My First Ad

When I was about five or six, I was really into my shoes. I’m not sure why. I wasn’t sure why then either, but my sister and I were both keenly aware of the adult world’s inexplicable fascination with our footwear - perhaps because they were always having to buy it for us - and rewatchings of old home movies have confirmed the nearly constant off-camera requests for the two of us to “show off our new shoes,” and we happily obliged. I’d hoist my red Nikes as high as I could get them, cheesing into the lens and almost toppling over backward.

Also around this time, there was a song that played on the radio fairly often, which I’d hear in the car as my mom drove Katie and me around on errands and whatnot. I really liked this song a lot. And I, in my newly forming capacity for understanding the way the world worked, put something together in my mind. I decided, as a first-grader, that a major shoe manufacturer should make an agreement with Lisa Lisa, and her Cult Jam if necessary, to use their number-one hit “Head to Toe” in a commercial.

I’d seen some commercials in my time, and figured I had a pretty good bead on the way all this stuff fit together, and the way I saw it, there was no reason I shouldn’t flip on the television and see happy, athletic people dancing around and showing off their new shoes for the camera, bending down to tie them at the exact moment that Lisa Lisa sang, “Ooh, baby, I think I love ya... from head to toe.”

In my oversized little head, this was ingenious. In fact, a few years ago, while flipping through an old photo album, I found my first attempt to make this advertisement a reality. I’d convinced some adult to take a picture of me, tying my shoe, then written out a little speech bubble bearing my very first headline and taped it to the photo.

I know.

It would have been a better ad if I’d at least made it about a whole outfit. And it’s not like the manufacturers (my imagined clients) didn’t sell that kind of stuff. This was 1983, and you could walk into any mall and pick up a sweet Kelly-green tracksuit, which actually would have covered you from head to toe. But that was my ad; there you have it.

Now I make a living writing advertising. You could say I’ve come a long way since then. But not really - honestly, in 22 years, my brain’s output has merely gone from funny to intentionally funny, and even that only occasionally. And it’s still the same kind of stuff.

All I do is what I've always done: take in the culture around me and spit it back out in a slightly different format. I try to pick out the things that would make sense in the world but that I haven’t seen yet, and put them there.

The main difference, as I see it, is that now I’ve seen a lot more ads. But it’s still fun to try and come up with more.


Anonymous said...

You're so great. :)

Luke said...

I used to LOVE that song!
Now that you mention it, I guess I still do.

"Oooo Colin, I think I love you from head to toe."
I had such an amazing time working near you this week. I can't remember a time when I have been around someone less and regretted the certainty missing them more. I look forward to working down there again. However, perhaps we should meet again before then.

What do you say?


Colin said...

Luke: heck yeah!