Straight out of Aristotle

Img_0082 Metro North is not the same as True North, or even Magnetic North. Metro North veers quite distinctly to the east and it is marked by a railroad track that runs from NYC to New Haven and beyond.

There are stations and the stations have ads and that ads are, well, a little amateurish and darn good fun for this anthropologist and all the other marketing types who use this track to get to and from Madison Ave. Indeed, Metro North is to marketing what Australia is to evolution: the place were weird stuff happens…and that’s ok. 

Take the ad I have photographed here.  Accountant as super hero.  Really?  I mean, really?  If there is a creature in the universe less like a super hero, it’s an accountant.  Or so the stereotypes tell us.  Totally unfair, of course. And for all we know some accountants live lives of real adventure. Enron accountants, do you think?

So it’s wrong to generalize this way, but it is also probably wrong to advertise…this way.  Part of the problem is that this ad is trying too hard. A good ad is an act of metaphor. It transfer meaning from a world we know to a world we don’t.  In this case, it invites us to transfer what we know about superheroes to what we know about accountants.  (This is straight out of Aristotle.)  But some acts of transfer are more possible than others.

But perhaps I am missing the "premise."  In the strange world that is Metro North, a new physics may apply.  In this world, superheros are just little less heroic.  Accountants a lot more grand. And the two are close enough, transfer is possible. 

I am on the West coast and running out of time.  So this investigation of the cultural properties of alternate realities are going to have to wait for another occasion.

4 thoughts on “Straight out of Aristotle

  1. Don McGregor


    Up here in the land that Grant forsook, the Accountants have been on a similar ad campaign. In one tv spot, a member of the dullest profession (a cut below practitioners of the dull science) in full regalia — blue suit, white shirt and tie, shiny black shoes — plays shortstop, makes a backhand stab of a hard ground ball, leaps in the air, spins and throws a perfect strike to the plate to nail the sliding runner. A bit of a stretch you might say, effrontery even. But do you think the profession, hitherto the quintessence of ennui, is on an international campaign to confound the conventional wisdom by portraying themselves in a daring, indeed glamorous light? This makes the garbagemen’s attempt to reposition themselves as “sanitation engineers” look like underweening self-deprecation. Amazin’.

    Enjoy the northwest. If you wander south, stop at the coastal town in Oregon with the great name, “Yachats” (pronounced by the locals “Yah-hots”). The Overleaf Lodge (Inn, maybe) is a great spot where you can sit in your ensuite hot tub overlooking the ocean while sipping Oregon white (not bad) wine. Have fun. You might even see some blue-suited accountants hanging ten or para-gliding over the Pacific…

    Don McGregor

  2. kevrob

    I can remember at least one accountant/superhero: The X-Men’s Bobby “The Iceman” Drake. The Ticks’s sidekick, Arthur, is also an accountant.

    BTW, Metro North has lines that serve areas of New York State and New Jersey, north of Manhattan.

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