Strangers TV spot 1
Strangers TV spot 2

Are drugs turning your kid into a stranger?

That’s the provocative question being posed in a pair of new commercials created by Energy BBDO for The Partnership at Drugfree.org. In each spot a bewildered mom struggles to recognize her own children. Using older actors playing strung out losers (in place of what should be ordinary kids) is the campaign’s primary conceit. They are belligerent and ugly people; the kind of people kids become once they start abusing drugs and alcohol.

I admire the simplicity of the idea, dramatizing what otherwise is a complicated and challenging problem. A legitimate approach, it definitely has legs. To that end, I wouldn’t mind seeing coming spots push the ugly transformations even further. The two users in this commercial come across as goofier than plagued.

Yet, maybe that’s a good move (intended by the client and creatives), allowing parents and kids to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Addiction is just that: a tunnel. The further in you go the harder it is to get out. In recovery they call the darkest place in it one’s bottom. Trust me, I know. Yet, for as long as there have been anti-drug commercials there have been acute dramatizations of brutal despair and disgusting consequences. The characters in these spots aren’t quite there yet, thank God.

On a special note, it’s gratifying seeing (and writing about) so many quality campaigns coming out of my hometown, Chicago. First the exemplary Mayhem campaign from Leo Burnett. Followed by Secret’s timely and provocative meanstinks work from the same agency. And now “Strangers” from Energy BBDO. Spring is here –sort of. We will soon have a new Mayor. And the Bulls are heading into the playoffs as a number one seed. Are Chicago’s agencies following suit? The arrow is pointing up.

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The Commodore and his sinking ship.

My earlier post on the demise of JWT is causing an unusual ruckus, but none more spirited than the one taking place on George Parker’s notorious site, Adscam/The Horror!

Adscam on JWT

After reading his enlightened eulogy, read through the 40-plus comments and you’ll get a serious look at why this piece of bad news is badder than most. Even yours truly is taken to task -both for posting there and for my position. Price of entry I suppose.

Beneath the sour grapes and gutter sniping, however, are some fairly prescient comments about the long, sad decline of a Chicago flagship and its unceremonious sinking.

I intend on writing more about the matter on Monday. I expect I will not be the only one.

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Given the grim climate in Chicago (the weather, the economy, the government), I’m thinking it might be high time we celebrate the unheralded but quality work coming out of our city’s many agencies.

We hear a lot about what’s wrong with the people, places and things as it relates to the Chicago advertising community. I want to go another way. Hold to the good, as our pastor likes to say.

In this spirit, every day this week, I’m going to feature a campaign from a local shop that deserves praise… not punishment.

G-whiz, f you’re like me, you’re scratching your head over Gatorade’s first campaign from their new agency, TBWA. While not bad, the “G” work seems (to me) like a diluted version of Element 79’s deservedly famous “Is it in you?” campaign. Proof that clients leave agencies for reasons having little to do with the “work.” Speaking of Element 79…

On a decidedly smaller stage is their charming campaign for Harris Bank. “We’re here to help” was a decent concept when it came out but it is especially relevant now. Prescient even.

However, like the Burnett work for Allstate, it’s not likely to win many, if any, creative prizes. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t special. It is. Print and outdoor executions offer practical solutions to various mundane predicaments, juxtaposing a bank-related solve in clever ways. Synergizing the media enhances the campaign’s playful potential. The word jumble execution pictured here shows how much fun you can have being helpful.

harris-pic

Element 79 beat my agency for this account in a hotly contested pitch. Had they not, our campaign would have been, if I’m being honest, seriously reviewed and most likely scrapped by now for its brazen confidence and pride. “We’re here to help” is a humble message, which I’m sure resonates with jittery consumers.

While Gatorade may have been intercepted by another agency, Element 79 holds its own with this small but decent effort for Harris Bank.

images1The “Dow” looking up.

Given the grim climate in Chicago (the weather, the economy, the government), it’s high time we celebrate the unheralded, quality work coming out of our city’s many agencies. We hear a lot about what’s wrong with the people, places and things in the Chicago advertising community. I want to go another way. Hold to the good, as our pastor likes to say.

In this spirit, for the next few days, I’m going to feature campaigns from local shops that deserve praise… not punishment. They may not be famous or ground breaking. But they are good. Join me as we give a warming hug to the City of Big Shoulders!

Everyone likes to dump on Draft FCB. For whatever reasons, this hefty Chicago-based agency takes more than its fair share of abuse. Frankly, hating on them is getting old.

Especially when considering their stunning campaign for Dow. Simple and beautiful, the “Human Element” is a breathtaking body of work. It literally puts humanity into a company that’s been ostracized more than any other on earth –including Draft FCB!

Remember when Dow “Chemical” was considered a corporate monster and vile polluter? Neither do I. For that, I think a lot of credit should go to Draft FCB.

Odd fact: My mother, Christine Montet worked for FCB as an art buyer just before it merged with Draft. They fired her. So if I can get over hating on this agency, Lord knows anyone else can too!

images-2The “Human Element” adds just that.