Ronald J. Huereca
Birds are chirping in the background as the view of the yellow two-story house comes into view. The lawn is neatly mowed, the trees are well pruned, and the bushes are edged to perfection. The sun is shining brightly reflecting the positive energy the house has to offer. The peaceful scenario is interrupted by a loud sound coming from within the house.
A boy with dirty-blonde hair creeps through a hallway inside the house. The boy approaches the homemade ramp made of stacked books and a wooden board with great stride. With the remote in hand, he advances slowly and thrusts the joystick in the forward position as his remote control car speeds up the ramp. The car launches into the air with great force. His mother, who happens to walk by at the same exact moment the car is launched, narrowly avoids a mid-air collision with the aerial missile. “Every year Americans buy 20 million Walgreens’ batteries,” The announcer says.
The mother hesitantly walks upstairs and opens the first door she encounters. Clothes are piled upon the floor, books are strewn in all directions, clutter fills the dresser tops, and the bed isn’t made. As the mother contemplates this chaotic scenario, a blonde girl suddenly appears. Startled, the mother steps back. The girl pulls out a camera and takes the mother’s picture, which is accompanied by a bright flash. The girl smiles as she quickly ducks out of view. Blinded, the mother walks away from the room with the look of annoyance on her face. “And each year Americans pickup 6 million rolls of Walgreens’ film.”
After the mother leaves the girl’s room, the mother disappears from view. The same blonde boy is once again seen causing chaos throughout the house. With a spool full of dental floss, the boy intentionally runs down the stairs setting up trip wires wherever he goes. The boy runs past the kitchen, where the mother is seen on the phone. She looks up with an alert look on her face as she puts down the phone. “Americans also pick up 1-million spools of Walgreens’ dental floss…”
The scenario shifts into the bathroom as another boy is seen spraying shaving cream around the borders of the bathroom mirror. Soon, shaving cream covers the entire mirror. As the boy finishes his job, the mother walks into the bathroom and catches him red-handed. “…And go through 2 million Walgreens’ shaving products.”
The mother sets the boy aside and opens the medicine cabinet located behind the cream covered mirror. She pulls out some medicine as the announcer says, “Maybe that’s why Walgreens’ aspirin is so popular.” As the announcer finishes, a loud sound of glass breaking is heard from another location inside the house. The mother, with medicine in hand, turns her head swiftly with dread in her face.
The commercial transitions to a black screen with the cursive writing of Walgreens. Underneath the Walgreens’ logo is the quote “The Brand America trusts.”
Throughout the commercial I noticed three psychological needs that may have influenced average viewers. The first is the need for escape, the second is the need for nurturing, and the third is the need for affiliation.
The first need of the commercial, escape, can be witnessed numerous times throughout the commercial. The mother is the character the viewer feels sympathy for as she encounters obstacles and surprises. Although the commercial never reveals if the younger characters are her children, the average viewer would assume so. The first scene of the commercial shows the mother narrowly missing a collision with a flying remote control car thanks to her blonde son. Although a near collision with a remote control car isn’t nearly enough to provoke the need to escape, the incident builds up enough tension for the scenes that follow. The next scene reveals the mother going into her blonde daughter’s extremely messy room. The mother observes the scenario, but is rudely interrupted by her daughter. The daughter abruptly jumps into view and snaps the mother’s picture. The mother now has the look of annoyance on her face. The two disappear from view as the scene changes to the same blonde boy charging down the stairs with a spool of dental floss unwinding all around him. The mother, who is now busy on the phone in the kitchen, witnesses her son’s actions as he skips by. The mother now looks even more annoyed. The need for escape is now concrete in the viewers mind, however the next scene adds reinforcement. The mother’s second son is found in the bathroom spraying shaving cream all over the bathroom mirror. The mother, with a tired look on her face, opens the mirror to reveal a medicine cabinet. She reaches into the medicine cabinet and pulls out some aspirin. The mother getting the aspirin after all of the events sums up the need to escape, stating that Walgreen’s aspirin can help escape the headaches of daily household encounters. The need for the aspirin doesn’t just limit the sale of aspirin in the commercial. The commercial is preaching the message that any of Walgreens’ drug products can be used to make you feel better. The commercial basically states that if you chose Walgreens’ drug products, you can escape all of this chaos.
The second need that the commercial has is nurturing. Even after the mother barely misses a remote control car missile from her son, the mother is still smiling and patient. The mother then goes through three more horrendous obstacles involving being blinded by a camera flash, having dental floss all over the house, and shaving cream all over the bathroom mirror. However, with all of this chaos and destruction of her living quarters, the mother is still patient. The mother never yells or gets upset at her children. The only facial expression visible from the mother is the expression of annoyance and dread. The kids in the commercial are adorable, which every viewer can relate to. The boy with blonde hair seems to be smiling while he launches cars off ramps and parades through the house with a spool of dental floss. The blonde girl is shown with a beautiful smile, smooth cheeks, and an ambient glow that seems to erase the annoyance she has caused her mother. The second boy, although caught red-handed with the shaving cream, has the look of innocence throughout his face. Even as the mother approaches the boy and grabs the aspirin, the boy’s face reveals a facial expression of, “I didn’t do it.” Although the children are adorable, the commercial subconsciously reveals a second basis for the need to nurture. The commercial tells the viewers that the more Walgreen’s products are used, the more interaction there will be throughout the household. I believe this because you constantly see the young boy tormenting his mother with his creations, but the mother is always around him. The mother even interacts with her blonde daughter, who abruptly takes her picture. Most families in America barely interact with each other, but Walgreens’ says that when their products are used, interaction between the families is inevitable.
The third and most noticeable quality is that of affiliation. All throughout the commercial, the announcer comes up and says that “America” is buying a lot of Walgreens’ products. Exact figures are used such as 20 million batteries, 6 million rolls of film, 2 million shaving products, and 1 million spools of dental floss. Why is the commercial preaching these figures? Are the figures useful to the average viewer? Although the figures aren’t relevant to everyday life, they are needed to prove to the viewer that Walgreen’s products are something special. The commercial is telling the figures so that the viewer has something to relate to. Most viewers know how much a million of something is. If the announcer said, “each year a lot of Walgreen’s products are sold”, the message wouldn’t have quite the same impact. Basically the message in the commercial is saying, “If everyone else is doing it, why aren’t you?” Another message that corresponds with affiliation is that if all these people are buying Walgreens’ products, then they must know something that you don’t. At the end of the commercial, the Walgreens’ logo appears in red with their logo, “The Brand America trusts.” The commercial is stating that people in America trust the Walgreens’ brand over the competitions, so you must trust them as well.
Aside from all the other commercials I’ve seen, the Walgreens’ commercial is more family oriented, yet reveals all the good things about its products. I believe that the advertisers know how people are thinking these days and can subconsciously gear their message towards each individual. The Walgreens’ commercial states how it’s brand is better than others, how it’s products can help you escape, and how more interaction can occur when the products are purchased. I generally think of Walgreen’s products as generic, yet after the commercial I felt that if all of these people are buying these products, then they must be as good as the non-generic products. Perhaps that was the true message after all, but the only way to find that out is to ask the people who wrote the commercial.