n oversize version of the above advertisement hangs in a downtown watch shop I walk past on my way to work most days. I will admit that, at first, the advertisement worked its unsubtle non-charm on me: just as the campaign’s creators certainly intended, I thought immediately of how completely the American advertising industry has embraced the power of Big Brother, and how much I appreciated not even being able to get off the bus on my way to my dumb, number-crunching job without being called out by some guy I couldn’t place and therefore assumed was maybe a famous racecar driver or soccer player.
As many of you no doubt already know, the gentleman works neither behind the wheel nor upon the green pitches of Europe’s finest stadia. (Since this is a literary website, I heighten my prose.) The small type in the advertisement reveals that this is Chris Hemsworth, and cursory internet research tells me Mr. Hemsworth is mostly known for playing Thor in a series of comic book movies produced by a computer and directed by a green screen.
So a Swiss watchmaker and an Australian actor who plays a comic book character have gotten together to question my masculinity. Before I understood what was going on, I was going to deride Tag Heuer for the crass stupidity of unrolling an ad campaign that operates in the tone of a frustrated P.E. teacher one may have encountered in perhaps 1979. Now that I’ve given this masterpiece the consideration it deserves, however, I understand the deeper message.
This is a cry for help. Watchmakers have, for too many centuries now, been considered wan fuddy-duddies using specialized tweezers to make minute mechanical corrections to their precious minature gears. And actors in comic book movies spend too much of their time being forced—forced, I tell you!—to dress in leotards covered in ping pong balls and then prance about in empty warehouses with lime-colored walls while being videotaped. How can I, a man who enjoys the comparatively untroubled freedom of being able to awaken each morning, travel to a meaningless job, and return home in the evening to sarcastic dismissal by my children, even pretend to know the pain felt by the world’s courageous watchmakers and comic book actors?
I had planned on giving the above advertisement a grade of F, but I stand chastened. The first step toward getting better is asking for help. Through their transparently desperate psychological projection, Tag Heuer and Chris Hemsworth have shared their insecurities with us all, and I, for one, find it brave. I give this pseudo-Orwellian advertisement that nonsensically positions a Swiss watchmaker to simultaneously claim to be “Avant-Garde Since 1860” while also demanding we #DontCrackUnderPressure the grade it deserves: A+.
Pete Tothero is a staff writer interested in the myriad ways contemporary American society attempts to make individuals feel isolated and unloved unless they do what they are told.