Friday, September 30, 2005

The WIDHH shoot

It’s good to be filming again.

We will be filming three ads today for the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and I’m excited. I haven’t filmed an ad in over a year, not since Australia. Ironically, the budgets haven’t changed much, even though back in those days we were filming out of shopping carts

Filming TV ads is one of the best parts about being involved in advertising. Everyone gets excited, there's so much to do, and it's heaps of fun. Keep an eye out for our ads, they will be running on Shaw TV listings between October 10th and early January. Keep in mind, these ads were filmed with actual deaf people and staff from the institute, in the WIDHH building itself, on the most shoestring of shoestring budgets. I think they are going to be awesome.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The importance (and danger) of good creative

There is a certain amount of strain between clients and creative. Creative often want to win awards by having a great concept, clients want to make sales, and often feel that great creative only gets in the way. On the surface, it can probably be argued either way, depending on a myriad of variables, but here is a trend I’ve been noticing on the polar extremes.

A tendency towards joke ads:

These ads are great, and they have a great gag or concept to them, but realistically, they do not represent a brand, and they could be used for the competition, or even another category, equally as well as for the product.

One of my favourite ads of all time is from TBWA\Paris. Creative Wonders Link Great idea, great viral campaign concept (to beef up the frequency, true), great song (anyone know who does it?), but it’s a good example of this. Creative like this will win awards, but what brand is it building?

A disturbing trend toward Pure Branding

Just sticking up a logo might work at a baseball game, or on the side of a plastic bag, and sure enough, it does keep the brand top of mind, but as a means of 1. Introducing a new product 2. Generating a need or 3. Priming an existing psychological mindset 4. Conjuring emotional appeal – it does not work. That is the emphasis of the creative. And often this creative is what drives sales, but THAT is very hard to measure.

A beautiful marriage between strategy and creative is when the single minded proposition about a brand is synonymous with an everyday word.

Volvo = safety
Levis = personalized
Nike = athleticism

And then there is the Holy Grail, where the name of the brand becomes the same as the product category


And then the holy grail of Holy Grails – when the brand becomes incorporated into the language and becomes used as a verb


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Left Handed Link to Breast Cancer

They have found a link between handedness and breast cancer. In a recent study in the Netherlands, they have found that left-handed women are 39% more likely to develop breast cancer. This apparently has something to due with the fetal exposure of high levels of sex hormones a fetus receives while in the uterus that somehow determines handedness.

According to new data from the American Cancer Society, death rates from breast cancer have dropped by 2.3 percent a year since 1990, with the decline most pronounced among younger women. This in part is due to a large push in the communications industry to make knowledge about self-screening and breast cancer prevention known. There is a great ad put out by Zig in Toronto Creative Wonders Link

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Reinforcement of the Dominant Paradigm

There is a reason governments and corporations want to maintain the status quo. It keeps the populace docile in terms of rebellion and revolution, and keeps it focussed on the mass consumerism paradigm. This is reflected immediately through communications, such as the nature of their advertisements, corporate culture, corporate art, but predominantly in film. Films get their funding through government bodies (such as the military ), rifle associations, tobacco companies, religious organizations and special interest political factions that want to have their ideology perpetuated. I am guessing that there is a certain degree of ideology extortion and ransom that happens in films as well, but I really need to look into that one more closely. More subtly, there is music, school curriculum, and the magic bullet effect of mass media (ie what stories they are choosing to focus on).

Music is an interesting phenomenon. It is very persuasive, and it has the power to rally and unify, as well as subdue and quell. In a time of war, it can be used to instil values of courage, bravery, loyalty, self-sacrifice for a greater good and concept of heroism and treason. It defines the terrorist or the patriot. In times where it is inadvisable to have a nation of warriors, music can be used to promote mass-consumerism (just think of rap and hip hop and the ostentatious materialism it encourages), or internalize anger (like most modern rock) that dwells on issues of self-pity. By fine-tuning songs so that they appeal to youth on a personal level; such as through feelings of insecurity, unchecked hormonal aggression, quests of power and self-identity, self-doubt, anger, and bravado, music can be honed so that the correct reaction is created. While rap and hip-hop can be used as a radical anti-establishment tool, it has been used to created an inequity of power and respect as semiotically represented through material possessions. Rock can have a riotous, mob-mentality effect, but has instead been channelled into guilty self-directed anger hooked on the shame model of existence.

In times of war, the lyrics will change to spawn a more aggressive society. For now, it is in the interest of big business to keep us as docile, bovine consumers. Because the songs on the radio act as a platform for their advertising sales package, it is important to appeal to a readily definable target market. When the songs on the radio speak to you personally, it is because you are familiar with the status quo you are supposed to be cowtowed to, and the music can illustrate your deviation - to uncomfortable effect.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Subverting the Dominant Paradigm

Honda won Best In Show at the Cannes Lions this year for their ad
It’s cute, and it is colourful, but the reason it won was because of a philosophy that runs parallel to the sustainability movement – Hate something/change something. In other words, it doesn’t make much sense to gripe and moan unless you are going to put disgruntlement into positive action. In North America, we are still handcuffed by a lot of traditions that we are slowly breaking from, but still maintain a paradigmatic pull.

1. Religion - The Catholic church is still opposed to the promotion of condoms in Africa, even though it has the highest incidences of AIDS in the world. The latest policy in the United States is to promote abstinence as well. It wasn’t too long ago that no building in a city could be larger than the cathedral in the centre, or that weddings were mandatory, divorces unheard of, and agnostics and atheists were seen as pagans. Copernicus, Darwin, and Galileo all had their run-ins against religious doctrine, others, it cost them their lives. Dogma can be dangerous.
2. The Industrial Revolution – The ‘Protestant Work Ethic’ was dreamed up in the wake of the industrial revolution to create a society of socialized workers. However, the concept of trading time for money, and for seeing work as a service to God has become soul-destroying, and contrary to the natural course of human instinct and development.
3. Supporting the Economy Through Mass Consumerism – It is no coincidence that following 9-11 George Bush encouraged everyone to go out and shop. The way in which the economy is structured demands consistent consumerism to stay afloat. The better every member of society is transformed into active consumers, the faster money changes hands and keeps things moving. It is an outdated, and short-sighted model, but it will take a while before we get out of habits such as fashion, materialism and keeping up with the Joneses.

The Sustainability Movement has a bit of a reputation for being the squeaky wheel, but it appears that the grease is coming in the form of revised consumerism. Or at least a consumer culture that aims to capitalize by appealing to the most lucrative complaints, such as a demand for organic food, earth friendly cleaning products and services, and hybrid or clean diesel engines.

However it will be a while before we are zig-zagging with other parts of culture beyond how we handle our forks, tip our hats, court our women, post our horses, duel our opponents and nail up our treatises.