This year, Guernica celebrates its 10th anniversary as a free, online magazine of art & politics! As we prepare to launch into our second decade, we hope you'll consider making an end-of-year donation. Reader, you make this work possible.

Skip to Content

Share

Justin Alvarez: My Favorite Commercial of 2011

December 12, 2011

Bookmark and Share


It’s a good thing when advertising makes you feel a little bit stupid.

By **Justin Alvarez**

Advertising continues to become more interactive, so it seems a tad archaic to focus this list solely on commercials. However, from Madison Avenue’s concerns over campaign’s potential to leverage across digital mediums arises a disconnect between a campaign’s virtual and concrete messages.

Take, for example, Air New Zealand’s banner adabout their premium economy seats, which claims nothing will invade my personal space—except for tapas. While punching “space invaders” is all fun and games, by the time I click away I’ve already forgotten what airline the ad is for. In the online world of immediate gratification, the powers of the interactive being wielding by Mad Men have further alienated the core purpose of advertising—selling a brand.

Granted, there is some great work being done in the interactive realms, but what elevates a good ad to a great ad is not only the ability to catch your attention within seconds—but to make you feel or think something you’ve never felt or thought before. In Chrysler’s case, this was Detroit. For Google, they changed the definition of “scrapbooking.” And the Dead Island game trailer utterly transformed what gaming spots are capable of.

However, only one commercial not only communicated its message but also answered it: Chipotle’s “Back to the Start.”

Chipotle has long pioneered the use of organic, locally grown ingredients in fast food, and with this spot, by filmmaker Johnny Kelly, the company has artfully depicted its emphasis on developing a sustainable food system. Over the transcendent vocals of Willie Nelson covering Coldplay’s “The Scientist” and breathtaking stop-motion animation, the spot tells the simple story of a farmer who slowly turns his family farm into an industrial machine before realizing his mistakes and opting for a more sustainable future.

However, as its tagline, “Cultivate a Better World,” appeared and the scene faded to black, I wondered: did I know where my food came from? Was it grown locally, or was it shipped from some industrial monolith in the middle of Nebraska? Why do I shop at the A&P instead of the Union Square Farmer’s Market? Am I part of the problem?

I knew I was getting ahead of myself, but the ad did what not many ads successfully accomplish: it made me feel a little bit stupid. And this wasn’t an ad written by a group of young copywriters in a room cracking jokes and talking about movies (no offense, Luke Sullivan) but by people who truly cared about the campaign’s core message. Maybe I’m a sucker for empathy, but I was sold at “I’m going back to the start…”

(And I can’t sign off without pointing out the sheer calamitous defiling that is Luvs’ “Poop There It Is.” How? Why? We’ll never know…)

________________________________________________________________________

Justin Alvarez Large.jpg
Justin Alvarez is a Guernica Daily and new media editor at Guernica. Read more about him here.



  Conversations With History: U.S. Foreign Policy in a World Undergoing Change: Journalist Tom Wicker discusses the Presidency and the media at the height of the Cold War. More
 
  Justin Alvarez: The Balance Between Love and Hate: Is the United Colors of Benetton’s new UNHATE campaign a stroke of genius or a tasteless stunt? More
     
  Justin Alvarez: Levi’s-towns: Where Have All the Real Workers Gone?: How do the towns that don’t have a multi-million dollar advertising campaign behind them move forward? More
 
  Russ Baker: Corporate Media Stumped on How to Cover the Occupy Movement: Does conventional journalism fail to do Occupy Wall Street justice? More

For more on this topic and others at GUERNICA, click HERE .

SUBSCRIBE TO GUERNICA’S RSS FEED

You might also like

Leave a comment




Anti-Spam Quiz:

Subscribe without commenting