Watt’s Going On?
I visit my grandma on the weekends. She’s what you would call, a character. An uber-religious, proto-feminist, opinionated octogenarian.
The first hurdle before entering her house is deciding which one of the three door bells to press. Each one has a unique sound. None of which she will hear. She is practically deaf. And the proud owner of an expensive pair of hearing aids, which she rarely wears.
So, as you come through the door you are met with a cacophony of noise. The TV is at full volume. She’s usually watching dubbed Turkish dramas, or Persian language satellite channels being broadcast from Los-Angeles. Quite often she is also screaming into her iPhone. Complaining to her nieces in Frankfurt that her ‘Vatsapp’ is not working.
As I’m plating her dinner for her, she flicks the TV channel. she lands on the ad break. Oh dear, we’re going to have to sit through commercials together. Then something unexpected happens, the ad catches my attention. It’s an advert for Cunard cruises.
Lots of glamorous dining rooms, luxury ocean liners and magnificent destinations. But the voice over is a familiar well spoken, almost aristocratic English accent.
‘I wonder, I wonder, what you would do if you had the power to dream any dream you wanted to dream. You would, I suppose, start out by fulfilling all your wishes, love affairs, banquets, wonderful journeys. .And after you’d done that for some time, you’d forget that you were dreaming.’
I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s the voice of the late Alan Watts. An English mystic prominent in the LSD laced counter culture of the Sixties. His Zen inspired thinking was influential amongst the Beat Poets
The ad by Alpha Century has a finesse and style you rarely see on TV anymore. I quite liked it, if only for the polished feel it had.
What I took away from it was the peculiar choice of Alan Watts for a very luxury brand. He was a monk, a philosopher, raconteur and self-styled spiritual entertainer. What’s he doing in a commercial?
Here was an ad selling that most decadent of things, a cruise. And yet if you followed the sonic pathway and discovered the recorded lectures of Alan Watts that pepper the internet, you might find yourself knocking on the doors of perception.
Often, we have ugly, clunky ads where brands try to attach themselves to a purpose that their audience don’t really care about. Our mentors have taught us that knowing about art and appreciating aesthetics is part of our job. They stress the importance of authenticity for brands too.
I suppose what I like most is that this is a simple, elegant and unpretentious ad. But, if you feel drawn towards the gentle lilt of the narrator’s voice, hidden within it is a pointing towards more.
Could ads point us towards consciousness?
If you liked the ad, and dig philosophy, here is a link to one of my favourite musings by Alan Watts.