Thursday, September 8, 2011

Metro advertising - overanalyzed

When I see the words, "...your life depends on it" next to a photo of a vigilante serial killer, I take that threat seriously. As in, if I do not get my ass to the Reston Town Center for the Light the Night Walk, I will be chopped up into tiny pieces and disposed of discreetly. This is the visceral reaction I have when I see this billboard.

To be fair, it does say "Michael C. Hall" under his photo, and not "Dexter Morgan." The actor is a Cancer survivor after undergoing treatment for Hodgkins lymphoma, making him a perfectly appropriate and passionate spokesperson for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This information brings a new level of respect to the message, "Walk because someone's life does," when coming from the actor.

The problem is, if you conduct a man-on-the-street interview and ask people to identify the person in the picture, I'm guessing the majority will recognize him as either a serial killer or a mild-mannered funeral director. If you think that the general public is able to disassociate actors from their characters, talk to Entourage's Rex Lee. If he lives to be 100 years old, he will forever be greeted with shouts of "Lloyyyyyyyd!"

The advertisement is really quite brilliant. Between Michael C. Hall's personal life and his on-screen persona, the message can be deconstructed as:

WALK as if your life depends on it. Because if you don't, Dexter will find you and kill you.
WALK because someone's life does. No really though, Michael C. Hall is a Cancer survivor and this is a very serious disease. It's the right thing to do.

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