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Two Electrostatic Bolts Up?
Hey, a New Age shoe ad. And it's got a high-voltage USP to boot. Is this baby activating your metaphysical crystals or would you rather not see it Yanni more? Rate the ad on the Sweet Meter's six-degree taste scale of excellence, with 5 being the top score: 5 Very Sweet, 4 Sweet, 3 Semi-Dry, 2 Dry, 1 Extra Dry, 0 Sour. And feel free to offer your comments on the photography, the art direction, the illustration, the copy, the concept, the tagline, the logo, whatever. Click here to play.

Rate the Ad will be back in two weeks.

The Pen is Mightier Than the Fraud
Last week's Rate the Ad. The amazing Uni-Ball 207 Gel pen, without the aid of a scantily clad showgirl, a drink or an elephant, ties last week's Campari ad, with a 53/47 on the Sweet Meter's Good/Bad ratio — comparing the top half of the meter to the bottom half — though the bulk of its votes fall in the middle tiers of the So-So Zone. Despite the fact that few people seem to have heard of check washing, criminal or otherwise, most entrants were impressed with the fear-mongering benefit, though not with the ad. From an art direction standpoint, nothing jelled here; nearly everyone went ballistic over the bullets and the phony address. Special note of thanks to the nit picker who suggested that naming the fraud victim Joseph Smith is insulting to Mormons. But above all, this ad was an opportunity for all those newfangled folks who don't touch anything "analog" to laugh at the very idea of writing a check — or even using a pen. Anyway, here are the results.

5 Very Sweet 10%
4 Sweet 21%
3 Semi-Dry 22%
2 Dry 23%
1 Extra Dry 10%
0 Sour 14%

And here are some of our fave responses.

4 Despite the amateurish graphics and the obvious Photoshop job on the check, the concept is clear and the value of the product really shines through. This is what advertising used to be about.

4 Straightforward. Plays on my fears. It all works for me.

0 You've got to get all the way down to the bottom of the ad for the USP, and then ... criminal check washing?

4 Effective. The product is powerful enough to sell itself. I wonder if it washes off my shirts, though. Probably great for autographs, too.

1 I've seen this ad before but its ugliness made me ignore it. Now that I am inspecting it, I see they have a selling point -- all that's lacking is effective way to show it.

2 If true, a commendable USP indeed. But I'm exhausted by the time I get there.

2 A 21st century pen for people who still write checks? What next? Velcro corsets? Performance top hats? Sarsaparilla energy drinks?

2 Checks? Do people still use those? Isn't that like worrying about 8-track piracy?

5 Outstanding! Nice graphic with the exclamation.

2 That exclamation point is driving me insane!

5 In the age of identity theft, this ad resonates well. It conveys the selling point and still manages to look sharp.

2 Great benefit, concept has potential. But maybe they should have used the pen to write some copy that won't fade.

4 I didn't even know about check washing, but now I feel like this pen is the only way I should be writing a check at all. This is an ad that works.

3 This doesn't tell me to buy their pen, it tells me not to write checks.

0 It starts with the incredibly bad fake address and just gets worse from there.

2 Initially, this ad was just the clever check gag and a little blurb with the product. Then there were a lot of meetings with people who majored in marketing. Now look at it.

4 I want to buy one. Is a check OK?

2 I think my mother could've come up with this concept.

5 Now that's an ad! Puts fear in people, gives them a solution with a subtle call to action.

0 Is there a product to protect us against ad fraud?