Anatomy of a Soup Commercial
Salvatore Zoida

Chase (V.O.)

Treasure's hair is long and silky and citrus scented from a bottle with a picture on its label of a woman so eyebrow-raisingly beautiful that Treasure practices French kissing on her when she is in the shower(1), and as we run like a jailbreak from the supermarket's antique security guard(2) to the next aisle over(3), it bounces and ripples and shines like fire. Her lips are pillowy and heart shaped, and whenever we stand facing each other my gaze is drawn to them and I wind up reaching towards her until I feel the sting of her slap on the back of my hand like electricity and we laugh(4). Leaning against a product shelf of Campbell's Soup cans, she flicks her hair out of her face and shows me her perfect teeth, and I shield my eyes the exaggerated way I always do whenever she flashes her smile, which should be in TV commercials(5). And as we slow dance to the supermarket's jazzy piped-in Muzak, Treasure asks me without blinking whether I too feel as if we are connected at the heart, Siamese twins-like, which is hands down the prettiest thing anyone has ever said to me, and I tell her that I do, that I too feel as if we are connected at the heart, and she reaches over her shoulder, with her throwing arm, and says that the Mega Noodle is her all-time favorite(6).


1 The connection between French kissing and eating soup being Appetite, what with the sexual/erotic/carnal connotations implicit in the act of eating, in terms of psychic fixity (e.g., the mind-clouding desire for satiation) and physiological response (e.g., Pavlovian salivation, the licking of one's lips, an increased heart rate, etc.).

2 While describing the security guard as antique may appear to be gratuitous, and even insensitive (e.g., to old people), its intended purpose is to hyperidealize, by way of contrast, the commercial's young main protagonists, Chase Xavier (provider of the voice-over narration) and Treasure Illuminata, the two of them comprising the fresh, and wildly charismatic, new faces of Campbell's Soup.

3 While not without artistic merit, an aerial shot of Chase and Treasure running to the other aisle may precipitate associations with images of long-whiskered mice and/or rats scurrying through laboratory mazes with the untoward effect of eliciting feelings of anxiety, repulsion, fear, etc., and must accordingly be vigorously counseled against.

4 Given that laughter hideously distorts the human face (especially when replayed in slow motion), particular care must be taken to show Chase and Treasure in a way that will gratify, rather than repel/frighten/unhinge, viewers.

Chase's statement that Treasure's smile should be in TV commercials when it actually is in TV commercials is a kind of wink to the viewer who, once he gets the joke, is bound to feel clever and pleased with himself and, also, connected, on some level, with the wildly charismatic Chase, and/or Treasure, prompting him to reevaluate the things he most dislikes about himself and to start to enjoy his own company, maintain eye contact with other people, not avoid his reflection in mirrors and storefront windows, etc., and ultimately to stock the cupboard full of Campbell's, which he now associates with his newfound feelings of self-esteem and  -love.

6 The commercial's ambiguous closing shot, which shows Treasure holding the can of Mega Noodle above her head — ambiguous because of the (unresolved) uncertainty about what she is going to do next (e.g., hurl the can at the frothing security guard who has just materialized at the far end of the aisle, say something to trigger a nationwide run on Campbell's Soup, brain Chase, etc.) — is the kind of ingenious marketing ploy by which the viewer's anger at being denied a narrative's proper ending turns to excitement when it occurs to him that he has been given creative license over what may well be termed the narrative's fully realized closure.

Salvatore Zoida lives in San Francisco. He has stories in or coming from Writer's Bloc, The Catalonian Review, Foundling Review, and The Anemone Sidecar.

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