The Old and The Reckless

The commercials from last Sunday’s Super Bowl have been flooding social media sites as they get passed around by friends. The Taco Bell “Viva Young” commercial has been  particularly popular with over two million views on YouTube. The commercial starts with a nurse at a retirement home putting an older man to bed. Then the old man sneaks off with friends to acquire the life of the young and, of course, “Fourth Meal” at Taco Bell.  This unusual group of pranksters are seen pool hopping, lighting firecrackers and even getting down in the clubs. The group building up a hunger ends their night at the Taco Bell Parking lot, and walking back to the retirement home as the sun rises. The song “We Are Young” by Fun, is played in Spanish (of course)to maintain brand continuity. Interestingly, that particular song became popular during last year’s Super Bowl; when it appeared in a Chevy commercial.

While watching the game, a friend said “talking babies and crazy old people always make the best commercials”. It is interesting to me that the most entertaining commercials are based on events that do not happen often (or at all!) The concept of “old folks” having partying hard and reliving their youth is entertaining and hilarious. This idea has been used before; the artist Modestep released a music video for their song “Sunlight”. This video was posted on YouTube on July 3, 2011 and has over twenty-two million views. The Modestep video has the same idea as the commercial but is not censored by the FCC. The Taco Bell commercial is a “clean” version of this music video as much of the material is not suitable for U.S. television. It Is remarkable to see music culture influencing the types of commercials we see.

The stylistic features of the commercial and music video are similar. Certain aspects, such as the shot angle and exposures, are close to the same. The idea of the older people going crazy and partying hard that Taco Bell portrays take you by surprise, particularly while considering that most of the commercials promoting their unique concept of “Fourth Meal” have been targeted to their younger consumers (who are more likely to be up late). This commercial appears to actively debunk the stereotype that elderly people are typically in bed by nine. It is interesting to see the commercial feature a group of people who may or may not consume Taco Bell given the primary target audience of most Super Bowl ads. Is this an opportunity for Taco Bell to expand to more mature (or not-so-mature) markets or just another opportunity to entertain the younger population at the expense of the older one? Regardless it is a reminder to “Live Mas” and while doing so, fill your hunger with Taco Bell.

– Zach Abramo, Callie Fenlon, Lauren Habig,  Alexandra Huss, Michael NunesDaniel Schaefer, Dann Williams

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One thought on “The Old and The Reckless

  1. Your post raises at least a couple of questions. First, what is this technique called? Is it juxtaposition? Irony? It would seem common enough to have or deserve a name. Second, how is the contrast of old people acting young “funny” whereas most folks panned the contrast of supermodel kisses geek in the Go Daddy ad? What juxtapositions are funny and which ones are awkward and don’t work.

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