A Fish Called Lucent

Aug. 1 1997 3:30 AM

A Fish Called Lucent

79000_79466_mov_icon
79000_79467_audio_icon

Sound02 - lucent.avi or Sound03 - lucent.mov; download time, 3.50 minutes at 56K Sound01 - VR-lucent.asf; for sound only

Underwater Alt, produced by McCann-Erickson for Lucent Technologies.

Advertisement

Underwater Alt (the "alt" in the title is for "alternative"--the client saw several executions of this spot) is the newest ad in a series by advertising powerhouse McCann-Erickson for Lucent Technologies, the company that was once Ma Bell's lab.

41000_41954_lucent1

At the most obvious level, Underwater Alt is just chyron writing on a computer screen. As the tap-tap-tap of the spot's message glides across the screen, the keyboardist provides the voice-over at the same speed he types. We don't see the keyboardist--we intuit him based on the visual and audio clues.

"This is a demonstration," our narrator types. A demonstration of what? The screen and the clacking keys suggest it has to be something high tech. As we cut from a close-up to a wider view, we're informed that the product is "Lucent wireless systems and technology." In fact, no one specific product is hyped.

53000_53862_lucent3

Water edges into the frame from below, as if the computer screen is not just a computer screen but also a big, clear bowl. The rising tide distorts the words ("this is now just about the only place") and then swamps them ("where you can't stay in touch."). As the water fills the screen, a goldfish swims by.

53000_53863_lucent5

"Any questions?" our narrator types. The fish turns to face the camera, as if it might have one, and then swims away because, of course, we can't communicate down here. The fish swims into the next scene, across the company name and into the last frame, complete with name, logo, and a reference to "Bell Labs Innovations" (there's equity left in the old corporate identity).

Finally, the spot delivers an explicit message: "We make the things that make communications work," says and types the keyboardist. At the same time, an air bubble burps over the fish, making it seem as if we're listening to the fish's thoughts.

41000_41955_lucent6

The brand-name advertising of Underwater Alt aims to associate Lucent with the futuristic, high-end segment of the communications web. And by soft-selling the idea that Lucent is inventing the future for everyone (except for fish), the spot disarms potential technophobes by banishing techy talk and visuals.

--Robert Shrum

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.