Marching bands having a long and storied history being part of commercials. In fact, I myself participated in a commercial with my high school band. (Please leave all autograph requests in the comments section).
However, like most commercials, mine was was pretty bland; we marched around, pretended to play our instruments (our actual playing was dubbed in later), and spent most of the day realizing just how soul crushing a day on a commercial shoot could be.
The best marching band commercials, however, are the ones that show our ranks being mercilessly attacked and/or destroyed. I'm not sure why it works this way, but it just does. Maybe this makes me a traitor to my own kind (especially since I am currently a band director), but I can't help it; these clips pry their way into some sort of self deprecating party of my brain and causes uncontrollable laughter.
My first example is from a commercial for the game 'NFL Blitz.' It was quickly pulled due to complaints from the National Music Educators Association and a very image conscience NFL, but luckily it was captured in all it's glory by someone with an appreciation for greatness.
In the following clip, we see former Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart taking part in some throwing accuracy drills while a marching band plays in the background. Little do we realize, the marching band is a set of moving, wool clad targets.
I gotta admit, I initially had mixed feelings about this one; the first target he hits is a trombone player, which is my instrument. However, when Stewart manages to nail the crap out of a flute player running up the stairs while she is doing a trill, I realized that I had just witnessed a thing of beauty. Go Steelers!
The next one is another classic that surprisingly few people seem to remember. In the late 1990's, internet computer/software dealer Outpost.com began making a name for itself with some shockingly (and borderline tasteless) commercials...all of which were awesome.
My personal favorite, however, was one in which Outpost.com enlists the help of an unsuspecting marching band to spell out their name while playing a lively tune. Then this happens:
Something about the way the host calmly sits in his chair and chuckles while saying "That's good stuff" as the kids are ruthlessly mauled by a pack of wolves still makes me giggle uncontrollably. Maybe I need some sort of help...but instead, let's take a look at another clip.
In this commercial for Carpisun, something happens...I'm just not entirely sure what. From my interpretation of things, a mischievous band member named Simon attempts to drop a Caprisun pouch into the euphonium of one of his fellow band members. This causes some sort of cosmic and karmic counter reaction that effectively transforms his entire upper torso into a sousaphone. The metamorphosed young man responds to this giving an pained expression, and then loudly farting at the pitch of concert B flat. Don't believe me? Take a look:
Same company, same set up, different (and VERY creepy) result. This time Simon is turned into an earth worm/accordion hybrid that the camera lingers on for about 5 seconds too long:
In this next clip, I'm not sure most would define it as abuse as much as it may be stupidity on the band members' part. The ESPN College Game Day crew is hanging out at University of Southern California when a majorette walks up and asks if they would like to see her routine. The three creepy old guys then leer at her for a few seconds while she twirls her flaming baton.
Now in case you didn't know, majorettes twirling batons that are on fire is pretty standard fare. What happens next, however, is both inexcusable and yet somehow, still awesome.
Okay, first of all, let's address the fact that band instruments are expensive. Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit no where near being worth lighting your instrument on fire for; Chris Fowler is a big maybe at best.
Secondly, how much lighter fluid do you need to keep a brass instrument lit up like that? The clarinet that we first saw burning (which totally awesome, by the way) would burn easily. But brass?
Finally, what about the groundskeeper? It's bad enough that these kids are walking around with flaming instruments, but one of them is so careless that he lights the poor guy on fire. Not only that, but the grounds keeper just keeps doing his job as if being lit on fire is some kind of regular and mundane occurrence.
"Enjoy your commercial while I continue my soul crushing march towards a paycheck..."
In our final clip, the band gets to be the one doing the torturing...sort of. Some guy buys a new Hyundai, which apparently was enough to get a random marching band to stalk him during his every waking moment and remind him that his new vehicle was well reviewed by J.D. Power and Associates. This (along with the creepy grin on the drum major's face) would probably be enough to make someone not ever want to buy a Hyundai.
By the way, for some reason, the clip below (the only one I could find) plays twice for no apparent reason. This fittingly makes it seem even more like a Kafka novel nightmare for anyone that has stopped doing marching band and would like to forget about it.
As with all the other videos, however, harm still befalls the band members. As the Hyundai owner speeds away from their first encounter, the band chases him down the street. In the ensuing chase, a tuba player completely bites it on the pavement.
At the very end of the video, the Hyundai driver makes the smart decision to get onto the interstate to make his escape...except that the band members sprint up the on ramp, determined to rob him of his sanity, even if it's at the expense of their own lives.
I guess us band kids really are just that dedicated.
One band, One sound!