Out to Launch

Dan Rather is explosive. Ghirardelli embraces its dark side. Blue Shield launches bare-bones campaign. Let's launch! launched a set of three TV ads last week in an effort to "take the guessing out of gifting." Oh, and Jenna Elfman is working again. She's the voiceover in the ads. "Zoltar" gave me a flashback to the movie "Big." It shows a man looking for answers from a fortune-telling machine, only to wind up in the same predicament as before. Watch "Zoltar" here. A woman spends more time on hold than speaking to an actual psychic in "Psychic Hotline." Watch it here. "Magic 8 Ball" shows that not all problems can be solved with the response "you can count on it." Click here to watch "Magic 8 Ball." Ads are running onNBC and Bravo during the"Today Show," "Days of Our Lives," "My Name is Earl," "Heroes," "Sunday Night Football," "The Tonight Show" and "Conan O'Brien." Mullen created the campaign and mediaHUB from Mullen handled the media buying.



Visa is promoting the launch of "$100K Holiday from Visa," a contest that awards 10 consumers the chance to buy what they really want for the holidays, with an unlikely spokesman: Ebenezer Scrooge. His ulterior motive in performing unselfish acts of kindness is the chance to win the $100K. The spot follows Scrooge donating toys, sulking through a dinner, buying kids ice cream, all to increase his chances of winning the big prize. Watch the ad here. There's also a microsite where consumers can win more than $25,000 in additional prizes, including a $1,000 Visa Simon Malls Giftcard. The commercial will run through the end of December. TBWA/Chiat/Day created the TV spot; Avenue A/Razorfish created the microsite and OMD handled the media buying.

The US Postal Service has launched a holiday Web site. The site provides an overview of the online services provided by the USPS that will help customers during the holidays, such as hold-mail services, scheduling a pick-up and shipping deadlines to ensure gifts arrive on time. USPS is mailing out a direct marketing piece to every household in the country this week to direct customers to the holiday site, created by AKQA.

Talking heads are the stars of Blue Shield of California's TV campaign promoting its range of affordable health plans. The campaign also consists of print and outdoor components. A woman describes her discomfort at disrobing for doctors that don't normally treat her, but accept her insurance, in "Goods." Watch it here. "Helmet" shows a man wearing a helmet 24/7 because he dropped his expensive insurance. Click here to watch it. "Circumcision" shows a disgruntled man arguing with his health care provider about a previous health procedure. Tonsillectomy or circumcision? Watch it here. "Hello shouldn't come 35 minutes into the call," says the voiceover in "Hold Music." Especially when you're subjected to "Beautiful Dreamer." Click here to watch.TAXI created the campaign and Carat San Francisco handled the media planning and buying.

Another insurance company touting its affordable plans in a not-so-stuffy way is Independence Blue Cross, Philadelphia. "When you offer your employees Independence Blue Cross... they'll never feel alone," says the voiceover in three TV ads. Print and radio ads are forthcoming. "Bike" shows a man thrown from his bike in a public place; once he's injured, though, he's alone. Click here to watch "Bike." "Bus" shows a pregnant woman experiencing pain on a crowded bus. Watch it here. The final ad shows a father picking up his sick child from school. Click here to watch "School." The campaign targets corporate human resource decision-makers and will run across the Philadelphia DMA in prime time, evening news and early morning, through December. Tierney Communications handled all aspects of the campaign.

Ghirardelli launched two print ads promoting its new intense dark chocolate bar and its 60% cacao baking chocolate. The first ad features the copy "Lose yourself in the dark." When I quickly read the ad, I thought it said "love" yourself in the dark. I had at least two puns ready to type out until I realized it was "lose," and that my mind might reside in a gutter. Back to the campaign. Copy, when read properly, underscores treating yourself to the finer things in life and features the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. The ad is running in Food & Wine, Good Housekeeping, Gourmet, Martha Stewart Living, Newsweek, New York Times Sunday Magazine, Oprah, Travel & Leisure, People, US Weekly and Wine Spectator. Click here to see a larger version of the ad. The ad for baking chocolate includes a recipe for "Ultimate Chocolate Cookies" and is running in Bon Appetit, Chocolatier, Everyday Food, Good Housekeeping and Real Simple. See the ad here. Both ads carry the theme "Moments of Timeless Pleasures." And you wonder why I confused the copy... Campbell-Ewald created the campaign and MediaCom handled the media buying.

Dan Rather is the bomb. Dan Rather packs a punch. Dan Rather is a lively one. OK, I got most of the cheesy puns out of me. HDNet launched a print ad promoting the show "Dan Rather Reports" that features a microphone in the shape of a hand grenade. The ads will run in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, L.A. Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and TV Week. Ad copy hypes Rather's complete editorial control. "Always provocative. Always powerful. And that was before he had editorial control," says the ad. The show, which premiered last night, is the network's first major original programming. BooneOakley created the campaign, its first work for the network, and Media Storm handled the media buying. Click here to see a larger version of the ad.

People hate waiting in line. Visa did research to verify this and launched a campaign showing that cash can hold you back. "Lunch" shows consumers flawlessly moving through a deli at lunchtime because they're using their Visa check cards, where signatures are waived for transactions under $25. All is well until a customer dares to pay for lunch with cash, halting the seamless flow of food and people, causing a traffic jam and spilled food. Watch the ad here. "Lunch" will run through January 2007 and be supported by outdoor ads beginning in December in 11 markets such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Charlotte and Boston. The ads will appear on billboards, bus sides and shelters, coffee sleeves, phone kiosks, and window clings at convenience stories. TBWA/Chiat/Day created the ad and OMD handled the media buying.

Here's an ad for the soon-to-be-retired ESPN Mobile. Watch it here, for you won't find this in rotation. Similar to the network's highly popular "SportCenter" ads, ESPN anchor Trey Wingo shadows an ESPN Mobile subscriber in this 60-seconds spot, delivering real-time updates, much like the defunct service. "Personal Announcer" shows a subscriber confuse a taxi driver, get excited at an inappropriate time, and argue with his wife, all thanks to his love of sports. My favorite line is undoubtedly when Wingo, while sitting on the back of a bicycle built for two, says, "Your fantasy tight-end looks good. Let me rephrase that." The ad is also reminiscent of the campaign CNN launched two years ago promoting its Web site capabilities by using CNN anchors. Unit 7 created the ad.

Chevy launched "Fenceline" during a fitting venue, the Country Music Awards. Promoting the 2007 Chevy Silverado, the ad seamlessly flows through the years of evolution of Chevy and America, from the end of the war, to walking on the moon, to the present day. Watch it here. The 60-second spot is running in heavy rotation during college football, NFL football, and NASCAR events. Campbell-Ewald created the campaign and GM Planworks handled the media buy.

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