T.J. Maxx “Interpreter”

You can think of this vignette as Lost and Found in Translation. The peroration of foreign dignitary (speaking what sounds like Russian) is lost on his audience when his interpreter substitutes her own declaration instead of translating his into English. But we do learn that she “got this fabulous designer jacket and blouse for a steal at T.J. Maxx,” the client for this spot by Mullen of Winston-Salem, N.C. It’s a funny performance as she mimics the man’s gestures and intonations, even while telling us that “It’s a real designer, plus it matches my pumps perfectly.” And it builds up deftly to the onscreen tagline, “another maxx moment from T.J. Maxx.” The downside is that there’s a dated, Soviet-era feel to the shtick, with the Russian guy sporting his Order of Lenin-style medals and ceremonial sash. (Vladimir Putin at least dons post-Soviet drag, irrespective of how he runs the country.) That wouldn’t matter in a commercial for many other categories, but it does seem a shortcoming in a sector where being fashionably au courant is important. No matter how good a bargain she gets at T.J. Maxx, a woman won’t want to wonder whether her own outfit has even the faintest Madame Khrushchev aura to it.–Mark Dolliver