Thursday, December 24, 2009

Put on a happy face

Take a look around you. There are faces in the everyday objects you wear, use and observe. Some are frowns. Some are smiles. Do you see them? They are everywhere.

An advertising agency produced a television commercial that has captured a number of these objects with facial expressions and used them to capture the viewer’s attention. I’m sure you’ve seen it, but if you haven’t, you’re in for a treat:

The first time I saw the commercial I was mesmerized: completely taken in by the visual medley. In fact, I was so absorbed by what I was seeing, the music and the voiceover were nearly unnoticed. That  probably has more to do with me than with any flaws in the creative execution.

I’ve seen the commercial dozens of times now and I am still wowwed. It has the entire package: superb imagery, a dynamite music bed, and an intelligent script that is perfectly paced and spoken. I applaud the creative team and American Express for recognizing that the pictures convey a thousand words, so the announcer need not.

A breakdown of the commercial:

  • 24 images:  10 frowns, smartly outnumbered by 14 smiles
  • 5 frown images are shown in the first 8 seconds before a single word is uttered
  • As we see the second 5 frowns, the announcer mentions the bad things that can happen to the items we purchase
  • The first smile image doesn’t appear until the 25 second mark (I love how the indicator light pops on with a beep immediately after the announcer says “Happily” … brilliant!)
  • The name of the advertiser and product is finally mentioned at 27 seconds (smile) - and isn’t spoken again (bigger smile)
  • The airport baggage carousel is the only obvious image tie-in to the copy; “and peace of mind when you travel”
  • The American Express charge card is shown in the last five seconds
  • The music is Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major; this choice is a stroke of genius

It’s a terrific advertisement. I can’t help but smile every time I see it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sony Bravia HDTV commercial is "on fiah"!

I absolutely love the Sony Bravia commercial with Peyton Manning and Justin Timberlake playing ping pong.

With all of that action and the star power of Peyton Manning and Justin Timberlake, you’d think the message would be lost, or worse, seem like a distraction. Perhaps, save for a simple script that is flawlessly executed. Equally crucial to the commercial’s success is the impeccable visual balance of the set. It allows the viewer to look at Erin Andrews as she speaks and still see the point that is being articulated - and played. The video editing is also superb. Kudos to the advertising agency.

It’s a typical situation: an HDTV shopper looking at all of the flat screens expresses a common consumer frustration “These all seem the same.” What happens next is preposterous. The display wall slides open to reveal Manning and Timberlake playing an incredible ping pong point. Seated on the far side of the table are Tom, the cameraman, and Erin Andrews. Both are seemingly oblivious and unimpressed with the paddle action in front of them. Manning responds to the consumer “They’re not” as he rhythmically hops and smacks the ball back to his opponent. Andrews explains that you can’t fake Sony quality which makes watching sports in HD even better. Musician-and-actor-turned-budding-sports-star Timberlake exclaims that the more you watch sports on a Sony the better you get at sports.


It appears so because Timberlake gets the best of Super Bowl champion quarterback Manning with a slam for a winner. What follows next is comic brilliance.

You have to hand it to Sony, allowing so much of their commercial to be about the entertainment experience. Isn’t that precisely the point when watching programs on HDTV?