Jul 11, 2007

Cutting Edge Thieves

One of my readers, Raafi Rivero, discovered the inspiration for Goodby’s new Sprint work on a Japanese site and then made a comment that’s worthy of it’s own response:

I guess, in this youtube era, all one has to do is sit back and wait for an art director to find some cool graphical treatment somewhere on the interwebs, then see if it can work as a spot with some soupy copy and a logo at the end.

Well, Raafi, this has been going on longer than the interweb. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all.

Advertising rarely creates anything new.

The best of us steal the trend/style/tonality/graphic treatment/video with guys sticking out their tongues and saying "Whasssuppp!!" long before it hits the popular zeitgeist.

In fact, I’ve found that the one things that sets the Goodbys and Chiats apart from their more prosaic counterparts is that they are filled with art directors who constantly scour sites like the one you’ve linked us to. Writers who cut out at lunch time to check out a screening of the new Turkmenistani short that’s getting buzz at festivals in Europe. And because they’re adept at identifying which elements will easily become part of the pop culture vernacular, they create advertising that gets noticed.

Creatives at shops where the work isn’t such a priority tend to spend their weekends seeing the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Regardless of whether they’re accompanying a group of “totally stoked” 12 year olds.(This has always blown me away, people without kids going to see “Transformers” and the like.) And since this is all that informs their aesthetic, the work never seems particularly fresh. Their touchpoints are already part of the mainstream; the work may be well-executed, but we’ve seen it all before.

As the media landscape changes, and the consumer gets more control over what he/she wants to see, the ability to create something different will become very important. Because absolutely no one is going to download and pass along a video of one of the hundreds of “hold up the product and smile” commercials packaged goods companies and their agencies pump out. They’re not going to slow down their DVR to watch it either, and faced with the choice of sitting through 2 minutes of lame-ass spots or spending $1.99 to watch their favorite show commercial-free, you can bet that $1.99 is going to seem like a wise investment.

And that, my friends, gives me hope.

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