Augmented reality is 'a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.'
The promo for a B movie to be shown in Australia overlays a storm sequence over the live events happening on the street in real time. It's a clever, promotional gimmick and would be highly entertaining in itself for people passing by.
Augmented reality can also be a useful utility. One of our clients, Frogs In New Zealand - an inbound tourism operator for visitors to New Zealand who speak French - have incorporated it into their guide app - when you are travelling you can can view a scene and see pinpointed places with insider information including offers and deals unique to Frogs.
The limitation of these kinds of applications really comes down to numbers. In the case of the storm promotion the concept works in the context of the street scene. It works because it is specific. The twister races towards the viewer on the street and, for moment their brains are scrambled - the real and imaginary elements are brought together convincingly. The flinch or jump back when the car flies towards them. So, from a promotional point of view, if you'll pardon the pun, its efficacy depends on the number of people passing by, divided by the number of people who pause to look and - it would seem, divided by the number of rainy days in Melbourne during the run of the film/advertising (far be it from me to disparage the weather in Melbourne - but the song Four Seasons In One Day was written about the place) - so to gain maximum effect, for the ad to be really good, the weather has to be really bad.
Offset the numbers with the cost of development, presumably the elements have to be customised to every location - so you get big potential impact but at a relatively high production cost per view.
Augmented reality is a versatile technique and it will only become more pervasive. Large scale, fixed events like the movie promotion have their place but the (un)real action will occur on smart phones and devices. The opportunities are literally mind boggling but, like most issues relating to digital technology their application should aim for scale - proliferation of devices and cheap/free distribution through app marketplaces mean a wider potential audience to offset the costs.
As a footnote, the use of 'ambient' techniques by marketers has been a trend for some time now. Often the companion video like the one I've used in this post is all anyone will ever see of the campaign. Of course, we are not the ultimate audience. judging panels at advertising awards are - hence the over-investment in production for an idea with limited media exposure.
Of course the other markets are video platforms - the persistent, vainglorious hope that a clip will go 'viral' and news media - if television news picks up a story as a tail-end filler its value can be higher than the marketer spends on the promo.
Take care though. News producers are becoming more jaded - to the extent of colluding with marketers and ad agencies directly to manufacture 'news' stunts like the famous driving dogs for New Zealand's SPCA.
Life just gets more complicated, doesn't it?
Here it is - your Friday Frolic.
The first ad agency I ever worked for was called Brown Christensen & Associates. Pretty much forgotten now. But in their day they were an important independently owned kiwi firm. They famously introduced Coruba to New Zealand and made it a best seller - and New Zealand the only country in the entire world that preferred dark rum to white rum.
I joined as a production assistant - doing analog work that doesn't exist today: filing and retrieving transparencies, making bromides for finished artists to paste down onto layouts, marking up type, checking galleys…it might as well all be in Anglo Saxon…meaningless in the digital era. I finagled my way into the creative department by teaching myself to render and by leaving my layouts out in plain site of the principals of the company.
Brown Chris were a plum that was riope for the picking - we served clients like Amex, Panasonic/National/Technics, Fisher & Paykel, NZ WInes and Spirits…DDB came knocking and bought the agency. As part of the indoctrination there was a copy of a book called Remember Those Great VW Ads. Brown Chris were bought and I was sold. I still have the book somewhere - I read it over and over, copying the writing style.
The presentation I've put together is the fist time I've used SlideShare as a maker, rather than a consumer. Thought I'd translate the classic parody by Fred Marley and Hal Riney that I used to share with my advertising students at Massey University school of design. Study it carefully. And remember it next time you just want to add a little tweak or apply some cockamamy rule or convention to a product or an idea.
A sweet suite of channel branding idents for France 3 (produced byCube Creative).
I used to love the BBC's onscreen identity. It was engineered mostly by Martin Lambie-Nairn who began his career at the Beeb when it was all rostrum cameras, showcards in black and white or a statuette of a knight rotating magnificently on a lazy Susan (Martin's work kicks in on this vid at 2':20"). When computers became accessible for animation (before they were called 'motion graphics') Lambie-Nairn developed the iconic Channel 4 branding with its 3D graphics that seem quaint now but were much admired in their day and have had anenduring influence on the craft of TV branding. Perhaps it was the BBC that benefited most from ML-N's approach -especially their BBC2 work - which was even copied here in NZ by TV2 - but the less said about that the better.
So why bring these French idents to your attention?
Well, aside from their whimsical charms and lovely production values - I rather like the fact that they seem utterly existential . the channel is a general one that looks very much like TVOne here in NZ. The items promise nothing, they don't let you know the channel is for you by depicting idealised versions of you (avatars?) having a lovely time as part of some fantasy community while the real you sits about in your boxers and a t-shirt wondering if the yoghurt you just got from the fridge is still edible although the pottle foil is ajar.
