Friday, January 15, 2016

'Have no fear' doesn't apply in advertising

By Louise Kinross

"You've got to see this video," a friend of mine messaged me. "It's for that new song Renegades. I had no idea what it was about and it's so cool."

I pulled the video by X-Ambassadors up (they play the Air Canada Centre this Saturday). 

It leads in with a blind athlete talking about growing up with a disability and how she learns through touch. Then there's footage of a couple of guys navigating their environment outside with white canes, and a handful of guys with canes hiking on the side of a mountain. 

"It's not a matter of enjoying it more or less," one tells us as we watch athletes with amputations wrestling, boxing, working out. There's a guy with amputations of all limbs who crawls along a trail. Other folks just look like your average Joe in a gym. "It's about enjoying it differently. It's enjoying it through a different vision, through another lens."

Whoa. This is not your typical music video. It doesn't include the conventionally beautiful dancers, models or actors you might expect to see.

Later in the video the band emerges from a vehicle and is lead by keyboard player Casey Harris, wearing his signature dark glasses. He's blind and uses a cane.

On The Today Show lead singer Sam Harris, Casey's brother, described Renegades as being "about people who defy the odds, who are unafraid of being different, and it's a celebration of that."

I'd read that Fiat Chrysler used the song in its marketing campaign for the new Jeep Renegade.

I hopped over to the Jeep commercial, eager to see how they were marketing the idea of people who embrace the different or difficult: the renegades, mutineers, underdogs, pioneers, rebels, new kids and outlaws referred to in the song.

I'm not sure which video was produced first, but the commercial one is filled with actors who fit Hollywood notions of beauty and ability. 

I couldn't help feeling it was a tremendous missed opportunity. This article about the commercial in AdWeek doesn't even mention the bold inclusion message of the band's video. 

"Go forth and have no fear" is a line in the Renegades song.

How can we encourage companies to push the envelope 
when it comes to making people with differences visible in product launches? What about ad agencies?

Here's a still image from the commercial, of what appears to be a professional dancer. Now go back and watch the band's video. Which is the true rebel?