So many pixels have been killed over the 84 Lumber Super Bowl spot, I’m reluctant to add too many more. But I do think this ad is important, and worthy of note, because it does a lot of important things very well. It may also signal (or at least reflect) a shift in the way “popular advertising” is created and consumed.
Also, it’s hard to ignore some parallels between The Journey Begins and another seminal Super Bowl ad, one that shows up on so many “Best Ever” lists As a reminder, here are the 2 spots:
The similarities go beyond the numbers 8 and 4.
They don’t “sell”
Much of the criticism around 1984 centered on its obscurity. What are they selling? Why should I buy it? What are the Reasons to Believe? As a (then) smaller, challenger brand, Apple realized that it mattered more to stake out a place in the public consciousness, and the national conversation, then it did moving units. They trusted that would come as a result and we know how the story ended. But despite the fact that this ad is now hailed as history-making, there were many at the time who saw it as a monumental waste of time and money. Just like, today, some experts and others are saying that 84L wasted $5 Million, just like that.
They have value (and Values) beyond immediate ROI.
It cost 84L a lot of money to run this spot. A lot. But that paid for itself, countless times over, in the earned media it got them in the run-up and aftermath of the Super Bowl. They may not have sold one additional plank of wood because of it. Apple may not have been able to attribute a single sale to 1984. Of course today, earned media and buzz is what it is all about. But Give 84L credit for understanding that they’d get a lot more mileage about a serious and sober story about opportunity than from another hipster irony-fest.
Much in the way Ridley Scott and Chiat-Day’s 1984 reflected and even presaged the video storytelling techniques of its time, so too does The Journey. It’s rapid cutting, untethered camera and changing POV (from Rob Shapiro, Creative Director and his team at Brunner) reads mostly like an indie film or a doc-wth-heart. Not to say that other spots during SB LI didn’t have artistic merit, but this one reflects the creativity of the moment unlike the others.
They proudly declare Creativity Matters.
Can we talk a minute about how stunningly well cast and acted this spot is? My goodness, if you don’t choke back a tear when the mother first realizes the wall might end their journey or when the girl hands her the flag made from found objects, you may not actually have a beating heart. Just as Apple could have run another product-feature-heavy hard sell, 84L could have made their recruitment spot all sunny, glowing “Morning in America” fare. Neither creative team was content with that. We know what it did for Apple. It will be interesting to see where it takes 84L