April 16, 2007


Back to the Drawing Board: Those mesmerizing new UPS ads (Seth Stevenson, 4/16/07, Slate)

These ads are mesmerizing. It's partly all that white space. (An old advertising trick. Think of those full-page newspaper ads that luxuriate in acres of blank newsprint. Or recall the seamless, white-background look of Apple's "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" campaign.) There's also something gripping in observing the skill of this dry-erase wizard who can transform, with a few effortless marker strokes, a small UPS van into a giant 18-wheeler complete with mudflaps.

But more than the eye-catching set design or those killer whiteboard chops, I think it's the power of narrative that holds us entranced.

The Wife and I saw one of them and were bewildered that some suit had approved them. To begin with, the guy looks like he ought to selling gelatto outside a stadium where cops are clubbing soccer fans.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 16, 2007 6:33 PM

I'm not big on the "Advertising as Art" stuff, but the ads in question didn't bug me.

Did they sell more product/service.

To me, the guy looked like a frufru consultant all the companies are hiring now, most of whom were former gelatto salesmen.

Posted by: Bruno at April 16, 2007 7:19 PM

Gelatto? No one we true football fans leave that sort of thing to the fancy boys in pink Sawx hats on Landsdowne. Like Josh Beckett.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 16, 2007 9:55 PM

Speaking of annoying ads, has anyone noticed that Wendy's is using the Violent Femmes' Blister in the the Sun to sell hamburgers. If you really listened to the lyrics, it really doesn't put you in the food consuming mood.

Posted by: pchuck at April 16, 2007 9:57 PM

Plus the background music is by The Postal Service (the band, not the US government).

Posted by: ted welter at April 16, 2007 10:08 PM

You want annoying? Remember last year when you couldn't escape those ads for a "male enhancement" pill?

These are pretty good ads, though the music doesn't seem quite right for them. Amusing that the guy is actually the creative director of the ad campaign.

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 16, 2007 10:10 PM

Not bad. I hadn't seen them before, and just found them on http://whiteboard.ups.com/. One simple theme per ad, and the UPS name is mentioned frequently, the label drawn, and the name written and underlined. Good reinforcement.

BTW, "gelato" has one "t".

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at April 16, 2007 10:13 PM

The ads that bother me are legion -- the theme is the husband/boyfriend is an incompetnet dolt, and the wife/girlfriend is the mature, rational one.

Posted by: jd watson at April 16, 2007 11:04 PM

Those UPS ads are simply awful. I change the channel every time. OJ's description of the guy in the ads is perfect.

Posted by: JAB at April 17, 2007 1:07 AM

I never thought one way or another about them.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 17, 2007 6:28 AM

at least the dude isn't using PowerPoint.

Posted by: Chris B at April 17, 2007 6:44 AM

Actually, I like the UPS ads, mildly. (In contrast, the Mac/PC ads drive me nuts, and leave me happier that I (mostly) use Linux.)

Posted by: Jim Miller at April 17, 2007 8:30 AM

Actually, I like the UPS ads, mildly. (In contrast, the Mac/PC ads drive me nuts, and leave me happier that I (mostly) use Linux.)

Posted by: Jim Miller at April 17, 2007 8:32 AM

Use a DVR to tape your shows and never watch a commercial again.

Posted by: erp at April 17, 2007 11:10 AM