This Sunday, through a pungent cloud of wing sauce and barbecue and guaranteed body odor, bombastic, hyper-sexualized and seemingly arbitrary ads running throughout the Super Bowl will certainly garner a ton of attention. Sometimes the commercials are even more entertaining than the big game itself, and with this year’s matchup that’ll probably be the case again; I think everyone saw that Cam Newton was going to dab his way to the championship bout. The marketing porn streaming from dawn to dusk may seem like overload after a while, but poking its head between the broad-shouldered, multi-million dollar, celebrity-clad, and boob-filled commercials is a gentle light.
A touching and very Houston ad from KHOU’s Stands For Houston campaign, which has produced previous spots featuring Lyle Lovett and Yolanda Adams, will hit airwaves about a half hour before kickoff. The 30-second post is uber-Houstonian with visuals of businesspeople waiting for the light rail with the downtown skyline gleaming in the background; kids running through sprinklers; welders working hard; an ethnically diverse family playing together; a farming couple standing in their field; murals. Visually, yes, it’s pure Houston—diverse, forward thinking, hardworking, and a nod to the past and future. But the real get is the ad’s use of spoken word from Houston poet Sharon Young aka Rain The Poet. I’m not from Houston and even I was a little verklempt.
“That is great to hear… That’s what I was looking for in creating a campaign that we have a shared pride of place and pride of our city,” says KHOU’s creative and marketing director Dale Lockett, the man behind putting the campaign together. “I’m always looking for the ‘What’s Next’ aspect in people and creating an emotional connection with the audience.”
The ad succeeds in doing just that. In my very humble and I’m-not-from-Houston-I-prefer-dry-weather opinion, the ad is short enough to make you put down your chicken wing and long enough to strike a chord with a little hometown pride, whether you’re originally from here or a Newstonian.
“We’ve done music and it definitely has the ability to move people and create that connection, but I felt poetry had that same power and wanted to give it a shot.” And that poetry from and spoken by Young, picked by Lockett and poet Savannah Blue among 12 submissions from national writers, is raw and powerful, unflinching and sharp.
“This is a city about hardworking people who—even through whatever ups and down come our way—are going to continue to do the right thing,” adds Lockett. “We’re setting the bar and stage for the rest of the country.”