Criticism of JWT’s lush commercial for America is as expected as it is wrong.

April 25, 2012

“Land of Dreams” from JWT

Besides the Statue of Liberty, I didn’t realize the United States of America made tourism advertising. Cities and states run ads. But the entire country? Seems an unwieldy proposition, given our nation’s vast size and wildly disparate peoples. But they do. Above is a TV commercial called Land of Dreams produced by JWT, New York. The client is, in fact, the United States Government. I wonder (jokingly of course) if the President approved the concept.

Comprising lush vignettes of different parts of the country, cut to a song by Roseanne Cash, Land of Dreams is a textbook definition of anthem commercial. Most definitely American, it’s a fastball down the middle, with a good song and gorgeous images. I wonder about one scene or another but basically I’m impressed.

Many of you aren’t.

I discovered the commercial while trolling Agency Spy. Granted, that isn’t the place for thoughtful film criticism, let alone compliments of any kind, even so, the tone and level of hatred toward Land of Dreams was downright nasty.

Hating on America is vogue with young people. Hating advertising is vogue for everyone. Therefore hating on an ad for America is decidedly low hanging fruit. Vitriol was aimed at everything from too many scenes of California and New Orleans to the broad strokes of Ms. Cash’s anthem.

Misguided dumb-asses. Do you honestly think shots of tattoo parlors and dank bars would have sold America better? Hip or not, this is the USA Sven and his brood wants to visit. Nothing wrong with Brooklyn, Wicker Park or the Mission but these aren’t tourist attractions. (And by the way, you should be grateful!) Foreigners come to America because of the clichés. Not in spite of them. It would be foolish to advertise our country any other way.

As for dissing Roseanne Cash, you’ve got to be kidding. She makes the fricking commercial. Cash not only has a great voice but, unlike any number of pop stars, she’s credible.

I’m not saying this spot is awesome. It ain’t. But it ain’t bad either. The hate spewing critics need to realize our country is not best sold through the eyes of a 29 year-old, zombie nuking, pierced hipster from Hoboken, let alone an unemployed Internet troll.

Oh, and this: You try selling something better to the United States Government.


23 Responses to “Criticism of JWT’s lush commercial for America is as expected as it is wrong.”

  1. I agree. Spot also communicated the U.S.’s status as a magnet for every culture and creed in the world.

  2. Bill said

    I also agree Steffan. No, I was not blown away, but I do think the spot did what it’s suppose to do. It showed the many different facets of this country, both geographically and culturally. What is it about our business that cultivates an attitude that if I were to criticize, people will think I have high standards and everyone else is a hack, as if I’m always able to do something SOOOO much better?! Not always the case. Someone in their comments even posted a James Brown video, cool video and would have loved to see him live, but to your point, there wasn’t a place in that video I would have wanted to visit. I give you credit for at least coming out and saying you liked it and here is why, much more difficult than just saying sucks.

  3. Joe Dapier said

    I cannot think of a more challenging assignment from a strategic perspective than selling the entire country as a tourism destination. The variation of climates, cultures and overall vibe of each region makes it more like six separate countries in one. I’m not a fan of the spot but at the same time, I recognize what a bitch it must be to have the Government as a client… 29 year old hipster douchebags be damned.

  4. Bruce Dundore said

    Wow. America the Soda

  5. This is beyond weak. Vignettes of a Epcot-like America combined with a turgid ballad does not equal anything of value.
    America was the rare country that was based on an idea. The commercial should have at least tried to do the same.

    • Steffan1 said

      Have to disagree, Jim. Do you really think tourists want to come here because of our idealism…or to see star homes and big canyons?

      • Belinda Lai said

        Like in many other countries, of course tourists would like to see star homes and destinations. However if I were a tourist coming to America, and I were sold to the vision that this is a place where dreams can be made, it would kind of dampen my spirits to see the blemishes of some regions. In fact I would feel cheated in some ways. I recently found that even cities such as San Francisco have homeless people ‘lining’ the streets. It was quite shocking to hear as I come from Australia and the population of homeless people is not as alarming as it is in the US. What scares me even more is that commercials such as this have been quite good at building up an image of freedom and possibility for America. And truthfully, I think many believe that it is the one country capable of leading other countries in our world. So when this vision is dirtied, when America ceases to be fit to lead allying countries, when there is no reliable ‘superpower’ to look up to, what will we do?

        (I do realise that I went off topic with my comment, but as many if not all of you are American I can assume, it would be interesting to hear your response. Though I do understand that this discussion ended about 2 years ago, so the fact that I may never hear a response is perfectly fine.)

      • Steffan1 said

        Interesting take, Belinda. Thank you for posting on GOA!

    • I feel that the song, and the visuals, communicates people come here from all over the world to pursue their dreams. This is an American value, no?

      With that said, I am not claiming this is a great ad.

  6. Take a look again, Stef. At all the vignettes that show nothing–people running through fields, walking through bayous, eating lunch on long table in the country. People don’t come here for that–they come here for our cities, our museums, our restaurants and our shopping. This is a glossy piece of dreck that would be fine if it was selling McDonald’s, but not one of the most dynamic countries in the world. Sad.

  7. I have to agree with Jim. There was nothing to the spot. Pretty, sure. Nice tune, sure. Giving someone an actual reason to want to come to America, not so sure. And IMO with how the world may be viwing us at this point in time I think the spot could have used a little more thought.

    That said, I agree with you Steffan, that the “haters” on the MediaBistro site were hating just to hate with no reason and that’s always stupid and counterproductive.

  8. Gene Payne said

    I don’t have an issue with vignettes. Sure they’re expected, but they are what’s for sale, and they are well shot. My problem with the spot begins and ends with the track. “Land of Dreams” works OK as a tag or song title, but the music is weak and the lyrics are weaker. When I watch this and wince without thinking, that’s the built-in “bullshit barometer” that tells me it could’ve been better.

  9. Mike Coffin said

    “You try selling something better to the United States Government.” Game, set, match.

  10. theescapepod said

    As a former foreigner, I felt this missed the mark. Tourists don’t come to “America” they come to a part of America. I am a huge Roseanne Cash fan but she felt out of place here. Brad Pitt would have been ideal. Foreign tourists’ fantasies of America are driven and fed by the movies. That’s the real ad for America. Hollywood.

  11. Canuck said

    I’m Canadian and the commercial must have run 5 times tonight on the various channels I watched. Big bucks to get Canuck dollars I guess. It’s a feel good ad, and it works.

  12. […] point – while researching I found a blog that critized the commercial, quote:  ”Foreigners come to America because of the clichés. […]

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