Interviews

25/02/2014

We Built This City on (Soft) Rock and Roll




Every now and then an advert comes along, and before you reach the end of it, you're wondering what the hell it is and who the hell made it. The little girl peddling around a cul-de-sac singing Starship's We Built This City is one such ad and the twitter response by everyone and their kitten proves it. In fact the only bad thing about the ad is it's hashtag, #SingItKitty.

You only have to see the advert once and you'll be humming it in your subconscious for as long as 3/three decide to keep airing the ad. And I'm totally all for it, and *does Kathy Griffin voice* HERE'S WHY.

It goes further than simply thinking 'oh, kittens are cute, let's capitalise on that' which is the one trick pony Cushelle are trying to pull with a koala bear, albeit with the added twist of a computer game premise, or indeed what three/3 themselves did with the pug in a christmas hat poster campaign. Where #singitkitty works, is in marrying the cute with the cheesy anthemic song. It’s both nostalgic and thoroughly modern. The other day, when someone realised you could watch youtube videos on a tv via their mobile phone, we sat and watched cat videos. Then pop videos by Ke$ha and Die Antwoord. Then an episode of Kathy Griffin’s chat show. We are terrible human beings with horrendously low attention spans - and it's striking that this advert feels luxuriously long. It's a a few verses and choruses, not even the whole song.

The super clever bit is marrying all these cynical, traceable, viral, market research groups say type things - pink! - into a cheesy Guilty Pleasures anthem. It reminds me of the kind of rock my dad listened to when I was growing up, and I’m not exactly the young trendy target market here (my phone? a cheap imitation high powered android from Argos so I can check email, twitter, etc, but use my £10 pay-as-you-go sim card which covers all my calls texts and data).

I had to google the song to find out it was by Starship, but I knew the song. It in turn reminds me of another song that I was simultaneously drawn to and repulsed by: "Take me down to the paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty, take. me. home." Even without a feminist vocabulary, or a full grasp of my sexual leanings, I knew there was something off about these lyrics. But they've attached themselves to my psyche, like it or not, like a hymn that I was forced to sing at school, popping into my consciousness at the most inopportune of moments. And if we’re taking that detour, the worst offender in this category is, surreally and unreligious, “Autumn leaves when the grass jeweled and the silk inside a chestnut shell”.

It’s the ultimate cheesy feelgood but slightly clever advert. It doesn’t make me want to change phone contract - or offer any insight into what services three/3 are offering - but whoever came up with the concept and everyone who made it a reality deserves the same warm fuzzy feeling inside. You might call it silly, which they point out everyone needs.