The Super Bowl gets most of the advertising buzz, but last night's Golden Globes featured three ads so good they're worth multiple viewings.
Target, which has created witty, visually inventive commercials for years, outdid itself in a brilliant collaboration with the "dance-illusion" company MOMIX. As art, it's nothing short of stunning, although it's hard to say how effective it will be: no merchandise is depicted. Here's the 60-second version of the spot, with creative backstory and production credits (except for music—can anyone out there identify it?).* If only 5 percent of the ad's creativity carried over into the Target retail environment...
H&R Block, the tax-preparation company, is using "Tax Questions" as its theme this year. The campaign plays out in predictably earnest fashion on the website, but the commercial I saw is a different story: dynamically shot, realistic yet intriguing, funny without being forced. "Is a haircut a business expense?" asks a young man seated in a barber chair who's having his enormous, unruly mop shaved close to his skull. "My son earned four figures last year—does he need to file a return?" another voice asks, over a shot of a kid pushing a lawnmower. The ad is clever, persuasive, and a welcome change from last year's "Grim Reaper" spot. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the new ad online; I'll post a link as soon as it's available.
It's hard enough to turn taxes into entertainment. For a real challenge, consider the U.S. Census. (Yep, it's that time again.) Big props to whoever thought of letting mockumentary director Christopher Guest (Best in Show, A Mighty Wind) inject his deadpan humor into this potentially dreary subject. Guest rounded up a bunch of his regulars, including Ed Begley, Jr., Jennifer Coolidge, and Bob Balaban, for the hilariously spoofy campaign, "A Snapshot of America." (Playing himself in the ad: Gary Resch, group creative director at DraftFCB, the campaign's agency.) There will be five spots in all. Read the AdAge report, which includes video of the first spot; there's also an extended version. The Census Bureau has done a nice job with its website, too.
* Music composed by Michael Picton of Expansion Team. Thanks to the reader who let me know; it's right there on the page, but I hadn't seen it!