Throwback Thursday: CP+B LA’s Kevin Jones reminisces about sneakers and the shakes

Kevin Jones, the executive creative director of Crispin Porter + Bogusky L.A., reflects on two silly ads that show just how limitless advertising can be.

This is only the third Throwback Thursday and we’re already seeing a theme emerging: marketers have a difficult time picking their favorite ads. Kevin Jones, the executive creative director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky‘s Los Angeles office, made his selections by compartmentalizing.

Kevin JonesJones based his selections on his career timeline: his favorite ad from the perspective of an ad guy, and his favorite ad that inspired him before he was an ad guy.

Nike – “Is It the Shoes?”

As a college student studying journalism, Jones didn’t think of advertising as anything beyond something you put up with while watching TV. A Nike campaign with Michael Jordan and Spike Lee, playing his She’s Gotta Have It character Mars Blackmon, opened up his mind.

“It was just something that popped out of the TV,” he said. “I was like, ‘Holy shit, that did not feel like an ad.’ It felt way different: the music, how it was shot. I noticed I really looked forward to seeing the next one in a way you have with your favorite TV show.”

Seeing “Is It the Shoes?” opened up Jones’ eyes to the fact that advertising could be entertainment. The ad’s message – that you could “Be like Mike” if you wear Nikes – only added to that for him.

“It’s such a hard-sell product claim, but it’s so absurd that you laugh about it, but in the end, you’re left actually feeling like shoes could affect your performance,” says Jones. “It was a beautifully silly way to get that point across. It worked on so many levels.”

Miller Lite – “Can’t Control My Arm”

“Silly” is also a word you can use to describe Jones’ favorite ad since his career began. “Can’t Control My Arm” opens up with a scientist demonstrating the way a dog wags its tail when it’s excited.

The ad applies that to excited beer drinkers, in a slapstick way. Jones thinks of it as a pioneer that paved the way for future funny ads, like those featuring the Old Spice Guy.

“It was this silly, sophomoric idea, but the way it was executed made it super smart and stylish,” he says, complimenting the casting, location and props. “It kind of blew my mind how limitless our field could be, even within the confines of what were given, especially back when TV was the main way we did our job.

“Somehow, those 30 seconds took me to a whole other world,” he adds.

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