Live Vision’s Head Rush

NEW YORK Now that’s thinking outside the box—with an exploding head. Seeded as a viral, and soon to be launched on TV, this 60-second spot from AKQA, promoting the Xbox 360 new Live Vision camera, features an unfortunate woman with a box for a head. Even worse than her square head, however, is the cartoon face drawn on it, which is so goofy that it makes a regular, ’70s-style smiley face seem absolutely elegant. She’s shown going through her day—brushing her teeth, (on the box) at her job and scaring off a blind date. On her way home, she somehow spots a self-help group meeting, run by a truly annoying weird, shaman-esque, magician-type guy, for exactly the kind of problem she has! It turns out that all the attendees at the meeting sport similar cartoon box heads—and here you have to watch closely to figure out the nature of the addiction they’re getting over. Because the room contains the new Live Vision camera, the self-helpers are able to shatter the structures covering their craniums: their heads explode (was it good for you?) and then each one becomes the individual human being he or she was meant to be. Obviously, as a visual device, the box heads memorably promote the Xbox; but then seeing the boxes shatter is a bit confusing. Although never explained here, the Live Vision camera allows the player’s face to be captured and tracked onto the 3-D body that he controls. So, if it’s a war game, for example, the player’s face appears on the body of the soldier he’s operating. The music is brooding and wonderful, and the look is compelling, and I like that the spot features a female gamer. In the final analysis, however, maybe I’ve watched too much SpongeBob, but without knowing exactly what the camera does, the box heads are far more visually compelling than the embarrassingly blissed-out individuals who get their faces back. The prospect of having your head explode seems like a high price to pay—geez, these days, not everything has to be personal.