Something Bad Happens When Ads Are Made by Children

I know that it’s typical in the ad agency business for creative types to be about 14 years old but the trend seems to be slipping onto the client side, as well. Take the current commercial for the 2009 Lincoln Continental.

Apparently, no one on either the agency side or at the client is old enough to remember – let alone lived through – the Vietnam War. I’m not sure they even read about the war or how it tore the US apart; if they had, the automaker’s current commercial would have never made it past the storyboard stage.

Right now, Lincoln is running a spot where the music is an old Vietnam-era song, Ground Control to Major Tom. (And, yes, I used to think it was Major Tong, too.) It’s an allegorical, anti-war song about a pilot who becomes lost and trapped after being shot into space for a mission he doesn’t understand.

OK, it’s one thing when a major bank used a Bob Dylan song five years ago to attract accounts from then-increasingly wealthy (and now increasingly destitute) boomers. But I hardly put The Times They Are A-Changin’ in the same category as anti-war protest songs.

Since boomers are the only people who might be even remotely interested in driving an overblown, overpriced, outsized, fuel-guzzling tank like a Lincoln, why would the agency (or Ford, for that matter) want to dredge up all those bad old memories of riots and draft cards and draft dodging and campus sit-ins and flag burnings and generation gaps? Why not use something happy like a Beach Boys number (perhaps Little Duece Coupe?) or even the Stones (maybe Brown Sugar?) from the same era.

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That the agency pitched the idea is one thing; agencies are always pitching lousy ideas to clients. But that the car company execs bought it is another matter altogether. And we’re bailing out Detroit for this? No wonder the auto industry is in such bad shape.

charley-james.jpgSadly, this anachronistic problem is becoming a widespread phenomenon. The new Obama-fied Pepsi campaign also uses a lot of out-of-synch tunes from the Sixties. And, worse, the music belies Pepsi’s current play-on-words tagline: “Every generation refreshes itself.”

I wonder if any of this speaks to the millennial generation. Or even to the Pepsi generation, for that matter.

Charley James
The Progressive Curmudgeon

Published by the LA Progressive on February 6, 2009
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About Charley James

If you are born in Milwaukee, chances are you're born a Democrat. So, I gravitated naturally to liberal politics as an activist and a journalist. I've been writing since I was eight and, after working in newsrooms for far too long, I have devoted much of the past decade as an independent investigtative jouralist. For much of the past year, I've been writing about homelessness - America's immorality play.