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Zendough.com

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Is there an audience out there for an interactive tool that helps people manage their personal finances without feeling they've become vaguely suburban or Republican or otherwise white-bread boring in the process? TransUnion Interactive will find out with its launch of zendough.com, whose image seems designed to suit the population niche writer David Brooks labeled "bobos," as in "bourgeois bohemians." But it's not a simple proposition to convey in a TV commercial, and this one (via Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago) is something of a clunker. It gets off to shaky start as the voiceover asks, "Can you control them -- the shifting, changing interest rates that devour what you're worth?" Actually, no -- you can't control them. You can maybe control the impact they have on your net worth, but that's something quite different. The visual that accompanies the off-base question is surely eye-catching, as a house is destroyed by a dragon that looks as though it was constructed from a very large but very defective Erector Set. But viewers will be distracted by wondering why the spot's protagonist is the only person here who seems to notice this startling sight. At the end, after walking through some sort of magic door, our man finds himself in what's evidently supposed to be a Zen garden but looks more like a flooded soccer field, complete with goal posts at each end. The trouble is, in its effort to create an atmosphere that matches the "Zen" portion of the brand name -- and underscores the promise that zendough.com will "bring peace to your finances" -- the spot ends up seeming weirder than any finance-rated commercial should care to appear. --Mark Dolliver