Motorola Shelves A Spot, Sort Of

Adweek takes a look at the agency/client tensions involved with bringing to life this Motorola spot, directed by French filmaker Michel Gondry.

It was during editing that the creative differences became evident. While the agency wanted to keep Gondry’s vision intact, the client wanted to streamline it and take out some of the more fanciful elements. After production had been completed in June, an agency meeting with Motorola CEO Ed Zander made it clear that in Asia—where Motorola is handled by Ogilvy & Mather in Beijing—focusing on the slimness of the phone was gaining favor. The client asked Cutwater to incorporate that strategy into the print executions, but the results were ads that one source called “Frankensteinish.”
According to [Cutwater CEO] Harrington, there was “an inordinate amount of tension between the agency and Motorola. Their team was under a great deal of pressure with the Razr2 launch and we felt for them. I don’t believe that pressure was dealt with in the most constructive way by either party.”
In the end, a commercial emphasizing the phone’s slimness began running globally from Ogilvy. It features a couple dueling on a subway platform with their phones.
“It felt more and more obvious that [Gondry’s spot] was something that wouldn’t be most effectively applied in mass media, particularly for a TV audience,” explains Elena Panizza, worldwide cd at Motorola. “I don’t think it would fit nicely with an advertising block with a Burger King ad. It’s far more sophisticated.”

The spot cost $800,000 to produce. Don’t worry, though, it lives on in YouTube, which of course brings out the fantasmic, cinematic detail of the spot in all its glory. But that brings up a question: If it doesn’t “fit nicely” on television and it never airs, and is only on YouTube, does it belong in the “TV” category in awards shows? Because that’s what truly matters, right?

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. The maker’s of this spot needn’t worry themselves about awards. In a just world, there won’t be any.
    I would like to see the O&M spot mentioned in the article.

  2. Take out the Michel Gondry namedropping aspect, and this is a non-story.
    Agency comes up with idea. Client buys idea. Agency selects driector. Client approves director.
    Director shoots spot. Client decides they don’t like idea/director after all. Spot gets mangled and/or dies.
    It happens every day.
    Leave it to the “we’ve got Adweek on speed-dial” folks at hot shop-wannabe Cutwater to try and turn it into a big “scandal” anyway.
    How boring, immature and lame. No wonder agencies are getting less respect than ever.

  3. I agree with David – the awards-show-category discussion will never occur – it’s just 800k down the drain. 800k that illustrates in an obtuse way that this phone does stuff 100 phones before it did.
    Gee, I wonder why we lack credibility with clients!

  4. “I don’t think it would fit nicely with an advertising block with a Burger King ad.”
    Wow. That is one crazy rationale for determining whether to air your spots.