Week 2 – Commercials as Short Films

Title:  “Best Commercial EVER!”

The commercial tracks closely to the viral experience architecture discussed in this week’s reading.  I starts off with a teenager entering a dark alley in the middle of the night layered with mysterious music accented by an repeating ominous tone, as if something no-good or bad is happening or about to happen.  The music continues throughout the commercial.  No words are spoken, so the story is told by the seemingly mischievous actions of what appears to be vandalism, as the teenager jumps around the alley, spray paining different walls.  The curiosity and mystery mix as the audience cannot see what is actually being spray painted.  As the teenager arrives home, the mother looks at her watch with a disappointed look and an awkward exchange of eye contact between the two, leading the audience to think “the boy has been out to no good, and the mother is disappointed. Typical story of troubled youth.”  Then, the scene shifts and the music tempo and composition changes as the teenager enters a room with a young girl hooked up to medical equipment, what appears to be  respirator.  The storyline starts to unfold and the audience is led to wonder the significance of this scene and why the teenager is carrying flowers from the kitchen to the room.  As the music picks up, and the windows are opened, the girl looks out the window, the mother enters the room, and the they Mystery around the late night spray painting connects to the Surprising Revelation that he was actually out painting a picture of flowers for his sick sister.  Wonder, Admiration, and Awe soon follow as the music takes over and the screen shifts to Pfizer’s brand and catch phrase “Sometimes it takes more than medicine.”

Below is the structure and analysis of the story broken down in 5 second increments.  Story spine demarcations in [brackets].

  • (0:00 – 0:05) – Teenager enters dark alley way with ominous music playing [The Beginning]
  • (0:05 – 0:10) – The teenager looks around, almost targeting, and pulls out a spray can and the viewer is led to suspect that he’s going to vandalize the alleyway walls
  • (0:10 – 0:15) – The teenager starts to spray paint walls, confirming the suspicion that  this teenager is indeed vandalizing the alleyway [The Event]
  • (0:15 – 0:20) – Continued vandalism up and down stairwells.  This demonstrates the magnitude of the teenager’s actions.
  • (0:20 – 0:25) – Continued vandalism jumping from building to building.  Additional magnitude and gravity of the action.
  • (0:25 – 0:30) – The teenager finishes, looks over his work, and the climax of the event and the heads home.
  • (0:30 – 0:35) – Stairwell scene as the teenager transitions to the home.  It provides the path between two different settings, reigniting the audience’s curiosity. [The Middle]
  • (0:35 – 0:40) – The mother sees her son coming in late and carries a look of disappointment.  This exchange between mother and son stirs empathy as the story of a “son out late and up to no good” is a not uncommon and part of “raising a teen.”
  • (0:40 – 0:45) – A quick, partial shot of some machinery and the the teenager reaching for a pot of flowers, peeks more curiosity, as the audience inquires to the signfiicance.
  • (0:45 – 0:50) – The teenager enters a room with a medical bed and all of sudden the storyline expands and tells us that he has a sick sibling.
  • (0:50 – 0:55) – The audience sees the girl, hooked up with tubes and hears the beeping of the medical machinery
  • (0:55 – 1:00) – The teenager opens the window and the girl awakes.
  • (1:00 – 1:05) – The teenager sits down next to the girl and they look outside the window
  • (1:05 – 1:10) – The mother enters the room and looks outside the window.  The audience’s curiosity is peaked, “What’s outside the window?”  The mother’s face is in the screen, positioned next to the sick girl’s IV stand
  • (1:10 – 1:15) – A look of amazement fall upon the mother’s face, she looks in the teenager’s direction and mouths the words “Thank you.”  The scene shifts to the girl and the teenager with the girl showing a smile as she looks outside the window.
  • (1:15 – 1:20) – The camera view shifts to the window and the audience sees that the spraypainting was not vandalism, but the teenager’s attempt to support his sick sister.  The Mystery circles around to the Surprising Revelation since the sequence of events, coupled with the audience’s presumptions, led one to believe that he was vandalizing the alleyway. [The Climax]
  • (1:20 – 1:25) – “Sometimes it takes more than Medication” shows on the screen, which ties the sequence of events to a core notion, that there could be something more then than we might have otherwise allowed ourselves to realize.

The Original Video:

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One thought on “Week 2 – Commercials as Short Films

  1. Wow, that is a beautiful commercial, and as noted tells a story completely without dialogue (which might also suggest it could be understood by anyone, it is not language dependent). I like how you pinpointed the story elements that were suggested by the action.

    How the reveal is done seems interesting. As soon as the boy grabs the vase, I feel the shift coming in the story- that is a signal that everything up to then has been a mis-direction. The hospital bed, the opening of the window– we likely had a sense then of what was going to happen, but maybe not at that scale.

    I do wonder, as this mode gets more common, will it become more of an expected pattern? Like if we see a video of a kid spray painting in the dark, will we wonder where the turn is? What happens when we need to reach deeper to do the unexpected?

    Does this work as a Pfizer ad? What is its underlying message? It’s quite a dramatic production– do we associate Pfizer with a company of these virtues?

    Your analysis is extremely well done, the only minor suggestion would be to put the video at the top above the analysis so as a reader, I could watch it first.

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