Whirlpool imagines a world of wonders that really work

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Technology is a wonderful thing, changing our lives in immeasurable ways. The Internet. Wireless.

Not one hour ago, the Ad Review staff was heading south on I-395, using our cell phone to connect with the Internet to see the price of our biotech stock. Miraculous!

Miraculous we weren't killed when we veered out of our lane into the path of a dump truck. (Surfing the net at 60 mph is like standing on a tightrope juggling bowling balls. We are morons and we hate people like us.) But, once again, we digress. Let's talk laundry.

Pretty much the worst thing about life on earth is washer-dryer lag time -- i.e., the tragic pileup of wet clothing that occurs because the dryer cycle is at least twice as long as the washer's. Doing laundry is therefore an excruciatingly long and inefficient process that, for some reason, has benefited not one whit from the technology revolution.

This is not only unconscionable, but also incredible. It's hard to imagine how anybody could even think up, say, the Internet, with 40 sopping pounds of cottons sitting on top of the dryer.

And how about the fridge? The last big breakthrough in refrigerators was the water/ice dispenser -- but at what cost? The narrow side-by-side freezer compartment is pitifully cramped and hard to maneuver within. We put a man on the moon, but try finding the brisket behind the ice cream.

While TV and stereos constantly benefit from clever new technologies, major appliances have been the poor relations, frozen in time -- a bizarre twisting of priorities that embarrasses us to be Americans. Or did, until now. At long last, Whirlpool Corp. has introduced improvements that dramatically change the state of the art.

"Imagine," says a female voice to begin a 60-second spot from Publicis, London and Chicago, "washing clothes clean without pre-treating; drying clothes as fast as you can wash them; creating more usable freezer space than ever before; baking with perfectly even heat for perfectly even results; and getting dishes sparkling. Whirlpool. Just imagine."

Well, well, well. Now you're talkin'! A fast-drying dryer! A roomier side-by-side! (The ice dispenser is on the door!) Give us a dishwasher that cleans a saucepan properly and we can die happy.

So, in other words, in this and five detailed single-product spots, the "Just imagine" campaign does indeed capture the imagination. If you pay attention to the copy, your life will indeed be transformed.

People who never even noticed a major-appliance ad before, much less acted on one, will be queuing up at 6 a.m. to get to Best Buy before anyone else. We therefore can't be too hard on the dreadfully, preposterously, hilariously overwrought visual concept: mythic, fire-breathing ice queens, mermaids and other tasty goddesses/

viragoes supernaturally appearing in fiords and waterfalls as the ultimate empowered females.

It's as if, after spending a trillion dollars on the equally excessive First Union bank ads, Publicis had a billion or two left over to squander on laundry day.

Words can scarcely do justice to the silliness of the effects -- but, here again, who can quibble? As you sit there wondering what momentous news could be worthy of such overkill, you come to discover superior appliance technology.

Grab the wheel, will you? We've got to tell someone about this right . . .

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