On a Sunday afternoon several months ago, I was engaged in one of my favorite religious rituals, watching pro football on television. During a break in the game, I reflexively clicked the “mute” button on the remote control. But my eyes stayed fixed on a startling commercial.
The screen showed a balding man with tawny skin and a salt-and-pepper goatee, and seconds later it spelled out his name: Mujahid Abdul-Rashid. The advertisement went on to show him fishing, playing in a yard with two toddlers, and sitting down to a family meal.
One week later, again during an N.F.L. game, the same commercial appeared. This time I listened to the words. The advertisement was for Prudential’s financial products for retirees. Mr. Abdul-Rashid was talking about his own retirement after 19 years as a clothing salesman, and the family time he now intended to enjoy….