Friday, November 06, 2009

stay thirsty?

over the past year or so i have really struggled with the most interesting man in the world ad campaign by a certain beer company. i haven't really been able to put my finger on exactly what i have been struggling with until this past week. to celebrate halloween, this ad campaign produced a radio spot touting the most interesting man's accomplishments re: halloween, including his alleged ban from cemeteries b/c he brought someone back from the dead. whoa. i've got to throw a flag on that one and share what really bothers me about this campaign.

one, this beer company has supposedly found "the most interesting man in the world" without accepting nominations or suggestions from others. i would elect a certain someone else to hold this office and i am not speaking of chuck norris. that person would be Jesus Christ, who btw HAS actually raised someone from the dead and been raised from the dead as well.

two, the tagline for this campaign is stay thirsty. the tagline for the other nominee i would like to offer up is come to me, those who thirst, and I will offer living water and those who drink it will thirst no more. the idea being that those who drive marketing to popular culture desire us to thirst, desire in fact that we STAY thirsty so that they can continue to sell more product, to prosper off our desire to remain in line with what they are selling. Christ offers us rest from this, offers us more than a product or brand name. Christ offers himself as living water to quench our thirst and transcend the desires of the world.

three, i found out that the guy that plays this supposed most interesting man in the world is an actor and fakes his spanish/latino accent to sound more exotic and remain in line with the product identity. also, the product in question is about as spanish/latino as the actor, being that it is brewed in white plains, new york. and lastly, the product in question does not even quench thirst but in fact keeps one thirsty. he and the product he promotes are not even genuine.

four, in thinking about story and storytelling, the existence of this ad campaign is doubly disheartening in that it tells the story of a fictional character in a quasi-factual manner. it tells the story that the most interesting man in our world is some larger than life character that we know doesn't even exist in reality. the story it tells is that our world is not interesting enough, not great enough to hold a person that could do some of the things he is reported having done. it is completely contrary to the story that Christianity has to tell: a true story of a man that is completely human and completely divine who really does these amazing things (we call them miracles) that he is reported having done. it pushes a counterfeit story when a real, authentic (and i tend to believe a better) story exists largely ignored.

and i think that's what my whole problem is with this campaign: it offers a life-draining fantasy alternative when a perfectly good life-giving reality exists.


Jason Valendy said...

Good insights and reflection. I think the problem with going to Seminary is that it can result in people who think theologically about all sorts of things. For some this is liberating and for some it is curse. For me (and maybe for you as well) thinking theologically usually keeps me up all night thinking about stuff. So, as another who enjoys to think theologically, I thank you very much for calling the theological lens to this campaign.

By the way, have you ever looked at "Ad Busters" magazine? I do not know much about it, but I think the concept is interesting.

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