Mixed Blessings

Restoring Souls, A Burning Issue, Leisured Readers, Etc.
Souls are popping up in unexpected places these days. A new Volkswagen ad butters up its readers by complimenting them on the largeness of their souls. (You can see it a few pages ahead in this week’s What’s New Portfolio section.) And a current TV spot positions Volvo as the car that can save one’s soul. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing more souls in ads and elsewhere in pop culture. There’s a lot working in their favor just now. If allusions to the soul are made with attitude-free sincerity, they give a respectful nod in the direction of people who hold traditional religious beliefs. Given the religious awakening now evident in this country, that’s a market to reckon with. Unlike other religious concepts, though, the soul doesn’t give nonbelievers the creeps. Secularists can buy into the soul as a concept that aggrandizes the self, and what’s better than that? People whose only religion is self-worship can cheerfully agree that there’s more to them than mere flesh and blood. Hey, man, I’m metaphysical! The soul will hold special appeal for baby boomers as their corporeal selves lapse into decrepitude. In fact, as boomers find themselves going to their contemporaries’ funerals from time to time–and if they haven’t yet, they will soon enough–the idea of an immortal soul won’t seem half bad.

What’s the well-dressed pear wearing this season? Not much, to judge by an eye-catching ad for a photo-retouching outfit. But then, one would look askance at a fruit that overdressed, as though it’s not comfortable in its own skin. Olƒ Advertising in New York created the ad.

When someone demands money from you month in and month out, you probably won’t listen attentively when he tries to give you advice. One suspects utility companies are often wasting their collective breath when they shift into avuncular mode in ads dispensing tips on safety in the home. Thus, we tip our three-pronged plugs to MidAmerican Energy for breaking through with a campaign couched in darkly humorous terms. The Omaha office of Bozell keeps the home fires burning for this client.
Some ads are cringingly apologetic for having intruded on the reader’s busy schedule. An ad for Springhill printing paper takes the opposite tack, brazenly inviting readers to squander their time by finding 10 differences between two otherwise identical visuals. Terse copy explains why this International Paper brand feels emboldened to make such an imposition on people in the printing industry. “Got a minute? You will if you print on Springhill. The paper that practically takes care of itself. You have a little less to do. So here’s something else to keep you amused.” Small type running up the right side of the ad gives the answers. (Hint for finding one of the subtler differences: The boxer at right has taken a page out of Mike Tyson’s book.) The agency for the ad is Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG in New York.