Michael Geoghegan commented recently on how distasteful it is when older films are used to shill new products.This referring to the Pepsi ad using scenes from Spartacus intertwined with some modern scenes featuring the "sugar water".
Certainly nobody agrees with him more than my wife, Fred Astaire fan extraordinaire, when she first saw him dancing with a vacuum cleaner (Dirt Devil) back in the 1997 Super bowl ad melee.
I’m of two minds on this topic. On the one hand it seems rather callous to take something that isvirtually an icon in our society and to seemingly trivialize it to try to gain a few more points of market share. But on the other hand, done well, these ads can be quite entertaining. Much in the same way as a satire or parody.
I think the folks who are most offended by these ads are those who are closest to the original icon. My wife loves all things Fred Astaire and woe be the person who speaks unkindly of him in her presence. Similarly, Michael is obviously passionate about the movie "Spartacus" (indeed passionate about anything well-done in the cinema sphere) so I can see see where he’d find it almost offensive to (mis)use the work in this way.
I have to say that, while I did find the Dirt-Devil ad to be somewhat cheesy and non-impressive, I rather enjoyed the "Spartacus" commercial. Having never seen the movie "Spartacus" before I don’t attach as much significance to it as I do to Mr. Astaire and his dancing abilities.
I am familiar with the Spartacus story, however. And I must say that that brief scene in the Pepsi ad piqued my interest. I’ve decided, based on the strength of the ad alone, to go give the move a look-see. Also, I wonder how many kids out there may be similarly inspired to seek out this icon of a bygone (for them) era. Michael is not old by my standards – I have over 3 years on him – and this movie predates even me. But the teens and twenty somethings of today have likely never even heard of that film much less seen more of it than they were exposed to in the ad.
BTW, I have been listening to Michael’s podcast "Reel Reviews". If you like films and want to listen to a well-crafted and thoughtfully executed commentary on both old and new films I urge you to check it out from his website.