I alone among animate beings am both wittingly and subconsciously impervious to the narcotic charms of advertising. Where others are swayed, I am unmoved. Where weaker mortals see a new phone and reflexively drench their sitting rooms in drool, I look at my flip model and silently hail the American virtues of loyalty and self-denial. This inner resolve, this Rambo-nian flintiness, positions me uniquely among consumers of media to…
(/sees snack advertising while viewing sports-related endeavor on television)
Where was I? Oh, so yeah, I’m as highly suggestible as a hypnotized lemming. It’s still rare that marketing content is crafted in such a manner as to make me fumble for my wallet and spill its contents on the nearest merchant’s countertop. That said, JBL’s “Reflect BT Wireless Headphones - Epic Fail” is one such piece of content.
The concept is so obvious that, frankly, it’s amazing to think no manufacturer of headphones or related CE accessories has happened upon it before now. Dude gets primed for a workout. Dude starts said workout. Dude keeps getting interrupted when his gear fails him - in this case, his ear buds pop out and their cord entangles. Dude throws ear buds off urban overhang, imperiling innocent lives below.
“Epic Fail” gets the details just right - the dude’s frustration in being able to hop over an overextended dog leash but not keep his music leash similarly taut, the pity smile afforded him by the attractive fellow jogger who passes him during his cord- and bud-related fumbles, etc. The dude looks the part, right down to his moisture-wicking finery. Even the soundtrack - “Gonna Fly Now,” which plays during the intermittent moments of headphone connectedness - hits the right literal and figurative notes. Hey, just because a particular piece of music is the default choice doesn’t mean it’s not the right one.
The real reason I dig “Epic Fail” so much, though? Because this is my life. Not to get too share-y with y’all, but the exterior of my ear canals are shaped in such a manner that they accommodate the ubiquitous white Apple ear buds about as well as they do a pair of bowling balls. Judging by the frustrated yawps of runners I encounter on the road, I’m not the only one with this physio-mechanical handicap.
The clip thus hits upon a universal experience, one that’s maddening in a way that stuff that matters far more in the grand scheme of things is not. And even if it didn’t, many runners/exercisers/whatever will see a younger, maybe idealized, version of their athletic selves in the protagonist. We’ve felt his pain. We’ve cursed the heavens when our phone or iPod randomly serves up the perfect song, the one that makes us feel as if we’ve been shot out of a cannon, only to have it compromised by deficient headphonery.
Again, the guy in the clip might as well be me - well, if he were shorter, more rotund, dressed less like an athlete and more like somebody whose clothes were repurposed from the bottom of the laundry pile, and didn’t have a leg immobilized in a brace. It’s so completely in tune with my experience as a connection-impaired runner that I believe JBL may have secretly been taping me. I hereby reserve my right to pursue appropriate legal action.
As a title (and broader campaign-wide hashtag), “Epic Fail” may be a bit too 2011-memey for anyone’s taste, but that’s the equivalent of complaining about the viscosity of the salt shaker after a five-star dining experience. I love this clip. I love this campaign. Where should I send my money?