I just viewed an advertisement released last month from Russian Standard Vodka that claims its product is ‘The Convergence of Science and Nature’. In just over three minutes, it tells us the story of Mendeleev and a few other tidbits of science fact to convince us this is so, along with impressive visuals.
This cinematographically engaging video weaves a compelling scenario about how the perfect vodka came to be through pristine natural resources modified by technologies that ultimately have emerged due to Mendeleev’s knowledge about vodka science.
While we know Mendeleev primarily for his contribution to the organization of atoms in a logical order, what I didn’t know was that he began his science career with his dissertation “On the Combinations of Water with Alcohol” and was appointed almost 30 years after that to formulate state standards for the production of vodka. And now you know as well.
Here’s the clip.
This piece features Jason Silva, a charismatic filmaker, futurist, and producer, who also hosts Brain Games on NatGeo. He is known for his videos that examine technological and human co-evolution and other intellectual topics. This video seems a good fit for him. Now, don’t be fooled, it still feels like an advertisement, but in just a few minutes, it might have you pause and say “Hmm. I didn’t know that. Let me find out more.”
Despite the appropriate cynicism many of us have about being “sold” a product, there is something nonetheless appealing about this style of advert, wherein, rather than a series of rapid flashes of the typical requisite images of attractive, fashionably dressed people socializing with great merriment, presumably because alcohol has loosened the mood, an opportunity has been taken to educate in the midst of a story.
And in that, it can be seen as an example of subtle (and brief) science outreach to an audience that may not normally think about science. One can argue, of course, that the advert might just be using science to bring gravitas to the product. This is often the goal when “science” is employed to market beauty products, even though nothing is really exposed about the process of science in the marketing, as the audience is presumed to not be intelligent enough to understand the very real science that is behind many products we use everyday.
If you are inclined to learn more about Jason’s involvement in the Russian Standard Projct, here he is in a 20 minute presentation at London’s Science Museum.