AOL: Calling all Sad Bears

I was puzzling over this recruitment ad for AOL that was posted on a billboard near my agency's building in the tech-heavy SoMa neighborhood.

Is this how the new brand image of AOL is going to be expressed?

If so, I guess we're going for a mix of upper and lower case and some new punctuation, which is OK, although it adds some complexity. For instance, does this mean we should start pronouncing it ay-ohl? Or, more properly, ay-ohl period? Or is that ay-ohl dot, as in dot com?

And what's with the sad bear on the circus bike? Are they looking for a very particular personality type in their employees? Should happy monkeys be advised that they need not apply?

Sure, we're all feeling a bit melancholy, given the economic situation and all the disasters and wars and all of that in the past few years, but really, it doesn't have to be worn on a corporate sleeve in such lugubrious fashion. Even in the case of a lugubrious former high-flyer brand such as Aol.

My last complaint is more along the advertising line, as I see a disconnect between the headline and the image of the sad bear. I guess when I imagine myself as a rock star, the picture I see is somewhat sexier and more energetic. But then again, to an audience of sexy young things I suppose I would most likely seem more like a sad bear on a circus bike than Eminem.

Not that they're asking, but my advice to Aol.'s marketing execs is to stop and consider exactly how they're presenting the brand to the world.

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