We have been watching a lot of soccer at the clypd NYC office, between the ESPN networks’ broadcasts of Euro 2016 and the FOX networks’ Copa America Centenario games.
Soccer games have a light commercial load, with breaks limited to pregame, halftime, and the postgame. There are fewer spots, and they stand out. One of them has not only stood out, but stuck with me.
I found myself singing the “St. Elmo’s Fire” theme song as I left to get lunch. Then, it was in my head as I walked into a meeting. The song is catchy. I loved it when it was new and I love it today. But I have not seen the movie in several years. Why is the song stuck in my head?
The song, “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” was recorded in 1985 by John Parr for Canadian paralympian athlete Rick Hansen. The same year, it was used as the theme for the movie “St. Elmo’s Fire.” The movie, featuring notables Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, and Ally Sheedy did poorly at the box office, bringing in just $36 million. But the theme song was a big hit, topping the US Billboard charts for two weeks and receiving a Grammy nomination.
As is the case with so many movies from the 1980s, the cultural relevance of “St. Elmo’s Fire” lives on. Thanks to a robust re-air schedule on basic cable, the movie’s then-young and cutting-edge Brat Pack stars, can be seen wrestling with adulthood in a timeless state. Parr’s song and the movie’s themes of friendship amid uncertainty continues to resonate with an audience that may not have been old enough to see the movie when it came out in 1985.
Most recently, and during a Euro 2016 game, the song popped up in a spot for Android. Ironically, given the movie’s lackluster box office results, the spot first premiered during the Oscars on ABC in February.
In the animated spot, Rock, Paper, and Scissors are new at school, and bullying abounds. Papers shoot spitballs at other papers, rocks bully rocks. Peace comes when a brave Scissors crosses a hallway to befriend and defend a paper. The spot is simple, but the message is multi-layered, and could be a PSA if not for the Android logo at the end. Especially with the closing tag line “Be Together. Not the Same.”
Throughout the spot – there are :15, :30, and :60 versions – there are no cell phones present, nor are there mentions of any. The spot consists of Rocks, Papers and Scissors characters at school and on residential streets, and the “Man in Motion” song plays throughout.
The song was John Parr’s only chart topper. Thirty-one years later, he remains a passionate fan of the song. He is active on Twitter, retweeting those who share nostalgia for his song, compliments the Android ad, and acknowledges those who say they are buying an Android as a result the song in the ad.