Nope. Don’t go jumping to any conclusions. This has nothing to do with either Hugh Grant or the movie (in which he appeared) of the same name. We’re just days away from a brand new year, and I’ve been reflecting, that’s all.
Thinking about 2012, and how it’s been. Not the ‘world’ view. How it’s been for me. What I accomplished. What remains undone. People I’ve met. Friends I’ve lost. Frustrations. Disappointments. Victories. Where to go from ‘here’.
That took me to ‘blessings’ I should be counting. Not that much of a stretch, really. Which, in turn, led me to ‘favourites’. Favourite moments, favourite experiences, favourite lessons learned. Favourite ‘things’. Songs, films, food, shoes, etcetera etcetera etcetera.
Again, not a stretch.
Next thing I knew I was back at Ogilvy, remembering two of my favourite television commercials. One was for American Express, the other for Jaguar. Wrong, wrong wrong. I had nothing to do with them. Both were created and produced in the New York office. But I loved them so much, the account directors gave me my own copies. Silly, I know. But they both touched me. Both left an indelible impression. Not simply as ‘creative works’, either.
Both tapped beautifully into the human condition. What we need. What we want. What we yearn for. What we love. How we love. What we wish for. What we wish we could do. And have. And be.
The American Express commercial took us to Santorini, a beautiful, sun-drenched, white-washed island in the Aegean Sea, about 120 miles southeast of Greece. We’re ‘observers’. And what we see, is a young couple, clearly in love, possibly on their honeymoon, enjoying each other and all the island offers.
There’s not one word of dialogue. Just The Temptations song, “My Girl”, as the sound track, from beginning to end. They’re having a wonderful time and we’re as disappointed as they are when, alas, it’s time to return home. We see them take one last, longing look and then go with them, to the airport. The guy disappears for a moment, returns and whispers something to the girl we don’t hear. She throws herself into his arms, they get into a taxi, and go back to the hotel.
If you’re sitting there, gagging and screaming “cliche” at your computer screen, don’t. It definitely didn’t come across that way. It was very successful and ran for a very long time. What I loved was the message:
We’re often in too much of a rush. We should take the time to savour each moment. Whether it’s a romantic holiday, or your morning coffee. Just make the most of every experience. We may never get a second chance. So make the time.
It was a different form of ‘passion’ the team behind the Jaguar spot captured so beautifully. This time, everything was in black and white. We never saw the entire car, until the very end; and even then, it was partially hidden. The car was black, shot against a black background. The lighting was very subtle. We saw some shapes and curves, but not all.
At that time, Jaguar styling was so distinctive, showing just a little was more than enough. Just quick hints of the Jaguar hood ornament. Quick glimpses of the car’s voluptuous curves. What was so spectacular was the camera work. Whoever shot it, let the camera’s ‘eye’ roam over the car’s curves the way a man would admire a beautiful, sensuous woman’s body. You could feel invisible ‘hands’ caressing it. Lingering there.
Again, not a word of dialogue. Just Etta James, singing “At Last”. Definitely one of the sexiest most compelling car commercials I’ve ever seen. Loved and understood by both men and women. Albeit for two different reasons.
Whether you’re lusting after a car, or a man who looks at you the way the camera ‘looked’ at that car, it’s all about craving something.