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The Shortest Distance Is A Straight Line


Screen shot 2014-02-18 at 6.55.04 AMWatching the Team USA win  bronze at the Winter Olympics in the Two-Man Bobsled event last night I couldn’t help but connect the sport to the soap box derby. Essentially they are the same. And the concept is elegantly simple…build a vehicle to take the rider down the course faster than the competition.

This brought to mind one of my favorite TV commercials. In 2003 Hummer played a spot called ‘The Big Race’ in support of their H2 model.

There are those that so hated Hummers, some reasons were legit – others were fabricated, so the ad never received the credit it deserved within the creative community.

The commercial is a story that starts with a hand-written childish scrawl over a picture of a local hill, “First one down wins.” The background music is The Who’s “Happy Jack.” One boy, Jack, gets busy in his garage, building your basic H2 Hummer. The day of the race, as everyone else is following the switch back course down the hill, the kid with the H2 just goes straight down off the beaten track, winning the race by a couple of lengths.

‘The Big Race’ resonates, with me at least, on a number of levels:

  • Competition is good…it inspires us to think, train, build differently in order to win. Because winning is more fun than losing
  • Ingenuity is good…Jack interprets the curvy course not as a route like the other kids, instead he reads the rules – ‘First one down wins’ and build a vehicle to do just that
  • A straight line is the shortest distance between two points…everyone’s heard that truism, but in today’s PC world we spend an inordinate amount of time avoiding being direct and laud correctness over directness

I can’t recall a single commercial spot I saw while watching the Olympics last night. It is ironic I remember one from 2003. Must be old age.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Juetta West permalink
    02/18/2014 10:28 am

    Not sure which I loved more—hearing Happy Jack or seeing the focused kid win!!!!

  2. 03/12/2014 2:44 am

    Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the challenges.
    It was really informative. Your website is very helpful.

    Thank you for sharing!

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