When A Silly Ad Sparks a Serious Conversation

When A Silly Ad Sparks a Serious Conversation 

Every now and then, there comes a good ad that breaks out of the four television walls and into popular culture. We know them well. The “1984” Apple ad. “Where’s the Beef?” by Wendy’s. “I’d like to buy the world a Coke.” “Like Mike” by Gatorade. e-Trade’s playful baby commercials. Dos Equis’, “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” And most recently, Tide’s Super Bowl LII ads

These ads grab our attention, and stay with us, for many reasons. They captivate us visually. They offer refreshing candor. Or, perhaps it's an annoying-but-catchy jingle that we can't forget. Others, still, stick with us because of their poignant messages. 

It's for the latter reason that a 2002 Saturn ad began recirculating recently. But, not for the message you'd think. 

Let's rewind for a minute. Just a few years before the brand tanked, Saturn debuted an ad named "Sheet Metal" that won international advertisement awards. And though Saturn is no more, the legacy of this ad lives on. 


The Saturn ad is masterfully executed, ironically humorous and spoke to potential car-buyers on a personal level. And it had a clear message: people matter more than the cars they ride in. 

Yet, unbeknownst to Saturn, the ad had another point that holds significance in 2018: cars clog cities. Curbed, a real estate news website, examined how the 15-year-old ad may just “make the case for getting rid of cars.”   

It's safe to assume that Saturn didn't intend to point out how much physical space cars take up on the road by precisely spreading out the actors in their invisible cars. But the ad's commitment to authenticity and accuracy inadvertently sparked an important conversation about the economical impact our personal vehicles have in a time when two-, three-, or even four-car households are common. 

Any brand can do this. All it takes is a spark to begin an important conversation. 

Try approaching your next campaign - be a whitepaper, blog, or advertisement - with this commentary in mind. You may not go viral, but people in your industry are listening. If you are authentic, thoughtful and relevant, you may strike a chord with someone on the other end.