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Incorrect as it may be to bring this up, men and women are different.

Not only in the obvious areas, such as temperament and plumbing, but in subtler ways too, men and women have different wants and needs. For instance, women need affection, understanding and many cute little baskets of potpourri. Men want to see what's on channel 6.

Among these many differences are those found in matters of decor. Men's way of choosing between two fabrics of different predominant colors, for instance, hinges on a single question: which one costs less? Women, on the other hand, have eyes like gas chromatographs, distinguishing between two shades of teal as if one were chartreuse and the other charcoal gray.

Hence the insight behind a campaign from Foote, Cone & Belding/Brazil, SÌo Paulo, for Coral Paints.

Three amusing spots play on a wife's recognition of the color that would be just right for the living room, front door, etc., and the long-suffering husband's responsibility-under the most awkward of circumstances-to obtain a swatch with which to match it.

In one spot, husband Haroldo and the little woman are sitting on a plane, when she spies the right shade of green on the shirt of the fellow sitting on the aisle. It's just what she wants for the kids' room, and-because she is merely a woman and Haroldo is a Man-it is for him to obtain the sample. So he feigns a heart attack and rips off the other passenger's pocket.

In a second spot, the couple is at a wedding when she sees on the matron of honor's hanky the right pink for their home exterior. Haroldo bursts into fake sobs, borrows the hanky and blows his nose in it. He offers it back, but the owner graciously declines.

Finally, there is the best of the three, this one set at a wedding reception when Haroldo's wife sees a woman dancing in a blue dress.

Wife: "Haroldo, look at that dress!"

Haroldo: "You want one like it?"

Wife: "It's the color we wanted for the door at home. Oh, Haroldo. We must have a sample. Go and get it."

Next, Haroldo and the woman in blue are doing a ridiculous rhumba to "Love is in the Air," culminating in him surreptitiously biting a blue button right off the dress.

Female voiceover: "When you have found the right color, you go to any lengths to get it. Then only Coral Paints work."

Male voiceover: "Coral. The color of your dreams."

The comedy in all of the spots is a bit broad, and in this one Haroldo and dance partner are chewing the scenery, but nuance has nothing to do with why this is such an effective campaign. While the specific claim that only Coral can match colors is manifestly puffed up, the credibility of the brand is bolstered by the premise's human truth.

This is classic pre-emption, but with a bonus. By capturing this very real quirk of male-female relationships, Coral engages, charms and becomes memorable to the audience, which henceforth will associate color-matching capability especially with this advertiser, no matter how well other brands do the same thing.

Of course, husbands will be completely indifferent. But wives will take it to heart, every time they instruct their spouse where and when and with what to paint.

The rating system

The rating system uses four stars for excellent work, three for notable, two for mediocre, one for pathetic.

Global Ad Review welcomes submissions. Send to Bob Garfield, Ad Age International, 814 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045-1801, U.S.A.

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