Peter Thiel, genius and billionaire, offers some fresh advice in the Intercollegiate Review: “The Competition Myth.” Send the link to the young adults that you know.
Thiel is interesting. I wish that the elite captains who steer the ships of our social fleet were more like him—and that today’s Forbes list consisted of men like the Crosley brothers, Milton Hershey, Howard Hughes, Thomas Edison, Rockefeller . . . men of genius, vision, courage, and great will. Well, Silicon Valley is full of amazing folks, and there is Elon Musk, but America’s dominant class today largely reeks of cowardice and dishonesty. Such makes sense—for they lead a craven, lying people.
I criticized the quality of this year’s Super Bowl advertising in “Super Bowl Mediocre Marketing,” and I would like to offer some ads from the past year that are of “Big Game” quality. I cheated in my search by combing through others’ best of ‘14 lists, but hey—the folks at Adweek get paid to discuss advertising. I make no money here. The first video shows exactly what I expect from a Super Bowl commercial. Behold, Lurpak’s “Adventure Awaits”:
Wonderful! Just wonderful! I remember reading something in Maritain’s treatment of aesthetics wherein he argues that we delight in recognizing something when that recognition comes in an unexpected way. This is definitely true. No one gets excited from knowing that a goose is a goose, but a man experiences joy when his mind puts a visual puzzle together to see a common object that was obscured before his mental faculties got to work on it. Similarly, people love to find hidden “Easter Eggs” in film and in paintings. The splendor of this commercial works in a similar way by exposing the commonplace in a spectacular fashion.
Adweek’s article explains that Christmas ads are the British equivalent of Super Bowl ads. I knew that the Brits liked their Yuletide tube watching—every B.B.C import show tends to have Christmas specials. I never considered, though, the commercials during those specials. Well, here is one such ad from the department store John Lewis, “Monty the Penguin”:
Coca-Cola Life has a lovely family affirming commercial from Argentina, “Ser Padres”:
I saw this commercial earlier in the year; it must have been featured on a site that I read . . . perhaps from Laura Wood or Fr. Z???
The following Save the Children’s “Most Shocking Second a Day Video” counteracts apathy well, but how are “globally” aware people to avoid the desensitization that the commercial decries? There is too much to care about—so, it makes sense to draw boundaries of concern. Still, it is one of the most intelligently executed public service announcements that I have seen.
Another moving ad from Britain is Sainbury’s Christmas spot, which commemorates the Great War on its one hundredth anniversary:
Last but not least is Procter & Gamble’s “Mom” campaign during the Sochi Olympics, such as the following:
I watched bits of the Super Bowl last night, and I must admit that the game itself was quite entertaining—such amazing athleticism on display, several “Did that just happen?” moments, and a close score throughout the game so that we were not sure of the winner until the very end. The commercials, however, were inferior to past years’ showings. However, I did enjoy some of them. They were just not exceptional. Compare them, for instance, with my favorites from A.D. 2009 (“Super Bowl Advertisements”) or A.D. 2011 (“Big Game Commercials”). Here is this year’s obligatory touching Budweiser animal commercial, “Lost Dog”:
Not shown but now universally seen is GoDaddy’s pulled advertisement, “Journey Home,” which spoofs sentimental puppy spots:
I love puppies, and golden retriever puppies can melt a heart of iron, but I think that GoDaddy’s ad is well executed and pretty funny. Of course, in pulling the commercial, they got two spots for the price of one in addition to much media coverage and potential customer viewing. I wonder if they always intended to substitute the ad. Very clever.
The most visually striking ad for me was American Family Insurance’s “dreamers” at Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks diner. I love 40’s style. Besides, the commercial’s concept is unique and heartwarming:
Esurance had two entertaining ads that worked well: Lindsay Lohan in Sort of Mom and Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Sort of Greg.
Several other amusing videos featured self-deprecating celebrity parodies. My favorite of these was Liam Neeson for Clash of Clans:
And Pierce Brosnan in 007 mode for Kia Sorento in “The Perfect Getaway”:
It troubles me to post the last commercial in this series. In this site’s six plus years, I have not once mentioned the name Kardashian. Alas, I must give credit where it is due—here is Kim Kardashian for T-Mobile:
I’ll mention one last worthy television-aired commercial; Lexus’ “Let’s Play” delights:
Nissan sponsored an interesting video for the game’s livestream broadcast. I do not see how it reflects Nissan or cars, but it is an enjoyable prank wherein Roman Atwood turns his house into a plastic ball play land—to the surprise of his wife upon her return home:
Not bad, but not astounding, either.
