Have you heard about the brouhaha north of the border recently? Turns out Nissan Canada, the Japanese automaker, decided to tout the sound-masking properties of their new, exquisite luxury model the Infiniti.
The company hired the mandatorily attractive female model, placed her behind the Infiniti steering wheel, and her window rolled down. Nothing unusual so far. But the car sits on a sound stage, and surrounding the model inside her Infiniti is a youth orchestra playing their instruments. “However, the children seen in the video are in fact not playing, but miming along to a performance by an adult orchestra [off camera] who had purposely been playing the piece [Richard Strauss’ tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra] badly” (www.classicfm.com/music-news/videos/youth-orchestra-trolls-car-company/).
The viewer of the television ad naturally assumes the off-tune squeaking and squawking come from those ill-prepared children. Meanwhile, the model, with a look of displeasure over the poorly performed music, rolls her electric window up, banishing the noise, even as her driver’s side seat slowly and quietly reclines into a position of perfect peace. Nissan’s point is obvious—purchase our Inifiniti and you can wipe away the noise of everyday life in your own soundproof luxury.
Unfortunately for Nissan, that wasn’t the message many viewers heard. Instead, a hue and cry went up across our neighbor to the north: “Confused viewers, many of whom find the advert[isement] unnecessarily ‘mean’ . . . jumped immediately to the young musicians’ defense saying, 'I want to hug every one of those kids and encourage them any way possible.’ Another commented, “Ouch! It’s not the kids playing the music that’s intolerable, but the attitude of the adults that feel the need to insult beginner instrumentalists. How disappointing!” (ibid).
But in a masterful rejoinder, the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra won the hearts of the Internet and public opinion by recording their own ad, picturing the Orchestra’s CEO, Ken MacLeod, jumping out of his own luxury car (a BMW) and “opening a door to a concert hall, where the orchestra’s [youth] musicians are playing Strauss’ [same piece as in the commercial].” While the young musicians soar in their performance, MacLeod turns to the viewer: “‘Have you seen the new Nissan-Infiniti ad? Can you imagine? A big company like that couldn't find a youth orchestra to play the music. They should have called us. The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra.’” Pause. “‘In our experience, all kids have talent and can shine on any stage,’” (ibid). Touché! (Click on the link above and you can watch both advertisements and judge for yourself.)
Don’t underestimate our young! While it is a sad mistake to caricature any group of humans (irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity, et al), it is particularly ill-conceived to suggest the young are incapable of rising to the occasion and delivering a life (or live) performance worthy of our applause.
The biblical role models are legion—Joseph, Miriam, Moses, David, Namaan’s slave girl, Esther, Daniel, and his young friends, Jesus, to name a few. Add to that list all the young eighth-grader preachers that will stand before their evangelistic audience in a few days to preach in the upcoming The Tent event (beginning Friday evening, May 13). The young have been God’s modus operandi from the beginning: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
I carry these words taped in my Bible: “With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world! How soon might the end come—the end of suffering and sorrow and sin!” (Education 271).
The Pioneer church exists for these young on all three campuses. They are our mission. And we can do better than Nissan. Our spring worship theme—“Sign Me Up!”—calls us to volunteer our time, and our services, for the sake of training and mobilizing a new generation of disciples for Jesus. Just text “Signup5” to 269-281-2345 and let our Volunteer Engagement Committee you’re available to become Love on the Move for our young.
In a classic PR mea culpa a spokesperson for Nissan “said they had seen the orchestra’s response and thought it was ‘amazing’” (ibid). Those are our kids—amazing to the core—with an infinity in their future—with Jesus.