Garfield's AdReview - Sometimes, a pen's just a pen: Forced sexiness fells Verve ads

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Here's why the A.T. Cross Co. has designed an ultra-expensive pen trimmed in gold and platinum:

Because some pitiful wretch will pay up to $450 to buy one. You know, the kind of hotshot who already owns the Patek Philippe watch and the Hermes neckties and the Dolce & Gabana sunglasses and the Lincoln Navigator, who pays lip service to "excellence" and "quality" but who gets no functional benefit in exchange for the obscene price premium. Face it: A $1.49 Rollerball performs as well as any "fine writing instrument" on the market.

But, of course, nobody ever advertised his affluence with a Rollerball, and a $450 pen is certainly a more affordable advertising buy than, say, a $300,000 Daimler-Chrysler Maybach, which, when available, will be the purest expression on land of conspicuous consumption. (They don't call it consumption for nothing; imagine the soul being eaten away, like Violeta's lungs-not to mention what it costs to insure the damn thing.)

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Apart from the deplorable spiritual emptiness implied by such vulgar ostentation, and its inherent pathos, and the manifest self-loathing, the fundamental economic and psychological fact is that a thing-however unimportant-has value if its owner values it.

So don't think of the new Verve as a pen. Think of it as a piece of jewelry. Or maybe like Ann Coulter: a nice-looking object, offering little of intrinsic value, that just happens to write.

Anyway, this explains Verve's existence. Now let's talk positioning, namely:

Hubba hubba!

Three ads from Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis, apparently at a loss for anything else to say about a luxury pen, have focused instead of near-naked hotties about to do the dirty, or just finishing, and who can blame them, because they are both SOOOOOO HOT!!!!!!!!

Don't worry. It's not pornography. It's shot in black and white, so obviously it's art.

One ad, called "Rooftop," has the hunky guy lying bare-chested on the babe's lap, making notations on a movie script. She's wearing panties, but no bra or top. The Verve is superimposed on her back, pointing directly to her crotch. In a second ad, titled "Windowsill," in which the blonde is writing a note while the guy removes her camisole, the pen is similarly superimposed but situated in such as way as to suggest either:

1) Verve. The Sexy Pen, or

2) vibrator.

Impossible to tell what exactly she's writing, but we're guessing: "Oh, God! Oh, God! OH, GOD!"

We also presume all of this ridiculous erotic imagery is designed to make the Verve pen look sexy and sophisticated, as opposed to current Cross brand image of: "bar mitzvah gift." But come on; there is nothing fundamentally sophisticated about feeling up your girlfriend, no matter how arty the photography. Furthermore, what a sad commentary on the state of advertising imagination. We've seen spam for Vicodin with more thought behind it.

Please note: The way to give a product sex appeal is not necessarily to present literal images of sex in progress.

Because, if it did, the Joe Lieberman campaign would suddenly get very interesting.

A.T. Cross Verve

Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis

Ad Review Rating: 1.5 stars

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