THOMSON: Like a Souper Trooper

There’s much to be said for the most recent use of Canadian classic rock band Trooper’s anthem “Raise A Little Hell.”

Doubtless, the mere suggestion that a television commercial can represent art rankles some. And yet, when the cumulative effect of good graphic design and foot-pounding sound is this naughtily impressive, what else can you call it?

The commercial opens to the dulcet tones of Bobby Vinton’s 1964 schmaltz hit, Mr. Lonely.

“Lonely, I’m Mr. Lonely….”

A bowl of soup is seen from several angles. It is a bowl of soup, unadorned, unmoving, tepid. It is dull.

Ah, but what’s this? A guitar chord pounds, and the music shifts to Trooper’s classic. “Raise a little hell, raise a little hell, raise a little hell!”. The drum beat pounds as the screen cycles through clashing colours of soup and background, yellow on red, orange on white, red on green. Suddenly, crackers come streaming in from all angles, smashing into the soup with slo-mo precision, a rebellious onslaught of saltine throwing stars. Brilliant hues of soup splash everywhere! “Raise a little hell, raise a little hell, raise a little hell!”

Hell yeah!

And suddenly, for a split second, you realize the enormous power of a good rock anthem: Raise a Little Hell just made DRY SALTINE CRACKERS seem rebellious and daring.

Now THAT is art in commerce. Not to the taste of Trooper, mind, which in these days of electronic rights management didn’t get a say in it.

When it comes to repetitive anthems, neurotheologists — who study the ties between brain chemistry and belief — will tell you they can influence the production of all sorts of nifty cognitive joyjuice. So it’s probably more a case of using art to exploit our predilection for social affiliation. I’d like to think something subconcious is the only sane explanation for Trooper’s continuing thrall.

If that were the case, it would work in almost any circumstance. Hmmmmm….let’s try another.

Product: Quaker Oatmeal – The dullest of wholesome breakfasts, oatmeal is rumoured to have been invented by British school headmasters to torment small children.

Naturally, that brings to mind Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall,” … which is exactly what we DON’T want. The point isn’t to evoke a reflection of the dour nature of the oatmeal, it’s to excite the tastebuds of the soon-to-be oatmeal eater.

My Recommendation: VAN HALEN’S PANAMA.

Opening shot: The oatmeal sits, leaden and lumpy, in a plain brown bowl, muzak strings playing softly in the background. Ahhh, but this isn’t QUAKER oatmeal, is it?

Eddie Van Halen’s guitar screeches a fretboard rundown, then kicks into Panama’s main riff, as a new, colour-kickin’ bowl comes slammin’ in from the side of the screen, blowing the boring, stodgy oatmeal out of the frame.

The new bowl bounces in place to the beat of the song. A hand places a box of the cinnamon-apple instant behind the still-bouncing bowl.

Message: this ain’t your daddy’s oatmeal! (Although, it is, in all likelihood, his rock anthem.)

(Got an anthem or song in a commercial you can’t get out of your head? Let us know below!)