NEW NIKE BASEBALL COMMERCIAL 選手宣誓 (SUBTITLE AVAILABLE)
NIKE FOOTBALL: VAPOR TRAIL. Cristiano Ronaldo leaves a vapor trail on the pitch.
When I first started in advertising, the industry was at the tail end of a very classical period. Projects would often take over a year, and the deliverables were primarily magazine ads and television commercials.
Anything on the Internet was considered a geeky experiment and not to be trusted. I joined Twitter during its first year, and I remember suggesting using it for a campaign. I was roundly laughed out of the room for my naivety. The same thing happened with proposing a campaign that would work entirely on Facebook.
Refresh your browser to today, when Twitter and Facebook have become a core consideration on every single advertising brief. Gone are the year-long concepting grinds. Replaced by a new kind of fluid client-agency partnership that takes incredible collaboration to meet the ever quickening deadlines. The process is often chaotic during the making of these things, but when the dust settles, we have projects that everyone takes pride in.
I think the model for advertising used to model the process cycle of filmmaking and the fine arts. But as technology has tipped into mainstream ubiquity, the advertising model I find myself operating in is closer to developing, programming and hacking. It’s our job to bring as much taste and aesthetics to this process, but you need to shift your mind into a perpetual beta state to keep up. The rules of the digital landscape are being written on a daily basis, so there can be seismic shifts mid-production, or even after launch. If you don’t find a way to cope with that new reality, you’ll go mad, and your projects will never be realized.
I find myself creating ‘theories’ more than concepts these days. While I always start from a core idea, I try to keep my mind loose, to be receptive to a range of executional options. I also try to use as many digital platforms and tools as possible, so that I constantly know where the edges of the playing field are.
It’s impossible to predict where tomorrow’s innovation will take us. All we can do is stay fluid and adapt. All we can do is be water, my friend. We can’t predict the future, but we can be smart about building a mobile foundation that will be able to react and take advantage of this constantly evolving digital landscape.Tweet
It started off as a dorm room joke. Then it evolved into a campus experiment before eventually tipping into a multi-billion dollar advertising juggernaut.
Does Facebook represent a new way of doing business, or are we caught up in the interactive glare of a new Fool’s Gold?
I believe Facebook as it currently exists is not sustainable. It’s meteoric rise has been impressive and inspiring, but is that due more to the fact that they were the first ones to bet heavily (and with great ambition) in the social networking space.
Google is learning from Facebook’s learnings and has been chasing them with a passion. With Google’s recently refreshed mobile app, you could even argue that Google ‘gets’ mobile better than Facebook. That’s concerning considering the present and future of digital will be predominantly mobile.
Facebook is a phenomenal personal networking tool. It’s a great way to keep up with friends. But other than automating the ease with which you can connect, what additional value are they providing customers? I can see how they are offering advertisers tremendous value. ‘Pay us and you can talk to our 900 million citizens.’ But what is the value for those 900 million? Is Facebook sustainable as an advertising sales company?
What happens when people ignore the ads? Get fed up with the intrusions? Or another social network rises to prominence by promising to be ad free?
I think Facebook will chase its tail a little bit here. From one point of view, you could claim that Facebook has become the digital equivalent of a television broadcast network. They are making broadcast space available to advertisers for a fee. Yes, there is the omnipresent ‘Like’ button to make it technically ‘two-way’ conversation. But are people begging for these ads? Do people wake up and say ‘Man, I really want to engage with some brands online today.’
If they do, then Facebook has cracked the code. If not, perhaps they are a traditional broadcast media platform in social media clothing (coding).
I think Facebook is in a great position to radically change what they do. I’m not sure if the investors will allow that to happen. But if they built some new, surprising arms to their operation, they could take their business to another level. They could leverage their massive user base to create products around the types of things that people love sharing. Music, video, and hell, even something like GIFs. But those theories are fodder for another post, or a coffee talk with the Chief Hoodied Officer himself.
Time and dollars will tell.
All I know, is when it comes to Facebook’s stock:
‘Like’ low, ‘Unlike’ high.Tweet
My business card says ‘Andrew Miller. Copywriter.’
I’ve never been satisfied with that title. I respect it, but don’t feel like it defines me well. ‘Copywriter’ to me sounds like something that is hanging on from the days of Madmen. I know it’s a strong calling card in the world of advertising, but as the world of advertising is stretching on a daily basis into ‘the world of creativity,’ I struggle to understand how the term can keep up.
