The Really Short Films

There is a cinematic art form that, though it usually goes unnoticed or avoided, permeates and drives our culture. The commercial. Formerly relegated to TV, the thirty to ninety-second spots now appear everywhere. Advertisers integrate them into our movie theatre experience, our daily PC routine, and even our smart phone applications.

Commercials are big business because they generate big business.

Generally speaking, the job of commercials is to convince the audience that they NEED whatever product is promoted by the sponsor. In today’s economy, however, that is a tough sell. People have cut back to make ends meet. Families have reevaluated exactly what their needs are. Let’s face it. Money is tight.

A detached voice from your screen telling you that you need something is no longer enough. What do they know? They don’t know me. They don’t care about me.

The commercials that will be the most successful today will be the ones showing that they do know you and care about you. But how will they forge that kind of bond?

This week is, literally, the Super Bowl for commercials. This is make-it-or-break-it for TV ads. That’s why companies shell out major clams for the coveted sponsorship slots.

Beer ads always do well. Beer is cheap and, for some, is a basic necessity of life. This year there is a Chevy ad that plays into the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse fear that had me giggling. The E*TRADE baby commercials are always a favorite. They tap into, not only our collective adoration for babies talking with adult voices, but also our instinct to protect what’s important to us.

In the last couple of years, Volkswagen has hit upon an effective means of connecting with the audience. Call it The Force, if you will. The company has reflected our love for Star Wars in a realistic, “that’s our family” sort of way. Very cute.

My favorite commercial of Super Bowl XLVI is called “Matthew’s Day Off.” It is an ad for the Honda CRV that ties directly to my heart. Matthew Broderick echoes his iconic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off role and takes a sick-day from his career to play. All the best aspects of the 1986 classic return, including a parade, a museum trip, and an “almost-busted” moment. I laugh out loud every time I see the ninety-second spot.

You want to see these hilarious short films? Go to for a preview of what to look for during the big game.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!


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