UPS Whiteboard 2.0: New and improved or diminished?

The UPS Whiteboard ads have taken on a new feel, adding animation to the mix. Accompanying the spots is a new Web site that takes you on a guided tour deep into whiteboard world, complete with animated shorts that address what Brown can do for you.

The first round of Whiteboard spots were fantastic bits of ad gold. The agency world embraced them, in part, because the lead in the commercials was none other than Andy Azula, the creative director of the UPS account at The Martin Agency. Consumers responded to the offbeat presentation, the humor and the web integration.

The new ads bring back Azula and his little brown marker, but ramp up the visuals with iPod like movements and animation. So, what is happening here?

Argument one: UPS is building on a successful campaign. The animated spots still have the charm of the old spots and the whiteboard site is pretty deep. If anything, the subtle changes rejuvenate the concept and remind consumers that UPS embraces technology in the delivery of their services.

Argument two: It wasn’t broke, but they went ahead and fixed it anyway. The fact that the old spots were totally hand drawn made the campaign work. Watching Azula working his magic is what kept you tuned in time after time. It is what made you share the spots on YouTube and what spawned spoof spots. The new spots remove the magical element, and kill the spirit of the campaign.

Where do I stand? I like the old spots better, but can appreciate the move forward. What saves the new spots for me is the accompanying website. It is packed with info, addresses multiple audiences and rates high on the cool factor. From an audience perspective, as a campaign progresses, we should become more involved, more trusting of the brand and more knowledgeable about the product offerings. The added technological aspect does just that for me. We realize that it isn’t just a bunch of brown trucks, but an international tech-fueled organization that connects us to the rest of the world.

If you disagree, think of one of the alternatives. UPS could have assumed the campaign did what it was supposed to do and moved on to something else, squandering a bunch of equity.

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