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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Advertising: Totti's Cucchiaio

"Clearly," intones the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Michael Beard in Ian McEwan's recent novel, Solar, "advertising was an industry for third-raters."  The remark gave us pause, and cause to reflect on the cast of ad execs that populates one of our favorite TV shows, Mad Men.  Even so, we always enjoy scanning the latest evanescent products of the industry when we land in the Eternal City. 

For the current expedition, the early favorite is a series of advertisements made for Sky, the satellite company owned by Rupert Murdoch, a competitor of Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset Premium Calcio.   

Many of Italy's most famous soccer players are featured in the series.  We were particularly struck (and mystified) by this illuminated Metro billboard featuring the iconic captain and star of AS Roma: Francesco Totti.  Dressed in Roma colors and surrounded by Roman ruins--one of which appears to be a cross between the Coliseum and a modern soccer stadium--Totti looks gratefully to heaven, the source of the Sky "miracle": calcio (soccer) for only E29 per month.  Our Rome friends (and Roma fans) were aghast at the hypocriscy of suggesting that E29 was inexpensive, and--more important--surprised that Italians would tolerate, much less appreciate, an ad campaign that rather distastefully fused the national sport with religious imagery. 

And the spoon?  What's with the spoon that Totti brandishes?  What's that all about?  In Italian the word is "cucchiaio" and, as our friends--we're at dinner when we're talking about his--immediately made clear, Totti is famous for the "cucchiaio."  That is, he's widely known and admired for the soft, spoon-like shots that he has put into opposing nets over the years, shots that seem especially compelling and endearing coming from a big man with one of the game's hardest shots.  Our Roma tifoso (fan) M. waxed eloquent and fondly over a particularly fine example, a penalty kick on which Totti waited for the keeper (goaltender) to move, then "spooned" to ball gently into the center of the net. 

You'll find all the videos easily enough; just put Totti and "cu" into a search engine.  Or click on this link for 4 minutes of the best of Totti's "cucchiai." 

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