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Jordan Teicher

Jordan Teicher lives in New York City and writes for The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and Tablet Magazine. He likes basketball, David Foster Wallace, and tomatoes, in that order. Email jteich21@gmail.com or tweet @JordanTeicher.

Cossette Games the Arctic for Royal Canadian Mint

Educational video games typically offer up half-hearted gaming experiences that grow staler by the click. It’s like the developers weren’t sure how to balance the knowledge with the fun, so they just half-assed both parts. Rarely do we get to enjoy the two like in an Oregon Trail. Who knew caulking a river could be so much fun?

Based on the screenshots and trailer for the Royal Canadian Mint’s new digital children’s game, Cossette has teased enough creativity to at least get kids interested in checking it out. The release marks the 100th anniversary of first Canadian Arctic expedition (although according to the trailer, the timeline should start in November 1913). I haven’t played the game myself – I’m a bit outside the 6-11 year-old age range – but in terms of advertising, I was surprised by the amount of storytelling and suspense in the trailer. The graphic aren’t exactly going to challenge the Grand Theft Auto franchise, but this actually looks like a game rather than a textbook pretending to be a game. Credits after the jump.

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Carmichael Lynch, Subaru Bring Daddy Issues to New Spot

Just as the movie industry hits the boredom wall after New Year’s, the ad industry has really seemed to stall out since the Super Bowl. Makes sense: big budgets used up on Rob Riggle psuedo-celebrity endorsements and Stephen Colbert pistachio suits. What we have now is the calm after the storm, best exemplified by Carmichael Lynch’s new “Best Dad” spot for Subaru.

“Best Dad” is a simple 30-second clip that positions Subaru as the sweater-wearing dad of car brands, which is a fairly accurate representation, but maybe not the most tantalizing choice for an ad campaign. Take this recent video, for example, of a small Subaru sedan towing a Dodge Charger police cruiser out of the snow as one way to uniquely position the brand, especially in the winter. What Carmichael Lynch chose to produce instead is so typical that’s it’s hard to remember what happened 30 seconds ago. All car brands mention awards in their commercials. Motor Trend and J.D. Power and Associates give out awards the way Little Leagues give out trophies. Even if the message stays the same, at least try to present it in a fresh way. Just try, that’s all I ask.

Credits after the jump.

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Dell, Y&R New York Show Brothers Can Get Along with Proper Technology

What would it look like if J.K. Rowling was sleepy and directed a Dell commercial? That’s mostly a compliment for “Brothers,” a cutesy spot that doesn’t draw attention to itself, but could’ve done so a little more, considering it’s going to run during the Olympics. With whimsical storytelling and a few colorful scenes, there’s enough material to hold your attention for the time being.

The story focuses on two brothers, the Kavanaughs, who have a strong connection, even as children. They grow up to start a business together, Kavanaugh & Kavanaugh, not to be confused with Kavanagh & Kavanagh, a real law firm in Millville, NJ, I found on Google after watching. The Kavanaugh brothers, who have never been separated, know that they must for their business to succeed. So, one brother heads to Asia to globalize the company. How do they do this? With Dell products and with tablets that aren’t affected by blackouts. There’s a good story here, and I must give credit for the lack of overbearing product placement, but this spot could use a bit more verve. Credits after the jump.

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Snickers Plays What-If in Two New Commercials

To promote Snickers Bites, BBDO New York went retro. Bites give hungry customers a bag full of tiny pieces of Snickers bars, a pretty big switch for the consistent candymaker. But what if Snickers had thought of the idea decades ago?

There are two spots, “Intercom” and “Leisure Suit,” that attempt to answer the question, showing goofy scenarios dated to the 70s about follies that prevented Snickers employees from making Bites many years ago. “Intercom” is clearly the better of the two, as a forgetful man with some vague decision-making responsibilities at the company tries to tell his secretary to remind him to create Bites. Unfortunately, there’s static, which the secretary blames on the Soviet Union. “Leisure Suit” is little more than 30 seconds of lazy guys in afros pretending to be stoned. There’s no reason for the laziness, and the jokes are dumb. However, the premise does lend itself to future self-contained episodes, so BBDO can always take a mulligan and create some better spots in the future. ”Leisure Suit” and credits after the jump.

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Trop50 Tries to Keep the Juice Going on New Year’s Resolutions

Trop50′s “Resolution Rescue” campaign, produced by the newly merged Agency Republic (and Critical Mass), is sort of like a digital addiction sponsor. Only, the sponsor doesn’t try very hard to stop you from your addiction and really only wants you to drink more low-calorie orange juice.

Resolution Rescue offers a semi-personalized response to those who tweet about potentially breaking their New Year’s resolutions. The video above gives a good example of the creative work: @MissTrixster wants to stop eating sweets and do more exercise, so Trop50′s response makes a clever joke about training by staring at muffins. Agencies that roll out these response-based campaigns typically have a few options that repeat, but to Agency Republic’s credit, there seems to be enough detail and personalization to tailor to the needs of most tweeters.

Of course, the campaign also hinges on a few ridiculous points: people need to tweet thoughts about breaking resolutions without actually breaking them, and the resolutions need to be simple. What if your resolution is to stop tweeting? What if your resolution is to stop drinking sugary drinks? Does Trop50 send you a black screen? Credits after the jump.

