Ad Madness: The Final Four, baby!

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It’s time to narrow the field to a Final Four and we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started in the Food & Drink Region.
1) McDonald’s “You Deserve a Break Today”
4) Coca-Cola “Have a Coke and a Smile”
This is a huge 2nd round match-up between two of the most recognizable advertisers in this field of 32. An interesting side note: 70s icon Barry Manilow didn’t just write the songs that make the whole world sing. He also wrote the song that made the whole world buy cheeseburgers and won 2 Clio Awards in 1972 for his work with Tab and the famous “I am Stuck on Band-Aids” spots.
Winner: McDonald’s
3) Wendys’ “Where’s the Beef?”
7) California Milk Processor Board “Got Milk?”
Both of these campaigns have gained a foothold in the public consciousness, but when your catch phrase plays a part in presidential politics, you have taken advertising to another level. During the 1984 Democratic primaries, Democratic candidate and former Vice President Walter Mondale ridiculed the candidacy of  Senator Gary Hart, by using the phrase during a March 11, 1984 televised debate. Hart focused his campaign around the phrase “new ideas.” When Hart used the slogan in the debate, Mondale responded by saying, “When I hear your new ideas, I’m reminded of that ad, ‘Where’s the beef?”.
Winner: Mondale won the nomination and Wendy’s wins this round.
So in the Regional Finals we have are:
1) McDonalds
3) Wendy’s
Clara Peller became a media sensation, making appearances on Saturday Night Live (4-14-84), and Wrestlemania 2. Becoming a cultural zeitgeist is more than any client could ask for and Dancer-Fitzgerald-Sample delivered just that to Wendy’s.
Regional Winner: Wendy’s
Transportation Region:
1) Volkswagen “Think Small”
5) Avis “We Try Harder”
The classic Doyle Dane Bernbach campaign “Think Small” is still taught in advertising classrooms around the world. If you get a chance, check out Frank Rowsome’s book about the campaign. It’s out of print, but you might find it in a used bookstore or on ebay.
Winner: Volkswagen in a rout.
3) Isuzu “Joe Isuzu”
2) Chevrolet “See the USA in your Chevrolet”
As funny as Della Famina, Travisano & Partners’ Joe Isuzu was, it just doesn’t hold up to the Campbell-Ewald jingle from the 1950s. I you get a chance, check out Jerry Della Famina’s book, “From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor.” It’s a collection of “war stories” from one of the most outspoken members of the advertising community. (The title came from a brainstorming session for the client Panasonic.)
Winner: Chevrolet
Regional Finals:
1) Volkswagen “Think Small”
2) Chevrolet “See the USA in your Chevrolet”
Dinah Shore will only take you so far. DDB made a small, noisy, uncomfortable car produced in a factory built by the Nazis appealing to the American consumer. I’m not sure there is a taller order in advertising history.
Regional Winner: Volkswagen
Let’s head out to Vegas for the Sinful Products Region where we have:
1) The Marlboro Man
4) Absolut Bottle
The irony of multiple Marlboro Men dying of lung related diseases is not lost on me (thanks Rob), and while Absolut has recently changed their campaign, the “Bottle” ads succeeded in making a tasteless, odorless liquor a tasty option when pulling up a barstool.
Winner: Absolut
2) Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should
3) Miller Lite Taste Great- Less Filling
It is hard to get past using the Flintstones as cigarette shills and the Miller Lite ads still make me laugh, even if I did have to explain to my wife who Boog Powell was.
Winner: Miller Lite gets a seat in the front Row.
Regional Finals:
3) Miller Lite Taste Great- Less Filling
4) Absolut Bottle
The vodka giant is just too strong for Ueke and the boys. As much as I enjoy those Miller spots, there isn’t a coffee table books with Billy Martin and Bubba Smith on the cover. (But the minute there is one, I’m placing my order.)
Winner: Absolut takes a spot at the Final Four.
On a side note: Absolut recently ran into a bit of bad PR with their Latin “In an Absolute World” campaign. In fact, there was such an outcry from north of the border that Absolut actually had to run an explanation on their web site.   I’m guessing much of the outcry came from folks with a limited grasp of American history and an even more limited sense of humor.
And last, but not least, the Consumer Products Region:
1) Apple – “1984”
4) Timex “Takes a Licking”
While “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking” is a clever line, the Apple spot was cinematic in scale. And it should have been, as it was directed by Ridley Scott, who had just come off filming Blade Runner and Alien.
Winner: Apple by a mile.
2) Nike – Just Do It
6) Energizer – “The Energizer Bunny keeps going and going and …”
Even the Energizer Bunny finally runs out of steam and trying to stop the Nike juggernaut is just too tall an order.  Like Mars Blackmon said, “It’s gotta be the shoes.”
Winner: Nike just does it again.
Regional final:
1) Apple – “1984”
2) Nike – Just Do It
Maybe I’m just a computer geek, but I’d rather be like Woz than like Mike. What many people didn’t know about the 1984 spot is that it was very nearly axed by Apple’s board of Directors, who ordered the ad scrapped and the time slot in the Super Bowl sold.
Winner: Even 24 years later, Apple’s spot is still amazing.
So there you have it… our Final Four.  Wendy’s vs. Volkswagen and Absolut vs. Apple. Check back tomorrow and we’ll crown a champion. And, as always, if you have thoughts, leave a comment or drop me a line at [email protected]

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Photo of Current360 Associate Creative Director Robert Womack

Rob Womack

If there’s anyone who can honestly say, “Been there, done that,” it’s Rob. After traveling the world for seven years in his 20’s, Rob went to LA and started working in film production. Then it was off to New York, where he learned how to program, which eventually brought him back home to Louisville to build websites. At Current360, Rob heads up our in-house production studio, creating all things digital for our clients — videos, commercials, radio spots, and a lot more. 

When he’s at home, Rob likes to create things like homemade kombucha and music.