DO MCI'S ADS OFFER A GENIUS CHILD? ASK A PSYCHOLOGIST

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Sometimes why an ad campaign succeeds or fails is a mystery. But Carol Moog can help supply some answers.

Ms. Moog, president of Creative Focus, Bala-Cynwyd, Pa., is a psychologist who has worked as an advertising consultant since 1982, offering advice on everything from campaigns and package design to new-product development and slogans.

Advertising Age asked Ms. Moog for her opinions on three recent commercials that generated some controversy.

MCI Communications Corp., "Fire," Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York.

Young actress Anna Paquin "is dressed in an outfit and black beret-type hat that suggest a Renaissance poet. That statement makes sense, because this, in fact, is a true renaissance, all the themes are very convergent," Ms. Moog said of this spot from MCI's campaign for networkMCI.

"MCI Communications Corp. is selling a process that suggests things like a brilliant innocence, an unrecognized genius. A wise baby is a powerful metaphor that resonates with a psychological place in all people, whether on a conscious or unconscious level ... that they are a genius, maybe undiscovered, but a genius baby."

"This spot is about exploring past lives [and immortality]. In most of the MCI spots, this little girl is at the beginning of a completely new virgin world ... but she is a genius. Where did she get that knowledge? In a past life.

"She is leaping with joy and freedom. She's talking technology, yet she is unencumbered by technology.

"Technology won't tie you down or harness you. ... technology will make you leap, it will free you, " Ms. Moog said.

ners-SMS, New York.

This spot, which features female office workers ogling a shirtless construction worker, is "all fantasy," Ms. Moog said.

"It is very auto-erotic and masturbatory. The women are watching, it is voyeuristic," she said. "They are positioning [Diet Coke] as a very stimulating, transporting, sexual experience. Does that sound like a diet? No. A diet is deprivation."

"There are a number of women and each has her own relationship with the man ... he is the quintessential, unavailable male fantasy object ... he doesn't see them. That would change the nature of the spot completely. If he looked up, that would introduce competition among the women and would change the nature of the relationship between the women and the man.

"Instead, the individual fantasy is very fulfilling ... they are positioning the drink as a fulfilling, stimulating, sexual experience, the opposite of a diet ... it is a very powerful, effective spot."

"There was a concern about the campaign being disparaging to mental patients. I don't see that," Ms. Moog said. Actor Dennis Hopper "looks like a drugged-out street person. It is inappropriate for a guy like him to be running around the locker room ... I question seriously whether these ads are effective for Nike. If what they wanted was the ultimate sports nuts, they haven't done it."

"There are too many uncontrolled interpretations of his behavior allowed. A creative team has to be in charge of the responses the ads will trigger ... This campaign triggers too many different and contradictory feelings and interpretations that are undermining to Nike.

"You don't want random interpretations, thoughts or feelings generated. That is a waste. This ad wastes and squanders consumer responses. And it is not focused enough to be humorous."

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