BOB GARFIELD'S AD REVIEW;STEALING IS NO SIN IN AD BIZ'S CANON

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God was probably right. You shouldn't kill, except under the most dire circumstances, such as someone in the supermarket express aisle with 13 items and a checkbook. You should not worship false idols, not even Springsteen. And you should certainly honor your father and mother, because without them, you would have none of the neuroses that make you so special.

But with this "Thou shalt not steal" thing...well, let's put it this way: He'd never have made it in advertising. Not steal? Right, and no flattering the client either, we suppose.

Not only is theft of creative ideas rampant in advertising, it's also, often enough, perfectly legitimate.

The job at hand is to serve the client's interests without polluting the advertising environment, and in no way is that achieved only by original thinking. The goal is increased sales, and if they are best achieved with an idea that another agency contrived for another client in another market-or that has surfaced before elsewhere in the popular culture-so be it.

You'd be obnoxious for taking something derivative and entering it in an awards show-because, after all, that would be slimy-but advertising is not art. It is commerce. And in commerce, the rewards do not necessarily go to originality.

All of which gets to a spot from Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London, for Lynx cologne from Faberge. Seldom have 60 seconds of TV advertising owed a debt to so many sources.

The scene is a chichi cocktail party, full of overwrought "beautiful people," and lots of wide-angle close-ups to accentuate the grotesquerie. The scene has elements of Fellini, and equal parts "Midnight Cowboy," "The Graduate" and "Stardust Memories."

The hero is a single young guy, awkward and out of his element, but trying unsuccessfully to play it cool. Early on he wolfs down an hors d'oeuvre, but it's inedible. So he spits it out, a la Tom Hanks in "Big." Next we see him as a clumsy Woody Allen type, trying to impress a gorgeous woman by leaning casually against a mannequin he thinks will support his weight. It doesn't. He falls down-springing back up ridiculously, but familiarly. Peter Sellers did it the same way.

Humiliated, he retreats to a powder room to regain his composure and discovers a bottle of Lynx cologne. He sprays it all over and is transformed into a Jim Carrey-esque weirdo hyperstud, complete with the hairdo. Now the guy's a ladykiller, who, naturally, merely snaps his fingers to get the babe. Says the tongue-in-cheek voice-over: "The Lynx effect."

Very cute, even if we have seen it all before. Indeed, the familiarity of the gags has nothing on the familiarity of the strategy. The self-mocking style and hyperbolic premise of the ad are themselves a direct lift from '60s-era men's cologne Hai Karate.

The same ironic claim of instant irresistibility, the same sense of whimsy, the same everything.

Does this mean those involved are somehow sinners?

Holy Moses, no. It means they are in advertising.

The rating system uses four stars to represent excellent, three for notable, two for mediocre and one for pathetic.

To submit TV campaigns for review, send 3/4- or 1/2-inch NTSC-format videotapes to Bob Garfield, Ad Age International, 814 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045-1801, USA.

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