Ads Pitch Unity

Posted by on June 05, 2017 at 3:12 PM

“Open your mind. Open your world.” That was the ending line of the now famous Heineken commercial. In it, people from opposite ends of a variety of issues, had come together, built a bar and, at the end of it, had to decide if they wanted to sit down, have a beer and talk to each other. The twist? They didn’t know the person they were working with was “their enemy.” Yes, enemy is a strong word. However, nowadays, more so in the past couple of years, differences of opinions has converted friends, family, co-workers into ‘others.' That’s why Heineken's commercial hit a nerve.

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“Open your mind. Open your world.” That was the ending line of the now famous Heineken commercial. In it, people from opposite ends of a variety of issues, had come together, built a bar and, at the end of it, had to decide if they wanted to sit down, have a beer and talk to each other. The twist? They didn’t know the person they were working with was “their enemy.” Yes, enemy is a strong word. However, nowadays, more so in the past couple of years, differences of opinions has converted friends, family, co-workers into ‘others.' That’s why Heineken's commercial hit a nerve. The ad went viral within hours. Some praised it, others criticize it for pandering or for giving a platform to ‘dangerous’ ideologies, but all could agree it made an impact. The beer company isn’t the only corporation calling for unity through their ads. Starbuck’s CEO, Howard Schultz, requested civility in our leadership during the 2016 elections. Cadillac told us that despite the division we see every day on tv, there are people across this country carrying each other forward. It’s what we, as a nation, do. Hyatt asked us to understand each other- to look beyond our differences.  Microsoft informed us that when the world seems divided, coming together can be a beautiful thing. Jeep showed us that what unites us is stronger than what divides us. We are free to be what we wanted to be. Even a university jumped on this ‘bridging the divide’ bandwagon. The University of Tennessee called for civility in a one minute video. These ads aren’t just a string of coincidences or a sign of advertising firms lacking creativity. These ads are a trend of what society is desperately yearning for.

I know some of you might be thinking that I’m putting too much thought into this. After all, none of the companies mentioned above just suddenly developed a kind heart and are trying to make the world a better place. They are, in fact, selling a product using an efficient and successful tool: emotional manipulation. Yes, Heineken's has a vested interest in selling you that beer. Hyatt wants you to book a room with them. Jeep wants you to buy their car. Microsoft wants you to buy their latest gadget for Christmas. However, while the intention for these ads might not be as pure as we are led to believe, it does not take away from what they all represent: a want that many of us have, but we are afraid to admit that we do. It accounts for a desire for communities, cities, the whole country, to be one again. The division has escalated to a point where families are breaking apart; friends no longer speak to each other, and co-workers avoid each other down the hall because of how they voted. This ongoing political quarrel is not an exaggeration; it is a reality. We use our beliefs as a security blanket, and like a three-year-old; we refuse to let it go.

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We use our opinions as a shielding armor to keep people at bay. We shy away from ‘uncomfortable’ conversations as if engaging them will destroy us- forgetting that differences are not this nation’s kryptonite- isolation is. See, this country isn’t called ‘United States of America’ because it sounds pretty. Unity is at the very core of who we are. One of my favorite quotes is from Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” It’s easy to lose focus when you evaluate things from a macro perspective. The daily news will make it seem that we are broken beyond repair but when you look past all the flashes and breaking news, and you start viewing the world from a micro perspective you’ll notice that helpers surround you. From police officers having a dance off with black youth to people raising funds to fix vandalized Jewish cemeteries to members of Congress from across the aisle working fervently together to pass a bill protecting rape victims- the fact is we will always be there for each other when it matters. To quote Charlie Chaplin, “human beings are like that.”

Advertisements, while a great marketing tool, often foretells what society needs above all. They tell us what we yearn for before we even know it ourselves. We might be "divided," but there is more that unite us. Before any of you comments “I will never agree with a Drumpf Supporter.” “I will never agree with a Clinton supporter.” Remember, nobody is asking you to hold hands and sing kumbaya together. Nor is anyone asking you to convince one another. In fact, compromise may not even be an option sometimes. That’s okay. But at the very least, we can listen. It's easy to hate and fear that we don't know. That’s why it’s important to have those uncomfortable conversations because to know is to understand. So next time you come across with someone you disagree with, just sit down, have a drink and talk.