During an election season in which certain folks have questioned the greatness of our country, Samsung U.S.A. has delivered a fresh take on "patriotic" in an Olympics ceremony spot promoting the new Galaxy Note 7 -- one that perhaps any party could embrace. Created out of Wieden & Kennedy Portland and directed by Biscuit's Noam Murro, the ad offers a quirky retelling of the American success story, from the P.O.V. of an "outsider" played by Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds," "Spectre").
Waltz at first appears sitting primly in an office with phone in hand, sneering with disbelief at U.S. citizens. "Americans, I don't understand you," he says. "Working all the time, busy, busy, busy and now you have this Galaxy Note 7."
From there, he transforms into a host of very American stereotypes, as he throws down smartly crafted, hilarious jabs at over-productive U.S. culture, while showing off the Note's features. There's the mom on an exercise bike with her newborn strapped to her chest while on a conference call, taking and enhancing a selfie. "You already multitask so much, it's just like regular tasking at this point," she says. There's the dad at the home improvement store in the early hours. "You get more done than the rest of the world before 8 a.m., and we're hours ahead of you," he complains. Waltz even plays a schoolboy, in robotics class: "Curricular was not enough, so you had to create extracurricular?" he questions as he takes a shot of a classmate. And of course there's an Olympics scene, in which he plays a sprinter reading a newspaper who thinks, "Meh," when he makes a world record. "You're not just happy winning something," he says.
By mid-spot, however, Waltz seems to change his tune. He realizes, in character as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and an astronaut, that Americans' "tireless ambition" has led to the birth of a new country, modern democracy and the most influential country in the world -- "where dreams come true." Finally, it appears the Kool-Aid has fully seeped in as we see Waltz plastering his gorgeous mansion with the stars and stripes, embracing his Stepford family and thanking the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 with S pen, "Perfect for busy Americans like us." And at that moment he even shows off the phone's new iris scanner. "It unlocks with my eyes," he says.
According to Samsung USA Chief Creative Officer Jesse Coulter, the brief for the new ad was simply to introduce the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. "It has a very passionate following in the U.S., Americans like it because it's a workhorse," he said. "We thought, why don't we celebrate the people that use it, Americans who pride themselves in dreaming big and much greater than ourselves? It's really about celebrating that American work ethic and ambition."
The ad is a funny and insightful interplay of stuff that's great, and not so great about America -- an idea that resonates given the current presidential race in which Republican Candidate Donald Trump has called on citizens to "make America great again," while Hillary Clinton has said, "America never stopped being great." Any political-seeming nuances are just pure coincidence, however. "We developed the work a long time ago," Mr. Coulter said. "We knew we were going to be launching it around the Olympics, a time when everyone unites around the Olympic team. It's a time to come together as a country."