ASICS: JUST THE BASICS;AN EXERCISE IN PARODY;MERC: THE JERK WORKS;PLAYSTATION: FREUDIAN BLIP

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The first Asics work to come from San Diego agency Vitro Robertson melds beautiful b&w photos of athletes with clean, unfettered type. In one ad, shot by New York photographer Brad Harris, an inset shot of a runner faces a black page with the large headline: "You were born without logos. You will die without logos. In between, you run."

"We were really speaking to that core enthusiast," says art director John Vitro. "Fashion doesn't matter; what matters is that you can run in the shoes and be pain free."

Other credits to art directors John Robertson and Brian Gold

In the affluent and Waspy Long Island town of Garden City, greased beefcake is about as hip as big hair. It's enough of a fright to make a perfect parody for this ad for the Garden City (Personal) training center.

Created by Anderson & Lembke/New York writer Alan Wolk and art director Don Miller, it's part of a campaign that counterpoints parodies of tacky or cliched ads with Garden City as the smart alternative, written on a piece of paper tacked over the ad.

"It's a personal training center and not a gym," Wolk says, explaining how these ads helped them define the difference. "We wanted to position them as a smart source of knowledge and information."

Another ad spoofs female empowerment come-ons, while another features part of a TV schedule with the warning: "Flicking the remote control is not an aerobic activity" Not even the VCR fast-forward?

Mercedes is loosening up. First, came the fun spots with cupids and rhinos, and now two spots for its E-420 make sexually charged fun, according to Lowe & Partners/SMS creative director Lee Garfinkel, of "what an exhilarating experience it is behind the wheel of a new Mercedes."

In one, as Mario Lanza's "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life" booms in the background, a woman flies along in her car: time-lapse roses bloom, her hair whips into her face and a truckload of water unceremoniously drenches the car from the sky. Abruptly, the dream skids to a stop and we see her in bed with a smug smile on her face. Michael "Kramer" Richards is nearby in a silk robe.

"Wow, what a machine!" she purrs. "Oh, yeah," he huffs. "Why did you keep asking me to signal?"

Another spot features a man's fantasy car ride that ends with him waking up with model Christy Turlington.

Mehdi Norowzian of Chelsea Pictures, New York directed; other agency credits to writer Marty Orzio, art directors Andy Hirsch and Randy Saiita and producer Gary Grossman.

A psychotic clown named Sweet Tooth is tooling around Paris in an ice cream truck, picking off victims and crashing through hotel lobbies. This is Twisted Metal 2 World Tour, one of the latest releases from Sony PlayStation, and after experiencing one of these games one might land on a psychiatrist's couch.

That's the joke behind a colorful print and outdoor campaign from TBWA Chiat/Day/Los Angeles, which features Rorschach inkblots saturated with warped characters from the wicked games that inspired them. "We were focusing on the mental challenge," explains art director Doug Mukai, "and how you can't beat these games because they're so good."

Each ad takes the form of a mock medical record with an area for a doctor's diagnosis and a patient's response: "I think it's that crazed psycho from my nightmares," is how one damaged dude interprets his ink blot. The recommended treatment is a lobotomy.

Credits to writer Jay Cranford, designer Riki Komachi and CDs Steve Sweitzer and

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