My dear friend Stuart James is not in advertising. He’s actually in politics; one of our DC friends that Brad made a few years ago. We bonded over our shared love of pop culture, LOST and hilarious commercials. To this day, Stu loves sending me ads. He then loves asking me what I think about them. And then we compare notes.
It’s worth mentioning that Stu and I don’t agree on much—at least from a political stance. Usually we just enjoy having broad political discussions, before one of us quickly suggests, “let’s talk about something else,” like some sort of game of chicken. But we’re both mature. Respectful. Relatively open-minded.
So Stu sent me this commercial for the Samsung Galaxy III yesterday and asked had I seen it yet? I hadn’t. He then told me to watch it, and asked for my opinion.
I pressed play, and I didn’t really get what he was even talking about until…oh…wait…what? WAS THAT REALLY A SEXTING REFERENCE IN A FAMILY-FRIENDLY CELL PHONE AD BY SAMSUNG?
Hell yes it was!
Well, Stu and I were in agreement. We loved this spot!
Flash forward to the other night during Thursday Night Football, when I saw the commercial air live. Brad turned to me after it was over with a, “WOAH!”
“What?” I asked.
“That Samsung commercial!”
“What about it?”
“You don’t think that was like super racy for a primetime commercial?”
“THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT SENDING SEXY VIDEOS.”
“Yeah, but in a really tasteful, fun way.”
Brad thought the commercial would prove awkward if any kiddos asked, “Why did the mom send the dad a private video?” I thought that was an easy question to evade… “Sometimes moms and dads need to talk privately.” Done. Brad was not convinced.
Why do I think this is a great commercial though? A few reasons:
- It’s unexpected. The first time I saw this, my mouth hung open. I had one of those, did that really just happen? moments. It is SO hard to achieve that moment in movies, TV shows LET ALONE in a 30-second television commercial. We all see everything coming. Storytelling can be predictable. This one is totally not.
- It’s racy without being in poor taste. The couple is married. They’re not some drunk 13-year-olds or something. They’re married and she’s sending her husband a sexy, for-his-eyes-only video when he goes out of town. I actually think it’s kind of romantic. Go them for still wanting to surprise each other after 6-8 years (that’s how old the girls look, no?!)
- It’s done elegantly. There’s no big sound effects or HUBBA HUBBAs or 80s-style laugh track. It’s subtle and quiet. Even the guy’s reaction is quiet. He’s surprised and caught totally off-guard. He’s not like “YEAH, BABY! CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THAT SEXY NAKED BODY OF YOURS ON MY SAMSUNG GALAXY III.” It’s tasteful. For a sex joke.
- It makes me believe in the goodness of clients. Speaking from experience, it is SO hard to get clients to take risks. Especially big brands who have a lot riding on their name. Hello! That’s why they hire us! To help improve their brand. But sometimes, breaking through all the clutter of advertising and marketing and social media and life, takes a big, bold move. It takes something unexpected, off-beat and risky. Whoever this client was, took a risk. A big risk. All he needs is a few calls from some crazy conservative organizations demanding they pull the spot and that dude could be toast. OR he could be breaking through the clutter and creating a viral moment for a phone that’s competing against a much bigger, louder, more credible brand: the iPhone. Go big or go home.
- It’s buzzworthy. We’re talking about it now aren’t we? My friend IMed me with the explicit intention of wanting to talk about it. How often does that happen? Maybe with the Old Spice ads, the Dos Equis ads and a few other random ones. But damn. Good work, Samsung.
- It’s authentic. It feels real. Like a genuine interaction. It’s not some manufactured piece of crap with the perfect family where the girls hand their dad homemade drawings and the mom kisses him on the cheek as she pops her heel. People can relate to this family and I think the public is ready to see more interactions like this in general advertising. More “Modern Famiy” and less “Full House.”
- It breaks gender stereotypes. As we all know from every sitcom and movie ever made, men love sex while women love getting conveniently timed headaches. This spot flips that on its head completely. SHE’S the kinky one. SHE’S the flirty one. She appears to be the regular, virginal June Cleaver, but then that sneaky, saucy little minx is all, “How YOUUUU doin’?” Joey Tribiani would have died and gone to heaven if he were the dude in this spot.
As the lovely Joanna Schroeder says in her column on The Good Men Project,
“The ad makes us smile because it goes against what the media has been telling us about what makes a wife “good” since the dawn of television: that a good wife is a vessel for her husband’s desire, not the owner of her own.”
Could not agree with you more, Joanna. Or you, Stu.