What a Disaster :30 English | Emergency Preparedness
NYC | Ad Council
In the first brief clip of the commercial, we see only arm and hand, extending their fingers to hit a small circle doorbell button. The arm has dark hair over it, meaning it is most likely an adult man. It is not attached to a door but a wall, indicating it is most likely in an apartment or condo complex.
In the next shot, the camera has gone into a point of view, emulating the inside of a door peephole, one that would commonly be found in an apartment door. This is accomplished by putting solid black around a circular hole where the audience can see into the home. The picture is also slightly warped, as the glass in a peephole will do when looking through.
In the peephole, we see inside the apartment. It has a thin hallway with a circuit breaker on the wall, and a small desk with a lamp on the right. In the background, we can see another room more open with a character out of focus leaning on a counter. There is a refrigerator in the background room, indicating it is the kitchen. Though the main focus is a young boy walking towards the door. He looks young enough to be living in his parent’s apartment, though old enough to answer the door. Most likely in his young teens. As he gets closer, he starts to squint and looks forward with one eye, emulating that he is looking through the peephole the audience sees. This is whoever was ringing the doorbell in the last scene.
The viewer is now back to the standard full-screen camera picture. We see the boy from the last shot, inside the apartment In a medium close-up, he is looking down at something in his arms that is out of view. We can see that he is opening a cardboard box, with the top coming off vertically. He has a slight smile on his face, as if he is anticipating something great to come from the box. Behind him we see the apartment door, meaning he has not moved far from where he was.
Almost instantly in the same scene, we see his smile fall to a frown of frustration. As he opens the box something disappointed him, and the camera begins to pan down to reveal what he was holding.
The camera pans down and sits on the box, which is revealed to be a pizza box. The boy was excited to eat it as many are, though this pizza is somewhat destroyed. Instead of the circular pie he expected, half of it is folded on itself. The plastic middle stand “table” stand meant to keep the pizza in place, is out of place, flipped up, and is in no way doing its job. We now see the first “disaster” of the commercial.
We once again see the disappointed face of the boy, now in a close-up. His eyes shoot up from the pizza into the distance offscreen. It’s almost as if he is looking for help, someone to address the destruction of his pizza and save it. Almost unnoticeable fast before the scene cuts, his face changes once again. He looks even more frustrated, his eyebrows push together and his mouth shuts.
The camera then cuts to a two-shot of a man and a woman. These are far older than the boy, most likely his parents as they are in the apartment with him. The kitchen layout they are in that matches the one of the apartments the boy was in adds to this situation. We can also see a painting and a lamp in the corner, leading directly into what is most likely a living space area. Though they are not interacting or noticing the boy here, they are dancing. This seems to be totally separate from the boy’s situation, which most likely is occurring in another room. On the kitchen table is an iPhone, being held up by a stand with a round light on it. The couple looked directly into it, using it to film some kind of dance video of themselves. This is most likely for social media as their moves are casual and silly, they wave their arms and move side to side out of time with each other and while laughing and smiling.
The camera cuts to a medium closeup of just the woman, still dancing with a smile on her face. We can also still see the man next to her, dancing as well, for a few frames. Her smile then fades, and she slows her dance moves as she looks at the man. Her eyes are clearly focused to her left where the man is, even though we do not see him in the frame at this time. She doesn’t look angry but says something to the man with some slight sort of malice. Something is not right with him or what he’s doing, and all we know is that he’s dancing. Perhaps he isn’t doing it correctly. We can only infer this as the next shot cuts to a new scene.
Here the viewer is brought to a brand new area. In a medium shot we can see a young woman, perhaps another child of the couple based on her age, looking into a mirror on the wall. She is putting on bright red lipstick. The wall the mirror is attached to is lined with small blue tiles with white lines in between, meaning it is most likely a bathroom. In the middle of this process, her eyes look to the left of the screen and she pauses, almost as if she is hearing the commotion in the other rooms, then she returns to finish her makeup.
While in that same shot from the previous second, all the lights suddenly go off. This quick action without the center character hitting any switch leads us to believe it was not on purpose, more like the power in the room shut off. Obviously, this is a disaster that she did not anticipate, as putting on makeup would be extremely hard to do in the dark.