Channel IDs are high rotation. They are seen time and again. If they mean nothing to begin with then you can scritinise them until the cows, or elephants - if you prefer, come home. It doesn't matter. You will see what you like and, I suspect, like what you see. If you were to decry them as 'silly', then the maker may simply reply 'merci'. If you see them as a post modern analysis and commentary then, perhaps, you too are correct.
It all reminds me of an interview I once saw on TV (or in an apocryphal dream because I have never been able to track it down) where the marketing guy from Dior explains the business plan for LaCroix.
"We had a five-point plan…" (imagine outrageous French Accent).
"Point one: Exist…"
"Point two: Be Famous…"
And that was it.
The debate about gun safety can get a bit inflated in North America.
The arguments can be polar and the mere hint of 'gun control' simply means the battle lines form with the frightened on one side and the lunatics on the other.
This ad cleverly makes its point about keeping some things out of the way of children.
It reminded me of something Bill Bernbach said about not putting your logo on a print advertisement because your prior experience with the brand might mean the reader simply turns the page - and then you're screwed.
This is a guest post by Craig Love - just quietly Craig did rather well for himself at the Cannes ad awards held in Cannes, France recently. He's based in Hong kong. He shares some sound thinking about technology, novelty and those wah-wah-wonderful folks who want you to believe technology is the answer. (What was the question?)
Some years ago, I watched some episodes of series on the history of Hollywood films. One episode was about the arrival of sound, and it included a fascinating interview that I think applies directly to the state of advertising today.
Hollywood had spent years learning how to make good silent movies, then new technology arrived, and for a while, they forgot everything they had learned, not just about making good silent movies, but about making good movies at all.
They interviewed an old film-maker who had been around at the time. He explained that when sound arrived, nobody really understood it, but you had to have it.
Consequently, for a brief but unhappy period, the most important person on set was not the director, or the star, or the producer, or the cinematographer or the art director, but the sound man.
If these guys, who mostly had no background in film-making, wanted to they could effectively direct the movie from the back. And some did.
Armed with microphone and BS, the sound guy could declare, 'No that doesn't work for sound. Have the stars walk over here and say it this way. Otherwise you'll have a bad case of the wah-wahs.'
The result was a lot of really, really bad movies. Bad movies with sound, but bad movies nonetheless.
It took some years for the industry to learn that sound, important though it is, should enhance rather than over-rule the arts of storytelling, emotion, cinematography, acting, and directing which the industry had built itself on.
Today, instead of 'sound-men' directing from the back (and none of this btw is meant as any slight on the skilled professionals working in film sound today), advertising has a host of 'digital / social / data / IT' experts who know fuck all about advertising but are calling the shots from the back.
The result is a lot of really bad advertising.
It will eventually pass, but for now, I would say that today, advertising has a bad case of the wah-wahs.
There's something Maya Angelou said, I think, about how people will forget what you said or did but they will never forget how you made them feel.
Without getting into a debate about whether advertising's role is to entertain or engage or inform (or all of these things by degrees and turns) most ads are supposed to sell something, to be persuasive. If you feel nothing as a response to a message my opinion is that you have failed.
A little while back Kevin Roberts wrote his book Lovemarks - about brands that transcended just being there, credible, worthy consumer choices - to become almost fetish objects in people's lives. What is the opposite of love? Is it hate? No, it is indifference. If you just don't care it is over - sometimes before it begins.
In marketing today there is a lot of conversation about the processes that are being deployed to reach consumers - conversations about content marketing or native advertising, social media, landing page marketing…there will always be another fad emerging or just over the horizon.
What we need to get back to is to imagine how we want people to feel as a result of being exposed to our brand and its messages. Once they are receptive emotionally then the relationship can begin.
Is love the only desirable feeling? Not really. Revulsion can work too - I will never forget an ad by the advertising legend David Abbot that showed a dead dogs in a sack - a doggy bag. A strong statement to make an urgent message (from a more genteel era, admittedly).
When you produce and advertising message don't forget to consider how people feel as a result of being coming into contact with your brand. They will forget the details but will never forget you make them feel empowered, hopeful, energised or even loved - or any one of the gamut of human emotions. Likewise, if you make them feel angry, cheated or insulted you will probably never have another chance.
As that advertising legend from the other side of the Atlantic, Bill Bernbach, also, famously, said: 'The facts are not enough'.
I have to confess that Apple's advertising in recent years hasn't really rung my bell. It could be that their products are just iterations of things that already exist (and competitors are snapping at their heels with products that have features every bit as good and in some cases better than Apple's). In the past they had news - like the Mac, the iPod, iPhone (early days) and iPad.
The ad kicks off emphatically off as a tribute to how the iPhone can augment the experience of making music before meandering off into the back blocks of wherever on motorcycles, boxing gyms and in-home planetariums - wrapping it all up with the message 'You're more powerful than than you think'.
