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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rico vs. Teeny

So, Rico is the weird little squirrel-thing at the helm of Air New Zealand's campaign. David Hasselhoff and Lindsay Lohan make gross and sad (respectively) appearances in the spots. I don't think the spots work at all. But I think Teeny, the monster/college student who promotes the 2012 Civic, works really well. I have the same question about both mascots: "What does this have to do with the product?" And I can come up with an answer for Teeny, and I can't with Rico.

Teeny is an Everygirl who just happens to be a giant monster: she goes to class, shops, and tools around with her friends in her Honda Civic. Teeny is relatable and eye-catching at the same time (relatable because she does stuff most people do; eye-catching because she's a monster). And the product is featured well - not only do we see Teeny driving the Civic, but we see the photo she takes in the booth with her friend in the Civic's dash. It's enough to make you think "Cool feature!" (and something a younger consumer would be interested in - it's clear who the ad is marketed to).

On the other hand, Rico is gross. His bulging green eyes are creepy. And why does he have fangs? Do squirrels have fangs? This is what I found myself wondering, instead of being curious about Air New Zealand. And if he's shilling Air New Zealand, why doesn't he have a New Zealand accent? Why make him sound like a bootleg Pepe LePew?

And his double entendres and lasciviousness are also gross. That look he gives the camera when the Hoff says it was "hard, a lot" working on Baywatch among all the women made me cringe.

Like everything that Lindsay Lohan does these days, her spot makes me sad. (Also, on the superficial tip: can she please, please go back to red hair? Red hair is so cool. There was a girl a few years ahead of me in high school with enough long, thick, red curly hair for three women - to the point where I used to wonder if her head got heavy - and it remains to this day the most spectacular head of hair I've ever seen. The platinum clashes with Lindsay's fake tan and makes her look older. ) No one knows better than I do that a check is a check, but it makes me sad to see her reduced to sitting on Rico's couch having to pretend this is funny.

Most importantly ... what is the actual point of this? Who is the consumer? Why would s/he be drawn to Rico? I guess he's eye-catching, but in a " ... What? Ew" sort of way. Where Teeny is appealing with her cuteness and pink toenails and Everygirl status, Rico the lothario is just nasty, and the tie-in to Air New Zealand is muddled at best.

Spokespeople/animals/puppets can work beautifully. I am not drawn to perpetually perky people, but I loves me some Progressive Flo. But Rico is totally off-putting and ineffective.

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