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June 28, 2010

Embrace Life

A friend showed me a very powerful commercial today. I was sitting in my office and he dropped in for a quick chat. Periodically we push creative resources back and forth at each other. It's great fun and I always benefit way more than he does...

Anyway, in the course of our conversation he directed me to YouTube and had me do a search for "best seatbelt ad."

Wow. He was not kidding and I was not prepared. And from that point on, a funny set of circumstances unfolded. You see I was sitting there watching this ad and he was standing directly behind me. As the ad played out, I began to cry. Then another person walks into my office - my back is now to the both of them and I've got tears streaming down my face - and this person who has just walked in is introducing himself to me, wanting to meet me and...nice. Nice to meet you.

But it was fine. Actually it was nice to meet him under those circumstances: no pretense, what you see is what you get, and all that...

And besides, I am quite happy to be so moved, especially when the whole point of the advertisement is to effect an emotional response that incites a change in behavior. Recently there has been a morbid seat-belt ad running in New Zealand where a guy crashes his car and kills his passenger. Blood is dripping on the surviving guy and when he looks around and finds his dead passenger's eyes blankly fixed on him, he begins to repeatedly scream, "Quit staring at me!" It is just horrible.

Now, compare that description with this.

That is an effective advertisement. Don't you think?

Of course, this ad is not only effective, it is affective, too. Why? Am I moved because I love seat-belts so much and this ad preaches the gospel of seat-belts so efficaciously? Of course not. Rather at a certain point this ad becomes about more than seat-belts. It taps something deep and true and important in me, something for which seat-belts are a signifier. I am moved to tears by a power and beauty for which this ad is merely a sign.

For me, this ad is powerful because it is about the ways our lives propel us forward, the ways we make decisions and do things and how, in the course of it all, we are unexpectedly sideswiped by events and circumstances that we cannot see coming - or control, even if we could. The power of this ad is captured in the beautiful image of those small, yet strong, hands interlocked around their beloved as all hell breaks loose about him. And perhaps most importantly, it reminds me how grateful I am to love and be loved, to grasp and be grasped - by my family, my friends, my communities of faith near and far, small and large.

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Comments

Tim Seiger

That was a great commercial and great commentary. Thanks for that.

Nathan

I'll second Tim's comment. Very effective. I'm amazed when people find creative ways to teach without beating someone over the head.

Jason Clark

Now I'm crying..stunning

John Baw

WOW *he exclaims as he wipes off the tears* Great commercial, great way of reaching an audience. Effective teaching through raw simplicity.

Tim Keel

Thanks, guys. Yes, it continues to impact me. When I went home that night, I made my family sit down on the bed with me and watch it. Before I knew what was happening I was a mess again. I think my kids were wondering, "What is up with Dad?"

Don Chaffer

Watched this on a plane and tried to avoid looking like a basket case. No dice. Thanks, Tim.

Ryan Scott

What's more, it's an ad for something that doesn't produce any direct economic benefit. Refreshing in its own right.

Melody Hoskins

Goosebumps and all that... Wow. That was lovely.

Tim Keel

Hey Donald - basket cases are good, I think.

Tim Keel

I agree Ryan. It is my understanding that this was done by some guy who had the idea and pulled it off himself. If true, then it shows that it often takes someone from outside the system to be creative in such a way.

Tim Keel

Yes, Melody, it is the "best seatbelt ad," eh?

Rodger Sellers

Interesting: I didn't read all the way down but surfed out to youtube to watch "the" ad... had a very moving experience! THEN came back to your blog and realized I'd been watching a totally different "best ad ever!"

Too Funny...

Hope N.Z. treating you well.

Tim Keel

That's funny, Rodger!

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