Visual Argument – Jon Otero

For this assignment, I chose to use the Emergency Preparedness – NYC ad.

  • The ad opens up with a boy watching TV on the couch in his living room and he suddens takes on a very perplexed expression as he looks from left to right and notices the TV remote beginning to rise off the surface of the couch.
  • The next scene flashes to the kitchen where his parents are and their faces are already just as worried as their son’s. One can just barely see the wife’s coffee rise out of it’s mug as a slowly moving fork comes into focus.
  • Suddenly the camera angle on the husband shifts to a profile view as we watch him get swept off his feet. At the same time, the viewer can also see the oranges in a bowl being affected by this gravity shift and picture frames being thrown into the picture as a table gets lifted of its legs.
  • Next, we see the wife who has been lifted so high that her back is practically lying on air. She seems to be taking control, slowly, of what’s going on by attempting to become vertical again. Various furniture fly around like the table, a plant, and a pillow.
  • In the following scene, the camera goes back to the boy on the couch and it becomes evident that much has happened while the camera was focused elsewhere. He is nearly upside-down, the couch’s left side is lifted off the ground, the table by the tv is moving, the candles and bowl are flying, the TV is moving, and the same plant in the previous scene is seen again, but from this angle.
  • Going back to the husband, it looks as though he’s reaching toward a drawer of some sort as he’s flipping. His back is facing the camera.
  • After the brief view of the husband, the camera show’s the mother and son reuniting with one another by taking each other by the hand.
  • The camera now shows the ceiling and various debris falling toward it as a pair of legs touches down with it.
  • A quick flash reveals the arm of the husband reaching into the drawer for a dark red bag. The scene progressed and the camera displays different angles as it zooms out. First it completely shows the husband as he successfully attains the bag. Then, it shows him looking in the direction of his wife and son as they start to reach the new ground, the ceiling. The TV reaches the ground and is destroyed. The camera zooms out further to display the full chaos which has occurred where everything familiar to these people has literally been turned upside-down.
  • The family is then seen at the door of their home together, and like the furniture near it and around the house, it too is upside-down. They are all holding onto each other.
  • The scene transitions to this black and white drawn animation. A black bag, outlined by white on a black backdrop, is seen with a white plus sign on it. The message below it is “get a kit”. The bag transforms into a clip board and the message becomes “make a plan”. Finally, the clipboard opens up to become a laptop and the final message is “be informed”.


I found this ad to be very effective. The sound isn’t needed at all to get the point of the message. With the sound on, the voice of a narrator can be heard with a few notes being played by the piano. She asks, “What if a disaster strikes without warning? What if life as you know it is completely turned on its head? What if everything familiar becomes anything but? Before a disaster turns your family’s world upside-down, it’s up to you to be ready. Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed. Today.”

Firstly, the ad takes place in what should be the most comfortable place to a person: home. The family was doing normal things that people do when they’re home like drink coffee, watch TV, or eat when all of a sudden their lives literally start to turn upside-down. The designers of the ad chose to show different objects within the home and assign them symbolic meaning.  This process starts of slowly as each member of the family realizing something is wrong. The boy sees the remote starting to float, which may represent that in a disaster, one of the first things to immediately go are the luxuries of entertainment. Then the mother and father are seen in the kitchen and the fork floats across the camera’s view. In this scene and in the angle following it, food is being affected by the disaster. The metaphoric phrase “life turned upside-down” is put into a literal sense in this ad. Despite the fact that what was most familiar to them became the opposite, they all knew what they had to do in order to minimize the devastation of the disaster occurring. As the floor and ceiling switch, it becomes evident that the mother and father are adjusting themselves mid-air so that they land right on their feet. The father immediately goes to his disaster kit while the mother locates and reaches the son. I found this amazingly effective that they were able to do all this when their lives turned upside-down, but clearly this was a testimony that this would not be achievable without a disaster plan. The ending flashes tips for the audience to follow to be prepared for disasters.

What made me chose this ad was because it showed something devastatingly negative be put in a positive way. Despite the fact that all their possessions are now gone, the family has each other and they were able to find their way unharmed. I didn’t want to pick an ad that would result in the utter worst happening because even though I find them effective, I personally feel that those are too depressing and saddening.

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1 Response to Visual Argument – Jon Otero

  1. davidbdale says:

    This is first rate work, Jon. Of its many wonderful attributes, I particularly liked your observation that the family wouldn’t have had the presence of mind to right themselves, find each other, and get to the door with their kit without a plan.
    Provisional grade recorded.

    (Fix the Rule 2 and Rule 7 errors, please. They’re zits on your excellent work.)

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