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3 advertisers raise tech ads to new level

By Published on .

Time never stands so still as when you are waiting for your computer to help you--a universal truth that three technology advertisers are addressing in three very different ways.

Advertiser: Advanced Micro Devices
Agency: Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston
Ad Review Rating: 3 1/2 stars.

This spot sends up James Bond-like adventure flicks, wherein the evil mastermind captures the spy and, instead of just dispatching him, devises an execution so deliberate the hero has time to escape. In this case, diabolical Mestopholes, having trapped Agent 18 in his dormant volcano lair, hatches his plot for world domination on a personal computer.

But when he hits the fatal keystrokes, the monitors show a "processing" message, and an echoing P.A. voice intones, "Stand by. Stand by." A slow CPU, apparently.

"It's a cable or something inside," Mestopholes says.

Now the voice-over says, "No matter how much or how little you spend, some PCs lack the power to help you conquer much of anything. When your PC is powered by the AMD-K6 MMX advanced processor, awesome speed and multimedia are on your side."

Meantime, the spy pushes aside the villain's henchmen--slyly outfitted like Intel's "BunnyPeople" workers--and escapes. Then, using a PC powered by a K6 MMX chip, he destroys the evil empire.

Director Sam Bayer's "Austin Powers" sensibility is wonderful. But more to the point, the joke is to the point.

Advertiser: Road Runner High-Speed Online Service
Agency: Mad Dogs & Englishmen, New York
Ad Review Rating: 3 1/2 stars.

This campaign documents the agony of waiting for Web files to download. It's so slow that the pointing-hand icon is drumming its fingers and doing shadow puppetry. It's so slow that one guy, eating peanuts while he waits, is all but buried in discarded shells. It's so slow that one lady begins to sob.

We, however, laugh, because the painfully interminable loading is so hilariously real.

"The Internet is slow as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore," another lady says, paraphrasing Peter Finch's line from the movie "Network," as the frustrated peanut eater flings his modem, a la Finch's TV, through a window.

Then the voice-over chimes in: "You don't have to take it anymore. Road Runner High-Speed Online Service uses your cable TV wire instead of a modem, making it up to 100 times faster, so you can download all 857 pages of 'Moby Dick' in just 2 seconds." Sign us up.

Advertiser: Seagate Technologies Agency: Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco Ad Review Rating: 3 stars.

In one spot, a frantic groom and his best man, both Americans, are lost in Scotland looking for the church. They stop and ask directions of three locals, who cheerfully answer--with lore about some long-dead pastor.

In a second ad, a guy sees his friend watching a football game and asks the score. The friend replies with a lecture on his football philosophy.

In the third, two women are talking to a male friend about his blind date. "What's she look like?" he asks. They describe her brains, creativity and achievement.

"There's only one important piece of information in the world," the voice-over says to pay off all three spots: "The one you want."

Seagate's claim: "Information, the way you want it."

OK, the solution isn't apparent, but the problem is compellingly dramatized, and the brand well-represented. All of a sudden, fine tech advertising from all over. It's been a long wait.

Copyright December 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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