Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Return to Shakespearean Advertisements

More of the Bard on Madison Avenue. A Few Selected Advertisements. Various Years. Various Sources. Various Products.

One of my favorite parts of the Modern Shakespearean Fiction course I developed is the brief presentations students make throughout the course. Each day of class, two or three students present for five minutes on something Shakespearean that they've encountered. Their brief presentations always lead to creative and organic discussion. And I always learn a ton.

Occasionally, students bring in Shakespeare-related advertisements  (for which, q.v.). And they're usually fascinating.

Here are a few a student (a student majoring in marketing, as it happens) brought to the class's attention, supplemented by one of my own.

The first presents Shakespeare (the man) as utterly overly-dramatic:

The tagline "You don't want drama" sums it up. But it's just short for "Unless you are searching for drama, as when, for instance, you are going to see a Shakespeare play, you don't want drama."

I had seen the second advertisement before. Again, we have Shakespeare the man, and he starts with a distancing tone here . . .

. . . but he soon proves his relevance by dishing out hashtags. Intriguingly, this is more of a public service announcement than an advertisement pure and simple.

The third ad the student showed is my favorite of the set:

That one, too, is on the public service side.  With the usual "wherefore for where" substitution aside, we have an intriguing narrative about pickles of two different brands. I do somewhat resent the idea that the out-of-date fridge is called "Globe," but it's still a clever use of the trope of "Shakespeare Means Tragedy."

Finally, we have a return to cell phone ads that play with Romeo and Juliet:

While other ads used Romeo and Juliet as a touchstone for communication (either gone wrong without the right device or enhanced by the right device), this ad focuses on the video-making features. With the right phone, the cardboard sets and mediocre acting that stereotypes a grade school production (with the right director, of course, these stereotypes are broken even without an expensive phone) are turned into beautiful scenery and convincing acting.

I think that means that the new iPhone is capable of lying to us . . . or at least of spinning reality to suit us. 

Links: More Shakespearean Advertisements at Bardfilm.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2039 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

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