Sunday, February 3, 2008

ESPN and Robert Goulet

My advertisement was the Robert Goulet ESPN commercial. The whole commercial takes place inside of a bar or a lounge, most likely in Las Vegas. Center stage is Robert Goulet and he is singing the praises about ESPN’s nightly college basketball games. That is the whole commercial. There are a lot of other nuances and subtleties at work in this ad but on the surface the ad is strictly trying to garner interest in ESPN’s coverage of college basketball games. As discussed in class, there are a lot of different ways to analyze and look at this commercial. The entire class spent about twenty minutes discussing this one minute commercial, which shows that the commercial has more than meets the eye.

I just want to address two issues and points that were discussed in class. The first being, what is the focal point of this commercial? Is it Robert Goulet or is it College Basketball? My answer: both. This is obviously a cope out answer but bear with me. Obviously ESPN wants the people who view this commercial to watch their show. They would not advertise if they did not want viewers. I do not think anyone will argue that point. The main interest in all advertisements is to sell a product. ESPN’s product is college basketball games. They want you, the viewer of the commercial, to watch their college basketball coverage. Since this is all they want from their advertisement, why use Robert Goulet? As Joseph said in class, if you are from our generation, you know about Robert Goulet because of Saturday Night Live and other caricatures of him. Our parents’ generation knows Robert Goulet from is younger years. ESPN is not using Robert Goulet just to be funny which he is; but they are also using him as a bridge between generations. When I first saw this commercial, I was watching the television with my mom and I chuckled because I was thinking of a skit that made fun of Robert Goulet. My mom asked why I thought the commercial was funny because she had no idea I even knew who this man was. This commercial does a very good job of product placement but it also attempts to gain a few cross generational fans.

The other thing I would like to discuss is the issue of being alone. The point was raised on Friday that this commercial is playing on American’s sense of camaraderie and their desire to belong to a part of a group. I do not remember who said that in class but I think he was completely accurate. I am not sure if the writer’s of this commercial were trying to subliminally say that, I tend to doubt that, but the fact remains that this commercial makes it seem like watching college basketball in a group is more desirable than being alone. One of the unspoken desires of the American dream is to grow old with someone and to be a part of a family or a community. This commercial is making it seem as though this part of the American dream is right around the corner. All one has to do is turn on ESPN for nightly college basketball games, if he does that, then he will belong.

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