Friday, July 11, 2008

Not worth it

In the early 80s, as part of their "It's Worth It." campaign, Maxell and their ad agency hit on a dramatic if exaggerated visualization of the sound quality of their cassette tapes.  Never mind that it's really more of a depiction of stereo's quality than the tape's.  The point is that it got the message across and was in fact, so popular that the image became a poster on many a dorm room:

Adding to its iconic nature was probably the accuracy with which it depicted its target audience: Not only was it iconic and aspirational (what more do you need in life but alcohol and big speakers?), it also portrayed its target audience with uncanny accuracy: Slouchy young men fixated on looking cool at all times.

(By the way, contrary to a popular belief on the internet, that is NOT Peter Murphy of the British rock group Bauhaus. Murphy appeared in the original UK versions of the ad, shown below:)

But back to the U.S. version.  Given the success of the print ad, it was decided to adapt the idea to a television spot.   (This happens with ad campaigns frequently, in hopes that the consistency between mediums will help reinforce the message and increase its memorability.)  Sometimes it works.

And sometimes it doesn't:  

In trying to turn a photograph into 30 seconds of movement (even minimal movement), the idea loses most of its punch.  Seeing the man blown back in real time just isn't as effective as in a still image.  Then there's the new, distracting element of a butler to compete for our attention.  Even just hearing the music the man is listening to (Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyries") is disappointing and robs the reader of the chance to "personalize" it to his own tastes.

Good ad, marginal commercial.

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