Would you like Sony to blast your town with sound at all hours?

Posted on Tue Oct 20 2009

Every once in a while, a commercial comes along that's completely puzzling. Sony's "Soundville" video above, for instance, leaves me scratching my head for several reasons. The idea was to hire Juan "Cadbury Gorilla " Cabral, the Argentine commercial director, to show how Sony's speakers can enliven drab surroundings. Cabral pulled off a similar feat for Sony in 2006, when he set off dozens of huge paint jets to color a Glasgow housing project. But here, he and Fallon London have picked Seydisfjordur, a small village in Iceland, to attempt the same idea with acoustics. While I think the intent is to see this and think "the power of music," instead I thought "martial law." I also wondered how the villagers felt about having music piped in at all hours. I'm not the only one. Creative Review in the U.K., for one noted: "It does beg the question about what scenes were left on the cutting-room floor however, with the villagers appearing to relish the sound intrusion in their lives (with the odd expression of surprise), rather than reacting in the angry way one might expect when your village gets taken over by an ad agency." Also, why Iceland? I mean, I know this wouldn't work the same in, say, Rio, but haven't these Icelanders suffered enough recently?

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Cruzan rum working its heritage to the hilt in latest ad campaign

Posted on Thu Aug 13 2009

Cruzan

Cruzan rum may have struck the ultimate formula for its new ad campaign. It manages tout its heritage, a Caribbean island and Ernest Hemingway all in one fell swoop. The rum brand, which has been made in St. Croix since 1760, covers all those bases in new out-of-home ads in its key U.S. markets. One execution in the "Legendary rum of St. Croix" campaign, by ad agency Fallon, shows a stone-faced Caribbean bartender below ad copy that reads, "Still served bars where Hemingway drank." The ads feature no actors or sets, just proud Crucians "in their everyday lives," per a press release. The Cruzan campaign works because such heritage is hard to come by in the hyper-competitive spirits category. Plus, rum drinkers like Jimmy Buffett always want to fly to St. somewhere. And evoking the spirit of Papa never hurts. After all, when they remodeled his favorite bar, Sloppy Joe's in Key West, he asked the owner for the urinal, which he placed in his backyard for his famous six-toed cats to drink from. Why did he want a urinal from a bar? Because, as the story goes, he rationalized that "that's where I pissed all my money away anyway."

—Posted by Kenneth Hein

Alpo will get dogs to the poker table if it's the last thing it does

Posted on Thu Feb 5 2009

Dogs-playing-poker copy

Creative briefs can contain just about anything, but Fallon Minneapolis deserves credit for citing a true first. Having just landed the Nestlé Purina pet-food portfolio, which includes the top-shelf Alpo brand, Fallon director of brand innovation John King said in a statement yesterday, "We've all seen the picture of the dogs playing poker. That was our brief." King went on to say: "That photo represents the Alpo brand and the Alpo dog. ... Alpo is going to call a timeout and give permission for dogs to be dogs again."
  Kudos to King for at least freshening up the business wire with forthright talk and colorful imagery. The only thorn in the paw is that "Dogs Playing Poker"—a series of paintings, not photos, created in 1903 by artist Cassius Coolidge for Brown & Bigelow cigars—doesn't depict dogs being dogs. Not, at any rate, unless dogs bet with chips, drink liquor and hide aces in their hind paws. But insofar as the paintings represent the playful irreverence that's common to dogs, King's got lots of potential stuff to work with.
  And just for the record, he's not the first to recognize it. According to DogsPlayingPoker.org, card-playing canines having been expropriated for everything from clothing to video games to, in the 1990s, a series of commercials for ESPN. As for the original 1903 dogs, in 2005 two of Coolidge's paintings sold at auction in New York City for $590,400. By our math, that would buy about 545,000 13.2-ounce cans of Alpo.

—Posted by Robert Klara


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