“What Goes On in That New Building?” VCU Health Offers a Soft-Sell Explanation with Equal Parts Nostalgia, Induced Guilt, and Romantic Playfulness

February 16, 2020

// By Peter Hochstein //

Peter HochsteinCan simple charm compete for share-of-mind in a hot health care marketplace? Yes, if the charm is really charming enough. Here’s how it works in Richmond, Virginia.

This probably isn’t the first time you’ve seen a bicycle treated so callously.

It stands in a dusty garage, surrounded by other carelessly stashed artifacts of suburban life. There’s a leaf rake, an electric fan, a jumble of plastic storage tubs and corrugated cartons. The poor bicycle’s right handlebar is currently used as a hat rack. The left handlebar ingloriously supports a tangle of rope. A dirty rag lounges on its rear tire.

And then music begins to play, sweetly and romantically, while the camera approaches the bike at a timid pace. At the same time, the lines of a free-verse love poem — to the bicycle! — take turns dissolving on and off the screen.

“Remember holding on to each other,

the wind in your hair

and how free you both felt?

It’s time to get back together.”

Massaging Guilt, Prodding Nostalgia

If you ever bought a bicycle or a stationary bike for the sake of keeping fit, and now use it for a clothes rack, you may experience just a slight twinge of guilt at this point. And if you once were a dedicated “roadie” who thought nothing of knocking off 50 or more miles on a day ride, it’s another feeling entirely — the kind of nostalgia you might have felt for your first love, from whom you wish you had never parted.

Who is poking your emotional nerves with this TV spot, and why are they doing it to you? The answer appears presently.

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