Finished my 15 minutes of SXSW fame, delivering a “quickie” presentation called Signs and the Evolution of Ambient. Bit nerve wracking this one, on account of the round robin approach with presenters: one up one down and another in the wings. It kind of worked though, especially given attention spans of wired to the gills audience.
Among other things, my discussion dealt with human being’s seemingly innate compulsion to imbue meaning into just about anything. Creating and/or perceiving signs are an inevitable part of the human experience, transcending mediums and technology. Graffiti, tattoos, constellations, billboards… all signs. As such they attempt to compel belief and behavior. Modern advertising is merely an extension of this age-old process.
Given I was at the epicenter of Interactivity I relished pointing out that low-tech does not necessarily mean less powerful. On the contrary. For advertisers, signs can be more humanly relevant than any other media.
Technology is grand but I think many marketers (and by default most everyone at this festival) try too hard proving how contemporary they/we are, by desperately and perhaps naively competing with screens.
I gave the following example on the ill effects of tech worship. In the 70’s, digital watches were the rage. So cool, we all had to have one! And then we didn’t. A traditional watch face is timeless. Ironically, digital watches have become nostalgic. I know it’s a flawed comparison but it makes good oratory.
I’ll be modifying this presentation (obviously) for a presentation at ad:tech San Francisco in April. Maybe I’ll see you there?
November 30, 2011
RG Blue Communications and Butterfly Sanitary Napkins broke a new outdoor advertising campaign in far away Pakistan. It pokes fun at the infamous Wikileaks site in an obvious way. I get the joke, even almost laughed. But is it good advertising?
I posted one the billboard on my Facebook page and asked women to weigh in on the subject. Reactions were mostly negative, ranging from “Ew” to, “Well, if I can sit through all those ads about erections I suppose it’s time for this.”
I suppose the agency and client should get points for generating PR, especially given they are only planning a few executions. After all, I’m writing about it after discovering the campaign on Psychographism and researching it on MSNBC.. Lotta coverage, so to speak.
What do you think, Gentle Reader; is this a good ad or a bad ad? Female votes count for double.
November 23, 2011
Outdoor advertising, when it’s done well, is perhaps my most favorite advertising of all. I’ve long rhapsodized about the power of posters and how the making of signs is wrapped up in our collected DNA. There’s just something about a cool billboard that really turns me on.
Forgive the ham-fisted segue but speaking of “turn on,” feast your eyes on the latest outdoor board for McDonald’s, courtesy of my alma mater, Leo Burnett. It’s stunning. Mimicking the cut and color of McDonald’s signature side dish yellow lights shoot up to the sky from behind a vivid red box. So very modern. Yet so timeless. Just a beautiful job.
Although this might be one of the best, McDonald’s and Leo Burnett have been creating exceptional outdoor boards for decades, especially the “spectaculars.” Those, in particular, rise above the crowd, figuratively and literally.
Typically, the best outdoor advertising comes from smaller clients, brands that have no budget for other forms of mass communication. When blue-chippers like McDonald’s interrupt our landscape in such a surprising and delightful way the Gods of Advertising smile brightly.
As usual I didn’t sleep a wink on the plane, even though I was in business class, buffeted by droning engines, able to fully recline should I desire to. None of that mattered, I might as well have been straddling one of the engines. I don’t sleep on planes. Never could. Even when I drank all I got was drunk. Years later, I’ve learned to just read and write and watch a movie.
Today, flying from Chicago to Madrid was roughly seven hours. By the time I finished my dinner, I’d managed to kill almost three of them. Unfortunately, the movie player was acting up, though I wasn’t upset because the selection of videos was lame: “Rabbit Hole” and “Country Strong.” Pass. Fortunately, I’d brought along an excellent book, the memoir “Townie” by Andre Dubus III. Sometime after the first hundred pages dawn was flirting at my window.
Fill out the pointless immigration form. Seriously, what is the point? These are SO EASILLY FORGED. I didn’t even bother writing the correct flight numbers… All that remains is landing safely, getting my tired ass through customs (presumably with my bag), finding my driver (hardly a gimmie), and getting to the Intercontinental Hotel, hopefully before noon.
I know this isn’t a travel blog but travel is what I’m doing, so attribute the above paragraphs to my scrambled brains. Tomorrow I make a presentation on outdoor advertising to FEPE, the European Advertising Federation. It’s the same speech I did in Michigan last week. Only better
Update from my hotel room:
Madrid is the cleanest city I have ever seen. Not a speck of litter from the airport to the hotel. Blue skies. 80 degrees. I don’t know what I was expecting but this exceeds it.
Now I must take a siesta…