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Brand X: Plato's Retreat

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E.T. looks like a supermodel compared with this dude. In the latest installments of its ongoing "The Walkman Has Landed" campaign, Plato -- a furry blue big-headed alien introduced this past summer -- returns for a repeat engagement. In a TV spot, he's seen lounging on a campus green, obliviously enjoying his music while a coed's dog rattles his CD player like some sort of chew toy. In a print ad, Plato's frozen midflight as he's being tossed off a mechanical bull in a cowboy-themed bar -- the point apparently being that the "G-Protection"-technology CD Walkman he's listening to won't skip. Too bad we don't get to see Rover chomp one of Plato's fuzzy blue ears off, or see his skinny little alien neck snap in the bull-riding ad. This campaign needs violence, slapstick, a narrative arc -- something -- because the protagonist just can't cut it on his own. Poor Plato lacks range: His too-broad, misshapen face lacks the adorable expressiveness we've come to expect from Hollywood's aliens. We want to like Plato, we really do, but his look is reminiscent of a homemade Halloween costume that might elicit a wary "Oh, isn't that . . . special" from parents who secretly wish their kid had more talent. The problem, in the end, is that the world's most distinguished consumer electronics company has settled for a substandard Muppet wannabe. Sorry, Sony, but this blue boy's just not cute enough.


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