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
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
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
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
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.