Posts tagged storytelling
Posts tagged storytelling
“… the instantaneous change of one quantity with respect to another, as velocity, which is the instantaneous change of distance with respect to time.” –dictionary.com
I just finished reading Ad Age’s article, Book of Tens: Ideas of a Decade. The article is just that—ideas. It depicted CEOs’ attempts at a digital-age Ogilvy by engendering buzz terms that merely amount to all things obvious or mediocre, or both. Lacking examples of how advertising’s stepped toward the digital plate, we’re regaled of trends in creating emotional connections between consumer and brand (yawn); the marriages of entertainment and advertising in mini soap operas (hasn’t that already occurred with product placement in movies?); word of mouth trend setting via peer to peer influence (duh); crowd sourcing—the newest buzz term to influence advertising trends; and, the worst of the bunch, consumer control, where one way conversations with the consumer end and interactive virtual engagement begins—though the process of engaging and retaining the consumer is still a bit of a mystery.
Converse to any proof, without any substantive cited examples of how these trends moderated or influenced a digital decade and consumers’ decisions, all of this was stamped as ‘best of the decade.’
The article’s celebrated ideas eventually blend into an intellectual puree: brown, lumpy mush pointing to one thing only—that despite all the digital outlets, we still have to talk to the consumer in order to tell their stories. It’s not a novel idea, but for some reason it’s one that evades even the top minds in marketing and advertising. If you get them to buy your product, you’ve started a relationship—the courtship has begun. Now, in order to keep the person interested, much like dating, you have to let them tell their story. That’s where advertising needs to grow as a medium—as a storyteller, documenting why and how consumers needs products to not only sustain themselves but to feel connected to a community.
My initial complaint of the movie, Avatar, was that the plot was lost in showcasing animation technology. I think advertising faces the same debacle—that if we can’t properly tell a consumer’s story then we’ve literally shelved the brand or product as pointless objects. Humans are still very much hunters and gatherers, though now that primate quality is relegated to seeking and accruing information more than physical objects.
ideological movement or change based on provocative, new ideas.
I love that most definitions for derivative immediately point to velocity as a common derivative—being that velocity is changed distance with respect to time. Observed from my ten year stint in advertising, I’d say the excelled rate of velocity belongs to the interactive boutique agencies—whose lifespan is ten years or less. For example, companies like Big Spaceship and Huge have quickly climbed to the top of the interactive ladder by seeming to prefer creative’s marriage to technology, and thus consummating this combination in uniquely interactive campaigns that, for the most part, serve to entertain and engage users.
Big Spaceship’s microsite “HBO Voyeur’ is an eminent example, as users clicked within different apartment windows in a NYC cityscape and then watch looped videos of, generally macabre or bizarre, scenarios in what looked like a bunch of animated dollhouses. There was no consumer-derived objective in the site: it subliminally branded HBO as an innovator online and in storytelling, and it provided users with a subtle entertainment site that could play in the background or as a screensaver. It leveraged proof that not all sites have to showcase a product or USP to either engage or entertain users.
But these are companies who, I’d surmise, first explored their creative options, preferring to become innovators rather than service-based only. The prominent service you’re selling to clients is the creative. What hasn’t really changed, that’s extremely annoying, is the amount of process, discussion of process, and attention to process dominating advertising agencies’ work flow. Granted, this is conjecture, but I surmise that the combined total of project managers, account people, and administrative staff out totals creative staff to an extreme ratio. (Perhaps for the amount of work a creative does, there’s a mountain of paper work for account people to handle: the excel flow charts, power point presentations, billing invoices, make goods for an unhappy client, etc. Who fucking knows.) I’ve only worked at a couple of agencies who sprinkle account execs and creatives together, so that they can work and communicate without the onus of constant meetings.
I haven’t seen many changes in the ad industry in 10 years other than more boutique and digital agencies materializing. The monolithic dinosaur agency is still alive but barely kicking, it seems. Also, the transition from consumer to pharmaceutical advertising seems to have plagued the 2000 decade; it was realized that pharm advertising made more money… Americans need drugs, and apparently they see sunflowers and blue skies when taking them.
In college, an advertising professor joked that if you work in advertising, you’ll likely become an alcoholic. I initially found it humorous, but then I initially entered advertising thinking it perpetuated creative thinking as much as it perpetuated consumerism.
