One of the potentially greatest media art forms is the TV commercial. In less than a minute, they can make us laugh, cry, and – if they’re really good – they can make us think about an issue in a whole new way. Commercials speak to our behaviors and reflect the values of our times. Compare these two ads, made over forty years apart, which speak to our relationship to saving the environment:
Originally aired in 1970, this famous “Keep America Beautiful” PSA (public service announcement) launched Earth Day to a new generation. This was the beginning of mass media communication about the need to preserve and protect the environment:
Forty years later, what’s changed? Viewers are certainly aware of the issue of global warming (whether believed or not), and now some corporations are providing earth-friendly products which some consumers are buying in hopes of helping to save the environment. The new casualty of our reckless environmental habits is not the Native American traveling through a littered countryside, but the polar bear adrift in a melting Arctic. But now, instead of sorrow and admonition, the ad bathes us in a profound and touching gratitude for our commitment to the environment.
What do you think?