Where was the buzz? Granted the talk about the ads heading into the Super Bowl earlier this month was less than usual. But the hype about the commercials slated for the 81st annual Academy Awards telecast was even more low key, if that's possible. Sure, we're in an economic tailspin. But why should that keep the ad world from at least trying to generate some excitement about their work for a big television event like the Oscars.
Of course, when we finally saw most of the TV commercials that ran during Sunday's Oscar telecast, we fully understood why the talk was minimal. Except for True North nut snacks' mini-documentary spots (including a nice tribute to Chicago's Lisa Nigro, founder of the Inspiration Cafe), the commercials were hugely underwhelming. MasterCard, which has impressed before with some story-driven spots, sought to emulate its successes of years past, but didn't quite. And the Coca-Cola work totally fizzled, especially in comparison to the delightful "Heist" spot on the Super Bowl.
But for us, there was much to take note of in the multiple J.C. Penney executions. If what we saw on the Oscars is any indication, the retailer seems to be returning to formulaic stand-and-model advertising -- this after the retailer's ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi/New York tried to push the department store chain's advertising in a phony, pretentious high-concept direction. We didn't think that nonsense would last long, and sure enough, it appears the company is shifting towards something far more pedestrian.
Blame it on the economy, but this kind of advertising, as mundane as it may be, probably speaks to the core Penney's shopper more effectively than that weirdo revolving house commercial Saatchi foisted on the world when it took over the Penney's account from DDB/Chicago.