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Many television commercials choose to feature a contrast between youth and maturity as their subject. An “Oreo Cookie” commercial, for example, features a little girl who is about four years old mimicking her grandfather’s actions in eating a cookie. Another commercial advertises the popular theme park, Six Flags Great Adventure. This commercial, entitled “The Six Flags Dancing Man,” features an elderly man dancing like an enthusiastic child. This relates to Stephen King’s idea in “My Creature from the Black Lagoon,” that adults long for and are often reminded of their childhood. Meanwhile, Rita Dove’s essay, “Loose Ends,” and Marie Winn’s essay, “Television Addiction,” each presents the great influence television has on life, often because of television’s great aspect of reality. Together, these ideas support the reasoning behind an advertisement’s attempt to sell abstract ideas. By using youth and old age in commercials, advertisers can sell nostalgia as a way of making commercials more memorable.
Nabisco, the company that produces Oreo Cookies, has always been known for outstanding commercials. Yet this “Oreo Cookie” commercial is perhaps the most remarkable. First, she twists the cookie apart and then, this cute little girl with her hair in pigtails proceeds to dunk the cookie in a tall glass of milk, submerging her entire hand. The camera then shifts to show the child’s grandfather eating the cookie in the same manner. This advertisement aims at leading audiences to reminisce of the simple pleasures of their childhood, like enjoying a cookie. While doing so, the advertisers have created a memorable commercial.
Also, in “The Six Flags Dancing Man” commercial, family members are sitting on the front porch of their home, trying to arrange a day to spend at Six Flags Great Adventure. Because of their busy schedules, the attempt seems impossible. Suddenly, a red school bus pulls up and a very old man hobbles off, dressed in a black tuxedo and a red bow tie. Then, upbeat music begins to play and the man begins dancing wildly, inviting the family aboard the bus to go to Six Flags Great Adventure. The family happily joins the old man and the bus pulls away.
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Similarly, in “Loose Ends,” Rita Dove asserts, “Yes, the influence of public media on our perceptions is enormous, but the relationship of projected reality—i.e., TV—to imagined reality—i.e., an existential moment—is much more complex” (503). Though Dove uses this statement to explain the connection between human interest in television rather than reality, it is valuable to the discussion of abstract ideas within commercials. Since a person’s point of view is immensely impacted by the media, when people are watching television, they are often so focused and captivated that anything they see will be perceived as reality. In the case of the “Oreo Cookie” commercial, viewers immediately put themselves in the position of the characters. The situation in the advertisement is so lifelike that they can easily identify with either the little girl or the grandfather. Viewers cherish this commercial, because they feel as though it has a personal meaning to them.
In conjunction with this thought, “Television Addiction,” by Marie Winn, states, “It [television] renders other experiences vague and curiously unreal while taking on a greater reality for itself” (506). Current television commercials present these abstract ideas while reality is left in the background. In both the “Oreo Cookie” commercial and “The Six Flags Dancing Man” commercial, the reality of what they aim to do, going back to their childhood is unreachable. Though it is unattainable, people still yearn for their youth, because of the nostalgia that these two commercials create and sell, and in spite of the reality of the situation.
In conclusion, advertisers primarily use the distinction between youth and old age to evoke nostalgic emotion among viewers. Since these emotions remind viewers of childhood and their quest to regain it, the commercials become more memorable. The “Oreo Cookie” commercial and “The Six Flags Dancing Man” commercial succeed in making a mark in the mind of a viewer. The commercials set up a situation that is appealing to an audience, and the audience takes great interest in this situation because the commercials are so similar to reality.
Dove, Rita. “Loose Ends.” The McGraw-Hill Reader. 8th ed. Ed. Gilbert H. Muller. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003. 503-505.
King, Stephen. “My Creature from the Black Lagoon.” The McGraw-Hill Reader. 8th ed. Ed. Gilbert H. Muller. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003. 510-517.
Winn, Marie. “Television Addiction.” The McGraw-Hill Reader. 8th ed. Ed. Gilbert H. Muller. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003. 505-507.