5 Commercials Every Causepreneur Should Watch for Inspiration (Plus a Bonus Ad)

Super Bowl 51 has me thinking about commercials, which are always a big part of the game. Just about every year I find a Super Bowl commercial I really like. And when I say really like, I mean I watch it 500 times, especially when I'm down, depressed, unsure or frustrated.

Umm, no, being a cause freelancer, consultant or causepreneur isn't all rainbows and unicorns. We all need a little inspiration. 

These commercials pick me up, improve my focus and keep me moving. And watching one of these commercials takes less than 60 seconds. Plus, it's cheaper than seeing a therapist.

I hope these commercials inspire you too (or at least inspire you to go find your own).

Budweiser's Born the Hard Way

If you saw my Selfish Giving newsletter last week you'll know that this is my go-to commercial at the moment. Immigration is a divisive issue in our country right now, and Bud's commercial, which had millions of views before it officially aired during the Super Bowl, is unabashedly pro-immigration. So am I. But that's not the only reason I watch it.

Why I Watch the Commercial: Like Adolphus Busch in the Budweiser commercial my great-grandfather immigrated to the United States from Germany. Busch immigrated in 1857 and my great-grandfather followed him over roughly 40 years later.

I don't know much about my great-grandfather - Michael Joseph Schlager - beyond that we share a name. He died in 1928 at the age of 60. But as a blue-collar worker he most likely endured bigotry and hardship because of his foreign roots and accent.

When I think it's tough being a white-collar, college educated, American causepreneur, this commercial reminds me that the difficulties immigrants face are far more challenging. They were - and are - truly Born the Hard Way.

Volvo's Song of the Open Road

This commercial from Volvo has been running on television at varying lengths. The one above is a 30-second spot. But there's an extended version that's nearly three minutes long.

Why I watch this commercial: I don't watch this commercial so much as I listen to it. I had to look up who was the source of the dialogue, but I had a good idea of who it was: Walt Whitman. I love when he says:

The east and the west are mine. The north and the south are mine. All seems beautiful to me.

It reminds me that becoming a causepreneur was a choice, and it gives me great freedom and flexibility in how I spend my time. I'm free to roam! And that is truly beautiful.

Lincoln's Unite

I liked the commercial for the 2012 movie Lincoln more than the movie itself. Don't get me wrong: it's a great movie, but it was a bit like watching C-Span for 2 1/2 hours. I prefer this two minute clip.

Why I watch this commercial: As causepreneurs, we can take pride in the fact that our work is not just any kind of job. Our work is meant to change the world in a lasting and meaningful way - just as Lincoln strove to change the world by getting the 13th amendment passed by Congress.

Sometimes I feel like my work isn't having the impact that I had hoped for. History shows that Lincoln had the same doubts. Our work is difficult, setbacks are common and progress is slow. But good work is good work. The key is commitment and perseverance - two traits I strive to share with America's greatest president.

Squarespace's Who Is JohnMalkovich.com?

Website development company Squarespace tapped actor John Malkovich for a commercial that aired during Super Bowl 51. Malkovich is branching out from acting to fashion and gets a big surprise when he tries to claim the domain "JohnMalkovich.com".

Why I watch this commercial: First, I like the fact that while he is a famous actor, Malkovich is trying to establish a reputation in a new area: fashion design. As causepreneurs, we've either left or are prepared to leave jobs for which we already are known and respected to venture into a new field. That takes a courage, and a bit of humility. I know it did for me when I left professional fundraising and started my own consultancy.

Second, I love Malkovich's display of ego in the commercial. When he learns that someone else has already grabbed his domain, he objects: "But I'm him....How can you be John Malkovich?"

Like Malkovich, I take pride in the fact that "I'm him" and this is my business. Malkovich is channeling Kanye West in this ad: "I'm not a businessman. I'm a business, man." 

Apple's What Will Your Verse Be?

This commercial goes all the way back to 2014. The late Robin Williams voices the ad in a reprise of his performance in the film Dead Poet's Society. Whatever you think of this commercial, it's hard not to listen to it and miss the genius of Williams.

Why I watch this commercial: I guess I must be a sucker for Walt Whitman because, like the Volvo ad above, he's quoted in this commercial too. This ad reminds me that whatever I'm working on in my business there are more important things in life.

Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

That's why I try to make time every day to read poetry or something else totally disconnected from my work. In the summer, I'll work in my garden and just take in the beauty of everything around me. Regardless of our work or the travails of life, it's worth celebrating that we're just here and alive.

To quote from Whitman, 'O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?' Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity...'

A walk in the yard puts things in perspective.

A walk in the yard puts things in perspective.

Bonus Pick: Ram Trucks' Farmer

The late American broadcaster Paul Harvey's voice narrates this ode to farmers, which has earned over 22 million views.

Why I watch this commercial: Anytime I think my job is "hard" I watch this commercial. Being a farmer seems to be much, much harder!