Traditionally a copywriter wrote the words that would appear in advertising. They would write scripts for television commercials, and headlines and body copy for print ads. I do all of those things, but I feel like that is only 10% of my job description.
I also design websites, create mobile apps, build interactive experiences, create ways to visualize data, figure out the best way to use Facebook, develop campaigns that live on Twitter, have meetings not just with directors and photographers, but also event planners, software engineers, coders and hackers.
I know I’m not alone. I know these duties are the new standard for advertising creatives. Maybe that’s why a much broader cross section of industries are now interested in having conversations. Being a copywriter in 2012 feels like a tremendous education in modern creativity. The experiments and the failures feel more valuable than ever as we are all hacking our way to figure out which way leads up.
So, what title do we put on our business cards? (err… LinkedIn profiles?)
Writing TV spots and snappy headlines is the foundation. It’s the kind of thing we’re called on to do in a jam these days. There’s a time and a place for it. But more and more so, in a world gone fully digital, there is an open-source, beta-mindset of trial and error that we are expected to engage with, create ideas around and give advice about without blinking an eye.
Dear Super Bowl Advertisements,
I have witnessed the pinnacle of athletic achievement
and during the commercial breaks I have learned
more about the subtle nature of mankind.
I have reinvisoned America and reconsidered
my choice in carbonated beverages.
My soul was stirred by dancing babies.
My spirit lifted by CG explosions.
My thought leavened by scantilly clad women
promising eternal domain name bliss.
I’ve been seduced by the delicate dance
of artificially flavored corn chips and my existence
has been validated by the soul baring theatrics of canines.
I’ve been cajoled by hashtags and romanced by URLs.
I’ve been drawn into your sacred dance inside
the seven circles of the Big Dance and I have followed
your instructions and promises of online engagement.
I have been enlightened by your thoroughly integrated
efforts and I have bathed in your intellectual
Dadaism of apocalyptic off-roading.
You have provoked me to scale the greatest mountains
of my own intellect and I have emerged victorious
and will instinctively now choose the products
you are selling over e offerings of your competitors.
I have looked myself in the eyes, long and hard
and have rediscovered my lost penchant for your model of cellphone.
I am a mirror to the enthusiasm and personal attention you have shown me.
This morning, I find myself, completely and wholly, a consumer for your love.
I will return on your investment tenfold.
Bob the Perceptive.
Brands can be a messy thing at first glance. A brand is the outward facing manifestation of some really big corporations. How can you distill such complicated businesses into an easily communicated brand?
I like to think of brands as really big people. It’s a metaphor that helps me cut through the clutter.
Some brands are like very inwardly focused people. The way they talk to the world is very technical. Some brands, if you think of them like people just keep saying the same thing over and over again. Some brands declare ‘I make computers!’ ‘Hey look at me, I still make computers!’
If you are an established computer brand, people are going to understand that you make computers. Is there anything more interesting you can share with us?
Apple is widely acknowledged as a great brand. If Apple were a person, they would be a really fascinating person who is able to discuss a variety of topics. Some tightly related to computers, while others were inspirational viewpoints on how to see the world.
When we make the connection between what a company thinks and what they sell as a business, the result is powerful branding.
Nike is another brand that would also make a fascinating person. Nike as a person is focused but also cool. Nike is an inspiring person who loves to give us pep talks. Some of those pep talks are directly about sports, while at other times they give us a life lesson that makes us want to be better in a more general sense.
Every brand has a choice. They can be a company who tells us what they technically make and produce, or they can be a really compelling giant person filled with personality and anecdotes that make us naturally want to spend more time around them.
When a brand chooses to be a really interesting person, they naturally create conversations with us and don’t become the awkward guest at the party who is just their to network and hand out their business card.
Choose wisely brands.Tweet
Nike has found lasting success through giving serious and consistent attention to three foundational pieces of their brand:
Product - Nike has stayed true to their founding mission by continually creating quality products for athletes with a focus on making them better.
Endorsements - Nike has spent huge sums of money to attract and hold the most iconic athletes in the world to be the face of the brand in action.
Culture - Nike has consistently amplified its voice through provocative entries into pop culture through entertainment and social issues.
Nike has been able to preserve the founding ethos of Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman, who set out to make products that would serve and improve the performance of world class athletes. Early on they aggressively sought out top, aspirational athletes to go set world records and win championships while wearing Nikes.
