A review of

Cash Back Footloose

by Chase Bank

Central Question: What kind of jokes can a bank tell?
Number of customers in commercial who nod and smile as if Ben Grant’s behavior is normal and helpful: one; Number of customers who look completely unsure of how to react, but manage a weak smile: one; Number of customers whose mouths are agape: two; Number of customers who are mildly surprised to see Ben Grant, but then warm up to his suggestions: two; Number of customers who sit and patiently listen to Ben Grant before returning to their own conversation: two

Chase Bank has a credit card called the Freedom Card. The card is Chase blue, somewhere between twilight and the interior of a geode, and the world around that card, at least in the company’s advertising, is black and white. Black-and-white customers swipe the card at black-and-white supermarkets, drop it on receipts at black-and-white restaurants. The palette of Chase Bank—black, white, blue—is visually distinctive, at least in the short and square world of bank branding: Wells Fargo is Old West and Citibank has a texty whiff of northern Europe; Bank of America is nothing in particular, and who even remembers what Capital One looks like?

Comedy can and does exist within the confines of black and white, but it’s generally a result of intentional pastiche—Zelig, Ed Wood, the entire oeuvre of Guy Maddin—or of a mix of budgetary constraints and indie sympathies—the smart-dumb Forbidden Zone, the dumb-dumb Clerks. Broad comedy is generally best as a big dog of a thing: ungainly, slobbering, literally dirty—a shambling Judd Apatow production, the downright homely work of Harold Ramis. To choose black and white in the mostly-color present is to choose a lap dog over a golden retriever.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—Tag Savage

Tag Savage designs for Tumblr and lives in Brooklyn. He keeps a minor blog at sexpigeon.org.

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