Scientists have published a report that suggests TV - in particular, cartoons - can have a numbing effect on children. They found that children watching cartoons suffered less pain from a hypodermic
needle than kids not watching TV. In fact, TV was found to be more soothing than moms. If this is true, then understanding 'passive distraction' may be important when we think about how ads work, and in particular why most testing methodologies are frankly ridiculous.
Apple gets it. Innocent gets it. But few brands utilize their most abundant and free form of media - their packaging. Here's some good examples of labels from a new wine company (admittedly run by a friend) that give the brand a very different, interesting feel.
I finally had the chance last night to sit down and watch Sketches of Frank Gehry (thankyou PBS), and without a doubt it was one of the most inspirational things I've watched in a long time. I'm a big fan of his architecture but there are so many things covered in the movie that are so applicable to the day to day job of making stuff for brands: the challenge of turning the three dimensional into the two dimensional (and vice versa), his acceptance (as he describes it with 'maturity') that his best work came from collaboration, his sources of inspiration, his belief that the biggest impact on any project is made by the client (they get the work they deserve, so choose your clients wisely).
Three scenes in particular have stayed with me:
1. The opening scene where he talks about how hard it is to start a project and the tyranny of the blank sheet of paper - avoidance, delay, denial as he's scared he doesn't know what to do. And then you start and look at what you've done and think that wasn't too bad. It's all about the importance of doing not thinking. 2. His description of why he admires painters: the moment of truth where you have the canvas on your easel, you have a brush with a palette of colors and what do you do? What's that first move? I love that dangerous place. 3. His three ingredients of what makes something 'wrong' - it's too easy, falling into some cliche or we already did it.
I've just read a great book called Who Are You People? by Sherri Caudron. It's a book about a cross-country journey undertaken by the author to meet people who get passionately, fanatically obsessively into things ranging from pigeon racers in the Bronx to a woman who watches 40 reruns a week of the Andy Griffith show. It's a great look at Americans and how they live today. And it's a great riposte to those who say people are boring and dull. The truth is that everyone has some pretty extraordinary everyday behavior. And we mustn't forget that.
Aaron Sorkin's new show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (he created The West Wing), has just begun over here and it's one of the few shows I make sure I watch. After watching the first couple of episodes I began to think about why it's a show I feel I have to watch and I guess the simple reason is this - it works on many layers, is full of nuance and full of that rare thing on TV, or the world, today humility.
You can read the show as a straight drama about the making of a TV show; about the politics of TV; about the pain it takes to make something funny; about friendship; about the impact of political, religious and legal censorship of the media today. All of them are valid, and they often intertwine and interact.
But added to this is a layer of humility and honesty. It has characters who have problems similar to many of the principals in real life (the director with the drug problem (not similar to Aaron Sorkin's past) or Matthew Perry's character fun on prescription drugs), and, better still, the whole set up of the show feels as if it is a brave examination of Saturday Night Live, arguably the weekend flagship of the same network, NBC, and a show that has felt increasingly neutered over the last few years.
It feels that this show perhaps provides another example of a formulae of interestingness (Jeffre Jackson has the first example on his great blog Pink Air). In this case it would be something like (depth+nuance)x(humility+honesty) = interesting.
Anyway, if you get the chance it's worth watching.
Over at if!, Piers links us to the new ad for the EFFIE awards which takes aim at other ad awards, primarlily for their subjectivity. Fair enough - the EFFIEs are after all meant to be about the work that works (and they should be applauded for their move this year to define 'work' in the broadest sense). But am I the only one with a problem with the EFFIEs and their continual chestbeating that they are about work that works? The awards do nothing to even attempt to isolate the impact of communications on business - if you meet the objectives you state in the introduction then the work must have, worked whether it was down to the work, competitive failure or acts of god (or any combination of the above). And they expect you to do this in a template filling format that hinders you from sharing the real and unique approaches to thinking or provide any rigor to analysis. All this means that unlike, for example, the UK IPA Effectiveness Awards, there is little new learning, and in reality I would argue, little credibility in the corporate boardroom.