Friday, February 6, 2009

The Ten Year War in Context

I'm currently reading War as They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a Time of Unrest by Michael Rosenberg. It's a look at Woody and Bo's Ten Year War filtered through the lens of politics and the cultural upheaval that was taking place on college campuses across the United States during that time.

The book recounts the games between these two coaching icons within the context of changing social attitudes, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the rise of campus activism. It also explores Woody’s long friendship with Richard Nixon, his love of military history, the innovations of University of Michigan athletic director Don Canham, and Ann Arbor’s history of liberal leanings. Rosenberg also uses Woody’s love of the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson to find deeper meaning in events taking place both on and off the field.

War as They Knew It is more than just a football book; it’s a snapshot view of what it was like when the changes America was going through reached the Midwest. And for someone who is fascinated by the era and the Rivalry, this is a great read!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hyundai, the Tuna with a Heart

In yet another example of Madison Avenue’s shift in focus, you can’t tell me the ad agency behind the Hyundai Assurance Program spot, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, isn’t setting its sights squarely on our post-Baby Boomer generation.

While I don’t know the details behind Hyundai’s new Assurance Program, I have to say the ad campaign smacks of the Schooner Tuna ad delivered by Graham Jarvis’ Howard Humphrey in the John Hughes-written Mr. Mom over 25 years ago.

For comparison, here is the text of that fictional TV spot (emphasis mine):
My fellow Americans. I am Howard Humphrey, President of Schooner Tuna. All of us here at Schooner Tuna sympathize will all of you hit so hard by these trying economic times. In order to help you we are reducing the price of Schooner Tuna by 50 cents a can. When this crisis is over, we will go back to our regular prices. Until then, remember, we’re all in this together. Schooner Tuna. The tuna with a heart.
And here is the second Assurance Program spot Hyundai began running in December:

Notice right around the 25-second mark, narrator Jeff Bridges reads ad copy lifted directly from the Mr. Mom playbook: “We’re all in this together.” You gotta wonder if Hughes is on-staff at Goodby, Silverstein or at least being compensated by Hyundai, and I'm frightened at the prospect of what might be next... A Victoria's Secret/Sixteen Candles ad with an "I can't believe I gave my panties to a geek" tag line?