Fun fact: Associating with David Bowie, whether in physical or purely musical form, instantly increases your cool factor by about 1 trillion percent. See: fashion model Iman, TV series Flight of the Conchords, the movie Labryinth and Lincoln Motor Co.
So, to elevate an otherwise just sort-of-neat ad for its new smartphone, the Xperia Z (pronounce it "zed" for full effect), Sony had the good sense to enlist the talents of the artist formerly known as Ziggy Stardust—or at least his vocals from a 1977 outtake of the song "Sound and Vision." (Yes, the same song Beck covered so memorably for Lincoln.)
The Xperia spot, from McCann London and director Tarsem—his credits include everything from REM's "Losing My Religion" video to the recent film Mirror, Mirror (also known as the Snow White retelling that didn't result in Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson's tragic breakup)—begins with the popular "Our brand through history" trope. But Bowie's soundtrack makes the slow-motion flashback scenes, from a group of people watching a rocket blast off on an early Sony TV to some kids playing with the first Sony PlayStation, seem substantially less cheesy.
The big finish, Tarsem's present-day depiction of the Xperia Z in action, is visually stunning: A pair of tourists in India use the smartphone to record a Holi festival celebration—in which the participants throw brightly colored powders at one another—before rinsing the apparently waterproof device in a stream of clear water.
Moving at half speed and set to this music, Tarsem almost makes you forget that you're watching your 30th smartphone ad of the day.
Product: Xperia Z
Agency: McCann, London
Production Company: @radical.media
Director: Tarsem Singh