The camera now focuses on a medium travel-size bag being thrown and opened on a table. This is occurring in the dark, telling us that this power outage happened in the entire apartment. Though the scene is slightly lit to tell what is happening, this could be inferred to be from outside or natural lighting coming into the house. The hands unzipping the bag is what looks to be a wedding ring, most likely belonging to one of the parents. With that, this is most likely happening back in the kitchen.
We now see the bag from another angle, and someone else’s hand, smaller and lighter skinned, reaches into it. The bag seems to have some equipment in it including gray cylinders resembling water bottles They hand skip over these and grab a red cylinder. The camera quickly pans up and we can see this hand belongs to the girl from the bathroom.
Once the camera reaches her face, which can be slightly made out in the still-dark apartment, a bright yellow light appears on her face. It is coming from off-screen, but the low angle can make us assume that the red object she grabbed was a flashlight. Now seeing her clearly, we see this is the woman from the bathroom, with the red lipstick mow smudged on her face. Most likely a result of the lights turning off in the middle of her makeup routine. She points to the blemish, with a very irked expression, and says something to whoever is off-camera in front of her.
We then see the face the girl was expressing her anger to, the woman from the kitchen dance scene. She gives a somewhat motherly emphatic look with a soft smile to the girl, then the camera cuts.
We see the bag again on the table, with hands grabbing into it and sorting the items on the side. They include money, water bottles, and cans. It is most likely a disaster kit. Words come across the screen saying “You can’t be ready for every little disaster. But you can prepare for a big one.”
We then are taken to a plain white background with graphics and words. On the bottom is an emergency kit: A backpack with water, a hand radio, food, and other supplies. Next to it we see two small logos, one for the Ad Council, and another for NYC emergency management. Above these is a text meant to be the center of attention. It reads “Make emergency plans today at NYC.gov/readyny or call 311.”
With this information, we can now see how all the events played a role in the message of the commercial. The boy’s disaster was his pizza arriving destroyed. The parents’ disaster was the husband’s dance moves not being good enough. And the daughter’s lipstick was smudged. None of these small disasters were prevented, but there was one that was prepared for. This was the power outage, something obviously much more important than these small ones. The family was quickly ready with their disaster bag. That is exactly what the commercial wants to convey, you don’t have to worry about every small occurrence, but you should be prepared for the big ones. In this case, something like a natural disaster.
I would like to know if I explained how the visuals added to the overall message enough. I tried to put it together at the end, but should I be doing this for each timestamp? Also, it would be helpful to know where I lacked detail in any part while describing it.
On a first quick scan, in an effort to decide whether your observations “add to the overall message,” I was struck by this note:
I’m not yet familiar with the video, but I wonder what VISUAL caused you to conclude that the lights went out “not as if it was on purpose.” Does that conclusion follow from a series of visual cues, or is it THE LACK OF any cause that makes us conclude the failure can only have been general, not just somebody killing the lights in the room?
I’ll look at the first second now and see if our impressions match.
We don’t know yet that the ringing of the bell is not consequential, Manipulator. Clearly a male hand, based on the size of the fingers and the hairiness of the arm. No cuff or sleeve in sight, so, a short-sleeved or conceivably naked arm. The bell is of the type that makes a mechanical ding-dong sound, mounted in the middle of a door, not alongside it near the frame, usually combined with a peephole, almost always used in apartment buildings. So a casually-dressed man, most likely standing in a hallway, is deliberately ringing the bell to an apartment. If this were a commercial advertisement for, say, a pizza company that delivers, we would already have seen the corporate colors in the clothing of the delivery guy, so this is probably not a commercial. The index finger presses and releases the bell button. We conclude the doorbell has rung inside the apartment.
Very nicely described.
Good. Our impression that this was an apartment is confirmed immediately by the narrow entrance that includes a circuit breaker panel painted to match the wall. The view of the kitchen beyond indicates a modern dwelling with overhead eyeball lights in the kitchen, the edge of a stainless steel refrigerator, and likely a food-prep island behind which stands an adult male, judging from his silhouette. An entry table with a mail sorter and lamp stands below a bulletin board: so, a well-organized household. The child is young, but old enough to trust to receive a delivery if he can confirm who’s at the door. His very curly hair and skin tone suggest he’s mixed race, Hispanic or black. He moves in really close and takes a good look, taking the ID job seriously.
Do the differences between our observations help answer the question, Manipulator?
Provisionally graded. Always eligible for Revisions and a Regrade.
I didn’t know you had revised this, Manipulator. (You should have dropped it back into Feedback Please and asked for a Regrade.)