Ad of the Day: Dow

A human train glides silently through cities, a metaphor for the company's work to make railways quieter

Dow is all about putting a human face on its technical solutions to some of the world's problems. The company's latest spot, from Draftfcb Chicago, certainly has humanity to spare—it's clinging blissfully to the exterior of a moving train.

The point is: Dow, among its many endeavors (gluten-free bread, green rooftops, stronger turbines, etc.), is helping to make railways quieter. Thus, the train in the new spot is seen gliding silently through city and countryside, with its human cargo "Shhhh!"-ing bystanders along the way.

As a metaphor, it doesn't really make that much sense (ordinary people are the beneficiaries of this technology, not the deliverers of it)—but it's such an eye-popping visual (kudos to The Mill) that the commercial quickly wins you over. Adding to the whimsical, almost fairy-tale-like vibe is the soundtrack—the Ink Spots' great 1940 recording of "Whispering Grass," a song with lyrics that fit just right and a quirky, nostalgic tone that further positions Dow as your friend, not just a chemical corporate monolith.

This campaign got moving in the right direction immediately, with the giant outdoor chalkboard puzzle last fall in New York City. (It featured the world's longest human equation, written over five days—the solution was 7 billion, Earth's current population.) The new print work is also beautifully crafted and intricately detailed. The tagline, "Solutionism. The new optimism," might trip you up—it seems a little weird and jargony for messaging that's supposed to embody humanity. (The previous line was, "The human element.") But you can see where they're going with it. They want to emphasize solutions—but that's an overused, jargony word in itself. So, they turned it on its head a little—the new line isn't jargon so much as a light parody of jargon. Speaking of solutions, for Dow, the line is actually a somewhat elegant one.

As for the train spot, it goes without saying: Do not try this at home.

Client: Dow Chemical
Agency: Draftfcb, Chicago
Chief Creative Officer: Todd Tilford
Group Creative Director, Copywriter: Jon Flannery
Group Creative Director, Art Director: Doug Behm
Creative Director, Copywriter: Ron D'Innocenzo
Copywriter: Terin Izil
Art Director: Derek Julin
Executive Producer: Ivo Knezevic
Senior Business Manager: Lisa Stevens
Group Management Director: John Rossmiller
Account Director: Hollie Platte

Executive Producer: Emma Wilcockson
Director: Nicolai Fuglsig
Producer: Suza Horvat
Director of Photography: Dion Beebe

EFX: The Mill, New York
Executive Producer: Verity Grantham
EFX Supervisors: Angus Kneadle, Corey Brown
Producer: Carl Walters

Editorial: Final Cut, New York
Editor: Rick Russell
President: Stephanie Apt
Senior Producer: Viet-An Nguyen

Audio: Sound Lounge
Engineer, Sound Design: Tom Jucarone