A commercial’s job is to catch the attention on the audience, to be memorable, and to convince the audience that their product is the best. The commercial will touch most people watching by tugging at the audience’s heartstrings. It makes them feel guilty because they don’t appreciate their mother enough. Most don’t, so, the message of the ad hits close to home and makes it memorable. The largest chunk of the commercial is the build up to the plot twist. That the job position is one held by billions of women around the world.
By using basic strategies to create and emphasize on tension, the commercial gives the audience a more satisfying reveal at the climax/plot twist. In a paper titled, “Toward a general psychological model of tension and suspense,” by Moritz Lehne and Stefan Koelsch, they discuss six key components of “tension experience” (Paragraph 1). The elements that create tension, are like those needed to create the confusion that leads to an effective plot twist. Today, I want to examine one of them, beginning with “Conflict, Dissonance, and Instability”.
In their paper, Lehne ad Koelsch write, “Tension experiences usually originate from events associated with conflict, dissonance, or instability which create a yearning for more stable, or consonant states,” (Paragraph 15). Conflict is the most basic and integral part of storytelling, but the use of the word “instability” points to an important aspect of what makes it harder for the audience to click away from the video. The commercial starts with a brief frame of a grey screen with the white text, “We created a fake job.” From the first second, the commercial gives the audience an incentive to watch. It sets up the rest of the video provides as click-bait for the viewers to stay. Then, there is a cut to man in a suit. He aeginsan interview over an online video chat with some of those applying for a job position.
He asks a few questions to make the interviewees more comfortable and starts to tell them more about the job. So far, not enough has happened and the interview seems to be very standard. This normality is the stability that is broken when the man interviewing starts to list off the extensive amount of requirements needed for the position. Again, quoting the paper, such a disruption “creates tension and suspense experiences in the audience that persist until the conflict is resolved and replaced by a more stable state,” (Paragraph 15).
The first responses from the interviewees pushes us toward the confusion that will last until the conflict is resolved and a new stability is found. This response also incites another element of suspense/confusion: lack of control. This element is self-explanatory. It simply states that our inability to influence the course of events can lead to an experience of suspense/confusion. Once the requirements start sounding inhumane to the interviewees, like having no breaks/vacations, working 134+ hours a week, having to constantly be on your feet, constantly exerting yourself, giving up your life, etc.
the interviewees are thoroughly off put by the job and it’s unreasonably high standards and expectations. They describe them as “cruel,” (Cardstore, 2014, 2:05) and “inhumane,”(Cardstore, 2014, 2:20). The interviewer put a crack in the ice and tells the applicants the salary of the position; absolutely nothing. The he completely breaks it by telling them that “billions of people,” (Cardstore, 2014, 2:50) hold the position and that the ones doing it are mom’s.
The trail of breadcrumbs finally makes sense. This changes the candidates’ and the audiences’ truth that the position is impossible and insane to the fact that billions meet the expectations set in place by billions everyday. A heartfelt reminder about appreciating what you have and what has been given to you before it is gone that deeply seeds itself in the audience.