Posted by: mallory527 | March 30, 2009

Commercial Review

I’ve always liked the E*Trade baby, every since his first appearance in the Superbowl commercial line up. For this blog entry I’ve chosen one of E*Trade’s more recent commercials where the baby is arguing with a ‘friend’ about a golf game. The first thing I noticed about this commercial is that it is using multi-layer action. As we have seen in Setting Up Your Shots, multi-layer action occurs when the audience watches two different scenes, one scene that is occurring in the background and one in the foreground (pg. 25). For this commercial, in the background we see ‘Frank’ standing, putting away his golf clubs and virtually ignoring the baby, while the E*Trade baby in the foreground has a conversation with us, his audience about his not so great game of golf with Frank. It seems at points in the commercial the two characters are in completely different worlds, each doing their own thing, which is why I think this composition technique is being used. However, this technique could be interchangeable with the technique of split focus. As seen in Setting Up Your Shots, split focus is used when a scene is split in half by use of a diopeter; this makes it possible to focus on something in the foreground and background simultaneously (pg. 127). This could instead be the technique being used in this commercial because the two characters are split between foreground and background, but they are both in clear focus for the viewer. The second thing I noticed in this commercial is that the characters barely make eye contact with each other even though there is a conversation going on between them. We never see the E*Trade baby turn completely around to talk to Frank, we only see him make side glances at him or completely ignore him so that he can pay attention to the audience instead. Even though the two are arguing about the golf game for some portion of the commercial they almost never lock eyes. This technique is known as “tension away,” because the actors are taking part in a conversation without looking at one another (Setting Up Your Shots pg. 65). Finally, when it comes to the focus used in the commercial it could be said that the camera is using a medium close up on the baby or a medium shot to include Frank in the background. We obviously see the baby more vividly than Frank, simply because he is closer to our eyes. A zoom technique is used at the end of the commercial when the focus switches from the two characters to the E*Trade emblem. The company name is zoomed in on after being one in a sea of other logos. The company logo is then subjected to an extreme close up so that the customer can remember what company’s name corresponded to the commercial. This commercial works because it is funny, it is easy on the eyes, and it is very memorable. The artistic and cinematic elements are not all that complex but the message is received through the characters and the company name is remembered. There isn’t really anything I would change about the commercial except maybe brighten the background a bit. What is creative about this commercial is that the baby’s face is illuminated by the glow of the computer screen which really makes the audience believe he’s buying or has bought stock online before. I personally really liked this commercial and thought it was a good example of the techniques mentioned above.


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