Commentary

Out to Launch

Yao Ming saves an elephant. The Brawny Academy is open for business. United gets animated promoting international business travel. Let's launch!

Oh, the things we do to put a smile on a baby's face, no matter how dumb we might look to others. Cheerios launched a Father's Day ad yesterday, running until Sunday, that shows a man, presumably on the streets of New York, looking like a complete loon. The viewer has no idea why he's dancing, jumping up and down, shimmying, until we see a baby in a stroller doling out Cheerios to the amusing dad. The spot concludes with "Happy Father's Day." Click here to watch the ad. The ad is running on national and cable television and also on CBS's billboard in New York's Times Square. Saatchi & Saatchi created the ad and Zenith Media handled the media buy.

The National Parks Conservation Association launched a series of print ads that depict national park icons in the form of mock blueprints. The reason? To emphasize that once a structure is destroyed, it's gone forever. Mock blueprints feature Delicate Arch at Arches National Park in Utah, a two-million-pound sequoia tree from California's Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite Falls from Yosemite National Park in California. The words, "It's Not Like We Can Make New Ones," are "stamped" in the corner of each ad. Young & Rubicam Chicago created the PSA campaign.

WildAid has launched a TV spot in both English and Chinese, featuring NBA basketball player Yao Ming raising awareness about the purchasing of products made from endangered animals. The ad launched this month in the U.S. on Fox and CBS and on CCTV-1 in China. The 30-second spot shows an elephant coming out of the dark in sight of a poacher's gun scope. Once the poacher pulls the trigger, Yao drops his basketball and rushes toward the elephant, deflecting the bullet aimed at the animal. A voiceover states, "never buy illegal wildlife products, and we can save our endangered animals." The ad concludes with, "when the buying stops, the killing can, too," uttered by Yao in both English and Chinese. ML Rogers, New York created the campaign, and media buying was handled in-house.

Watch out, men; the Brawny Academy has opened its doors. The site launched on Monday with the first of eight Webisodes following eight men who are sent to the academy, located in Northern California, by their wives and girlfriends in an effort to improve their domestic and romantic skills. The men, however, think this camp is all fun and games, and spend the first night of camp partying until the wee hours of the morning, leaving behind a large mess. Brawny Man wakes the men up early the next day to inform them that if they live like pigs, then they have to live with pigs--so the new tenants are brought in. And so ends Webisode one. The next Webisode launches in two weeks. Fallon Worldwide created the site.

Westin Hotels & Resorts has launched a global TV, print and online campaign with nary a hotel room in sight. The campaign instead highlights what guests will feel at a Westin: a sense of calmness and relaxation. At first glance a print ad for Westin's new signature White Tea scent looks more like a perfume ad (complete with a scented strip) than your average hotel ad. Better still is the second print ad, a clear acetate page that says, "Clear your mind. Free your senses." "Breathe" highlights the hotel's non-smoking policy with one simple word. Another spot, "Wake Up," describes what noises you should hear when you wake up in the morning; birds chirping, wind chimes, the sound of the ocean. "News" resembles a cable news show that is slowly replaced with calming images of flowers and candles. The final spot, "Mask," shows what the world looks like when you are wearing a cucumber eye mask. Hint: it looks good. Ads are running on CNN, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, USA, TNT, TBS and Bravo. Print ads can be found in The New Yorker, Wired, Vanity Fair, Real Simple and Gourmet. Deutsch New York created the campaign and MediaVest handled the media buying.

United Airlines launched an animated 60-second ad last week entitled "The Night," focusing on international business travel. The ad shows a jet-lagged businessman who opts for exploring an Asian city rather than staying at his hotel and watching TV. He eats, sees the sights, experiences the culture and heads for the airport and falls asleep on his flight home. The spot ends with United's tag line, "It's time to fly," and is running nationally on cable. Fallon Minneapolis created the campaign and Mediaedge:cia handled the media buying.

With gas prices soaring, the number of family road trips might be on the decline this summer. That didn't stop Thule, a manufacturer of car racks, from launching a pro-road trip campaign last month. Print ads running in Outside, Women's Adventure, Canoe & Kayak, Paddler, Mountain Bike, Dirt Rag, Powder, and Freeskier pay homage to typical road trip activities, such as selecting what music to bring along and how to prevent one arm from getting more sunburned than the other (answer: left-arm sunscreen). I loved the destination-themed air fresheners in four unique flavors: "New Mexico Cactus," "Washington Apple," "Vermont Maple," and "Colorado Aspen." TDA Advertising & Design created the campaign and media buying was handled in-house.

WONGDOODY launched a handful of TV spots playing off movie clichés, genres and characters in a campaign for the Seattle International Film Festival. "Play Along" also includes print, radio and outdoor components. The pro bono campaign is running until the festival concludes on June 18. "Documentary" is a sing-along about things you might find in a documentary: malaria, couscous, trapeze artists, lesbian loggers, unclear sounds, unsteady shots. Click here to watch it. "Black Comedy" highlights instances in movies where you laugh even though it might not seem appropriate: a seeing-eye dog gets hit by a car, a funeral scene, an example of cannibalism, and a scorned lover. Click here to watch "Black Comedy." Media buying was handled in-house.

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