Reebok: Your Move...or not

Who can keep up with the "pop" in popular culture? I can't. Instead, I stash away items of interest in both electronic and paper files until a rainy day.

Today's selection is a Reebok commercial I saw back in June during the Stanley Cup Finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings.

The ad was part of Reebok's "Your Move" campaign, and it caught my attention for two reasons:

1. You have to pay attention to follow what's happening. I like that.

2. "But where you end entirely up to you." I don't like that.

Sports commercials often play this Just Do It card, and while it might pump the adrenaline a bit and offer some inspiration, it only speaks to a few folks in the world. Mario Lemiuex and Sidney Crosby are two of the best hockey players in history. The second little boy on the carpet can dream all day, but chances are he'll never get any closer to NHL ice than a seat behind the glass.

I hate to cast a cloud, but people really can't do whatever they want. We can't reach all of our dreams. We can't win every battle or overcome every obstacle. And that's fine. We are, in one way or another, wholly dependent creatures.

I don't suppose it's wrong to broadcast a wide message of inspiration like this - it's bound to hit someone. (And the opposite message would be a disaster: "Don't even go there, kid. You'll be lucky if you make the JV team. Your Move. Reebok.") But is there a better alternative?

Further questions to consider: Does a commercial like this lead to disillusionment? Is it honest? Where does submission regarding the direction of our lives come in to play? 

Related post: Going Pro


Temple Ad Club

I broke a cardinal rule of public speaking last week: I kept the audience overtime.

In September I traveled with a copy-writer friend to Temple University. He teaches there in Philly and asked if I'd present to his advertising class. Afterward, I met a sharp student named Michelle, and she invited me to return on behalf of the Temple Ad Club.

I did return and that's when I abused my time limit. How does one stop when the questions are good and the audience is engaged? I hope they didn't mind. I certainly enjoyed the evening and was quite impressed with the professionalism and hospitality shown by Michelle (club PR Coordinator), Justin (club President), Kelsey (flyer artist - click to see larger image), and other members of the group.

It was a delightful evening for several reasons, and I feel the need to mention two of them.

Movement shapers
1. The popularity of Cause-Related Marketing (e.g. Yoplait's Save Lids Save Lives) and Corporate Social Responsibility (e.g. IBM's green initiative), combined with the tremendous amount of consumer interest in such efforts, make this time period an historic one. What an opportunity for advertisers and communicators. These students will shape how we understand and respond to the needs of the world.

I was impressed last week because they seem care-filled enough to do it.

Commitment makers
2. The need for accountability and guidance is great in the world of advertising. We've all seen plenty of ad-trash. And we continue to see it because it so often "works." But we need new content. We need Jesus-like advertising to be the norm, not the exception. These students will need peers to keep them on the right track, and mentors to guide them.

I was impressed last week because they seem committed enough to strive in this direction.

A special thanks to my hosts! Press on in your good work.


Readers, Temple is not a religious school and I have no insight about the spiritual make-up of this group, but will you pray for Michelle, Justin, Kelsey, Rachel, Lizzy and others? They have quite a task before them.


Travelers Insurance: Prized Possession

I highlighted a Travelers Insurance commercial once before. Last night I saw another worthy of comment. The two differ so very much from each other, which is notable in itself, yet both equally affected my impression of Travelers.

In "Prized Possession," a dog worries that something will happen to his bone unless it's protected. I don't usually care for animal ads, but this dog (and the humans involved) should win awards.

The song comes from Ray LaMontagne and you can watch him sing it here.


Into the wild...of snow globes

If we were to-morrow morning snowed up in the street in which we live, we should step suddenly into a much larger and much wilder world than we have ever known. And it is the whole effort of the typically modern person to escape from the street in which he lives.

Heretics, by G.K. Chesterton

Not long after reading this quote, I saw the following commercial for the Travel Channel.

One success of advertising is the ability to transport consumers into other worlds. From shinier hair to roomier houses to happier friendships, we're willing to buy the promises offered because they do, indeed, appear to improve our current situation. We are not, conversely, willing to buy downward. It just isn't normal.

Likewise with traveling. In this particular commercial, the Travel Channel (Well, the folks from David&Goliath) encourages us to escape the mundane; to broaden our world by going to far-away places and interacting with strange people and customs. Yet Chesterton argues that "if what [a man] wants is people different from himself, he had much better stop at home and discuss religion with the housemaid."

Personally, I'm a fan of travel. I believe it's important to go somewhere new and exciting and uncomfortable if you have the chance. But I'm also convicted by the call to know and love my neighbor next door. Might advertisers play a role in strengthening this conviction?

Bear with me on the length of this excerpt. It's a good one and will help make my point.

We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbour. Hence he comes to us clad in all the careless terrors of nature; he is as strange as the stars, as reckless and indifferent as the rain. He is Man, the most terrible of the beasts. That is why the old religions and the old scriptural language showed so sharp a wisdom when they spoke, not of one's duty towards humanity, but one's duty towards one's neighbour. The duty towards humanity may often take the form of some choice which is personal or even pleasurable. That duty may be a hobby; it may even be a dissipation. We may work in the East End because we are peculiarly fitted to work in the East End, or because we think we are; we may fight for the cause of international peace because we are very fond of fighting. The most monstrous martyrdom, the most repulsive experience, may be the result of choice or a kind of taste.... But we have to love our neighbour because he is there--a much more alarming reason for a much more serious operation.

Those who wish, rightly or wrongly, to step out of all this, do definitely wish to step into a narrower world.... [A]nything is bad and artificial which tends to make these people succumb to the strange delusion that they are stepping into a world which is actually larger and more varied than their own. The best way that a man could test his readiness to encounter the common variety of mankind would be to climb down a chimney into any house at random, and get on as well as possible with the people inside. And that is essentially what each one of us did on the day that he was born.

Could an agency like David&Goliath, which prides itself on bravery, dare people to do the mundane? To buy downward for the thrill of it? To go next door and discover a "much larger and much wilder world than we have ever known"?

How would D&G endorse this radical perspective? By Chesterton's account, with a great amount of bravery. I'll add creativity, too. It would take nothing short of an advertising genius to move us into a snow globe with each other instead of onto an exotic safari with friends.


Something to ponder: What products or services might assist such a genius?


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