The power and the pain of falling down

Things have slowed down here a lot with the end of political season, last week was the first time in a long while I didn’t post once.  If you’re missing Ad Nauseam, check out my Twitter feed, a lot the action has moved over there, with short comments and links to things I think are interesting or relevant in one way or another.  Still, I’ll be trying to post here once or twice a week or more if I see things that are interesting to me and require more than 140 characters to discuss.

Like this ad from GM:

Wow. This ad is a strange one for me to review, I’ve put it off because I wanted to really nail down what I thought, but at the end of the day, I’m not any closer to that for a simple reason, this ad really leaves me conflicted.

On one hand, there are things I absolutely love about this ad. The music is great, I really appreciate the lack of voice over, and the simple CG at the end “We all Fall Down… Thanks for Helping Us Get back Up again… GM 1908.” Those words imply humbleness, give the impression of the company as a scrapper (who doesn’t love the underdog), but also recall that the company is an American icon, part of the fabric of industry that made America a great country. That’s good writing.

The ad does a great job of stringing the audience along, what do these scenes have in common, where is this leading, how will it payoff? There’s no big boast, no big claim, just a message of thanks. In some ways that’s the best advertising for the company, GM is like us, we stumble, we fall, but we have to get back up (sometimes with help), that’s America.  The emotional appeal of the ad allows the consumer to relate with the company in way that a laundry list advertisement (listing attributes or a plan) never could.

So why don’t I love this ad? Why don’t I think it’s a home run?  Because I think the images and the execution are not up to the appeal.  I love the rocket collapsing, and Evil Kenevil crashing, but Popeye and Animal House?  Those guys aren’t even real, how can we relate to them?  The Truman image could be powerful, but it feels out of place here, where each other sequence gets a fall and a getting up, the Truman photo tried to be both.

The boxing shot is fine, but what about a sport that’s not so old fashioned, what about a baseball player giving up a homerun, and the manager comes out to boost him up.  Or a parent helping a child who’s fallen off their bike (or a child helping a parent who is sad), those are just off the top of my head, sitting in Starbucks writing this blog post.  There must be at least 10 other iconic images they could have used that would have been more powerful than Popeye, Animal House, and Truman.

This is a good ad, I just feel it could have been so much better. I’d be interested to hear why they chose the images they did? Was it a cost issue? A brand or metaphor issue? Some other deep thought? Or just that’s the way it worked out.

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