First let me say this: No one should judge advertising under the influence of Cheese Whiz and Funyuns. Now that thirty days have passed, and I’ve worked off nearly a third of the calories that I consumed during our Super Bowl party, I’ve rethought my opinion that there was no “1984” ad moment. There was, but it just took longer to realize. I blame what obviously was a trans fatty acid induced stagger towards Abilene. Don’t worry. I’m good now.
Much has been discussed already about the lack of great advertising during Super Bowl 2012, and so I don’t need to spend any time here rehashing that. One ad though has continued to remain in my thoughts well past the others: Wieden + Kennedy’s Clint Eastwood Half-time ad.
My previous definition of a “1984” moment is when ad is so astounding that while watching you could be induced to join Scientology. This year it didn’t happen for me. In fact it hasn’t happened for me since 1984. Then I began thinking: maybe my definition is flawed. Maybe.
Well, here’s my new and improved checklist for determining the existence of a “1984” moment during Super Bowl, and how “Half-time in America” fairs:
- The production value is astonishingly good. Check.
- The writing is perfect. Check.
- The message inserts itself into an acutely felt cultural tension. Check.
- The ad gives me goose bumps or a lump in my throat. Check.
- The tone of the commercial is distinctly different than all others playing during the Super Bowl. Check.
- It only needs to run once, and the world continues to discuss it. Check.
- It pisses off “The Man,” (or at least Karl Rove). Check.
Not that you haven’t seen it a dozen times, but please take another look, and see if it doesn’t hit all these attributes squarely in the face like Hillary Swank in Million Dollar Baby.
Oddly enough, when I first watched it I thought it was a rip-off of Ronald Reagan’s “It’s Morning in America” spot, and in fact it seemed very conservative to me. Clint is my favorite gun lover. On the other hand, those in politically conservative circles viewed this as pay back for political patronage (to put it mildly). In this case, both sides are right, and that’s the beauty of the spot. It allows for multiple, intensely felt interpretations. It’s like that joke about the psychiatrist who is accused of sharing dirty pictures, even though he keeps explaining to his patients they are just inkblots.
Even if you think that Chrysler will never produce a product as significant or wonderful as Apple can, one thing’s for sure. The Chrysler ad did what few ads will ever do. It continued to move our jaws well after we were done gnawing on buffalo chicken wings, giving us pause long enough to look down to make sure our feet are pointed in the right direction -180 degrees away from Abilene.