Advertiser: Del Taco
Agency: Italia/Gal, Los Angeles
Challenge: Persuade heavy fast-food eaters to try a new 1-pound burrito.
The Ads: Sex and violence are the hooks in this campaign. One spot shows a fistfight between two hockey players. "If this is the kind of stuff you could watch all day, you're going to love this," says the voice-over as it cuts to a shot of Del Taco's Macho Burrito. A second TV commercial shows a bikini-clad model running toward the camera in slow motion. "If this is your idea of quality entertainment," says the voice-over as the ad cuts to the burrito, "you're going to love this." Each spot ends with two jocks butting heads as the voice-over recites: "We know who you are. We know what you like."
Comment: Italia/Gal said the Macho Burrito is indulgent and extreme and therefore requires advertising to match. No doubt there are guys who will enjoy these spots--how else do you explain Jenny McCarthy? But a large number of people will probably find the gratuitous use of sex and violence--albeit within the context of sports--offensive. What does that say about the Macho Burrito? $
Best Western Stands Out in the Middle
Advertiser: Best Western Hotels
Agency: BBDO West, Los Angeles
Challenge: Differentiate the mid-priced hotel chain from competitors.
The Ads: In each of three television spots, hotel porters haul a double bed to an unusual place: a busy New York thoroughfare, the edge of a boat slip at Lake Tahoe, the center of an indoor basketball court (a voice-over notes a hotel is near the basketball hall of fame). Each ad ends with the legend: "Across the street from ordinary."
Comment: Economy hotels tout lower rates while luxury hotels boast of amenities. But a mid-priced hotel? Besides showing that Best Western facilities can be found in different locations, the quirky ads imply no two hotels are the same. Thus, the ads suggest that the Best Western experience is varied and, presumably, interesting. The spots stand out from other hotel ads because they avoid shots of predictably clean rooms and breathless, pampered guests. $$$
New Campaign Milks a Good Concept
Advertiser: California Milk Processors Board
Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco
Challenge: Keep the successful, 3-year-old "Got Milk" campaign fresh.
The Ads: A series of four television spots center on the plight of people in the fictional town of Drysville, a city without milk. In one spot, glum townsfolk eat dry cornflakes and pass up cake because there's no milk to wash it down. In another commercial, a son who has left home sends his parents news from the outside world: Brownies aren't doorstops; people eat them. In another spot, police arrest teenage boys caught joy-riding across the county line to get milk. The campaign includes outdoor advertising: A billboard shows a pole covered with lost-cat notices. They've left Drysville because there's no milk.
Comment: The quirky humor of the "Got Milk" ads survives in this twist in the long-running campaign. Whereas the previous 25 spots built up to the "Got Milk" punch line, the new spots use subtle humor throughout. Shot in black and white, the ads have the kitschy feeling of a 1950s horror movie. $$$$
Packard Bell Ads Not Up to Speed
Advertiser: Packard Bell
Agency: M&C Saatchi, New York
Challenge: Distinguish Packard Bell from the myriad brands available to the home computer user.
The Ads: Two television commercials tout separate attributes of Packard Bell PCs. In one spot, a mother with a crying child on her lap calls Packard Bell customer service for help because her computer screen is frozen. Her call is promptly answered by a technician, who first asks to speak with the infant and stops it from crying. In the second commercial, an elderly uncle hits the PC with his cane, complaining he can't get the TV to work. A young nephew turns the computer on to show it is not a TV, thus demonstrating the PC can withstand the blows of a cranky relative.
Comment: These ads don't sufficiently set Packard Bell PCs apart. Perhaps the company has improved its abysmal customer service, but many PC makers offer help. Expensive machines like PCs should withstand some jostling, and Packard Bell doesn't claim its machines are stronger than those of its competitors. The underlying problem here is that PCs have become commodities, making it difficult for Packard Bell and other manufacturers of inexpensive machines to find ways to separate their products from the pack. $$
Ads are rated from $ to $$$$, based on tastefulness and probable effectiveness, with $$$$ being best.