Garfield's AdReview

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Sex is used altogether too much in advertising, mainly to get attention for what might otherwise be an uninspiring category, or to substitute for uninspired thinking.

Special effects are used altogether too much in advertising, often to show off the technological savvy of the creators instead of the product itself.

And to substitute for uninspired thinking.

So what are the chances for an effects-laden commercial featuring a, like, totally hot babe, to actually accomplish anything more than satisfying the worst impulses of the people who made it? Let's see ... there was "1984"... and then we can't think of one.

So imagine our surprise that Ogilvy, New York, has turned out a perfectly respectable little spot for the Motorola Razr mobile phone, combining a clever digital effect and a gorgeous model not just to decorate the selling points but to actually symbolize them.

All right, "1984" it isn't, but the spot called "Transformer" is cool to ogle at for more reasons than its notable babe-osity, and it's as clear a visual metaphor as we've seen in a while for the central brand benefits.

The spot opens in a darkened room, where a sleek brunette is watching a home video on her flat-screen TV. She rises and shoots a piercing, erotic death stare at her laptop, digital videocam, MP3 player and, possibly, dishwasher. We do not know why she hates her consumer electronics, but evidently she does, and the gizmos respond by collapsing themselves into ever-diminishing squares.

These squares start flopping away, in a weird sort of anti-Tetris fashion, followed by squares of the walls, floors, furniture and so on. When it's over, they have all coalesced into one Motorola Razr phone, as trim and sexy as the model herself. We know this because, in a rare unashamed product shot, the agency shows us its sexy sleekness from every angle. The vixen then displays some humanity by taking a call from the boyfriend she was watching on TV.

If anything, the spot is almost too literal. When someone at the agency offered the idea of actually rolling up the props and scenery, we'd bet that many an eye was set to roll up, too. Because, after all, such a blunt approach. Ugh, someone might actually get it.

It takes no particular courage to trot out the pretty women and computer graphics. But in the current atmosphere of post-modernism run amok, daring to be obvious is positively ... inspired.

just to clarify

AdReview was inundated with hate mail this week, after our unfavorable review of the new Mustang ad featuring Zombie Steve McQueen was posted on a Mustang-fan Web sites. Many correspondents, after informing us of our previously undiagnosed developmental disability and sexual confusion, demanded a retraction. Regrettably, we cannot comply, but we offer the following clarifications:

1) Yes, we meant the 2005 Mustang, not 2004. Our error. 2) When we spoke of "boring" Mustangs, we referred to the cars of the last 35 years or so ... not the new model, which we have not driven. 3) In any event, AdReview reviews ads, not cars-a delicate nuance lost on the affronted. 4) Yes, we know that Elton John isn't actually deceased. We were referring to his music.

Razr

Ogilvy & Mather

New York

Ad Review Rating: 3 stars

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