The Advent fast begins today. May your white lent be fruitful. I wish you the best in keeping the faith in this land of mammon.
Related to the ridiculous consumerism of contemporary society, I present you a funny article on Slate by Rebecca Watson, “The Pseudoscience of SkyMall.” Watson reviews the curious SkyMall catalogue that you find on planes and suggests a game that I shall play on my next flight. She imagines that she wins a contest where she gets to pick one item from each of the catalogue’s spreads. Watson ends thus:
If you’re playing Imaginary SkyMall Sweepstakes, definitely go with the Lord Raffles Lion Throne Chair on Page 91, because nothing says “class” like an ornate replica Medieval throne from an in-flight catalog. Or maybe the Bigfoot, the Holiday Yeti Holiday Ornament, depending on your personal tastes. Totally your call.
We are indeed a tacky people.
Ron Unz published an interesting and disturbing article in The American Conservative last week about the American political and media establishments’ having given a free pass to the pharmaceutical company Merck after its drug Vioxx caused thousands of deaths: “Chinese Melamine and American Vioxx: A Comparison.” Unz contrasts the American media’s handling of the Chinese infant and pet food scandals with how they covered the Vioxx affair. Unz also compares the reactions of the respective governments. Unz notes that eventually the ChiComs executed some of the men who were responsible for the infant formula malefaction that resulted in six deaths and thousands of medical complication cases, whereas no one has really been held accountable for Vioxx, which may have caused the deaths of a half million Americans.
I discovered Unz’s article on Sailer’s site. Some of Sailer’s commentators think that Unz is being too hard on Merck, especially given the amount of people who took the drug and the benefits derived from it. Some even contend that aspirin would not pass F.D.A. approval today if it were a new drug. I do not know, but Unz’s article calls into question whatever journalistic integrity that remains in this country.
Update: Be sure to see Peter Schaeffer’s criticism of Unz’s arguments in the comments section.
A few months ago, I read an interesting article in Forbes by Bret Swanson: “Jobs: Steve vs. the Stimulus.” The backstory of the article is that in his response to Obama’s State of the Union address, Governor Daniels of Indiana stated that Steve Jobs had produced more jobs than the monstrous stimulus act. Paul Krugman, lefty economist for The New York Times, then attempted to school Daniels by comparing the numbers. Contra Krugman, Swanson’s article defends Daniel’s assertion with a fascinating exploration of the dynamism in a free economy.
Athenos is not my favorite brand of packaged hummus, but Kraft’s Greek label commercials are sweet like Melissos’ honey. Enjoy what Yiayia says.
Yiayia on stay at home fathers:
Yiayia on fashion:
Yiayia on cohabitation:
Evidently, the ad campaign began in late winter earlier this year, but I only recently discovered the videos. I want more Yiayia commentary; grandmothers know better.
Leave it to Americans to find a way to combine tastlessness and consumerism in even the most hallowed aspects of life . . . and death. I present Holy Smoke, a company that turns cremated remains into ammunition so that one can go out in a bang. From the company’s site:
Planning a loved ones final arrangements can be a challenging responsibility, one you want to do with care and consideration. Allow Holy Smoke to help you create a tribute to your outdoorsperson like no other.
We provide compassionate personal service, exceptional quality, and a truly unique memorial. Our unparalleled service and overall value are why our loyal customers won’t go anywhere else. We look forward to serving you!
The name you can trust! . . .
Now you can have the peace of mind that you can continue to protect your home and family even after you are gone.
The company is based in Alabama. I shall refrain from additional comment.
I am not a devotee of Malcolm Gladwell, but I did find his article on the mall in The New Yorker quite interesting: “The Terrazzo Jungle.” Gladwell recounts the vision of the mall’s creator, Victor Gruen, as well as his disappointment in what became of his idea. Gruen wanted the mall to be a commercial centerpiece to an extensive, planned development that would create an orderly and beautiful community in suburbia. Such did not occur, though attempts at integrated commercial and residential space continue as the new urbanism refuses to submit before the American cult of the ugly and haphazard. Gladwell also explains how tax policy resulted in ghastly commercial developments largely disconnected from a community’s shopping needs, which thereby facilitated the American wasteland of suburban sprawl. Also of interest is mall designer Alfred Taubman’s commentary on the mall’s commercial strategies. The article is delightful pop anthropological candy. Enjoy.