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

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. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.