Peter York on Ads: How to make Serious Grumpies go techy - blow bubbles

XDAIIi
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The Independent Online

Do you remember the twins who lived underwater? Under blue, bubbly water? They were Greek or Turkish or at least highly Mediterranean, and identical. The twins became terribly familiar to heavy Big Brother abusers a while ago because they were the sponsorship idents and their bubbly blue, parallel universe seeped into one's head.

Do you remember the twins who lived underwater? Under blue, bubbly water? They were Greek or Turkish or at least highly Mediterranean, and identical. The twins became terribly familiar to heavy Big Brother abusers a while ago because they were the sponsorship idents and their bubbly blue, parallel universe seeped into one's head.

The owners of that universe are O2, the mobile telephony operators, and they're re-using it rather dramatically in their new commercial. We're in the desert, with an outline of hill behind at dawn, with a deep blue sky. I'm completely set up for a car commercial. "There is a machine," says the manly, faintly northern voice-over "even faster, even more responsive, even more advanced", as a Malcolm Campbell-ish fast car cuts a billowing line in the sand.

But it isn't the car. O2 have grasped completely that mobiles have a car-like machismo for boys of all ages if a) they've got a lot of "features" and b) a car-like model name, so what this commercial is selling is the XDAIIi phone, which can probably monitor your blood pressure and open the garage door (it's part of the XDA range if that helps). And the XDAIIi's big little screen - it looks big for a mobile - is awash in bubbly blue water.

"See what you can do?" is the gnomic New Agey injunction with this attractive bit of kit. It's a bit like "where d'you want to go today?". I haven't a clue but it sounds like a nice invitation to be what people call "creative". I don't have much truck with creativity but the come-on-in-the-future's-lovely mood could just make even Serious Grumpies change their minds.

There's a trade-off to be done in advertising hi-tech introductions. You've got to keep the magic and the boy-racer elements, and you've certainly got to make it look lovely in a memorable way but, at the same time, you've got to guard against being too tricksy - lots of moving buildings for instance - and you've got to make sure the brand gets a look in.

Ideally, you'd own a set of visual cues that get straight to the unconscious. O2, whoever they are - and whatever the XDAIIi really is - seem to have pulled it off.

Peter@sru.co.uk

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