There was an incident with the pizza guy. Without getting too deep into the details, it involved an icy winter night, a gently sloped driveway, a mid-aughts model Nissan equipped with threadbare tires and a driver who assessed the aforementioned circumstances and thought, “Durrrrr, I’ll drive right on up to the house and spare myself the 12-yard journey from the street. Duurrrrrr! Duuuurrrrrrrr!”
Two hours later, said driver’s car was still stuck in the driveway and said driver was still encamped in our kitchen, where our awkward attempts at banter somehow led to an impromptu screening on his iPhone of a short film he made. In it, a drolly evil version of Siri - “Eyrie” - created all sorts of spooky-dooky complications for the protagonist. The driver, who wrote and starred in the clip, expressed hope that Apple might co-opt his short for marketing purposes, that it could be a small but valuable part of the company’s next brand push (“possibly for that iWatch thing”).
I’m a gracious host. I watched all four minutes of the film and expressed profound, if not sincere, appreciation for the
skill with which the camera was dashboard-mounted for the pivotal evil-Siri-directs-protagonist-
For today’s exercise then, I’d like to kneel at the altar of league-average performance and assess a brand video that is 50 Shades of Okay. It radiates adequacy, blazing a barely perceptible path across the starry night sky. It lines up neatly behind what I hereby pronounce the genre’s new rallying cry: Decent is the new virallissimo.
The video comes to us from Michael Rapaport, an actor who occasionally reminds us that he hails from New York City and that his hometown is embedded in his soul and psyche, not unlike a traumatic childhood encounter with a raccoon. Underwritten by venerable local brand Coors Light - as much a part of the city’s sociocultural fabric as choleric pigeons or The Ramones - “For the Love of the Game” is a nostalgic tribute to NYC basketball courts that attempts to explain their lasting effect on the auteur. The clip is, in every way that matters and many that don’t, not bad. Not bad at all, really.
The black-and-white images match the self-aware sentimentality of the video’s central conceit – and, as such, might fairly be described as “appropriate.” The script mixes warm personal flourishes (“[The basketball court] is my coffee shop, barber shop and therapist all rolled into one”) with call-outs to cliché NYC authenticisms (street vendors, yellow cabs, etc.), rendering it fantastically, whimsically satisfactory. The laid-back rhythm of the soundtrack serves as a stealth call-out to the city’s status as the birthplace of hip-hop, yet is instantly forgettable; this lands it solidly in the 50th percentile of sonic achievement within brand video.
The bronchial rasp of Rapaport’s narration? FAIR. The multiple pans to nets in a state of disrepair? JUST DUCKY. There is nothing here to get worked up or worked down about – which, in this new era of basic serviceability, is in itself not exciting.
There’s even a little maybe-unintentional branding for those who seek it out. “For the Love of the Game” teems with cold, icy images from the sadistic New York City winter that’s on its way out. And o happy coincidence – Coors Light has long attempted to brand itself as a beer that’s colder than the competition, notwithstanding intensity of refrigeration or the laws of thermodynamics. Snow is cold! Coors Light is cold! Suck on that one for a while, conspiracy buffs.
Happily, the clip’s one exceptional aspect – the announcement that Coors Light will continue to donate “cold” cash to rehabilitate public basketball courts around the country – doesn’t intrude on the utter averageness of everything that surrounds it. I’m thus thrilled to give “For the Love of the Game” my highest semi-recommendation with mild reservations. There’s something to see here; please disperse… or don’t. It’s cool either way.