How did they sell this internally, or to the client? The execution was

critical, and those twisted visionaries at Traktor delivered like the

corner deli.



I read somewhere that the casting involved going up to people on the

street and asking them if they wanted to do something fun for a hundred

bucks. It’s the best stuff out there, perhaps some of the best stuff

ever.



And last, but not least, there is the TV campaign for Priceline by Hill

Holiday, New York. Another dotcom, it offers a cheap way to get airline

tickets and hotel rooms online. The spots feature a charismatic,

hard-charging William Shatner, performing all the cool music I used to

listen to in high school, grafted on to free associations about travel,

love and the restless American spirit.



Soda pop came out my nose the first time I saw these. I later found out

there’s a bit of an inside joke referring to Shatner’s brief career as a

pop singer, but apparently it’s working. I read in the paper that

Shatner’s own equity in Priceline has rocketed to dollars 50 million

Directed perfectly, it’s blocked off like a concert film, but the action

is slower. And Shatner is electrifying. It’s his finest work since TJ

Hooker, and the only TV out there right now in CNET’s class.



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