When great art is used in pop culture (including ads), it’s typically there as a target of irreverent wit. The trouble with this approach is that overuse has made irreverent wit one of the bores of our time. While Royal Caribbean places itself in a humorous relationship to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, it’s anything but blasé about the masterpiece. Indeed, having shunned the irreverent-wit approach, the ad instead treats us to some reverent wit. The brief text is headed by the injunction, “Be amazed.” It continues: “Seeing it in pictures is one thing. See it in person, and there’s a recovery process involved.” Thus, the ad manages in anon-gratuitous way to link the artwork to one of Royal Caribbean’s amenities: the neck massage you’ll need after staring up at it. The ad is anything but stuffy. But it’s also respectful of things that merit respect, including our capacity for appreciating something wonderful when we see it. That’s a smart (and subtly flattering) tone to adopt when you’re urging someone to travel to the ends of the earth.
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