It's a bit of a Bohemian Rhapsody kind of thing set to the Pixies Gigantic song. In other words - it's a mess. It seems as if Apple's flat industrial design and flat UX design is a triumph of focus and clarity of purpose - while the marketing department has lost its way. The iPhone may well be just about all things to all people (there's an app for that) - but if you throw everything into the pot at the same time then nothing shines through.
Frankly I think the ad is a bit of a clunker. It almost comes under the heading of - if you have nothing to say then sing it. Though, rather than finding an elegant riff and sticking with it, they went with an atonal mess.
Ads work better when you have a clear proposition - one that potentially resonates with a person. People can't focus on too many elements at one time (especially when they are distracted - or you are distracting them from their purpose - like watching their favourite show on TV).
There is an old advertising trick to demonstrate this to clients when they want to jam pack too much information into a commercial. Get five ping pong balls. Toss one to the client. They'll probably get catch it. Now throw all five at once - good luck with that one. Maybe Apple's agency didn't have the balls to remind their client of that communication truth.
A strong, single minded proposition will beat a complex sequence of information every time.
Over the past couple of years cosmetics companies have been making a bid to be seen as purveyors of 'true beauty' as a way of manufacturing a point of difference for their brands.
This campaign for the specialist make-up brand Dermablend makes no apology for concealing the model's flaws.
The ads are classic demonstrations of the product in use. By wiping away the cover the people in the ads communicate how effectively the product allows them to engage in everyday life without enduring the problems associated with being different - make-up as camouflage.
Where the subtle shift takes is in how the brand leverages the meme that cosmetics can somehow make you 'better' and the equal and opposite meme - you are perfect the way you are. In this case both are paradoxically true and false.
Can you be better by becoming someone else? If you have a flaw that you feel you need to conceal, are you inherently rejecting the true you?
Most of us want to 'fit in'. There's no real difference between using cosmetics or prosthetic teeth - or wearing a suit to work at the bank when you're a rock star in the making at the weekend. In our culture we have the choice if we can afford it.
Dermablend encourage people who use their product to submit their own 'camo confession' as part of their push to find a place in the cosmetics conversation that is something other than 'vanity'.
The model in the commercial (above) is Cassandra Bankson, whose beauty tutorials are an internet sensation in their own right
Slightly Tangenital - but related.
This ad for a feminine hygiene product (Indonesian) offers the promise of hygiene on the go - presumably on a night out (though I might be projecting an interpretation from my own psyche onto some thing completely innocent).
There seems no end of douche-bag products designed to make women feel bad about themselves and their bodies.
I have a feeling this ad was probably never placed in Indonesian media - it was featured on the Ads of the World website.
What do you think?:
Are women's insecurities targeted more by marketers?
What other examples do yo know of?
This ad for the Waitrose supermarket chain is very nicely made. It uses the talent of a big name director Tom Tagholm (who proved his chops convincingly with work for the 2012 Paralympics, taking the tape for Gran Prix gold at Cannes with Superhumans). Three things strike me about this ad:
A young boy researches gardening and makes the decision to plant his own crop in the back yard. His mum obviously supports his endeavour - but doesn't interfere, except to bring him in out of the rain. He tills the soil, plants the seeds, scares the crows and is no slug on pest control. When the bounty of the harvest is revealed and he proudly serves his assembled family a feast of roast veg.
The commercial is beautifully shot, edited and matched to a music track that evokes empathy without stretching too far into schmalz (even if it is a bit too Coldplay for my taste). Avoiding the temptation to show the family as loving supporters gazing on in admiration (or any other layer of unnecessary emotion to prove some communal bond or interpretation) and neither is the kid shunned or neglected. He's just doing his thing.
The segue is to Waitrose's produce aisle. A young employee is restocking the carrots and the voice over announces: "When you own something you care a little more - everyone who works at Waitrose owns Waitrose.". When I realised what the ad was for I half expected an obvious pronunciation that the produce was as good as if you'd grown it yourself, or a condescending - we grow it better than you could yourself. But no. It is a simple statement about the one thing that makes Waitrose different from, say, Tesco - implied, not stated - human scale and humanist values.
The story, the technique and the point are all are neatly and economically interwoven - though the sotto declamation at the end clearly signifies that this is an ad.
There are conventions in categories. They just evolve and become universal truths - it's marketing entropy - everything ultimately migrates to the black hole of the centre of the positioning grid.
Beware of universal truth - your ads should project something of your brand that no-one else can claim. That might be something oddball - the classic VW ad - it's ugly but it get's you there - comes to mind.
Waitrose are part of the John Lewis Partnership in the UK. The staff are called partners and are participants in a cooperative scheme that grants bonuses to employees based on their pay scale and discounts on goods. The claim in the ad is completely aligned to their practice.
This blog is a notepad of contemporaneous and sometimes extemporaneous thoughts about creativity, strategy and ideas.