Friday, September 21

Mommy, When I Grow Up I Want To Have A Unicorn ... And A Palm Treo

A few months ago, Sprint unleashed a new television ad to promote its existing high-speed wireless offerings, or to announce its new high-speed wireless offerings.

I don't think it was a really good ad.

Visually, it was stunning. You've probably seen it. It starts at dusk, in a park setting with an urban skyline the background. Children are playing and the sky darkens. The kids play with flashlights, which seem to magically leave light trails in the air. It's as if we're seeing drawings of rocket ships, volcanoes, fish and hula hoops come to life. The effect is very cool: the pictures look like pulsating neon.

There's one part, toward the beginning of the ad, that I just love. The kids draw giant eyes, which then wink at the viewer. Before the wink, they look like giant boobs. This bit always makes me smile because it strikes me as the sort of thing that a kid really would draw on his or her picture -- overly simplistic eyes that look like cartoon breasts -- without being prurient or conscious about it. It's only lascivious adults that would make the connection.

For me, it's the voice-over that ruins this ad. The narrator begins by asking the narrator what he or she dreamed about as a child. The questions are timed to the children's actions.

Then the narrator takes a jarring turn, asking "... or maybe you dreamed of a magic screen you could carry in your pocket?" At this point, the children start making squares with their flashlights. The narrator then asks if the magic screen of our childhood dreams could show photographs and fetch sports scores from the Internet.

I have to turn on the Caps Lock key here for effect. ARE YOU KIDDING? As I see it, Spring is asking us if our childhood dreams are equatable to a new cellphone.

In other words, when you were a kid and thought you were invincible, when the world was boundless and no one -- not even yourself -- put limits on your imagination, was one of your dreams to own a Blackberry?

I have always loved gadgets, but I don't think a magic screen was ever a childhood dream. I think that's why I find this Sprint ad so jarring: it's because the narrator talks so convincingly about childhood dreams, and then brings up something that I'd have a hard time believing any child has ever dreamed about.

Perhaps I'm wrong. I'm sure Sprint's advertising and marketing firms spend a lot more money on market research than I do.

I thought this Sprint ad had disappeared, but it cropped up again last night. Oh yay.

Once again, let me offer my standard disclaimer: This blog post should not be construed as my opinions about Sprint Nextel Corp. or its advertising or marketing partners. It is merely my opinion about one of Sprint's advertisements on TV. I am a reporter, but I do not cover the advertising industry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes. The commercial that made me change phone service providers. AWAY from Sprint.