People my age often demonstrate a mistrust for corporate advertising. We are familiar with the persuasions and advertising strategies these corporations employ, and understand their mission to attract us. Chuck Klosterman elaborates this point in his essay “It Will Shock You How Much It Never Happened” and comments on a 2008 press release where Pepsi attempts to deem us “The Millenials”. He calls this awareness on our part, smart. Now it seems like corporate media is out to flatter us.
Glaceau’s commercial for their SmartWater (electrolyte enhanced water) product demonstrates corporate media’s awareness of us. They elevate basic advertising strategies and display their product at the same time. Their ad contains it all. It features a celebrity in Jennifer Aniston.
It includes footage from exceedingly popular (viral) Youtube videos, immediately re-capturing the attention of previous viewers. It appeals to our emotions by including a multitude of adorable Labrador puppies. And contains slight sexuality in Aniston’s slow and exaggerated hair whip. It connects to us because we share the narrator’s disenchantment with commercial advertising’s predictability.
This alignment between the commercial’s narrator and the intended consumer reminds me of Ocean Spray’s advertisements. Ocean Spray emphasizes their farm-grower’s history and feature “plain folks” doing things like mishandling laptops and stereos while endorsing their product. These “folks” are usually standing up to their knees in cranberries, over-all clad, and speaking with drawls making it hard for them to pronounce difficult words like ‘anti-oxidants’. We are supposed to sympathize with them because they seem more like us and don’t appear to be enlisted by a large corporation wanting to control where our dollars go. While the parallels in these videos are not readily apparent, they do exist. IMO, the SmartWater campaign can be commended for being – well – smarter. It doesn’t appear to be advertising anything while Ocean Spray’s commercials do. I admit… I was flattered.
This strategy seems effective. It sets the intended consumer and product next to one another and attempts to expose an existing mutuality. If achieved, the target consumer can feel acquainted with the product and be comfortable enough to buy it. The only way to immunize yourself against this strategy is to… well, I don’t quite know. Some find it perverse. Others are flattered. My only recommendation is to make sure you understand who you’re buying from and for what reasons… and not merely choosing the product that led you to a video that might have featured Jennifer Aniston naked.