Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Palm Pre TV: What th'--?

Haven't you always wanted to be surrounded by hundreds of orange-clad dancers making YOU the center of an elaborate dance routine? If so, you'll love the new Palm Pre spot. It is all about YOU, or rather, a strange woman apparently meant to stand in for you, effortlessly controlling her world by using her brand-new Palm Pre. And for no apparent reason, being danced around by a whole bunch of people in orange outfits.

In the introductory TV spot, the otherworldly girl casually walks to a big rock in the middle of a green field, then climbs up on it to fiddle with her Pre. Instantly, a human mandala of hundreds of dancers in orange Japanese outfits encircle the girl and begin doing a large-scale routine. Hey, are these the "Thriller"-dancing Phillipine prisoners? Or are they monks with AFTRA cards?

From far overhead, then, we see the swirling dancers creating various symmetrical formations around the girl on her rock, ala Busby Berkeley, only without the sexy legs. Finally, we return to ground level to see the girl, Pre and big rock, the dancers gone. The girl's voiceover talks about all the lives of ... what the heck is she talking about? as she pushes different images across the screen of the Pre. I gather it's something about "flow."

A grandiose production number like this would look right at home in "The Last Emperor," but for the introduction of a dumbed-down iPhone?

Then there's the principal talent. I don't know what she's supposed to be. Pale, nearly featureless, wearing a sliplike garment of no-color, her golden hair pinned up on the back of her head in a shape resembling The Visible Man's intestines.

I would love to have been in the room when this concept was presented. Then maybe I'd understand it. I sure don't get it from watching the commercial.

Now there's another Palm Pre commercial featuring the same woman. No dancers, just the woman, the digestive tract hairdo, the face of the Pre, and the greenscape background. Did she just say, "reincarnation??" Oh, I get it. We all have various connections, wear various hats, have different organizations and all. And the Pre can help us keep track of them. But that message could apply to the iPhone as well as the Pre. Advertising 101 says you have to have a meaningful point of difference from your competitor. Not just weird commercials. And these certainly qualify as weird.

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