Client walks into Goodby Silverstein & Partners, plops down a suitcase full of money. Says, "You have your choice of three briefs." Partners say, "OK, shoot."
"No. 1," the client says. "Find a noninvasive cure for cancer."
Goodby says, "We're an ad agency. That's completely beyond our capabilities."
Client says, "No. 2: Conquer the speed of light."
Silverstein says, "Impossible. What's the third brief?"
Client says, "Make Comcast seem adorable."
Goodby says, "Can you tell us the cancer one again?"
Sort of an old joke, but the payoff is that they got the Comcast business and have done a pretty good job fulfilling the brief. Comcast! The most infuriating company ever. Spotty service. High-handed pricing and programming decisions. Sneaky throttling of internet bandwidth. And a customer-service infrastructure as devised by Hannibal Lecter.
This is the company whose installers fall asleep on the customers' sofa while waiting on hold ... with Comcast. This is the company that so infuriated sweet, elderly Mona Shaw that she took a claw hammer to their office equipment. This is a company so oafish and negligent that America's kindest and most patient man founded a customer-service-of-last-resort website called Comcastmustdie.com.
So imagine our surprise to view the latest Comcast spot, break into a wide smile and coo, "That is so darling!" (OK, not exactly that. But definitely not "Die. Die. Die!")
The commercial, called "Singalong," consists of an intentionally amateur-looking performer singing an intentionally amateurish-sounding jingle matted against a colorful but intentionally grade-school-musical-quality backdrop. Here are the lyrics -- sung repeating C,D,E,C -- thrumming eight beats at a time:
New sensations sending shivers.And so on, ending in C-O-M-C-A-S-T, which should be a very downer way to end any singalong, but somehow, in this case, simply isn't. How day do dat?
Flying further, dreaming bigger.
Single cable, one decision,
Internet on television.
High-speed internet elation,
Not, strictly speaking, via originality. The fact is, everything in this commercial is borrowed. The primitive compositing harkens back to a James Thurber-esque '60s TV show called "My World and Welcome to It." The over-the-top, animated-chipmunks sweetness is by now familiar trope of post-modernism, announcing "We know this saccharine. It's a joke." The general buoyancy and pastel optimism owes a great debt to "Grrr," the Cannes-winning masterpiece for Honda. And the exact, thrumming mini-scale was done a decade ago by an advertiser neither AdReview nor the 12 people we called could think of, but take our word for it, it's right on the tip of our right hemisphere.
Anyway, who cares? Familiar or not, it all adds up to success. Remember, this isn't a nice, eco-friendly hybrid they're jingling goofily about. It isn't ice cream or circuses or Day-Glo condoms. It's the freakin' cable company, which -- after all the singing is done -- you can't help feeling better about.
Also makes you wonder if we really need to cure cancer. Maybe it just needs a jingle.