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The Ad World has had more than our share of “duplicate” ads this year.

The biggie being Ogilvy Paris recycling a Cannes Winning print campaign for the second time; same visual, different client, same award: a shiny Gold Lion.

Yeah, that was a bad one. Everyone in the business did a collective /facepalm and once again vowed to “never again!”

Just like the time before and the time before that.

But sometimes idea theft happens on the consumer level, too; with the boring old commercials that we make for our real clients (as opposed to the phantom clients we use for award shows).

The latest, and one of the most brazen I’ve ever seen is Subaru’s latest TV spot: “Baby Driver”:


Anyone who sees this spot in a vacuum would say that it’s a big idea, well executed.

It’s a great spot.

But those of us who have seen State Farm Insurance’s spot “, which has been running for a couple of years now, have a slightly different opinion on that:


Seriously, WTF?

Was it a coincidence? Or did they know? Or are they just clueless?

Whichever it is, I find it hard to believe that nobody on the agency or client team had never seen the State Farm spot…because it’s gotten a LOT of rotation in the last year-or-so.

Call me crazy, but I think that watching at least a little bit of TV should be required for anybody who writes TV spots for a living. And a little bit of competitive research should be required for any big agency before diving into campaign planning.

What a shame.

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Sloppy Seconds

Okay. So we’ve been assaulted by AT&T’s “Verizon Sucks” ads for a few weeks now:

Obviously, AT&T had to do something. Verizon’s “Maps” campaign (cue Yeah Yeah Yeahs) was the marketing equivalent of a bitch slapping. But what AT&T didn’t have to do was get an out-of-shape B+List actor to slap back.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Luke Wilson. I like his movies. In fact, I think I’d like to grab a beer with him and shoot the shit. But I’m not sure he’s the best choice to be a spokesperson. At this time. For this brand.

I’ll say what everyone else is thinking:

Luke Wilson AT&T

Seriously Luke, WTF?

He’s… doughy!

More seriously BBDO, WTFF?

I’m not one of those people who follows celebrities, indulging in their romantic escapades, and secretly reading Star on the shitter. And I don’t care who’s fat and who isn’t. In fact, I think we put too much pressure on movie stars, models and musicians to be super-skinny. I think it’s unrealistic and ultimately counterproductive for society.

That said, when a pudgy Luke Wilson first graced my screen a few weeks back, my first thought was “Oops!”

To put it kindly, it looks like either Luke really needs money, or AT&T doesn’t have a working sense of spokesperson quality control.

He just looks tired. Or maybe even hungover. But for both parties, this is a campaign FAIL.

Not that the commercials themselves are bad. They’re at least as good as the Verizon spots… on paper.

Execution? Not so much. And this is just another instance of just how important good casting is in the making of a good commercial.

Oh, and for the record: Yes, I have an iPhone. And no, I don’t hate AT&T.

I just hate this campaign.

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One of the most-aired, but somehow least-annoying commercials on is the “Valet” spot: where the Orbitz Guy exits his hovercraft, thows the keys to the valet, and says “Ah… the” to a surprised Hispanic-lite couple.

It’s subtle, but it’s a great opening. It’s a small, but ultimately pretty funny joke at the expense of trying to make a last name that is already plural, plural.

It’s something we’ve all stumbled with, and chuckled about, at some point in our lives. And it’s exactly the same as making the last name “James”, or any other word that ends in “s” or “z” plural.

Except this last name was Hispanic.

Orbitz has quietly re-edited their spot, and removed the extra “…”s, most likely at the direction of some easily offended letter writers with too much time on their hands.

But what is surprising here is the amount of outrage… not over the original version, but over this new, “cleaned up” version:

The original version (“…”) is what we in the industry call a “truism”. A little human touch that helps endears viewers to your commercial. Some commercials and even campaigns are awash in “truism” (see: Just Do It). But most commercials out there are pretty bland, and would fade into the woodwork if it weren’t for these little gems of humanity. A look. A unique line delivery. A perfectly-cast bit player with a strange face. Or, more often, as in this case, a seemingly “throw away” line, that people like. And remember.

Orbitz’s (“…”) removal of this small-but-powerful moment is a big deal. Not because it made a pleasantly decent spot bad (it did), but because it’s a symptom of a bigger, more nefarious issue: Political Correctness.

Offensive language and stereotypes are kind of like Global Warming. You won’t find anyone who will readily admit to thinking that pollution is GOOD, just like you won’t find anyone who will willingly cheer on the insulting of groups of people, religions or cultures. Especially minorities. But the problem is, with this kind of thin-skinned knee-jerk skiddishness, we’re ultimately missing the larger point. And when we focus on these little, unimportant, but still-perceived “slights” we take the focus off of larger, more harmful, and “real” racism.

The natural reaction to people or groups that are overly sensitive is to treat them like little children. And, for groups that are ironically clamoring for respect, that is the most offensive thing of all.

Yes. It’s a stupid commercial about a silly guy in a hovercraft. But it’s a glaring example of a larger, more insidious problem in our World today: PC Thuggery, the attempt to control other’s thoughts and speech, and the overall wuss-i-fi-cation of our society.

Hopefully this reverse-outrage will garner some attention, and start a proper, grown-up discussion. It’s long overdue.

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If you’ve been watching TV at all in the last two weeks you just might have seen the latest Red Lobster commercial, advertising their “Jumbo Shrimp”.

What’s strange is, although this seems like your ordinary, run-of-the-mill Red Lobster commercial with the nautical imagery and the gratuitously suggestive lemon wedge squrtings… they’ve actually broken new ground in marketing. Yes. It’s true.

Normally, they would call it “Jumbo Shrimp Week” or “Jumbo Shrimp Extravaganza!!!”. And the copy would read something like:

“Come on in to Red Lobster during our Jumbo Shrimp Extravaganza!!! and get all you can eat buttery, golden-broiled shrimp”… blah blah blah.

But, since Red Lobster is now defiantly re-shaping the English language, the copy goes like this:

“Come on in to Red Lobster during Jumbo Shrimp and get all you can eat buttery, golden-broiled shrimp”…

….um, wha?

That’s right. Red Lobster has apparently run out of catchy “event” monikers, and have decided to just go with the proper “sea name” instead. We can look forward to “seabass”, “scallop” “fried clam” and even “cod” sometime in the near future. They were even too cool to simply put the word “week” after the damnd thing. How can we know how long it’s supposed to last?

So it’s “Jumbo Shrimp”. Now acceptable to be used like other terms meaning “extended length of time: eg, “Rhamadan”, “sweeps” or “finals”.

No, not the end of the advertising world. Just. Damn. Weird.

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