Going Pro

I have a love/hate relationship with the NCAA's Public Service Announcements on Going Pro. Here's a recent one called "Beyond the Boundaries":

See? Nowhere to land. On the one hand, it captivates my attention, makes good use of visual effects and sounds inspirational as the voice-over proclaims, "There are over 400,000 NCAA student athletes, and just about all of us will be going pro in something other than sports."

That's the one hand. On the other, I have no idea why they made this commercial.

I asked a friend and college coach to explain Why to me. He sounded articulate and I think I even nodded my head in genuine agreement a few times. When I walked away, I realized I was back where I started: still confusedly impressed.

Next I looked online for Why and found, among very little else, the making of last year's PSA, "Shoe." Pam Thomas, director of the spot, said, "I love that...when he's revealing wing-tips you understand that this is a student athlete who's gonna go beyond athleticism and use his education in other ways. That's sort of what these NCAA spots are all about."

Pam's comment basically said what the PSA said, and that's when I realized I wasn't going to "get" this announcement. I'm simply not in its audience. While most commercials talk to the general consumer and PSAs advocate commonly valued values, "Shoe" and "Beyond the Boundaries" and others like them have someone else in mind.

But Who? Eighteen-to-fifty-year-old men who watch college Bowl games and forget that Florida State is an educational institution? Concerned parents of student athletes? Disillusioned scholarship hopefuls? Post-college job recruiters? TV viewers like me who appreciate creative ads?

That last guess aside, I honestly have no idea. So I have to appreciate it for what it is and be okay with assuming that since it's a PSA, the NCAA must have recognized the need to share an important message; possibly even to care for a neighbor.

Feel free to enlighten me. Or, just enjoy the announcements and remain confusedly impressed.


VW hope

I wrote the following post a year ago and for some reason never published it. I still like it for the ad and what it implies. I thought you might, too.

Good news plays a role in this Volkswagen commercial. Here, an urban, sign-carrying doomsdayer finds a reason to shift his religious gears.

Questions to ponder:

1. What do you think about VW's use of this character?
2. The reason for tossing his sign may seem illogical, but have tiny, illogical things every shifted your gears toward hope?


GMC Terrain: Major neighbor to a Mini car

As Mardi Gras is to Lent, my football watching is to the end of the season. I've consumed football during the past few weeks like it's never coming back. Late nights, poor posture for hours on end, emotional highs and lows...these are the consequences to my over-consumption and lack of discipline. They're also the good price I've paid for New Breed material.

GMC Terrain
When you sit glued to the tube, you discover a great deal of content. Like this new GMC commercial that I watched half a dozen times before suddenly appreciating it. It's only 15 seconds long, but in the midst of so many competition-based ads (Mac vs. PC, Howie Long vs. Honda), I find it refreshing. Even neighborly.

Bullying is so 7th grade
"The same impressive highway fuel economy you get in a Mini...." That's what I love about this ad: It makes the GMC Terrain look better by complimenting another automobile. In other words, this same GM brand that employs Howie to drag Honda through the mud doesn't drag Mini through the mud. It respects it. Of course, GMC and Mini aren't right and left shoes, so the closing line about winning seems somewhat irrelevant, but perhaps this commercial offers an example that Howie and Mac and Wendy and shameless others could follow.

It's a high road. It's also a challenging road, requiring brands to know the value they bring to the marketplace, to find security in that knowledge, and to risk (gasp!) making others look good along the way. Football teams do it all the time. They study and plan in order to win, sure, but you'll never hear mature players and coaches trash opponents. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The question is, Would it work? Is a high road possible given current marketing norms? Is it economically feasible? I don't know, but I'd like to see more of this practice in the marketing field.


Martha's Trouble and the Accord Crosstour

Julie and I first heard Martha's Trouble at a Barnes & Noble in Erie, Pennsylvania. Their music complimented our cups of cinnamon plum tea and relaxed conversation, and we wondered how they would do for a college crowd. That question got answered over the next four or five years as Rob and Jen returned many times to visit and entertain us on campus.

Besides the good music, we always marveled at their tales of crossing the U.S./Canadian border, something that too often involved emptying and re-stuffing their equipment into a small trunk in front of time-insensitive border guards. Then they'd show up in PA and we'd empty their car for the show only to re-stuff it afterward so they could move along to the next show.

That was years ago and they're still at it. I haven't seen them in quite a while but I've been thinking about them and their trunk space lately, thanks to a clever little commercial called "Instruments" by Elastic. The first half of this TV spot for Honda's new Accord Crosstour is so visually enjoyable that I almost always forget what's being advertised in the second half. That's typically a bad thing, but I like the ad enough to pay attention. Eventually it will stick.

Would the Crosstour ease Rob and Jen's travels? Maybe not, but "Instruments" promises to make it cool trying. 

Photo credit: Car and Driver


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