The Monthly Report Card: October

Showcasing the best marketing use of celebrities & influencers

(1.) State Farm – Chris Paul and James Harden

Grade B+

State Farm proves that face-to-face customer service is irreplaceable in their new spot featuring Oscar Nuñez and Rockets teammates, Chris Paul and James Harden. The teammates appear defeated as they stand beside a totaled vehicle and Nuñez tries comforting them, insisting that it happens all the time. A RoboAgent struggles to make his way up the driveway in what appears to be a low-budget replica of State Farm’s Cole Perez (Nuñez). As the RoboAgents wandering eye beings to glitch, Nuñez asserts “these bots don’t have the compassion of a real State Farm agent.” The bot’s “I have compassion,” rebuttal causes a serious malfunction, water beings to spray out of his eyeballs and he loses control of his limbs. As the RoboAgent collapses on the car, CP3 and Harden realize State Farm’s customer service is unparalleled. The budget-friendly companies may save you money but in exchange you are left with a freaky and defunct customer service RoboAgent. CP3 and Harden’s furrowed brows speak for themselves, this spot is in-fact bizarre but it does get the point across.

(2.) Nespresso – George Clooney and Natalie Dormer

Grade B+

After slain the dragon to protect Dormer’s kingdom, Clooney declares, “the deed is done”. With that, the ad takes flight and Clooney’s quest for his reward begins. He walks through the screen as the short film is playing in a movie theater and heads out to the city streets. He claims his prize – a cup of Nespresso coffee and steps back through the screen and into the kingdom to show the queen his winnings. The queen asks if he brought enough Nespresso for the entire kingdom, Clooney shrugs and the scene cuts to the kingdom riding a double-decker bus to get themselves coffee. The ad features Peter Gabriel’s song, “Solsbury Hill”. Nespresso managed to escape the monotony of fairy-tale ads as the adventure poured into the city streets. Usually the theatrical spots are less than great but this one broke away from the norm and that made all the difference.

(3.) Ford – Bryan Cranston

Grade A

At the helm of Ford’s new “Built Ford Proud” campaign is Bryan Cranston. The spot opens with Cranston as the keynote speaker for this “future talk” forum. Ford is chock full of history, 115 years to be exact and the ad touches on that with clips of an old Ford factory. ‘The Future Is Built’ theme shines through as we catch a brief glimpse into the future of Ford automobiles.”Paint It Black,” by the Rolling Stones strings the clips of past, present and future together. In closing, Ford emphasizes that words mean nothing if there is no action to go with them,”Let the other guys keep dreaming about the future. We’ll be the ones building it.” Ford entrusted Cranston to revamp the brand and foreshadow what’s yet to come.

(4.) McDonald’s – Stevie Wonder


Grade B

McDonald’s played off of Stevie Wonder’s, “Superstition” song to create a timely, Halloween-themed ad. The spot follows a man as he leaves McDonald’s and is not phased by all of the stereo-typically superstitious things he encounters. He walks under a ladder and locks eyes with both a black crow and black cat. His focus is on the McDonalds Trick. Treat. Win! promotion. When he gets home he immediately peels the tab off of his Big Mac box to reveal whether or not he won a prize. In doing so, he knocks over the salt shaker but doesn’t even notice. With over 100 million prizes, McDonald’s suggests you don’t need luck to win which is why the ad debunks all commonplace superstitions.

(5.) Crate and Barrel – Reese Witherspoon

Grade B-

Viewers are addressed by Reese Witherspoon as her “soon-to-be bestie(s)” in Crate & Barrel’s new holiday campaign. Witherspoon is beaming with excitement about the gifts she bought for the holidays. She even bought two glass wine decanters – one for her new ‘bestie’ and one for herself.  Witherspoon’s holiday cheer is contagious as she graces the screen in her festive red blouse and lipstick. But debuting this ad before Halloween is outright premature.

(6.) Nike – Lebron James

Grade  A+ 

This ad debuted just days before Lebron James’s first game as an L.A. Laker. The G.O.A.T’s awe-inspiring narrative unfolds as Nike flashes back to Lebron’s days at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. To the tune of Aretha Franklin’s “People Get Ready,” the spot opens with a clip from 2003 featuring young Lebron in his post-draft interview. In it, naive Lebron tells the reporter he isn’t going to guarantee a championship. The scene quickly changes to wide-eyed Lebron claiming his first championship trophy in 2012. Nike also captures Lebron as a father and philanthropist. This ad is a truly remarkable representation of Nike’s, “It’s only crazy until you do it,” campaign.

(7.) Google Pixel – Frank Sinatra

Grade A

Struggling to capture all of the picture perfect moments in life is something everyone can relate to. In the new Google Pixel 3 ad, a montage of poorly-timed snapshots plays to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “Let Me Try Again.” Whether you’re mid-blink, the wind blows your hair into your face or maybe the action shot just barely makes it into the frame – these are all elements we as humans can’t control. Luckily, Google’s Pixel 3 TopShot combines frames from before and after the shutter was pressed, offering you the highest quality image and lifting the burden of ‘perfect timing’ off your shoulders. The series of imperfectly timed photos is funny, relatable and makes for a great selling point too.

(8.) Mac – Paul McCartney, Serena Williams, Oprah and Kermit Toil

Grade B

Apple revealed several new versions of their popular products this month alongside a new ad for the “Behind the Mac,” campaign. In it, we see Paul McCartney, Serena Williams, Oprah and Kermit the Frog among many others, working hard behind their Mac. Also shown are several common folk creating, studying and perusing behind their Mac. The collection of images entitled – “Make Something Wonderful,” is accompanied by Hauschka’s “Shy.” The black-and-white imagery is iconic for the brand, but perhaps Apple should consider changing things up a bit in the new year.

(9.) Wealthsimple – Skylar Diggins-Smith

Grade A

Investment adviser Wealthsimple sheds light on unequal pay within U.S. men’s and women’s professional sports, in their newest ad. The spot reveals the staggering difference between men’s and women’s rookie contracts and the amount they are paid. Wealthsimple cast two young, aspiring professional basketball players as the storytellers for this ad. Although the young girl in the video is a much more accomplished athlete, her rookie contract of $40,000 pales in comparison to the young boys – $4 million. For WNBA all-star Skylar Diggins-Smith these jarring statistics are a reality. Diggins-Smith and Wealthsimple are not arguing that NBA and WNBA players should be paid the same amount. Rather, they’re contending that WNBA players are entitled to a larger cut of the league’s revenue. By delivering this message straight from the mouths of the American youth and a WNBA all-star who has experienced this narrative first-hand, Wealthsimple sends the message loud and clear.

(10.) Beats – Halsey and Zane Lowe

Grade B+

The spot opens with an interview between radio host Zane Lowe and Halsey who sheds light on the challenges she faced recording her single “Without Me”. The ad cuts to Halsey laying in bed restless. With her Beats draped around her neck, she struggles to pin down the lyrics and melody. When she finally enters the recording studio, and puts on her Beats Audio Studio 3 Wireless headphones, Halsey absolute nails the recording. Its not often that we see an artists’ creative struggle within the comfort of her own home. This spot gives the audience a chance to do just that and more – follow along as Halsey overcomes artistic obstacles.

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