CAMPAIGN INTERNATIONAL: WHAT’S HOT IN THE US

The other weekend I was with a friend when the Elton John song, I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues, came on. He burst out yelling: ’I hate this song! He never does tell you why they call it the blues.’

The other weekend I was with a friend when the Elton John song, I

Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues, came on. He burst out yelling:

’I hate this song! He never does tell you why they call it the

blues.’



That’s pretty much how I feel about most American advertising these days

- why do they call it advertising? The airwaves are cluttered with a

seemingly endless stream of dotcom spots, and they all use the same

brand of humour.



Generic. With a big bar code down the side. I don’t know what these

websites do, let alone remember what company it was for. It may be

funny, but it’s not advertising.



But one campaign that stands out in this category is TBWA/Chiat Day’s

work for onhealth.com. Each ad brings to life a single article on health

that you’ll find on the website. One execution shows a sick, elderly

woman in bed while her family moves a heavy bureau. She suddenly sits

up, a chair is knocked over, and then she passes out again. The chair

lands on an article called ’Feng Shui. Does it work?’ Another spot

involves a deadpan first-aid instructor telling jokes to the dummy, to

illustrate an article called ’Healing with humour’. Hysterical. Water

cooler-worthy. And most importantly, I know exactly what to expect from

the site.



Even harder than introducing a new brand, is reviving a formerly

brilliant one. That’s what makes Arnold Communications’ latest

Volkswagen Beetle work especially impressive. They tap into just enough

of the 60s equity, yet make it beautifully modern. There’s nothing

gratuitous about the executional elements - the use of white space, the

type, the music - it all comes right out of the brand. I love the spot

where the car flies around an atomic symbol while ethereal voices

describe the discovery of a new element called ’Turobonium’. Who says

you can’t do a great ad that shows the product the whole time?



Finally, it’s nice to be able to praise an athletic shoe company besides

Nike and really mean it. Every sneaker ad looks like a Nike campaign

from five or ten years ago. Leagas Delaney San Francisco’s ’long live

sport’ campaign for Adidas forgoes the angst we’ve come to associate

with athletics and instead reminds us that sport is supposed to be

fun.



Closest to my New York heart is a spot featuring an obnoxious

out-of-towner who climbs into a New York cab and bitches to the smiling

Indian driver about the Yankees baseball team. The driver eventually

deposits him at a deserted building in the meatpacking district. Enter

transvestite prostitute. I like the ads, I like Adidas for buying them.

I’m even considering introducing a pair of Adidas trainers into my

all-black shoe wardrobe.



And that’s why they call it advertising.



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