The weird populism of Nextel's new ads.

Advertising deconstructed.
April 14 2009 1:50 PM

Walkie-Talkie Populism

The Nextel ads that show what life would be like if steelworkers ran the DMV.

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And, really, regardless of what side of the current political debate you fall on, one thing you probably don't think is that it's a good time for Americans and their elected representatives to spend less time thinking about the details of governing. The lesson for advertisers is simple: If your ad identifies a problem, make it one that's banal, broad, and portrayed in a sufficiently exaggerated manner that everyone can agree on it. (Lampooning the government without propagating any particular worldview isn't impossible—NBC just launched an entire show, Parks and Recreation, dedicated to that proposition.) And as long as mankind exists, the vein of universally aggravating institutions shouldn't run dry: If Goodby, Silverstein doesn't have a fifth installment in the works about a team of EMTs that takes over a tech-support hotline, I'd be happy to write it for them.

Grade: B (for the truancy spot). Well-executed and charming, although I would like to see a sequel in which the kids wise up with their own walkie-talkie-coordinated escape and then spend an awesome skip day drinking Mountain Dew and doing whatever it is kids do these days—Twittering naked pictures of themselves onto the Xbox chat room and what have you.

Ben Mathis-Lilley is editor of the Slatest.