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e-Briefing | Ad Test

Tech Hound

November 23, 2000

The ad: A bored puppy logs on to the Internet and orders a stack of high-tech goodies--from pooch-themed DVDs to a big-screen TV--from electronics retailer Best Buy's Web site. This, of course, transforms our canine chum into a tail-wagging couch potato. But his humans don't seem as enthusiastic, and the commercial ends with them returning a stack of movies to a smiling and obliging clerk. They apparently kept all the other stuff.

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The pitch: Best Buy is trying to convey how easy and convenient ordering from its Web site can be. For instance, the company does not currently charge shipping, and it allows buyers to pick up or return merchandise to their local store rather than pay to ship it back to Best Buy's warehouse.

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The truth: Shopping at Best Buy's site is indeed easy and convenient. We've done it. Our only beef was that an e-mail sent to the customer-service address was never answered. On to the ad, though.

We won't quibble with the obvious absurdity of a dog ordering stuff off the Internet. No dog could do that. Maybe a cat. But a dog?

Where this ad slides into the gray zone is in the final few frames. And we're not talking about the smiling, obliging clerk. We'll give that one to Best Buy too. No, the problem here is that Best Buy is a stickler about returns--especially of software, music and movies.

Unless those movies were unopened, Best Buy would not grant even a store credit--this according to the company's own Web site, a call to its West Los Angeles store and an in-person attempt at the Atwater Village store. Defective CDs, software and movies can be exchanged but only for the same title.

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