Commentary

Evian's "Baby and Me" Is All Whimsy, No Business

Once again, I would like to go on the record as firmly, proudly, incontrovertibly pro-cuteness. I prefer things that are cute, like nesting dolls and marshmallows, to things that are not cute, like drains and infected cuticles. If you gave me the choice between Quvenzhané Wallis and Ed Asner, I'd totally pick little Quvenzhané and her bedimpled cheeks and the curls that dangle off her temples like… holy mother of Mellencamp, is that a baby otter?!? I absolutely LOVE baby otters! Ho ho - the little guy thinks he's people! See? My pro-cuteness credentials are impeccable.

So you can trust me when I tell you this: You will not be lulled into a cuteness fugue state by "Baby and Me," Evian's latest contribution to the click-bait canon. It will not brighten those brief moments between when you check your phone and when you check your phone again. If a coo escapes your lips, it will have been triggered by some other external stimuli, like an actual baby.

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The clip arrives nearly four years after "Roller Babies," in which a bunch of computer-animated babies on roller skates charmed a nation reeling from a drought or a sudden celebrity death or something or other. The clip didn't boost sales or get consumers to equate Evian with youthful refreshervescence - ostensibly the point of the thing - but it notched something like 325 trillion YouTube views and prompted western civilization's first-ever in-unison awwwwwww! By those specious measures, the campaign couldn't have been more of a hit.

Thus the inevitable sequel, "Baby and Me." This time around, an unshaven hipster guy catches what should be a glimpse of himself in a car's sideview mirror, but what he sees instead is a reflection of his baby self (same haircut, outfit and facial symmetry, but on a wee 'un). Turning to a huge mirrorized window, he does what you or I would do in the same situation - dance a manic Watusi - and sees his baby doppelganger replicating his furious contortions. Then a woman strolls by and does the same thing. Then two dudes stroll by and do the same thing, and then another woman, and then a slovenly guy. Before too long, we find ourselves in a veritable baby Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.

Without question, "Baby and Me" is technically impressive. We've reached a point in the evolution of computer animation/manipulation/whatever where almost anything can be expertly and seamlessly faked - parrot heads on cockatiel torsos, Ginsu knives running layup drills, etc. And so it is with the animated babies, who move so fluidly that, for a brief, stoned second, you might entertain the possibility that they're real. Somebody deserves a thimble-sized Clio for his technical mastery here.

My main problem is one of motivation. The clip lacks a single valid reason to exist, it seems,  beyond racking up YouTube views. The grammatically stilted brand messaging that found its way into "Roller Babies" is absent here, as are images of or associations with Evian product. What we're left with, then, is cute dancing babies for the sake of cute dancing babies. It beats horrible gaping head wounds for the sake of horrible gaping head wounds, but it's comparably aimless.

I am nonetheless predicting that this clip will generate 32 wockabazillion views and, as such, be judged a wild success on that metric alone. But let's be sure not to lump "Baby and Me" in with the genre's most effective brand videos, ones that delivered brand punch and entertainment in equal measure. There's business and then there's whimsy, and "Baby and Me" is grounded exclusively in the latter.

2 comments about "Evian's "Baby and Me" Is All Whimsy, No Business".
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  1. Giuliana Lonigro from Geeloblog, April 26, 2013 at 9:08 a.m.

    Not sure I agree with you. The tagline at the end: "Evian, live young," whispered by a young person with a French accent ties the idea together. The video also incorporates the idea of dancing with being young at heart, happy, healthy and presumably living a healthy lifestyle that includes drinking lots of water, preferably Evian.

  2. Bill Burnett from Good Citizen Media Group, April 26, 2013 at 2:32 p.m.

    You're totally off on this one. It is clever and fun, and speaks to a desire we all have to be able to turn back the clock. Even my 10 year old wishes he were 4 again. It gave me a good fresh feeling about Evian, which to me is a water product from the last century that I haven't thought about in years. Lighten up!

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