Most people wouldn’t think of advertising and marketing as credible forms of art, but you’d be surprised at how much effort goes into putting a powerful message into a simple ad.
Today, many commercials have gone viral and have become just as memorable as the television shows they appear in the middle of. However, speaking as someone with some marketing experience (my first tasks in college involved designing ads for print/web and marketing to a live audience), I was a little sad that I wasn’t seeing the kind of memorable effort I use to see in the business of selling product. Many seemed to be very uninspired and by the books.
Naturally, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the “Perfect Day” commercial that was part of the Playstation 4’s “Greatness Awaits” campaign. Granted the PS4 itself does nothing to impress me (this console generation has been VERY disappointing so far), but I have to admire the effort that was put into this simple ad. Let me take some time to show you what I see.
Let’s start with the tagline of the campaign as a hole; “Greatness awaits.” To a non-gamer this may sound silly. “Greatness?”, they may be heard to say. “What’s so great about staring at a T.V. Screen blankly pushing buttons?”
To understand the greatness in “Greatness awaits,” you need to understand positive reinforcement. Most of us know the basics; reward a person’s behavior and they will be more likely to repeat it later on.
For gamers, that reward comes in the feeling of accomplishment from the completion of a challenge. Whether it’s beating the boss, solving a puzzle or coming out above your friends in a match tournament – they have, in their little section of the world, achieved a level of greatness. That’s why unlockable achievements in games are so ubiquitous.
Now let’s look at what these two guys are actually doing. We see them beat the tar out of each other in various ways. The slash each other in one-on-one medieval combat, they throw each other into guardrails in races, and even blast one another to smithereens in futuristic war – all scenarios familiar to gaming. However, throughout this behavior, they remain smiling and happy even as they know they are about to be destroyed.
This is the mentality of the average gamer during a game; they welcome their opponent knowing that, win or lose, they will be happy to challenged and happier to share the experience with other people.
… And speaking of sharing things with people.
This is the part that blew me away.
Above I have placed the full song used in the commercial; Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.” Go ahead and give it a listen before you keep reading.
The song tells the story of a man and a someone very close to him (though many claim it’s also about heroin abuse, but Reed isn’t typically the kind to be subtle about drug use) and how they make him endlessly happy.
However, there is a dark edge to the song as well. In the second verse, he reveals how the person in question makes him feel better then he thinks he actually is (“Just a perfect day/You made me forget myself/I thought I was someone else/Someone good”).
I like to think that this is a hidden feeling that a lot of gamers, particularly the competitive ones, feel regularly. They respect their opponents, resent them for being so much better or worse then they are, but love them for either making them feel superior and pushing them to improve their skills. This obviously was not the intent of Lou Reed when he wrote “Perfect Day,” but it does unintentionally capture what I see as an unspoken spirit of camaraderie amongst gamers.
Yes, I admit that I am thinking about something that was not meant to be thought about as hard as I am. That being said the best frivolous things are the ones that hold up well when you look at them closer then the creator intended.
In addition to fulfilling its job to market goods, this ad also serves as a little love letter to the gaming community.
… Now if only they could put that love and care into the console itself.