“Eat both squares, please.”
Those four words encompass Kierkegaard and Kafka and Camus.
In those four words is concentrated an almost otherworldly existential power that is rarely seen in hundreds of thousands of mundane marketing messages broadcast every day.
They communicate the ultimate absurdity of the human condition and self-mock with relish our own marketing-based consumer lifestyle.
Do I wax too wildly over a mere commercial message, albeit one that digs such a deep philosophical foundation whose established lineage stretches to the 19th Century?
Yes, I probably do. After all, it’s just a line from a televised candy commercial.
Yes, candy. But what a line!
“Eat both squares, please.”
Pop Culture Immortality
It’s a line destined to go down in short-lived pop-cult history alongside “Who put the Goat in there?” [See, you already missed that one, didn’t you? Google it]
You can earn lots of money on t-shirts with “Eat both squares, please” before this narrow window of opportunity slams shut.
Actually, it’s already slammed-to, but a tiny group of Kafka aficionados might appreciate it.
Why is the line funny?
Because of the subtlety it conveys. The commercial message is . . . taste. And shades of darkly humorous and powerful meaning are shoehorned into those four words.
It’s a Kafka Presentation.
Kafka? Who? Google for explanation.
It is an incredible feat of advertising acumen.
An instant classic.
It may not rate as highly in the pantheon of ad lore as the more mainstream and iconic phrase “Where’s the Beef?” but it has a far more deeply existential quality to it, a surreal aspect that taps into our imagination and allows us to play out the dark meaning of those innocent words.
For it is in the innocence of the words themselves that we find their ironic power.
I can think of only one other example that has similar power, but it’s far darker; it comes from the novel Hannibal: “The skin graft didn’t take.”
Deliver a Kafka Presentation
All of which leads us to the the central question – What’s the source of creativity? How can we tap our own creativity to construct powerful messages that communicate with humor the points we wish to make?
How can we burn our messages into the receptors of our listeners? How can creativity ignite our own business presentations, our business shows? To deliver a Kafka Presentation?
[WARNING: Not everyone likes a disturbing Kafkaesque experience]
So what makes an especially powerful commercial?
Advertising agencies and marketers have the bulk of the fun in business, or so it seems. Oftentimes, their efforts are quashed out of corporate fears of giving offense or going too over-the-top.
But every once in a while . . .
This commercial surely substantiates the fun thesis as we can imagine the devious amusement these folks had assembling this subversive masterpiece. The commercial hangs together superbly in creating a mind-burning moment for the product – Snickers.
What’s that? You still don’t understand “Eat both squares, please?”
You will in a moment.
Shades of Gary Larsen and his cartoon masterpieces The Far Side!
The Far Side Reaches Televison!
I include this ad in Business School Presenting to illustrate what great creativity can produce when unleashed from the straitjacket we usually find in Business School.
Eat Both Squares Please debuted several years ago, and it quickly passed into advertising history, remembered by some . . . revered by a few.
In no way do I analyze exactly why this commercial is incredibly funny, except to note that it combines anthropomorphism with a modern focus group scenario.
It’s a Kafka Presentation, and it’s played straight, not for laughs. And the kicker is that Kafka is known primarily for the opposite of anthropomorphism – his work Metamorphosis.
It’s a Gary Larson cartoon come to life . . .
In other words, the focus group scenario is exactly what you find in such a venue and activity. The Kafkaesque addition of sharks gives it a kind of restrained absurdity.
The combination yields 31 seconds of brilliance. And like most brilliant humor, it’s bound to offend someone, somewhere, somehow.
Integrating humor into your presentation can be difficult, but this is one way to do it. Certainly we cannot hit a home-run like this commercial with our own efforts every time, but if humor is a goal, this Snickers formula can work – blending the mundane with the bizarre to produce a pastiche of power that drills a concept into the audience’s collective mind.
Not only is unbridled imagination a source for especially powerful presentations, but its regular engagement offers you sustainable personal competitive advantage. Give it a shot.
For more info on delivering the Kafka Presentation, see The Complete Guide to Business School Presentations.