blog | What’s worse than a Cellcom ad?

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A Cellcom reality show, apparently. Reminder:  A couple of weeks ago, we had the Cellcom ad on the separation fence – you know, showing how occupation can be fun and peace can be made so long as we (Israelis) are completely in control (we decide when to pass the ball), and they (the Palestinians) are tucked away behind an enormous fence, waiting at our pleasure. The ad sparked quite a lot of interest, spawned some beautiful guerilla theatre (Abbie Hoffman would be proud), and caused quite a few people to reconsider their patronage at Cellcom, Israel’s largest cellular services provider.

Today, however, it turns out that this ad was but an appetizer, and the psychological trends on which Cellcom seeks to play to attract more clients go a lot more deep. The occupation is just a case in point, dahlings; the real issue is domination & control.

Right about the time of the Walleiball ad I started receiving Facebook-friendship requests from weird characters with weird names, usually referring to the color of their pretty weird suit; in English the names would sound like Danny Green, Violet Violet, or Sapphire Blue. I’m fairly selective with my Facebook friends, so I politely turned them down. A couple of days later, it became obvious this was a viral advertising campaign, created by – guess who – McCann-Erickson, the same people that produced the Cellcom ad. But an invasive viral campaign is only half the trouble.  Cellcom have just launched the hugely ambitious project behind the campaign – an interactive “reality” show, which has a twist (quite literally, too). Rather than voting once an episode on who to turn away from a Carribean island, the viewers (all those that did befriend the multicolor smurfs on Facebook) get to decide everything – who the characters love, how do they dress, when do they eat, when do they sleep, whether they sleep – everything.

The promo clip for this campaign is here; it’s yet to make Youtube, so I couldn’t embed it on my blog. It’s also in Hebrew. Open it in a new window and read the English transcript below. I doubt that even brilliant Ami Kaufman could come up with something as disturbing.

I’ll leave it to you to think to what kind of a society with what kind of urges and needs Cellcom is appealing to through this campaign. Hint: Compare underlying motives and roles with their previous advertisment. Extra points go for finding social prejudices in the ad.

Narrator: “Imagine to yourself that everything you say, happens. Everything you wish, is done. Everything you think of, is carried out. Think of a world that you control. Think of a reality (show) you have never seen before. A reality in which you can play with other people(‘s lives). THE NURTURED ONES. You say it. They do it.
[cut to an ordinary looking guy in a white space].
A Nurtured one is an ordinary person. Like me or you. But there’s one difference. He can’t do anything of his own free will. All responsibility for his fate lies entirely in your hands. For better – and for worse.
[cut to Eve-like girl with a serpent tattoo offering the Nurtured Guy an apple]
It doesn’t mean he has no desires of his own, of course. It’s just that they’re quite out of his control.
[as they prepare to kiss, girl turns into a bulky man. Both men scream in horror]
You decide when he sleeps.
[guy on bed alone]
You decide with whom he sleeps.
[girl appears in bed, replaced by man, replaced by goat]
And whether he sleeps at all.
[drummer appears next to the bed.]
You decide who he’ll be with
[guy dancing between two girls]
And whether he’ll be with anyone at all.
[the two girls hook up and walk away from the guy].
You control his music.
You control his food.
And you control his clothes.
You decide who comes to visit him, too.
The Nurtured One will do everything for you. Everything. And this includes EVERYTHING.
But beware. If you don’t pay attention. If you ignore him. If you take no notice of him. Your Nurtured One will disappear and never come back. Ever again.”
[cut to flashy captions and a 3-d sketch of a house being moulded on the screen].
Today. It begins. For the first time in Israel. Eight contestants. Will enter a compound specially constructed for the largest control-reality [show] in Israel. They’ll start with no clothes. No property. Nothing at all. You will decide what surprises they get. You will judge how long each gets to live, whether they get to live at at all, and who will be the last alive – to win the Prize.
8 contestants
21 days
24 hours a day
Live on the Internet and on cellular
Are you prepared to take control of someone else’s life?

If this campaign is what it promises to be, it’s the most ambitious experiment in authority and control since Stanley Milgram – with the subtle difference it’s marketed as tremendous fun, and obviously invites the controllers to abuse the controlled. Now forgive me as I go and drown my cellphone.

Oh, and, if you did befriend the smurfs and you don’t want your Facebook feed flooded with updates from Orwellian slaves, it’s time to kick the following people off your friends list (and maybe report them to Facebook while you’re at it):

“Heli Yam”

“Anna Yellowkovski”

“Humi Brown”

“Anat Hatzilim”

“Rami Hatachol”

“Adom Olam”

“Shachar Pinkelstein”

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