|If everything Lucas has done in 30 yrs was given life it would look like this|
Equally its premise - What means most to you? - is basically repellent, giving a number of irritating no-notes the chance to outline a mixture of the bleeding obvious and the tiresomely self-centred.
Nonetheless, the fascination of the ad derives not so much from its spectacular lack of poise, but the bewildering philosophical and intellectual puzzles it poses. (Yes, I may have drunk two bottles of jagermeister as I write this.)
Here is the puzzle: what we see is a bunch of people talking about 'what matters most to them'. Now we are all aware that we are watching them in an advert on television. We are - after all - not living in the 19th century.
|'Moving pictures you say? Next you'll be saying every town will have its OWN telephone'|
At one level this is an absurd question. Given that we know that this is a product of the mass media, we know that the ad is not real. It has been carefully edited to get its message across and so on. However, in an age when we expect so-called 'ordinary' people to appear in reality shows and such like, we have also come to expect a certain degree of verite in our ads. Why couldn't these people on screen be simply ordinary people talking about what really matters to them? In a post-modern age of complicity between producers (ad people, tv execs, etc) and punters (the human footballs like me who sit on the sofa, eating tacos and watching this bilge), things have got textually complex: actors or not-actors? That is the question.
However, I want to suggest that - in fact - the cunning people at ADT are playing with our simple minds at a whole new level. I want to suggest that this advert relies on a) us being invited to believe that the people yacking on about their businesses are real people but THEN b) our realization that they are actually minor actors pretending quite unconvincingly to be real people. In other words the advert want us to deliberately not suspend our disbelief...it wants us to recognise the actors as actors. And through doing so, it encourages us to trust the brand more than we might otherwise do.
Consider the woman who stands on the step of her house and, in a somewhat unconvincing British Indian accent, then tells us that what matters to her most is her independence and home security (and the occasional cameo in Holby City). There is something familiar about her face. Surely she was in a spate of shows in the 1970s & 1980s? I'm not sure we're supposed to be more specific than that. But she has a distinctive face. And given that alarms are targeted at homeowners and the security minded - that is to an older audience - we are supposed to recognise her, even if we are not supposed to be too sure where we recognize her from. The recognition is actually meant to be reassure us in a way that a real person would not.
|This is what happens when you give ordinary people the oxygen of publicity|
|Trust me, I played '4th cadaver' in Waking the Dead|
The bottom line is this: in order to trust this brand we want people who are like us, but not too like us or too different. We would be unhappy if the actors were too famous, because then the ad would be too unrealistic. Sean Connery or Bono talking about what matters to them would be too disconnected from our lives. But equally we don't want peope who are exactly like us - because that would be too realistic and annoying. Frankly, how we live our lives is too dull and frustrating and appalling to be shown on tv and it be appealing. So the semi-known actor is the perfect compromise. In a culture that is so readily mediated by screens and the visual we want people who are comfortable in that world, who are validated in that world and therefore are comfortable and real to us. But we don't want ourselves. That is why the ADT advert is simultaneously cheap, annoying and crap AND complete genius.