Duracell is making a strong play for the most American ad this Fourth of July by framing itself as the brand that helps keep members of the U.S. military connected to their young kids while deployed overseas.
A new spot from Anomaly features a dad in uniform who uses Duracell's batteries to power a teddy bear that records his voice. He sends the gift to his young daughter back home, where she finds comfort in repeating the message, even when she's frustrated that her father can't be there in person.
It's a powerful story about a difficult situation—generally well crafted with a couple of pointed twists and turns, if ultimately predictable in a satisfying kind of way. It's also reminiscent of what was arguably last year's best Independence Day commercial—Guinness's more understated paean to service.
Ads that aggressively capitalize on servicemen and women can verge on feeling exploitative. After all, Duracell's main purpose here is to sell more batteries. Still, the brand deserves credit for recognizing soldiers, and the sacrifices of their families, when it could just have easily spotlighted more trivial fare.
It helps that the ad is based in truth—Navy air traffic controller Robert Nilsson, his wife Denise and their daughters. It also helps that Duracell is donating $100,000 to the USO's Comfort Crew for Military Kids. (That sum isn't peanuts, but it's not eye-popping either. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is in the process of buying the battery company to the tune of $3 billion—but it's still owned by P&G.)
The ad also encourages viewers to donate with a tag voiced by Hilary Swank, the daughter of a retired Air Force senior master sergeant.
Regardless, it's a nice reminder that Duracell batteries are good for something more valuable than just sitting in the TV remote you don't use anymore because you watch everything online.