That's not a criticism. Korean advertising is, on the whole, quite sophisticated. But there's this quirk. Not a flaw, exactly. Not a shortcoming. Just a.....well, just a quirk.
Call it Korea's "creeping diagonalism."
An enormous percentage of spots produced in this country, for whatever reason, are photographed on the bias. The subjects are shown not perpendicular to the horizon but at a 45-degree angle. At least one ad we can think of, for Tipi-Cosi fashions, shows the subject at a 135-degree angle-i.e., very nearly standing on his head, albeit diagonally.
Not that South Korea by any means has a monopoly on odd camera angles. The past decade has seen all sorts of cinematographic gimmicks devised to make hitherto static, lock-and-shoot productions more dynamic and contemporary. But the Koreans are somehow especially infatuated with diagonalism.
So institutionalized is this camera affectation that a morning of viewing Korean TV can leave you thinking you have a middle-ear disorder, or maybe a bad dish of kimchi. If Korean TVs were pinball machines, they'd all say TILT.
But there it is, and therein the immediate impression of the Do & Be spot from Cheil Bozell Inc., Seoul.
Both women, smiling and 100% upright.
And, as a bonus, it's a pretty good commercial.
Like thousands of previous mascara commercials since the beginning of video recorded time, Do & Be resorts to a demonstration. But it is a demo such as the category has never seen: the "Eyelashes challenge."
Instead of showing a super closeup of the patented applicator applying the new-and-improved black goop to miraculously darken some fashion model's already perfect eyelashes, Do & Be pits a pair of lovely women in a novel test.
The first woman, without Do & Be, tries to balance a matchstick on her lashes. It falls off. Then the other lady tries the same trick, only with a much larger plastic stick, which ..... balances!
"Your lashes get longer," the female voiceover says, amid good-natured giggling from the models. "Do & Be Longlash mascara."
Now this is a somewhat disingenuous a claim, in that mascara's main function is to darken and superficially thicken the unpigmented, and thus invisible, ends of eyelashes. Hence, these same women could have performed the same demonstration without ever applying their Do & Be. So, in that sense, maybe this spot isn't 100% upright after all.
On the other hand, it makes no overtly dishonest claims. It is presented in a spirit of silliness. And, despite its tongue-in-cheek quality, it is a memorable demonstration that draws the viewer's attention to the full, dark, Do & Be-enhanced lashes.
Certainly short-lashed women will scrutinize the goofy eyelash challenge from the beginning. And probably also the men. Even if they are puttering around the house paying half attention, many a male Korean will turn immediately to the screen when the Do & Be ladies shout the kicker line:
Now there's an admonition. Whether this is meant as a naughty double-entendre to amuse women viewers we are not prepared to guess.
But if it is, no matter what the angle, we surely don't want to see a demonstration.
The rating system
The rating system uses four stars to represent excellent, three for notable, two for mediocre and one for pathetic.
Advertising Age International welcomes submissions for Global Ad Review, particularly breaking TV campaigns. Please send 3/4- or 1/2-inch NTSC-format videotapes to Bob Garfield, Advertising Age International, 814 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045-1801, U.S.A.
Cheil Bozell, Seoul, demonstrates the unmatched balancing power of Do & Be Longlash Mascara ..... straight up. Rating: (3 stars)