In my ten year stint in the advertising and interactive industries, I’ve cognized the seeming necessity to consume copious libations: either you’re pissed off by a client’s bastardization of the creative; or, an account person tells you they’re not comfortable showing creative to a client because it doesn’t exist in the client’s head; or, a creative dictator—err, director—steals or stomps all over your idea; or, your creativity is simply best derived from inebriation or a drug-induced high. (I used to joke that ad agencies should give drug tests to make sure people consumed some mind-altering substance.)
Obviously, trying to receive a frontal lobotomy via alcohol didn’t mean you would not encounter the same dysfunctional process, hung over, the following day. (My liver would like to thank all of the tattle-taling, goody-goody tissued* account people who ignored creatives’ genius and instead plastered their lips to the client’s ass. My poor substance filtering organ, it should have dissipated by now.)
Lately, I’ve been entangled in the same culture of complaining as a lot of my colleagues, but I’ve realized that my complaints haven’t changed since my induction into the ad industry, 10 years ago. I’m still braving the over saturated egos; contrived effort to find the next big idea, and; bitchy displays of hegemony in office politics, etc.
Is there an info graphic, somewhere, on how many junior advertisers and creatives initially jump into advertising with passion, enthusiasm and energy, but then get sucked into the black hole of cynicism—the gravitational pull extending from an executive’s bitter vacuum of hegemony. Advertising has become a business model where marketing executives are hired into creative director positions and account people are allowed to choose and approve (or reject) creative. And, to my previous point, the more you guess what’s in the client’s head and what they’ll like then you’ve relinquished the consumer’s story.
When I first started working in advertising, at XXXXX, my recalcitrant demeanor couldn’t comply with the directive to sit at my desk and behave myself, and to subsequently perform production work handed to me by art and creative directors. I was fresh out of college brimming with excitement. The internet was still burgeoning then, and companies would block websites, especially personal email clients, so that you could only access company email, the intranet, and, possibly, client related sites. Now, it’s impossible to work a day without seeing someone using instant messaging, facebook, youtube and twitter. Actually, it seems tacitly included in your job description to social network for ‘research.’
I digress. Basically, until you become an executive in advertising, it seems like you’re constantly paying your dues in initiation costs. Yet, the advertising industry employs brilliant, creative people yet has no idea how to channel talent through a stodgy business model.
Also, it’s an industry filled with cut-throat competition and gossip. There’s a lot of gossip. People are happy to share information on who they know at different agencies and who has won accolades, but you rarely hear people talk about the work. I’ve also noticed that the recession has installed a new culture of competition, causing people to whine about less talented individuals receiving jobs—their ire is aimed at their insecurity of being underrated or undervalued.
Who’s to gage talent except the people hiring?
Oh, yes. The people hiring are, drum roll please, HR. Because the economy sucks, human resources is the new darth vader usurping power and deigning they who are worthy to work in the advertising industry. Since when did someone who fills out insurance forms and design harassment policy get to pick creative talent? Perhaps that’s how Jennifer Aniston became an actress—the acting union’s version of HR thought she was pretty and safe, and her resume had the right keywords pertinent to their search. I recently freelanced at a company, where the designated HR rep takes careful measure to study your info on linkin and then look up your referencs on linkding, but she doesn’t necessarily interview or speak with the talent.
These days an HR person will turn you down if you don’t have long term experience with one or two agencies. If you have a plethora of freelance experience, they will assume you blow through the agency like a whirlwind and perpetuate the revolving door. Yet, what HR fails to see is that the recombination of information dwells within the freelancer lifestyle. Now is the time for agencies to hire freelancers—people who have accrued data on different business models in ad agencies and client side businesses.
I’m not a person who generally complains without reason, though the previous dithyramb is a bit of a shit storm. I concur, but then when I hang out with advertising colleagues, I’m rarely treated to someone who thinks the industry is going anywhere. It’s an endemic attitude.
Fuck HR reps and fuck account people who are more interested in kissing the client’s ass then getting inside the consumer’s head. If a creative director can’t find time to scout talent, but rather relying on an HR rep who likely wipes their ass with creatives’ resumes, then why are we in this business?
Personally, I want to start telling stories and folding a more sociological and anthropological thread into all that I’m doing. Otherwise, we’re just pointlessly continuing the bland repetition that Andy Warhol delineated in his montages.
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