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Macklemore, Ryan Lewis Bring Grammy Life to NYC Bus

Most likely, this video of Macklemore and his Jazzy Jeff shadow Ryan Lewis is a staged marketing effort from TBWA\Chiat\Day LA to promote the 56th Grammy Awards. The two musicians hop on a New York City bus with a boombox and start performing an impromptu concert full of Macklemore’s signature exuberance and corny hand movements. The riders on the bus start dancing and feeling the music – the bus driver even starts clapping on (probably fake) closed circuit footage.

I’d probably react the same way if Macklemore came on the crosstown bus. But you know how I know it’s not real? Because if anyone came on NYC public transportation with a boombox and started making noise, there will undoubtedly be at least two people who hate it and tell them to shut it off before they turn into depressed and sarcastic versions of the Hulk.

But whether it is real or not, the question everyone wants to know is: where is Ray Dalton? Credits after the jump.

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Jaguar Goes Across the Pond for Villains

Ben Kingsley, Mark Strong, and Tom Hiddleston are all really good British actors who are being repurposed as vague villains- and possible paid one million dollars, pinky to corner of mouth – by Jaguar for a glitzy Super Bowl ad campaign that features tuxedos, cliches, and the sexy F-Type Coupe.

“Rendezvous: The Set Up” offers viewers a 30-second teaser featuring only Sir Kingsley. He says things like, “So they’re coming… [dramatic pause] all the usual suspects.” Corny if you think about it too much, but there’s some in-the-moment fun to be had when an Oscar winner brings his talents down to the genre commercial world. The spot is directed by Tom Hooper, who won Best Director for The King’s Speech, but it feels like anyone who’s watched Bad Boys II could’ve done this job. I guess Guy Ritchie was busy. Regardless, it’s a very British production for Jaguar USA and the Super Bowl ad push. Spark44, Jaguar’s in-house agency, handled creative duties for “British Villains,” which could go down as the straightforward title of the year.

 

Guy Trades Dignity, Respect for Lifetime Supply of Doritos Locos Tacos

In exchange for a lifetime supply of Doritos Los Tacos, Tyler agrees to get a tattoo…of a taco…on his arm. It’s relevant because Toronto Taco Bells decided to keep DLT on their menus permanently after a trail run. Aside from the unintended sexual connotations of a taco tattoo, Tyler fails to realize that in a few decades, it’s possible that Taco Bell takes the tacos off their menu (though we’ve been told they’re “permanent” in Canada). Not guaranteed, but possible, and then he has a tattoo of an obsolete offering from Taco Bell. Tyler is maybe 50 or 60 at this point and thriving as an MP in Toronto. If this scenario plays out, does Tyler still get the tacos for life? Would love to get a copy of his contract.

The spot itself, from Toronto shop Grip Limited, is not as exciting as the idea behind it. Fairly simple, guy walks into tattoo parlor, gets tattoo, confirms stereotypes by saying things like, “I’ve been a fan of Taco Bell since I was ten years old,” even though he looks about 26. I’d have to imagine the kind of person who finds this spot cool already eats Doritos Los Tacos regularly, has half-serious plans to move to Colorado or Uruguay, and is probably between the ages of 15-19. If not, then I’ve really overestimated the collective common sense of humanity. Credits after the jump.

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BBH London Fails to ‘Own the Weekend’ for British Newspapers

Using some replacement movie-trailer-guy voiceover and repeating “Owned” is a slippery slope of dumb comedy that risks making the product look much dumber than it should. That’s what we have here in “Own the Weekend,” created by BBH London for the Guardian and Observer weekend editions. There’s even a totally out-of-place intro from Hugh Grant that has nothing to do with the actual ad and makes this silly mess a whole lot messier.

To give a brief description of something that doesn’t have much coherence: the two British newspapers trademark the word “weekend,” presumably because their Saturday and Sunday papers are so wonderful that it’s hard to imagine the concept of the weekend without their titles attached to it. Various gags are built on this idea. The voiceover actor says “Owned” a lot. If the clip doesn’t make much sense to you, that’s because it doesn’t make much sense. How can this spot be so tone-deaf when the same shop and client produced an awesomely sharp spot about the three little pigs in 2012 that won a London International Award?

If you happen to watch the end of the clip – which runs too long at three minutes – you’ll even see an elevator scene that ironically makes the Guardian and Observer look even worse. Two guys are talking about their weekends, and one guy (sane) forgets to use the trademark gag. The other guy (dumb) won’t respond unless his weekend is addressed as “Guardian and Observer weekend.” The sane guy, who the viewer relates to, doesn’t get why everyone has to use the trademark, and the dumb guy laughs at him for not following the crowd. It’s the exact slapstick scene that would be used by some competitor to make the two newspapers look foolish and out-of-touch. Yet, it’s here, making the clients look foolish and out-of-touch, instead.

Clemenger BBDO Presses Pause Before Cars Crash in NZ Transport Spot

This 60-second PSA created by Clemenger BBDO for the New Zealand Transport Agency puts a very powerful spin on the familiar topic of driving safety. Two drivers who are about to crash get a momentary reprieve as their cars freeze. The men get out of the cars and talk about the inevitable collision. “I’m going too fast,” one man says regretfully, “I’m sorry.” The other begins to tear up as he realizes his young son, sitting in the back seat, will be seriously injured. The tension of this spot is teased through better than some movie action sequences.

What is it with Clemenger BBDO and incredibly impactful New Zealand PSAs? Pay attention to how these videos tell stories instead of trying to guilt the viewer into feeling dejected. The acting is very, very good for a commercial, which helps the point of the campaign get through to the viewer. It almost makes you want to keep watching.

 

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