April 15, 2024
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April 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Putting It All Together

Do you know how important ants are to the environment? No? Well, neither did Dora, Davey or Nathan. Their reason for learning about ants was for a potential client. The Global Organization to Prevent Ant Squashing in Texas and Arkansas, or GO PASTA, was looking to create a new advertising campaign to raise awareness toward getting people to watch their steps. Many of the plant species in Texas and Arkansas had begun to die out and environmentalists pointed to the lack of ants as a major issue.

Ants help plants grow in two ways. First, they dig small holes in the soil that allow water to flow more freely. This digging also brings much-needed nutrients closer to the soil. Second, ants carry seeds back to their nests, which are often in areas with soil rich in nutrients. Without ants, many of the plants in Texas and Arkansas were not receiving the proper water or nutrients. Additionally, there were no ants to carry seeds to more fertile areas. GO PASTA felt that stopping people from squashing ants was a good start to bringing them back to help the local environment.

The governors of Arkansas and Texas got together to create a plan. First, they put in a giant order of ants from New York (New York also tried to get them to take the cockroaches and rats, but no deal). They deposited these ants in all the areas in need. But now they needed to make sure nobody stepped on these helpful critters. Hence, GO PASTA’s new campaign. The leadership team at GO PASTA had narrowed its search for advertising firms down to two candidates, and these two candidates were now proposing their final commercial ideas. GO PASTA would then decide on which they preferred.

GO PASTA invited both agencies to the final presentations, and encouraged the companies to sit in on each other’s performances. First to present was a firm called Maxwell, Fagen and Baum. Their first idea was to place giant three dimensional shoes in major areas and to raise the shoes about 10 feet off the ground. On the underneath of the shoe it would say “see how it feels?” Their second idea was to write a song using the tune “Look Down” from “Les Miserables.” They had already discussed this idea with the famous songwriter, Tal Rackmile. The song would accompany a music video of people walking around. At first, they would look up and would keep tripping on things. Then, they would start looking down and good things would happen, like finding money. The last person in the video would realize he or she was about to step on a family of ants, and walk around them. The agents from Maxwell, Fagen and Baum then presented their third (and feature) idea: a documentary called “A World Without Ants.”

Dora, Davey and Nathan looked at each other with worried faces. The ideas presented by Maxwell, Fagen and Baum seemed way more sophisticated and effective than their own. How could they compete? Dora steeled herself, gave a look of confidence to her partners and stood up. She turned to the competition. “Thank you, that was very impressive.” Dora then turned toward the GO PASTA representatives and began the presentation. “Our idea is to take a simple but powerful message and present it in a way that people can easily understand and practice.” With that, Nathan wheeled a television to the middle of the room and Davey turned off the lights.

On screen, three separate commercials presented themselves, one after another. Each commercial ended with the same message, “Say ‘I can’t’ to stepping on ants.” The first commercial involved a baseball player who was running around third base to score the winning run of the game. He suddenly stopped and as his coaches, teammates and fans screamed at him to keep going, he just kept saying “I can’t.” When he finally revealed why, by lifting up the family of ants and moving them out of the way, the other team just let him score instead of tagging him out. The next two commercials had a similar theme, the second with a marathon runner who refuses to cross the finish line, and the third with a baby about to take her first steps. Although she doesn’t walk, she utters her first words (and sentence)—“I can’t step on an ant.”

After the final sample ended, the lights came back on and the GO PASTA representatives stood up. The most important-looking one spoke for the group. “Thank you all for your time. We will let you know who we choose within the next 24 hours.” The advertisers filed out of the room, expecting not to hear for at least 48 hours (the rule is “always double the time”). However, the answer came much sooner than expected.

By the time Dora, Davey and Nathan returned to the office, their boss was waiting for them with a huge smile on his face. “Congratulations, guys! The GO PASTA people called; we got the gig!” The three co-workers were shocked! “Are you serious?” exclaimed Nathan. “The other group seemed much more sophisticated!” Davey was also shocked. “Did they give a reason why they liked ours better?” Although their boss had no idea, they each received an email with an explanation.

“Dear Dora, Davey and Nathan. Thank you so much for your presentation. In today’s world, people are all so caught up with trying to impress others, they forget the importance of having a message. Your campaign, although simpler, is exactly what we are looking for. We need advertisements that send one message and one message only. The other group had some nice ideas, but they weren’t connected. Not only was your concept great, but combining the three commercials into one message is really what sealed it for us. Each commercial on its own would be powerful, but even more so when put together. Looking forward to working together!”

Why is the count from Pesach to Shavuot done in weeks? Why not just days? Why is the count towards Yovel, as mentioned in Parshat Behar, done in “shemitahs” (as the pasuk says, “you will count seven cycles of seven years…”)? Why not just say “at the end of 50 years?” One approach is that these counts celebrate combining smaller things into something bigger. Days are given to us by Hashem—the sun rises and sets. However, weeks require us to take those days and combine them into something greater; there is no sign in nature that a week has begun or ended. The same goes for years. Each time the Earth orbits the Sun, a year passes. However, nothing in nature tells us it has been seven years. We then take those combinations (weeks and shemitahs) and combine them further into something greater.

It is very tempting to focus our efforts on grand gestures—things that will go viral, change the world, get us labeled as “influencers.” However, let us not forget that the small things we do can combine together for something much greater. Shabbat Shalom!


Yair Daar is the middle school dean of students at Yeshivat He’Atid. He can be reached at [email protected].

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