York on Ads: No 8: Hi-Tech

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The Independent Culture
UNTIL, say, 1991, the training-shoe sector was the hot one for advertising- agency creatives who wanted to show their leading-edge stuff for the youth market. But in 1992 the searchlight moved to computer games as training- shoe sales and profits hit the slide.

Hi-Tech's best shot looks dated and unauthentic, like an old Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul video. Here's the high-stepping ensemble routine in silhouette. There's the (light-skinned) black guy with the gnomic utterances. 'Shoes for the urban jungle,' he declares, though the entire cast looks like Beverly Hills 90210 in blackface. Perhaps the strategy is to sell Hi-Tech to the aerobically minded mum who keeps up with things.

Of course, it is ludicrous, but not truly mad. The inventors have made the classic mistake of looking for borrowed interest in a few stylistic tics, and then, unaccountably, got the wrong ones. That it's well off beam on 'streetness' doesn't matter now that streetness is for Bruce Springsteen fans in their thirties. What matters is that neither has it got people to identify with the action nor be inspired by it. This means, of course, that they will soon forget which brand brought this playlet to them. Peter York

Videos supplied by Tellex Commercials.