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AST Research, long serious about business computers, is also likable and friendly.

At least that's what the Irvine, Calif.-based PC marketer attempts to say in a new animated commercial running on American Airlines' domestic and international flights. The 60-second image spot from Lord, Dentsu & Partners, Los Angeles, features a minimalist b&w drawing of AST's complete product line accompanied by an upbeat, jazzy score.

The fast-growing clone marketer ranked No. 8 in PC shipments by volume this year, according to Computer Intelligence InfoCorp, La Jolla, Calif.

Plans are for a 30-second version of the spot to run on U.S. and international TV this fall. A separate image-oriented product effort is slated for October in trade and consumer business publications.

Lee Kovel, Lord Dentsu partner and executive creative director, said AST wanted to avoid showing shots of hardware.

"We needed to match an environment where everyone's wearing headphones and trying to break the monotony of CNN and movies," he said.

Mr. Kovel also said AST wanted to reach managerial people in a more relaxed manner. And while it doesn't expect the commercial to actually sell computers, Mr. Kovel said AST does hope to convey that it's "a nice company to do business with."

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