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Ferris Bueller meets William Shakespeare (kinda)


Ferris Bueller — the Honda XLVI Super Bowl ad campaign —  has more in common with William Shakespeare than you might think. It’s all about context and content as it applies to engaging your viewers and playgoers. So move over, Marshal McLuhan and let’s explore the message for a bit.

Teaching students who are speakers of other languages (TESOL) is very similar at times to teaching context as it applies to social media, advertising, and community.  Context (the concept) can be hard to spot and keep your eye on. But as part of your marketing and creative strategy, it’s the thread you can’t lose track of in 21st century engagement and #customerecology.

Here’s the Official 2012 Honda CR-V Game Day Commercial, “Matthew’s Day Off”

This campaign works on several levels. There’s a term for it: social media object. Take anything that people relate to and put it into a new context. Soon enough, they’ll transfer the engagement from the known to the unknown, new.

The more you know the more you engage.

In terms of composition, the meaning is inferred rather than explicit (for my ESOL friends and followers). That’s where William Shakespeare comes in ( program tease!).

1. It’s an ad, enjoy it. Without knowing anything about the star or the movie, Honda creates long-form content that fully engages

2. There’s Matthew Broderick in a Superbowl ad. One of my TESOL students (from Hungary) recalled the ad and confirmed that he watched simply because he was intrigued to see Matthew Broderick in a commercial. He didn’t know Broderick’s Ferris Bueller character.

3. There’s Matthew Broderick taking his own Ferris Bueller day off! If you know the movie and appreciate the humorous twist, you’ll watch and enjoy the commercial. Even this author, not a Ferris Bueller watcher, was at least familiar with the intriguing commercial twist.

4. You’ll watch every Superbowl ad. To borrow from Shakespeare, the ads are the thing, i.e., their own context. Honda is just part of the mix.

5. You’re a Honda evangelist. You’re the viewer who probably already subscribes to the Honda channel on Facebook and delights in any storytelling of a saga or travel. Every twist and level of meaning adds to your delight. Matthew-doing-a-Ferris in a Honda is just the icing on the cake.

Stage Right: Patrick Stewart as Macbeth

The character of Ferris Bueller has a long way to go to match the staying power of Shakespeare’s characters. Yes, let’s repeat. Shakespeare (the real or ghost-written) is commonly accepted as the most influential writer in English. Yet, his writing evokes stories that date back to ancient Greece, Biblical scripture, and history of the emerging British empire.

Take Macbeth that recounts the story of an 11th Century historic. Take Patrick Stewart whose Star Trek saga infuses meaning for the YouTube viewer. Note: while this YouTube video doesn’t embed, you can easily click through and watch.

Patrick Stewart plays Macbeth

Macbeth plays on stage of history

No class discussion – just lots of chatting. What are your thoughts on this Honda commercial. Does it win top honors in Superbowl XLVI ads and how does it compete with Shakespeare for using found objects to create context/content within a context? Sign in and comment or bookmark and share with friends.

One Comment
  1. 02/13/2012 2:46 pm

    Reblogged this on Elizabeth A. McCaffrey and commented:

    Survey : How did Superbowl XLVI ads draw you in?

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