NEW YORK The word “beautiful” is so overused in advertising these days that it’s becoming meaningless. But here’s a spot for Olevia HD, the first national work for the product from Fishtank Brand Advertising in San Diego that has a legitimate claim to the term. It’s a beautifully shot spot that shows, well, beautiful people in action—and suggests beautiful color and clarity on a beautiful HDTV screen. Except that the concept, “Ugly can look beautiful,” is something of a head scratcher, even for the sports fans the commercial is aimed at. We see an Anna Kournikova look-alike (she’s Angelina Zdorovytska, the top tennis player in the Ukraine, by the way) in the opening, poised for battle, about to return a ball. It’s a beautifully stylized shot, with heroic (even muscular sounding) music in the background. She watches the ball go out, only for the chair umpire to call it in. That’s a pretty subtle bit of ugly, I must say. The baseball scene is equally beautiful and stylized, with a Derek Jeter-like player getting hit in the arm with a fastball. “Ugly can be beautiful” is supered over the ending—except that the reality is that we’ve just watched a romanticized, sanitized version of what is ugly. Obviously, the takeaway is a beautiful picture, and I like that the agency is tackling a timely problem: In the last month alone, there have been way too many examples of serious ugly in the sports world: dogfighting, steroids, shaving points in NBA games. This version seems a bit disingenuous in the having-it-both-ways department—the execution of “Ugly can look beautiful” is too prettified. Now “crisp, clear ugly,” that’s a daring concept.
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