This McGraw-Hill Spot ‘Grows’ on You

NEW YORK Anyone who watches the commercials on Sunday morning’s public-affairs broadcasts has been trained to expect banal corporate advertising. It’s a bit startling, then, to see a corporate spot for the McGraw-Hill Cos. (via Cossette in New York) that’s not banal but weird. With anime-style visuals accompanied by a British-accented voiceover, it starts by showing cows grazing in a field. Looming over the cows is a tangle of what look like black-and-white pythons caught in mid-tryst. (Getting weird enough for you yet?) As the perspective shifts, though, we see that the black-and-white objects are actually links in a chain. Later in the spot, we see the chain spanning a busy cargo port. By the end, we’ve pulled back on the scene so much that we see the entire globe is in chains. And, as luck would have it, we get this view just in time to see the chains bursting. So, what is the voiceover talking about while all this is going on? Economics, of course. “In a world of opinion on global progress, there is one irrefutable truth: When markets open, economies expand, people prosper, and demand for transparency and knowledge—the very fuel that McGraw-Hill provides—grows.” You might be able to follow the twists of this complex sentence if you saw it in print. But it’s a sentence better suited to being read than to being heard, especially by viewers giving it less than their full attention (i.e., most viewers). Still, the very oddness of presentation will keep viewers from straying altogether, and they’ll take in the gist of the message summed up in the closing tagline: “Open markets. Open minds.”