extra chunky


a talk by Malcolm Gladwell on what we can all learn from Spaghetti Sauce, and then:

the Chevrolet “Ain’t We Got Love” advertisement from the Super Bowl.

While it takes Malcolm an hour to confirm what the Chevy ad says in one minute, his talk shines a profound (and entertaining) light on the ad. We all like something different, but so long as one brand can diversify its offerings, everybody wins. In just one minute, the ad aims to sell a custom-fit Chevy to black folks, white folks, men, women, and just about anybody except Queen Elizabeth. The ad has the most crude musical transitions I’ve ever noticed, and yet, it’s brilliant – every song is hummable, memorable, the transition to a waltz is especially fantastic. (Wish they had asked me to score it!)

I wonder if any of this can be useful to creative artists. On the one side, the effect of the Long Tail should lead to a more viable living from creating/evolving within a niche. On the other hand, by joining several niches at once, you become an even hotter item — and hotter still if you can “unite” all the niches together.

Yet the key point this ad makes — at least for me — is that the all of the [demographical] niches are presented separate and equal. The niches do not want to be united. Imagine for a second if the ad were structured differently — a mixed-age mixed-raced crowd, dancing next to one Chevy, all wrapped in one “show-stopping” musical number. Conversely, imagine if there was a tomato sauce called “Blandini – America’s Most Popular Tomato Sauce”, which would combine all of the data into one sauce, standing next to “Extra Chunky”. Would you buy it? Sure you would — as a present for someone you don’t know very well.

I wish I could say that there are only two kinds of music — “fast” and “slow” — but obviously things are a bit more tangled up than that.

Perhaps there’s nothing here for artists afterall. Our challenge is to dream in a world which increasingly seeks a logical explanation, to excite in a world which merely aims to placate, to invent a new pasta sauce, and a whole new flying zero-carbon magic carpet Chevy.

Meanwhile, as I try to invent a new kind of music, forgive me as I’m off to take comfort in some authentic chicken soup. 🙂

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