We were watching the national news when the commercial break hit and on came this GE commercial featuring a guy in dark glasses touting how GE technology is providing hospitals with data software that connects patient to nurse to doctor to machines, reducing down time and turning waiting rooms into just rooms.
It struck me as really weird and it had an end scene where this guy holds up two suckers and asks a little boy, “Red? Or blue?” My wife said it reminded her of a child molester trying to lure a kid into his grasp. I was so taken aback by the spot that I had to see it again and find out what it was all about.
That’s when I discovered how tragically unhip I am. The guy is Hugo Weaving and he’s re-creating his role as Agent Smith from the Matrix movies.
I went back and viewed the commercial again. The opening scene has a flash cut that has that familiar Matrix-y green and black screen pattern and upon seeing the commercial for the second time, I realize I’m seeing Agent Smith clones throughout the commercial. Agent Smith says that he found “software that intrigues me. It appears it’s an agent of good.”
I guess anyone who has seen the Matrix (and there are millions) will instantly get all the inside jokes. I’ve seen the Matrix multiple times on cable, generally late at night and I don’t know if I ever made it through one of the movies from start to finish. I just never bought into the premise or maybe it’s because I never saw the movies on the big screen that they just didn’t connect with me. So in this particular commercial, Agent Smith comes off as some Tommy Lee Jones wanna-be who is creepy and weird and the whole commercial has kind of a sinister undertone that does not leave me with any warm, fuzzy feelings towards GE.
Hopefully, I’m not their target audience. Actually, in most GE commercials it’s hard to understand who their target audience is since they’re no longer selling light bulbs or microwaves. These days they’re selling their inventive technology that is continuing to evolve, affecting all kinds of industries – from aviation to imaging technology to … well, they’re into all sorts of high tech stuff that they want us to know comes into play in our everyday lives in ways we never imagined.
I went into GE’s vault of advertising which you can find on their website. (http://www.ge.com/news/advertising)
There are all sorts of fun and interesting commercials to be found there – each one completely different than the other, all telling stories in highly imaginative ways. The production values are awesome. I wanted to know who created most of these ads and to the best of my knowledge, it’s BBDO – an agency that is extremely good at big budget story telling. So some copywriter or art director who is probably a huge Matrix fan has been waiting to find the right marriage of product and Matrix to deliver a story and ten years after the movie came out, his (or her) wish finally came true.
So is this GE commercial a great commercial?
If you’re a Matrix fan, it’s either a great commercial or a total sell-out.
If you’re oblivious to ten year old references to movies that you never liked that much to begin with, it’s a little creepy and a little strange.
Toss it into the mix of other GE commercials, though, and it belongs. It moved me enough to write about it.
And not many commercials can do that.
Gee, GE. Nice work.