Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Have Faith

These are dark days. Yesterday people were literally Sieg Heiling Mein Trumpf.

But flipping the channels a saw a little hope - in my new favorite ad. Most times the shorter version is run; this is the full cut.

Searching for the clip I learned that the official name for the Amazon spot is "Old Friends," a priest and an imam, in a ecumenical friendship that's not uncommon for the clergy. They visit, the visit ends, and they both strain a little to stand up. As they part they both get the same idea and get each other kneepads, bright green neon kneepads, as a gift.  Amazon delivers - this is, after all, an ad - they chuckle at their mutual insight, and they each go to their house of worship and pray, wearing their new kneepads.

Coming just days after a candidate who pledged to end Muslim immigration was elected president, this is a powerful statement delivered in a gentle tone.

But that's only secondary. Because the purpose of any advertising is primarily to sell your product. Amazon clearly believes, and has probably focus grouped and tested, that a positive portrayal of an Islamic faith leader will lead to you ordering more Stuff. Diversity is good for business.

And so is faith. This ad is a rare appeal across the current polarized cultural lines. The diversity angle for the left is easy, sure. But just as interesting is the positive portrayal of religious faith, which the right often complains is too rare in popular culture.

The central motivation driving the ad is prayer - the faith component and the physical component. And the distinct prayer image is important.  I don't know my faith garb well so I wasn't 100% sure the imam was an imam. I wondered if he was some sort of Eastern rite Christian, still ecumenical but not AS ecumenical, until he prayed in the distinctive Islamic forehead to ground prayer style.

The purchases (this is an ad) are made because each clergyman recognizes that the other's aging knees make the physical part of prayer harder. The kneepads mean that the priest and the imam can pay less attention to their aging bodies and focus more on the Father Son and Holy Spirit or Allah, whatever you call God.

An ad may be a small thing to base hope on right now, but I'll take what I can get.

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