‘Air’ is a Deft Study in Branding, Business, and Belief

Director Ben Affleck offers an airtight underdog story with heartening performances.

Nikki Davis
6 min readApr 7, 2023
(via Amazon Studios/Warner Bros. Pictures)

At some point in my ‘20s, I realized that the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was an eloquent complaint about tone-deaf advertising.

When I’m driving in my car / And the man comes on the radio
He’s telling me more and more / About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination

The ad men of the ’60s weren’t getting it. Comfy and smug with post-WWII prosperity, they’d been busy telling the new generation what they should want instead of listening to what they actually wanted.

By the mid ’80s — and many cultural upsets later — brand specialists agency-side and in-house had caught onto the fact that the youth was perhaps the only demographic they needed to engage at all costs.

And what the youth wanted was to see themselves. And the future. And to see themselves in the future — wonderfully mutated into positions of success, influence, and fulfillment that no one had dreamed of yet. “You can’t be what you can’t see,” as Marian Wright Edelman said.

That’s what good branding does: it doesn’t bother selling you a product, it sells you a feeling. This is how I know…



Nikki Davis

Pop culture fiend and perpetual word nerd. Self-proclaimed expert playlist maker. Writing about film, TV, music, productivity, and self-care. 🤓🎞️🏳️‍🌈