Friday, February 13, 2015

Advertising Critique - The Real Cost: Stay In Control

After making fun of commercials by Chevrolet and, I figured that my next commercial critique should be of one that I actually like. I was going to do a "best and worst commercials of Superbowl XLIX," but I figured that's probably pretty overdone, and none really stood out to me this year aside from the attempt to use sex to sell a burger, which isn't very creative or effective.

The Real Cost - A PSA With Style, Atmosphere, and Creativity

I, like most people, don't generally enjoy watching any public service announcements, which explains my first commercial critique. They usually feel like the they're trying to shove something unwanted down my throat (I just read that sentence again after typing it, and I'm going to leave it as is). Some of the more common PSAs to pop up recently have been anti-smoking commercials, most of which rely on the same few arguments:
  • It's not cool
  • It could kill you
  • It costs money
I'm no expert, but these ads probably don't work, especially when you check out this awesome chart showing how money spent on anti-drug campaigns do literally nothing to decline the use of drugs, no matter how many trillions are wasted spent. The fact of the matter is that smokers already know they shouldn't smoke and are acutely aware of why; there's no proof that hits closer to home than being addicted to something you know can kill you. They don't need to be told not to smoke, they need help to stop - if they even want to.

Disclaimer: I've never once inhaled a single cigarette. Anti-smoking PSAs are not directed at me, and so I typically ignore them or ridicule them for just how stupid and ineffective their message is. Yes, I understand they mean well, but they don't ever seem to accomplish anything.

And then I saw this gem:
That, my friends, is what I call a really well-done PSA. The editing, and directing is all top-notch, in fact, this is the level of style and quality that I would expect from my favorite movie director; David Fincher.

But all the style in the world can't make up for a terrible script or concept, right? Well then it's fortunate that, in my humble opinion, those elements are just as stellar in this commercial. The flash of moments that any typical teenager experiences (and in some cases yearns for) create a beautiful vignette, all while the character narrates her twisted pledge to give up the most important thing to any to-be adult; her freedom.
"Now that I finally have the freedom to define who I am, I hereby agree to be bound to you."
Again, I'm not the target audience for this commercial, as I'm neither a teen nor a smoker or would-be-smoker, but I can't help but feel like it really hit the nail right on the head in terms of identifying what every teenager wants most, and then relating that to the negative effects of smoking.

Is it a bit exaggerated? Of course, especially when you realize that the scene in which the girl smokes alone away from her friends ignores the fact that most smokers are friends with other smokers (or perhaps it's a metaphor for her leaving behind her carefree childhood?), but in a world where PSAs are full of cheesy attempts to make smokers realize something they already know, this commercial stands out as something striving to be more.

I can't speak for the effectiveness of this commercial to keep people from smoking, but I stand by my assertion that it is effective at conveying its point in a unique and attention-grabbing way. I enjoy it so much that I've watched it for fun a few times; trying to analyze and capture the mood of it for use in my future storytelling attempts.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know below! And don't forget to sign up for my email list to get updates about my new posts right to your email!

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