N.B. Youth Orchestra posts masterful clapback to car ad that rubbed them the wrong way

·3 min read
New Brunswick Youth Orchestra president Ken MacLeod appears in a video the organization made in direct response to a commercial released by car maker Infiniti. (New Brunswick Youth Orchestra - image credit)
New Brunswick Youth Orchestra president Ken MacLeod appears in a video the organization made in direct response to a commercial released by car maker Infiniti. (New Brunswick Youth Orchestra - image credit)

The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra has a message for automobile manufacturer Infiniti.

If they needed musicians who knew how to play, "they should have called us."

It's a message straight from orchestra president Ken MacLeod during a 60-second video his organization released on Wednesday in response to a commercial by Infiniti, which he says perpetuates a "tired old stereotype" about young musicians.

The commercial opens with close-up shots of an SUV in the middle of a concert hall, surrounded by members of a youth orchestra playing a painfully off-key version of Richard Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra.

The focus shifts to a woman sitting in the driver's seat — presumably the parent of one of the performers — who appears put off by the performance, and rolls up the windows and closes the sun-roof to drown out the music.

WATCH | New Brunswick Youth Orchestra responds to car maker with 'Infinity of Talent'

MacLeod said the commercial struck a "negative chord" with him the first time he saw it.

"We felt, because we're a leader in this space of children and youth music, that it was our duty, maybe even our responsibility to somehow respond to this," said MacLeod, in an interview.

"Even though [the Infiniti commercial] is tongue-in-cheek, there's still a tired old stereotype of youth and bad music. And so our message here is that our kids have amazing talent."

In the video, titled An INFINITY of Young Talent, MacLeod steps out of an SUV and walks up to the entrance of the Imperial Theatre in Saint John, while the same song used in the Infiniti commercial plays in the background.

"Have you seen the new Nissan-Infiniti ad?" MacLeod asks.

"Can you imagine? A big company like that couldn't find a youth orchestra to play the music.

"They should have called us. The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra."

Infiniti
Infiniti

As he opens the door, the music grows louder, and the camera moves inside the theatre, where members of the NBYO are playing a seemingly flawless rendition of the iconic composition.

CBC News asked Infiniti if it had seen the NBYO's response to its commercial.

In an email, company spokesperson Didier Marsaud called the video "amazing."

"We love that the conversation of music education is being spotlighted," he said.

Marsaud also defended the company's commercial, saying it intended to show how the quiet interior, plus massaging front seats, "can take a bit of stress from one's day and can allow occupants to take on life in style."

Round of applause for response

Infiniti isn't the only one singing the praises of the NBYO's demonstration of talent and wit.

MacLeod said since the video was posted on Wednesday, he's received emails and messages from people all over North America complimenting the organization for the statement it made.

The video itself has been a hit online, racking up more than 14,000 views on YouTube as of Friday and generating dozens of positive comments.

"Thank you so very much for showing what a committed and inspired group of young musicians can really sound like!" commented Doug MacNaughton.

Pierre Fournier/CBC
Pierre Fournier/CBC

MacLeod said he hopes the video sends the message that youth of all levels of skill and talent should be encouraged to play music.

"Let's encourage and motivate and engage and equip our kids to achieve at the highest levels," he said.

"We know they can do it, and it's an awesome thing."

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