Garfield's AdReview

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Is it heroic, or reckless? Disarming, or off-putting? Pathetic, or life-affirming? Exactly relevant, or fundamentally irrelevant?

Whatever the answer to those questions, what's clear about Nokia's new slice-of-life campaign from DarkGrey, New York, is that it-you should excuse the expression-rings very true. But that only leads to another question: Is this truth that does anybody any good?

For instance, in one spot we meet Kathy, who saves all her boyfriend's complimentary text messages to use as ammunition when he accuses her of being moody. Or Ben, who sometimes whispers to himself so he can snap his own photo in an unexcited state. Or Heather, who dresses her doggie up in canine couture and sends the pix to Mom. Or Ed, the bouncer, who has "The Dukes of Hazzard" theme song as his ring tone, because it's his theme song, too.

His theme song, ladies and gentlemen.

And then there's Jill. She is a young woman, probably in her late 20s, neither gorgeous nor ugly, neither fat nor thin. But she is quite vivacious, and she's all smiles as she cheerfully rehashes the end game of her latest failed romance.

"And, uh, the first thing I do is get rid of all of his photos. I get rid of all the little, like, concert tickets and stuff like that that we went to together. I delete his e-mail. And the last thing I do to break up is I delete him from my cellphone. It is ... it is so great, because when you go to the phone, and you delete it, and your phone asks `Are you sure?' and you look at your phone and you're, like, `Oh, yeah. I'm sure.' "

Then the product shot and tagline, which is: "It's your life in there." And then back to Miss Break-up.

"And he wasn't in my phone anymore!" she says, nervously bouncing her knees together. "I don't even know who he is! David who?!"

What a good actress this woman is. It isn't easy to appear so cheerful and simultaneously so painfully desperate. Yeah, she pressed the erase button twice, but she obviously hasn't erased David the jerk from her wounded psyche. She's asking us to say "You go, girl!" But we're really thinking, "You poor thing."

In the Nokia Pantheon of Poor Things.

Man, what a charming lot of losers.

And what a strange time to be trotting them out. Mobile phones, at this stage, may be universal appliances, but they're by no means a commodity. It's a lively market among Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, and there are still plenty of reasons for choosing one brand over another.

Namely: the intrinsic benefits: features, memory, display, connectivity, design and, of course, price. Isn't it ceding quite a bit to the competition, as this stage of the game, to eschew salient information to proclaim, "Buy us because we understand you."

Yet that is precisely what this campaign asks. Buy Nokia, because it knows how your mobile phone fits into your life. It knows that sometimes your cell is a cell, and sometimes it's a boyfriend-deletion device.

But, uh, who cares? Who cares whether it has insight into your life? (Or, more precisely, into Jill's life. Maybe you don't identify with Jill. Maybe you don't like Jill. Maybe Jill scares you.)

There will come a time, no doubt, when the mobile-device business is a parity marketplace. But that time isn't near. Meantime, spare us the human truth and tell us something about the damn phones.

Review: 2 stars

Ad: Nokia

Agency: DarkGrey

Location: New York