Even If You're KG, There's No Getting Around It: This Is Bad

Goodby Can't Connect Basketball Star to H-P's Latest Laptop

By Published on .

Wow. Hand it to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. This was not easy to pull off.

In the space of 30 seconds with a famous basketball player, one of the greatest agencies in the world has managed to capture three of the five characteristics AdReview most despises in a TV commercial.

That's no small accomplishment. We've been at this for 24 years, and we've seen every bad shot from every square inch of the floor. But seldom three air balls in one possession.

First the good news: The spot, called "Kevin Garnett All-Arounder," for H-P, isn't immoral or obviously dishonest. It isn't sexist, or racist or homophobic. It's not a blatant rip-off of anything (worth ripping off blatantly). No baby seals were bludgeoned.

So it's hard to summon any righteous indignation. We're not going to toss and turn, or pen an open letter or agitate for a boycott. Mainly, we're just sort of stunned.

Because the spot just blows.

And not because of the lame premise and labored copywriting, either.

The first thing the ad does egregiously wrong is use a basketball star to sell a notebook computer. Because ... why? Where is the connection? The copy is labored for the very reason that it spends 97% of its allotted time establishing Kevin Garnett's computing bona fides, in the form of interior monologue during practice.

"Hmm. Let's see, let's see. [The ball he is dribbling freezes in midair.] Gotta prepare for my business trip to China. [Images of carp, a passport, an ancient temple float upward from a computer as if weightless.] Got some big meetings locked up. Check up on some schools I sponsor. ... Give 'em some tools. [A relief map of the world fractures into free-floating continents.] Man, they hyped about that. Do a little research on the competition. [He plays a video game, featuring himself on defense.] Ha ha, that guy always fakes left. OK. [He walks back up to the frozen-in-space basketball and grabs it to resume practice foul-shooting.] Back to work."

All right. Fine. He uses a computer.

Who doesn't? The question remains: Why would Kevin Garnett be a credible spokesman for this product? Answer: He isn't. On the contrary, his basketballness thoroughly overwhelms his computerness. With the rarest of exceptions, celebrity endorsements make sense only when the celebrity is relevant to the product being advertised. If you have to spend the entire commercial justifying the relevance, that's a pretty good clue you've got the wrong guy. Air ball.

Then there are the visual effects, which are equally gratuitous.

Apparently they're meant to depict some of the H-P computer tools Garnett can avail himself of to make his trip a success. But they look like no such thing. They look like generic CGI of the sort we see all the time and which have long since ceased to trigger so much as a second look, much less a gasp of appreciation.

Moreover, there is no sense they are connected the computer being advertised, because until the 30th second of the 30-second spot, it's difficult to tell that any computer is being advertised. Till then it just looks like "Left Behind VI: Encarta Rapture," as digital encyclopedia pix drift up to heaven, their empty earthly vessel left behind.

Then, finally, a voice-over announcing: "The ultrathin. H-P DV2."

Really? Ultrathin? Who knew?

The product benefit shows up in the tagline, yet isn't so much as hinted at before. Unbelievable. Communicating ultrathinness suggests a huge basket of options. How could the agency miss the whole damn thing?



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