Art and Inspiration Found in Advertising

dandelion hope determination

Image Source: Dreamstime |  © Iakov Filimonov

I record all my television shows for watching later. It’s important to me to be able to choose my own schedule. But more than that, I want to be able to fast-forward through the ads. Most ads feel like an insult to our intelligence and I resist being a consumer of the barrage of images and voices screaming at me to buy more in order to be more.

However, occasionally when I’m zipping past an ad, an image will attract my eye and I’ll slow it down and actually watch it. In the last months, there have been some extraordinary commentaries appearing as the text for ads. I found myself writing down the gist of some of them. Here are some examples.

Westin Hotels:
(Voice) “Contrary to ancient wisdom, the sun doesn’t rise. We do. Yet the more we travel, the more the world pushes back, corralling us and controlling us. So, we seek a place where we are given a choice, not just to get up, but to rise.”   (Text on screen) . . .Sleep well, Eat well, Move well, Feel well, Work well, Play well. Westin. Let’s Rise

Expedia:
(Image) An older gentleman is on a train facing a young woman.
He says, “It is an important question you ask, but one, I think, with a simple answer.

(Image of a little girl looking over a fence. It then goes through many images of the woman’s life as teenager, working with refugees, helping children, her life of activism.)
He speaks: “We have this need, you and I, from the time we were little, to peek over our neighbor’s fence. And once we do, we see there is wonder waiting on the other side. Every step you take brings the world one step closer. You’ll narrowly influence some narrow minds. You’ll bridge continents, puncture prejudice and keep peace. You’ll not always know it at the time, but one day you will look back and see that you have made this world a better place. So, the question you asked me: What is the Key?’”

(Image of the woman back on the train, she’s older now, and she’s looking at a young boy)
She says, “It’s you.” . . . . Travel the world better – Expedia

GNC:
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you you can’t change. That is what life is, change. It’s not some magic trick, it’s your will. Your thoughts become your words, become your actions, become your reality. Change is your destiny. Now go chase it. #CourageToChange.

Volvo:
This ad includes a somber reading of parts of Walt Whitman’s powerful poem, Song of the Open Road. “The east and the west are mine. The north and the south are mine. I am larger, better than I thought, I did not know I held so much goodness. All seems beautiful to me.”
(I can watch this one over and over)

Apple iPhone:
(Images of a variety of faces and people from around the world. Some are still shots and some are video of people interacting.)

The voice-over is Maya Angelou reciting from her poem, Human Family:

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

My late partner, Michael Toms, came from an advertising background, and he made me aware of the power of marketing. Through the years we observed that many of the concepts and wisdom you hear on New Dimensions at some point start to show up in ads. For me they can be a kind of bellwether indicating a trend. They are reflecting us to ourselves: showing us where our collective wisdom is coming up, like a flower breaking through cement. I’m heartened by these ads. They reflect a belief in the goodness of the human family and, as Maya Angelou says, “We are more alike than unalike.” My ongoing prayer is that love, kindness, and inclusivity prevail.

– Justine Willis Toms