Kraft Easy Mac spot a silent-movie gem

There are ads that knock you sideways right from the start. And then there are ads that, like we hear about the girl next door (we actually never lived next door to her), you see every day and then one day...

There are ads that knock you sideways right from the start. And then there are ads that, like we hear about the girl next door (we actually never lived next door to her), you see every day and then one day realize is really quite attractive.

Every time I see it, I like the Kraft Dinner Easy Mac spot better. It’s the one where the guy comes home, throws the door open, and announces Cheryl, you’ll never guess what I found at the super- and he stops.

Because the apartment has been stripped. Everything’s gone. Cheryl’s gone. And the strange thing about it all is the guy doesn’t seem so surprised. Or sorry. But what he is, is hungry. And from this point on, everything that goes through his mind is telegraphed via his body English, and it’s quite a performance.

Alone in the empty flat, he opens a kitchen cupboard to find a bowl for the Kraft Dinner. Empty. He glances down at a wretched little dog who’s been left behind too, and sees the dog’s water dish. Good enough!

Quick as a wink, he’s made the dinner in the dog’s dish in the microwave oven. Now he needs something to eat it with. Hey, what luck! There’s a torn-in-half snapshot of our hero pinned to the kitchen bulletin board with a fork planted right between his eyes! Pluck it out and yum, dinner for one is served!

If anyone’s got a problem with this little almost-silent-movie gem, it could be that it appears to contravene one of our Immutable Rules of Advertising, namely never portray your customer as a schnook.

But does it? I don’t think so. The woman who left hates his guts (that fork!) and she may think he’s a jerk, but we don’t know for sure. She didn’t say. All we see him do is a guy-down-on-his-luck-struggling-for-survival bit that could be right out of a Charlie Chaplin or a Buster Keaton silent, and we feel kind of sorry for the poor guy. Don’t put that 20-pound head in the oven! kind of sorry. We hope he’ll eventually meet somebody nice and start buying the larger package again, OK? It’s lovely work.

I also realize how much I like those CTV station break things where the stars of Ally McBeal and The West Wing and Law & Order and ER peer out at us and do something quirky with the little balls with C-T-V on them. I especially like when Martin Sheen as the President of the United States spins the C ball like it was the planet Earth. And I’m sure Calista Flockhart is doing something, oh, G-spot-related when she sort of pokes the thing and does that oo-la-la face.

It’s nice that they remind us how much we like their shows in just one, wordless micro-moment, instead of just showing us a five-second clip from a rerun. A very smooth way of branding the CTV product, too. (But I still haven’t forgiven them for firing Avery!)

And speaking of branding, and who isn’t, those of us who can remember when it was kind of neat to just do great advertising still go on and on about The Great Volkswagen Beetle Ads of Yesteryear, and how they were like The Great Volkswagen Beetle Ads of This Year Only Different.

But have you noticed that even non-Beetle VW ads are pushing the envelope these days? You’ve got to like the sly, ad-person wit demonstrated in the double-page magazine spread for The Passat.

On the right hand page, a slightly fuzzy, seen-from-above photo of the car storming along against a field of even fuzzier asphalt. On the left hand page, where the Art Director would normally put the boffo headline and a couple of hundred well-chosen words of copy in nice large sans-serif, is…nothing. Just asphalt, man!

Only it’s like somebody took an X-acto knife and cut out the paragraph of teeny-tiny legal boilerplate mouse-type from the bottom of the ad and plonked it down in the middle of the empty page of asphalt.

This little block of copy says: 2000 Passat GLS shown. MSRP $29,100. Price excludes taxes, registration, transportation, options and dealer charges. Dealer sets actual price. But it’ll probably be pretty close to $29,100. And because no one reads advertising anymore, no one but you will know that’s all you paid. It’ll be our little secret.

Now that’s kind of ironic. Forty-five years ago, Volkswagen was getting famous by sending up the pretensions of bombastic, overblown advertising. Now, they’re doing it by sending up the posturings of the new generation of self-styled Brand Engineers who claim to disdain words and pictures as tools of persuasion. It’s an ad, kids. It’s just a good ad, so maybe you didn’t notice.

Barry Base creates advertising campaigns for a living. He writes this column to promote the cause of what he calls intelligent advertising, and to attract clients who share the notion that many a truth is said in jest. Barry can be reached at (416) 924-5533, or faxed at (416) 960-5255, at the Toronto office of Barry Base & Partners.

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.