Monday, November 9, 2009

The demise of Cliff Freeman and Partners -- and a certain kind of TV ad

The demise of Cliff Freeman and Partners last week marks the end of an era in many ways. First, it in all likelihood is the end of a certain comedic style — unless Freeman manages to move elsewhere — and it is also another death knell for agencies which rely too much on TV commercials as the default medium for advertising. By some accounts, among the problems the shop faced was that its emphasis on traditional forms of media over digital ones wasn’t in favor with most clients. (The faltering economy certainly didn’t help either.)

Whatever the case, it’s hard to imagine that even commercials the caliber of Freeman’s could capture the pop culture zeitgeist the way that “Where’s the Beef?” did in 1984, or the gerbil being shot out of a cannon did for Cyberian Outpost during the dot-com boom. (Clara Peller, the then-octogenarian who appeared in that famous “Wendy’s” spot, is pictured above.) TV commercials don’t capture the popular imagination the way they once did; it’s another casualty of the era of micro-targeted media..

For the fun of it, below is an overlooked commercial Freeman did for Wendy’s while at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample. Take a look and have a laugh at “Russian Fashion Show”: