Intel downloads chip woes into real world

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Advertiser: Intel Corp.
Agency: Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York
Ad Review rating: Three stars

Gaze at your computer, and see the future!

The world will not be torn apart by bullets and bombs; it will be brought together in endless digital fusillades of ones and zeros. Peace will reign. Economies will prosper. Race will be irrelevant, as young people of all colors, creeds and sneaker preferences join hands in love and understanding.

Hatred. Gone! Pestilence. Gone! Toenail fungus. Grass stains. Those nasty black heel marks. Gone! Gone!! Gone!!!

Screen 1 from the spot

Screen 2 from the spot

Screen 3 from the spot

Screen 4 from the spot

(Music up.)

If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the mor-or-nin'! I'd hammer in the evening, all over this land!

Because of the technical limitations of a newspaper column, you'll just have to imagine the sweet 6-year-old Beijing schoolgirl whose beaming smile and laptop should have accompanied these opening paragraphs. (You know, while her wizened grandfather pokes at the abacus, and some Inuit kid trades e-mails with the Kremlin.)

Unless, perhaps, you are grateful not to have to deal with such oppressive pseudoinspiration. Maybe you're sick of the rose-colored 17-inch monitor through which advertising always views the brave new cyberworld.

If so, you will be especially grateful to Intel, and Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/

Euro RSCG, New York, for their new ads promoting the Pentium II processor. For some reason, this campaign makes no attempt to bask in the pure sunlight of digital utopia. Instead, it has a strange and unexpected focus on . . . are you ready for this?

The product.

Versus . . . we hope you're sitting down . . . the competition.

That's right, Intel is doing ads that are so busy telling you why to buy its chip, they completely forget to portray Brigadoon.

And that's not all. While the commercials depend on sophisticated, digital effects, the settings are as analog as can be. Nothing futuristic or "high-tech." The whole premise of the campaign, in fact, is to dramatize the question of what would happen if the deficiencies of Pentium II's competitors (and progenitors) insinuated themselves where they were least expected.

Such as a baseball game.

"Bottom of the ninth," says a broadcaster at a big-league park. "Maltbie at the plate . . . and here's the pitch . . ."

The pitcher throws, the batter is poised but the pitch doesn't arrive. Instead, the ball inches its way toward the plate, to the sound of a disk drive's intermittent whir.

"Whoaaa," the broadcaster says. "The pitch hasn't processed yet. Aw, this slow processing thing is a tough break for this young kid."

Then, materializing over the infield: a user-alert window with a slowly building function-progress bar and the message, "Processing Fastball"--just like the one that comes on your PC because your non-Pentium II chip is too damn slow. In other words, what would life be like if everything we depended on was as slow and erratic as the wrong CPU?

The voice-over hammers home the point: "Time for a Pentium II processor?" And anyone who has ever tried to multitask, or download video, understands.

Not enough megahertz mega hurts.

The other two spots make the same point, only better, without any need for dialogue. One shows a soccer game in which the goalkeeper processes too slowly, with obvious results. The other portrays a skydiver whose chute . . . well, you get it.

The digital world may indeed be a better place. But not for him.

Copyright September 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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