Ad of the Day: Dow

A human train glides silently through cities, a metaphor for the company's work to make railways quieter

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Dow is all about putting a human face on its technical solutions to some of the world's problems. The company's latest spot, from Draftfcb Chicago, certainly has humanity to spare—it's clinging blissfully to the exterior of a moving train.

The point is: Dow, among its many endeavors (gluten-free bread, green rooftops, stronger turbines, etc.), is helping to make railways quieter. Thus, the train in the new spot is seen gliding silently through city and countryside, with its human cargo "Shhhh!"-ing bystanders along the way.

As a metaphor, it doesn't really make that much sense (ordinary people are the beneficiaries of this technology, not the deliverers of it)—but it's such an eye-popping visual (kudos to The Mill) that the commercial quickly wins you over. Adding to the whimsical, almost fairy-tale-like vibe is the soundtrack—the Ink Spots' great 1940 recording of "Whispering Grass," a song with lyrics that fit just right and a quirky, nostalgic tone that further positions Dow as your friend, not just a chemical corporate monolith.

This campaign got moving in the right direction immediately, with the giant outdoor chalkboard puzzle last fall in New York City. (It featured the world's longest human equation, written over five days—the solution was 7 billion, Earth's current population.) The new print work is also beautifully crafted and intricately detailed. The tagline, "Solutionism. The new optimism," might trip you up—it seems a little weird and jargony for messaging that's supposed to embody humanity. (The previous line was, "The human element.") But you can see where they're going with it. They want to emphasize solutions—but that's an overused, jargony word in itself. So, they turned it on its head a little—the new line isn't jargon so much as a light parody of jargon. Speaking of solutions, for Dow, the line is actually a somewhat elegant one.

As for the train spot, it goes without saying: Do not try this at home.


Client: Dow Chemical

Agency: Draftfcb, Chicago

Chief Creative Officer: Todd Tilford

Group Creative Director, Copywriter: Jon Flannery

Group Creative Director, Art Director: Doug Behm

Creative Director, Copywriter: Ron D'Innocenzo

Copywriter: Terin Izil

Art Director: Derek Julin

Executive Producer: Ivo Knezevic

Senior Business Manager: Lisa Stevens

Group Management Director: John Rossmiller

Account Director: Hollie Platte


Executive Producer: Emma Wilcockson

Director: Nicolai Fuglsig

Producer: Suza Horvat

Director of Photography: Dion Beebe

EFX: The Mill, New York

Executive Producer: Verity Grantham

EFX Supervisors: Angus Kneadle, Corey Brown

Producer: Carl Walters

Editorial: Final Cut, New York

Editor: Rick Russell

President: Stephanie Apt

Senior Producer: Viet-An Nguyen

Audio: Sound Lounge

Engineer, Sound Design: Tom Jucarone

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.