Remember the last episode of "Mad Men?" For those who didn't tune in, Don Draper, a destitute ad exec, sits lotus style on the ocean front of California. Bereft of pretty much everything, he finds the inspiration to create the Coca-cola ad campaign, "It's the Real Thing." For the youngsters, this is a fictionalized version of a real ad campaign that came out in 1971. The campaign catapulted Coke's image issuing a message of hope to a country in political turmoil. However you feel about advertising, Coca-cola, America's largest grossing product, made a political statement. From the same sofas where we watched news from Vietnam we also watched Coke's message about peace and humanity (I know, kumbaya... Not to bum you out, It's kinda sad that we laugh at our naivety.). Almost 50 years later, it's still considered the most popular ad campaign. (To find out the real story behind the ad, click here.)
During this year's Superbowl, Audi, Budweiser, 84 Lumber and "It's a 10" Haircare made statements about equal pay, immigration and pre-apocalyptic hair styles. Of course, first and foremost, the advertisers hope to get viewers to buy more product. It's their job. (FYI, Budweiser would have to do a lot more to get me to drink it.). But also these miniature stories are meant to pluck the hardened heart strings of the everyday Superbowl fan in another way for a minute or two.
The people who make these spots get to put their hearts into them even though on some days, they feel like they've sold those hearts to the devil. Filmmaking peers in NOLA
have talked about the privilege and experience of working on the pro-immigration Budweiser ad. These folks are production crew, story tellers and artists who are tasked to build something around a commodity. On other days, they probably go home and groan just like us. Becker, the real creator of the 1971 Coke ad campaign believed "it was the customer, not the client, who mattered most." He and other creatives prove that In times like these, it's not who's the loudest or shiniest that we listen to but who's listening to us. (FYI, I'll admit, I cried a couple of times last night not because of football but because of the ads that talked about daughters and featured friends. Go L'il Buck!)