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Lately, you people have been shredding most of the ads in Rate the Ad. Can Fellowes break the spell, or will it get confetti-cut, too? Rate it on the Rate the Ad-o-mometer's six-degree scale of excellence, with 5 being the top score: 5 World-changing, 4 Great, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Forgettable, 0 Actively Annoying. And feel free to comment on the art direction, the photography, the copy, the typography, the logo, whatever. Click the ad to play.

The Unknowable Soldier
The Unknowable Soldier
Last week's Rate the Ad. Pedophilia. Put a guy in with a bunch of kids, everyone's screaming "child molester." Is that what it's come to? There were even comments about the woman on the left "who's cupping that little girl's butt." Good, God. Beyond this stalker angle, the guy's presence in the playground generally couldn't be accounted for. Virtually no one seemed to take it metaphorically; he was frequently criticized for not being sufficiently involved in the game. As for the game itself, no one's clear on whether it's soccer or kickball, and many are baffled by that strange-looking ball. Moreover, the particular racial cast of the ad, which might ordinarily be seen as standard multi-culti ad fare, rubs some people the wrong way when applied to the racially unbalanced military, as if it's recruiting the next generation of cannon fodder. Responses to the ad are also a referendum on the war, of course, which can only hurt the ratings. Indeed, the Good/Bad Ratio on the Rate the Ad-o-mometer is a "we surrender" 24/76 — comparing the top tiers of the scale to the bottom tiers. Anyway, here are the results.

5 World-changing 2%
4 Great 6%
3 Good 16%
2 Fair 19%
1 Forgettable 26%
0 Actively Annoying 31%

And here are some of our fave responses.

3 It's honest, especially now. The era of one weekend a month, two weeks a year is over.

0 I feel safe knowing our soldiers are getting better at soccer.

0 Try playing soccer with the neighborhood kids after your leg is blown off.

2 Too much going on to get to the payoff. I get the strategy, but I'm not sure it's cleanly executed.

4 Although I hate Army recruitment ads, they do a damn good job at it, and this one is no different.

1 What kids do you know who play soccer in woodchips? None in my neighborhood.

0 The Army is not trendy or hip, so stop using distressed elements.

3 Unfortunately, the U.S. military has always had good ad campaigns. The "until your country needs you" is aggressive but sneakily subtle.

2 The unifying color in the ad is yellow. I find that to be a poor choice for a military campaign.

4 Cynics won't like it, but there's not enough money in the world to convince them. Those on the fence, the very ones this ad may speak to, will be moved. 4 Tugs at my heartstrings so well I don't even care that my chain's being yanked.

0 Shame. If only they could have gotten some puppies — and baby pandas!

2 At least it's not all glamour. They do let you know you can get killed, too. But why does "soldier" get a capital S and "civilian" only rates a lower-case c?

3 I think this is the best armed forces campaign I've seen: quiet, sincere and unglamorized.

0 What do I see? I see an Army recruitment ad targeting black and Latino boys under 10.

0 I don't get it. Are the kids kicking around a roadside bomb or something?

5 I would give it an extra point for every comment that uses this ad as yet another excuse to go on an anti-Bush rant. If an ad gets you talking, then it works.

2 No matter how they sugarcoat it, I see an 18-month tour in Iraq.

1 Hell, no. You want me to fight in combat, show me masculinity, medals. Showing me children makes me put my tail between my legs and run in the opposite direction.
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