For The Love Of Life
This is an example of what a commercial should be. There are countless examples of commercials inappropriately attempting to emotionally manipulate the viewer (many of them have been documented on this website), but this is one instance where it is appropriate. Succinctly, the commercial’s theme is the direct connection between the quality of one’s work and a zest for one’s life generally. How the two do not exist separate from one another, or contradict each other, but in fact require and strengthen one another. How to do something well is to love it, and how to love what you’re doing is to love being alive. Sam Adams is assuming that that theme doesn’t need to be stated, since this commercial is clearly a continuation of the company’s long-standing advertising motif – which has already stated that theme more explicitly, in a more informative manner, in past installments. While it is true that none of those previous commercials have ever completely stated it – and therefore this commercial does qualify as emotional manipulation – it is appropriate emotional manipulation because unlike commercials which attempt to get the viewer to reach the wrong conclusion, this one hopes that he reaches the right one.
What Sam Adams expects to happen – why they expect this commercial to be successful – is that it will directly touch the emotion which was produced by the thought that the other, previous commercials created – even if that thought was never identified, organized, and consciously retained as an explicit belief. What they hope to do is to validate that emotion by giving it acknowledgment (the psychological term would be “visibility”), and thereby induce the viewer to more seriously investigate the cause of it – and thereby form that conscious belief to compliment the emotion. To possess a conscious and emotional – as opposed to merely an emotional – affinity for the Sam Adams brand. That would definitely be good for business.
While, technically, it is true that what this commercial is selling is not “Sam Adams the beer” as much as “Sam Adams the company” (a tactic employed, for example, by Jack in the Box some time ago, which this blog criticized), because of the context in which it is doing that – as well as because Sam Adams beer actually is of distinctly different flavor and quality from it’s competitors (which, not incidentally, is what the rest of the commercials in this series scrupulously document) – in this case there is nothing wrong with that. The reason why is because there actually is a direct connection between being passionate about one’s work and producing a good product. The customer can be reasonably certain that if these are the types of people he’s dealing with, even if he isn’t completely informed inside and out about the nature of the product, his cursory judgement will be sufficient and he will be getting his money’s worth. This is distinctly different from what Jack in the Box did, where they were asking the viewer to like Jack in the Box’s (virtually identical to it’s competitor’s*) products not because the “people of Jack in the Box” (as exposed through their twisted sense of humor) were actually likeable, but merely because the (equally twisted) viewer found them likeable when he shouldn’t have. Jack in the Box was attempting to capitalize on the viewer’s need to fill the emotional void documented in this website’s criticism, whereas Sam Adams is here capitalizing upon the assumption that the viewer is already emotionally full. It is an exceptionally bold and noble outlook in today’s cultural landscape.
*None of this is to say that if a company (eg: Anheuiser-Busch) chooses instead to focus on efficiency and consistency – at the expense of variety and quality – that they are not passionate about their work; or that they don’t bring value to their customers. They do – just a different kind of value. It is only to say that if that is the case, instead of attempting – as Jack in the Box did – to make your products stand out not based upon their merits, but some twisted form of emotional manipulation, to instead actually do make one’s product stand out upon it’s merits; even if those merits are only the efficient manner in which it’s produced. That can be just as beautifully dramatized, and just as emotionally moving, as what is featured in this commercial by Samuel Adams.