The Pitch As part of its sprawling "Star Power" holiday campaign, Dell enlists MMA legend Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell for a tongue-in-cheek shill session. Diction isn't Liddell's forte, alas, so it's a bit tough to understand his entire spiel—especially his use of a money vs. happiness line chart toward the commercial's end. But the basic gist is simple enough: buy an XPS desktop, or the Iceman will pound you into submission. Note the look of terror in the mangled chart-holder's eyes—that young man seems to know Liddell's fury firsthand. Overall, a clever concept slightly marred by so-so execution. Would struggling Dell have been better served by spending its zillions elsewhere? Or shall mock scare tactics put the once-proud company on the comeback trail?
The Spin As previously noted in this space, Dell is in the midst of a lengthy rebranding campaign. In addition to veering away from the direct-sales model, the company is desperately trying to morph from budget purveyor to technological innovator—thus the recent hullabaloo over the iMac-wannabe XPS One. This ad, however, hawks Dell's more traditional XPS setup, with screen and guts separate. It's a little tough to tell, given the Iceman's subpar elocution, but the focus here still seems to be on value, Dell's old standby. Thankfully, the company has learned that the earnestness of its past value campaigns—yes, the ones featuring the irrationally exuberant kid you loved to hate—is antithetical to the new image it's trying to cultivate. And so the Iceman cometh!