The other day I saw this great little film via the magic of Facebook and Gawker. Only thing is that it is actually a commercial for a Thai telecommunications company.
It is an inspirational, beautiful, emotional story. When I first watched it, I thought “wow that is a great video!” I decided I would write a post about how doing small things can make a difference in the world. I thought I can fit that fake Ghandi quote about being the change you want to see in the world into this one. Then my cynical media awareness trainer brain kicked in to gear.This ad is not the only tear jerker, people are awesome-type ad making the rounds these days. Earlier this month I saw this one for Guinness.
It too is a great video about making a difference for others, giving of yourself and comradeship. Buddies playing hard together of course deserve to drink together after being there for their friend. It is a very well done ad. I’m glad to see that the drinking comes after the wheelchair driving.
Interestingly since we don’t have cable or satellite TV – we get all our TV from the interweb, I don’t see the regular commercials on TV anymore. I only see the ones that attain viral status and as a result come to my attention through social media or people telling me about it the old fashioned way – all in-my-face-in-person-like. The other day I was meeting with someone who works in public health and they were telling me about these ads that Coke has been running about feel-good things that people do for one another.
I’m not sure if the subtext in this and others like it is that Coke is big brother and always watching us or that they are so tight with the governmental organizations monitoring CCTV cameras that they can find out about and get access to videos of people being nice to one another.
These are all great ads and if watching them inspires people to make an effort to be altruistic and good people, then that makes me happy. They certainly seem to inspire emotion when people watch them. I’m judging by the comments people have written when they post and share these ads on social sites, not just my pregnant and hormonally-motivated wife…
Be the change you want to see in the world. – Mohatma Ghandi
According to Wiki Answers Gandhi did not exactly say that, that quote is paraphrased from the below paragraph:
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
Presumably he was not talking about television ads when he said that we need to wait to see what others do. These ads speak to what these companies aspire to be identified with. They want us to connect their product with good feelings and good times. They want us to think of them as altruistic and inspirational.
I don’t know the Thai company TrueMove, but I am familiar with several other telecommunications companies and they aren’t big on giving away their products and services for free. in fact they tend to give you a call if you neglect to send some coin their way.
I am familiar with Guinness and their products. They do make a good product and arguably this ad is the one of the three that is most applicable to their product. For most people, stereotypically guys, a beer with friends is associated with good times. This is especially true if you throw in sports, watching or playing. I am not of the sports variety and if I were to try to operate a wheelchair in addition to a basketball, I would end up in the hospital with broken fingers at a minimum. My impaired wheelchairing would not require any beer – I can manage that sober. This ad portrays a pretty great example of buddy loyalty and friendship. The closest I come to this experience currently is through my participation in the All Guys Book Club. We stay away from wheelchairs, but we do typically drink beer and sometimes discuss the title of the book we “read.”
The Coke ads are a bit random. Look at all the people we secretly filmed who are doing good things for their fellow humans. Drink Coke and it will make you nice too. Maybe this is based on the sugar and spice and everything nice concept. In fairness the Coca-Cola company is doing some good work cleaning up polluted water and that sort of thing. I don’t think drinking their product inspires altruism or cooperation. Although I would have accepted payment for some of my work and volunteer work in university when I was doing too much on too little sleep. I reached a point when i was drinking a 2L bottle of coke a day to keep myself awake. I and my colleagues who were in a similar boat realized our addiction and problem fairly quickly and weaned ourselves off. Now I take a small can of coke as my emergency back up on road trips in the event that I start to feel drowsy or like my concentration is starting to slip. I also occasionally use it as a drain cleaner and it works pretty well for both purposes.
These are all great ads to be sure, but they are ads. They are there to sell product and trick us into thinking that these are brands we should be associated with because they film stories about people being nice to one another. For a little while they might even make some of us think about doing something nice for someone else. We could also just make an effort to be good people and kind to one another.
I like what Ghandi actually said better than the pithy phrase attributed to him. I particularly like “We need not wait to see what others do.” Ghandi stood on his principles. He sought to make change to improve his world. He did not wait to see if anyone would make homespun cloth or walk to the salt flats. He set out to make a point and start his fight for independence with small actions. All of these ads show examples of small acts of kindness that anyone can do. We never know what difference that kindness will make for the receiver. It should not matter if it changes their life or just makes things better for them in that moment. We can all make change and we don’t need to wait to see what others will do first or if anyone is filming our acts for a commercial.
Now I am going to make some veggie soup and hand it to the next person I see panhandling along with a coke and then I am going to wheel myself down to the pub for a pint.