The performances spoke for themselves to fellow athletes and sports fans. But Nike’s next revolution as a brand was to unearth and amplify the voice of the athlete. Through a mix of provocative, imaginative and entertaining marketing that leveraged their athletes, Nike came to stand for both championship level performance AND attitude. Every athlete was positioned to be approachable and just damn cool. Nike found a way to be a sports brand that is rooted in both authentic sports and pop culture.
This is a formula that has worked over the years. The athletes have changed, but Nike has continued to find a way to make athletes inspirational beyond the realm of just athletes and sports fans. They have found a sophisticated way of using sports as a metaphor and lens to view society. They have partnered with their athletes to make bold statements about provocative topics such as racism, cancer, AIDS and equality. This is an approach and counter intuitive leap that other sports brands have failed to make. Nike continues to bet on the absolute best athletes, teams and leagues in the world, while also feeding their brand into culture and sub cultures through sportswear.
I believe Apple’s ‘Think Different’ is likely a provocative statement aimed at IBM’s longstanding motto ‘Think.’
Although IBM was no longer a direct competitor of Apple at the time of this campaign, when Steve Jobs was coming up, IBM represented the type of company and corporate culture he actively sought to rebel against.
IBM represented a company of workers wearing the same suits and putting profits ahead of innovation. This led Jobs to envision IBM as the Big Brother of computing. So I imagine their motto being ‘Think’ must have inspired the rebel in Jobs to believe ‘Think Different’ was the perfect ideological counter statement.
Japan has one of the richest history’s of visual aesthetics of any culture in the world. The history of Japanese art is sophisticated and varied in it’s presentation.
Their graphic paintings served as inspiration to Van Gogh. Their attention to detail in design is world renown. The organic yet refined brushwork of their written characters or some of the most unique and artful examples of typography the world has ever seen.
Japanese animators, poster designers, and graphic artists continue to pioneer at the very forefront of the modern art world.
Despite this incredibly rich visual tradition, there is nary a trace of these groundbreaking visuals when it comes to modern Japanese advertising.
From subway posters to TV commercials, 99% of what you see is a textbook case of writing the book and then going faithfully by that book. Japanese advertising could not be more inside of the box. This point was loosely touched on in the American film, Lost In Translation, where actor playing an actor Bill Murray is instructed to hold his beverage up at a very specific angle, and then drying say the campaign tagline. That one scene brings to life the backstory of seemingly thousands of Japanese advertisements. Simply switch in the latest pop star, have them hold the drink/watch/food item/widget at the appropriate angle and utter the campaign tagline as dryly as possible.
Cut. Print. Ship. Next campaign.
No chances. No surprises. Just cleanly checking the boxes and making the public suffer through another wave of the same old same old.
The print often comes across as awkward and literal, first year art school level comps. There appears to be zero regard fir craftsmanship and finish. And often the pieces that hint at a strong idea, end up getting slaughtered in an over eager, junior level execution.
The saving grace of the Japanese commercial arts is found in the retail space. Store design is where you can witness the inspiring chances being taken. It’s where you can feel the innovative personality of Japan’s elite design sense.
Package design is also alarmingly present as an art form. I often buy items for the packaging alone, and feel bad for ever opening such an affecting art object.
Apparently the chasm between the art world and the advertising world exists because of the priorities and structure of the typical Japanese advertising agency. Agencies are notoriously account and media driven, relegating the vast majority of creatives as barely necessary cogs in a much larger matrix of regularly scheduled and pre-bought media placement consumption.
There is no concept of a ‘creatively driven’ advertising agency. There are a host of smaller, digital boutiques where you can find the most innovative commercial work in Japan happening. But again, the gridlock of the commercial industry has boxed out the best creative intentions, and martyred a host of would-be creative thinkers to little more than briefcase toting yes men who are mandated never to question a client. To never step in and save a client from the pitfalls and mediocrity that rounds of lifeless over testing of ideas tends to render.
It’s a shame, because the commercials arts could be a wonderful platform for the talented artists, designers, musicians, filmmakers and photographers of this nation to show their craft.
In the meantime, until a creative revolution, I suppose the essence of modern Japanese art will stay hidden, exposed to a select few patrons of taste, in tiny clubs, galleries and undefinable art spaces of the Tokyo underground.
I fear what this lack of exposure to tasteful art will do to generations of impressionable minds, who will only have a very shallow, top down view of what mass communication can be. I suppose the single-minded, one beat tone of Japanese commercial messaging could turn off a generation of consumers, and drive them to their own personal journey of artistic discovery.