It goes from Public Housing to the Metropolitan Opera House and from Washington Heights to the Heights of Washington.
In our film for Columbia’s 75th Annual Alexander Hamilton Award Dinner, the honoree—financier and philanthropist George Van Amson (CC’74)—tells us: “116th and Broadway is light years away from the Throgs Neck Projects.” And as the film dissolves to a shot of an elevated subway train heading for the distant land of Wall Street, the metaphor is clear. The real elevated train is the rarefied opportunity that is Columbia University. If anyone still needs proof that higher education is by far the best way of elevating individuals and society all at once, just listen to Mr. Van Amson’s story. Yes, he was given many opportunities. But the real drama of the story is that Van Amson is giving so much back. Admirers say that he is the best of all possible mentors. And what does he get in return? Van Amson answers: “Well, I get everything from it. Everything.”
George Van Amson encapsulates his approach to philanthropy this way. “It’s easing the pain. And spreading the joy.” His work to combat community violence is easing the pain. His service as a trustee on the Met Opera board is spreading the joy. There you have it. A life’s journey that started in public housing and ended up at The Metropolitan Opera House. By the end of our film, by all accounts, the gala attendees at the Hamilton Award Dinner were visibly moved.
A few weeks earlier, another New Yorker’s ascent was being chronicled. It was Henry Kissinger’s. He, too, made a dramatic life journey. His was from Washington Heights to the heights of Washington. Our film on Dr. Kissinger was being shown at the storied Al Smith Dinner at the Park Avenue Armory. Narrated by the brilliant speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan, the film spoke about the friendly political jousting that has gone on at the Al Smith Foundation Dinner for nearly 80 years. We aptly titled the piece: “Making Peace with Ourselves,” a phrase from a speech that Dr. Kissinger delivered at the same dinner more than fifty years ago. At this October’s event, Kissinger mustered the strength to speak again. As it turned out, the interview we at M+/ADLubow did with Henry Kissinger for the film was likely the last one he gave in his life. But that’s another story.
Why is ADWEEK calling Amazon’s “Joy Ride” holiday commercial an Instant Classic? For affirmation, all you have to know is that Sir Paul Macartney personally approved the licensing of his song “In My Life.”
But the brilliance of the spot goes far beyond that. Before we say why, let us first say how proud we are that AD Lubow alumna Tessa Pauly has been key to developing the cohesive brand strategy that encouraged Amazon’s International Cross Channel Marketing team to produce this masterpiece.
When we at AD Lubow first opened our doors, our objective was to create “ADVERTISING THAT MOVES PEOPLE.” We followed up more recently with the mantra: “SAY LESS. TELL MORE.” And all along the way, we advised our team that “advertising shouldn’t look like advertising. It should be part and parcel of the client’s product.” We’re proud to say that so many of our wonderful alumni and our successor firm M+ are out there putting these ideas into practice. Tessa Pauly is a stellar example.
Tessa tells us: “With JOY RIDE we’re aiming to create a lasting emotional connection with customers—one that we hope will increase mental availability for Amazon, which we know has a positive impact on the bottom line.”
That mental and emotional connection is certainly achieved by Amazon Creative Directors Josh Cassidy and Vince Feliciano. Look at all the storytelling they do in just 60-seconds without a single word. In less than a minute, you get the sense that the ladies in the spot have grown up and grown old together. And by the painful shrug of a shoulder, you see that old age isn’t always easy. By the end of the spot, however, all the discomfort of age is overridden by youthful joy. The spot is about as cheerful as it gets.
But here’s what sets the Amazon spot apart from so many other “feel good” holiday commercials, which often have little to do with the product. Beyond the joyful messaging here is a clear, pragmatic, unique selling proposition: the ability to order a product (and the resulting joy) with the touch of a button. It takes the lady in the spot barely a second to do it. And just like that, the product arrives. How wonderful. This perfect creative execution goes way beyond “SAY LESS. TELL MORE.” It’s more like: SAY LESS. SELL MORE. It’s ADVERTISING THAT MOVES PEOPLE…and PRODUCTS.
Quite an honor to have our book selected as a top holiday pick by no less than The Metropolitan Museum of Art. To find a copy of The Boy and the Boy King (and support the Met Museum at the same time) go to the MetStore at the Museum on 82nd Street or Amazon.
For seventy-seven years, presidents, prime ministers, and all manner of luminaries have taken the sting out of American politics with their humorous jousting at the legendary Al Smith Memorial Dinner. The film that M+ ADLubow created for this year’s event is narrated by the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan. The gifted Ms. Noonan penned some of the greatest presidential speeches of the last Century. Her “These Are the Boys of Pointe du’Hoc” written for Ronald Reagan’s appearance at the 40th Anniversary of D-Day is celebrated today for the timing and timbre of its commitment to freedom. Yes, it saluted the U.S. Rangers who scaled the cliffs to take out the heavy guns of Naziism. Less remembered is the way the speech acknowledged the sacrifices of the Russian people and then, from a position of strength and confidence and in a spirit of reconciliation, asked the Soviet Union for some sign that it was willing to seize the beachhead of peace. Two years later, we had Glasnost. Such is the power of poetry. “For sheer oratorical elegance,” historian Douglas Brinkley wrote, this would become “one of the most inspirational presidential speeches ever delivered.”
Rather than just drone on about books and advertising and the general state of things here on earth, we’d like to post two aerial videos shot and edited by Arthur Lubow as a volunteer for the Mountaintop Arboretum and Onteora Club.
Here is a shot of Hidden Marsh, a secret treasure reachable by a brief hike through the woods. It’s all part of the theme we developed for The Mountaintop Arboretum called “Nature’s Art: Performing Daily. Up after that, is a view of the new lakefront at Onteora Club.
We’re honored to say that The Boy and the Boy King can now be found in the Children’s Egyptian Books and Games section of the MetStore.
Since the George H. Lewis illustrations were originally conceived at the Museum’s Temple of Dendur, it’s as if the book has come home.
Based on the initial run, the MetStore has tripled its order.
You can also find The Boy and the Boy King at Olana: The Frederic Church National Historic Site, Amazon and National Geographic’s Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Exhibition scheduled to appear in 7 cities.
UPDATE: The MetStore will feature The Boy and the Boy King on a special online feature called SET AT THE MET.
An illustrated poem by A.D. Lubow inspired by the names of two lovers carved long ago in stone on a lonely mountaintop. Lovingly illustrated by Mei Li, a rising star in animation. Masterfully recited by the brilliant Welsh actor, Matthew Rhys.
A nice AudioFile listing today for Audible edition of “The Boy and the Boy King.” The reviewer writes: “Along with a magical and poetic story, listeners are treated to a tour of ancient Egypt.” The nice review is a credit to the way George Lewis’s reading gives each of the characters such a distinctive voice. See the whole review here.