Monday, March 8, 2010

Pretty Woman, Watchin' Down the Street

A striking commercial, which can be found at, caught my attention last week. In the ad, a pretty, dark-eyed woman walks down the street. Her expression brightens, and she watches something in the distance as graphics circle her head. The music is electronic and (to me) reminiscent of a French café. Then you see an Acura ZDX automobile--the object of the woman’s curiosity.

Who is this woman? What is that music? According to this site, the woman is a Polish model named Karolina Wydra, and the song is “Pa' Bailar” by the South American (Rioplatense) group Bajofondo. I downloaded the catchy song from iTunes. As for the pretty Ms. Wydra, who has also appeared on "House" and "True Blood," this site gives more information about her:

I love the internet! My students would probably find my appreciation funny and old-foggyish. Over thirty years ago, I tried to find the address of the publisher of the Jack Bruce song, “Theme from an Imaginary Western,” to get permission to quote it. Wonderful as our small town library is, I couldn’t find the resources to help--and then gave up too quickly without thinking I could order a resource from interlibrary loan. Now… if you want to know something, in less than five minutes you usually find what you want, without getting off the couch. Of course, I could’ve spent that five minutes more productively than researching an interesting TV commercial. But hey, now I know who the woman is, and I know there is such a thing as Latin Alternative music!

I’m still neutral about Acura cars, however, and didn’t check them out on the internet. In fact, I keep forgetting which car company it is: Lexus? Infiniti? Acura enriched my day a little with their ad but didn‘t achieve the ad’s purpose. Commercials can be that way: because they’re too clever (or too annoying), you aren’t sufficient intrigued by the product. I love the “Life Comes At You Fast” commercials but I struggle to remember which insurance company they pitch (it’s Nationwide). The ads are almost too entertaining. On the other hand, an ad featuring frogs that croak “bud …wei…ser” isn’t going to make you say, “Oh, I love that beer commercial with the croaking frogs but I can’t remember which beer it’s for. Heineken?”

Kleenex is currently running commercials about how the tissues give you “extra mothering.” The ads feature people who are trying out and discarding mothers until they find a mother they like. There is even an internet component to this campaign: I suppose these ads are funny in a certain way but something about leaving a mother at the side of the railroad tracks while you pick up another mother, or stomping from home to home in a snit till you find the care you want, isn’t, well, thigh-slapping funny. Not only that, the specific brand doesn't stay in my mind.

There is currently a series of commercials (are they run on stations other than St. Louis’?) with a young man against a white background. He urges people to accept Jesus into their lives. The spots are very short--no more than fifteen seconds long--and do not identify the sponsor nor “plug” any particular congregation, denomination, or group like the Mormons. I’m intrigued that someone has sponsored these ads for (apparently) purely evangelistic motives. I wonder if the ads will reach people. The ads are simple and straightforward enough to convey the basic point: no one will later think, “What were those ads about? Jesus? Buddha? New Age?”

In this case, the internet hasn’t helped me at all. Google “Jesus commercial”? Nothing apropos comes up. If I discover anything, I'll let you know. We can certainly pray that the ads (and the efforts of faithful people generally) will be used by the Spirit. Maybe someone could also sponsor TV spots that encourage people to seek justice (Micah 6:8), kindness (1 Cor. 13:4), empathy (Heb. 13:3), and so on.

(Update: those religious commercials were done by the St. Louis Family Church. )

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