The Pitch Who spiked the punch at Dell's ad agency (the mysterious Mother New York)? As the Flaming Lips' relentlessly awesome "The W.A.N.D." cranks on the soundtrack, images of LSD-tinged Americana fly by—a lime-green BBQ, a playboy curling pink dumbells, a sunglassed female guitarist incongruously strolling by a collection of teddy bears. Once we get to the elderly couple and their Inspiron 1420-equipped granddaughter tooling around the desert in a Pacer, we get our first spec porn—a shout-out to the new laptops' "long-range wireless" (a reference to the optional EV-DO card?). After a hippie kung-fu dude and a couple of raincoated old salts put in appearances, the ad ends with a truly memorable visual: a geek cruising about the 'hood in a robot that looks like a mod of ED-209. An eye-catching commercial, no doubt. But can this campaign rescue struggling Dell from its recent free-fall?
The Spin Like HP, the star of last week's Hype Sheet, Dell is in the midst of a rebranding project. Having awoken to the fact that it can no longer compete on price alone, the company is now taking a page from the Acer playbook and focusing on laptop aesthetics. The big pitch with the Inspiron 1420s is that they come in myriad colors; it took me a few views of this ad to realize that the featured laptops invariably match their surroundings, color-wise. (I especially like the sailors and their raincoat-yellow PC.) Case color may seem like a pretty weak spec to be harping on, but think about what Dell has to overcome right now—a reputation for making drab boxes that mark their owners as computing neophytes. On top of that, the Flaming Lips song is the real star of this ad—nothing says "effortless cool" quite like the greatest band to ever come out of Oklahoma City. What Michael Dell wouldn't give for the young'uns to think the same of his eponymous PCs.