Infiniti ad hits the spot

Ad Review
Marty Bernstein is an advertising consultant and has worked on auto accounts at Campbell-Ewald and D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles
Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day Executive creative director: Rob Schwartz Creative director: Chris Graves Assistant creative director: Eric Grunbaum Art director: Jason Stinsmuehlen Copywriter: Eric Grunbaum Producer: Sybil McCarthy-Dadfield Assistant producer: Jonathan Roeb Production company: Anonymous Director: Andrew Douglas Postproduction company: Mad River Editors: Michael Elliot and Brad Wetmore Assistant editor: Inome Callahan Effects: A52 Original music: Coco Steel and Love Bomb Voiceover announcer: Natasha Richardson Actor: Ronald Topp

Summer used to be big for the movie industry. It's a time of fun and frivolity, and there has always been at least one movie everyone had to see. But this year, it has been a season of one-week-wonders, opening big, then losing anywhere from 30 percent to 60 percent of the audience and money the second week.

Automotive advertising on TV was much the same.

What TV commercials did you see that were really motivating, compelling and intriguing - much less provocative or even interesting? Commercials in general, and automotive commercials specifically, fell into the same rut as summer movies. There weren't even any one-week wonders.

Has the economic slowdown infected the creative departments of agencies and their clients around the world? It would seem so.

Vehicle commercials were boring this summer with a capital B. Many tried to put a cute or clever spin on the ubiquitous price incentives, rebates and summer sales, but they really didn't stand out. Some deserve serious pans.

Only one commercial was appealing, interesting and motivating. And that commercial came from an unexpected source - Infiniti.

Nissan's luxury brand had been suffering from criticism for an advertising campaign that aired 10 years ago. That was then. Times have changed for the better, thank you, and so has Infiniti's advertising. The commercial gets ya from the start.

'Intriguing, but strange'

The scene: It's raining; the sudden kind of downpour that catches you without an umbrella. Guy steps out of a modern downtown office building, looks at the throng of soggy pedestrians and says: "Rain, stop!"

You wonder, what is this commercial for? Can't even guess, right?

The rain stops. Hmmmm. There's something here about power. Guy enters the wet street crowded with cars, trucks, buses, vans and a streetcar (where did they get a streetcar?). Perplexed, he says, "Traffic, yield!" And the traffic halts so that he can cross unobstructed.

Again, you ask yourself, what is this commercial for? Still can't guess, right? The hook is now set.

Ah, ha! The man gets into a silver car. Hello, could it be? Is this a car commercial? Looks like it could be. And it is. They gotcha and gotcha good. You'll watch and listen to this one because you don't know what it's about.

Our man of few words says a couple more: "CD, play." And wonder of wonders, the player in the dashboard comes to life.

"Climate control, on," he says, and the air conditioning springs into action.

OK, it's a car commercial, but so far we don't know what kind of car, and we're a good two-thirds of the way into the thing. We do know it must have something to do with what the guy is saying. Intriguing, but strange. And powerful.

"The new Infiniti Q45 with voice-activated controls," the voiceover says.

The hero then utters the words every driver has wanted to say: "Lights, green!"

Says the voiceover: "The rest of the world should be so accommodating."

Super the tag line: "The new Q - accelerating the future."

Fade to black.

Really good work

The creative types at TBWA Chiat/Day and the production and post-production sources they hired for this commercial did good, really good. They got us involved at the opening, built mystery, intrigued us with the voice-activated aspects and paid it off at the end.

Gee! Just like they taught in Commercial Writing 101: a beginning, middle and end. Now there's a concept.

The camera work is fine, the editing smooth. The production values are top notch. The sound is seamless, and the music is compatible. The voiceover is authoritative but understated.

So, what's wrong? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Oh, the streetcar, remember? What's it doing here? The commercial, called "Power of speech," was shot in the Netherlands. Gotcha again, didn't they?

In a summer of dopey, witless, uninteresting and tedious commercials, this spot hit the spot.

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