Thursday, June 21, 2018
  • Friday, Jul. 20, 2001
"Ptooey": Spit Or Get Off The Front Lawn

This spot opens on a slice of suburbia: the tidy front lawn of a trim but fairly nondescript house. In the foreground is an automatic spraying device used to water grass. But the rapid-fire sprinkler at the end of the long hose isn't spraying. It just lies there—bone dry.

A man enters the picture. He takes the initiative—albeit offbeat—to compensate for the inactive sprayer. In order to help preserve what is presumably his front yard, the homeowner spits on his healthy green grass, walks a few steps, then spits again.

Over several scenes, the man methodically expectorates on different parts of his front yard: the lawn, a pretty flowerbed and neatly trimmed hedge by the porch, and near a shady tree. Though he seems to be getting dry mouth, he manages to muster a bit of saliva at different intervals. However, it's hardly enough to make a difference. You can feel the grass browning already.

Clearly, this gentleman is an unsatisfactory substitute for H2O. Now, across what appears to be a transparent surface—perhaps a plastic shower curtain—with beads of moisture running down it, a supered message reads, "Nothing Replaces Water." It is replaced by three more words: "Please Don't Waste." Accompanying this message is a Web site address: The site offers water conservation tips that can help make H2O always available to the community when needed.

Sukle Advertising, Denver, conceived "Lawn," one of three spots in a television campaign promoting conservation for the Denver Department of Water & Power. The creative team consisted of creative director/producer Mike Sukle, art director Norm Shearer and copywriter Jim Glynn.

The commercials were directed by Todd Factor of bicoastal M-80 Films. Executive producers were Gregg Stern and Matthew McManus; producer was Steve Strachen. The campaign was shot by DP Eric Tremi. Chris Henry served as production designer.

Freelancer Jed Factor edited the commercials and served as sound designer on two of them: "Lawn" and "Shower." Visual effects artist was Pete Mayor of The Finish Line, Santa Monica. Colorist was Steve Rodriguez of Santa Monica-headquartered Company 3. Audio post was completed by audio mixer Rob Sayers of Sound Lounge, New York.

In the alluded-to "Shower," a man jumps in the shower and washes himself with his tongue, à la a fastidious cat. And the third spot, "Messenger," shows a messenger rushing from the hospital to take a covered cup containing a urine sample to a lab. Making his way to his intended destination, he must navigate through a crowd watching a race of marathon runners. A marathoner runs past, grabs the full cup from the messenger and drinks it down, thinking that it's water being offered by an outstretched arm. Both "Shower" and "Messenger" are tagged with the same supers that appear in "Lawn."

The campaign is currently airing in the Denver area.