“News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.” — Lord Northcliffe
. . . . . . . The modern world is full of forced advertising. There’s only so much time per eyeball to get your message across that you have to use a little guile and charm. People forgive much if you’re a skilled advertiser, but generally the profession of advertising is run by amateurs. They have no social POWER *clenched fist* Before you can get others to believe in you, you must first believe in yourself.
. . . . . . . Weenies. The world of advertising is full of weenies. Puffy men in suits who use small words to express big concepts. Their whole modus operandi is to buy 30 second slots on TV and put forth boring little stories. There’s no reason a micro-story has to be boring. Why have a toilet cleaner dancing on the screen? It’s been done a million times before.
. . . . . . . And there’s the rub. The legacy of advertisers weighs heavily on their creative eyes. What was done in the past, in other words, colors what gets done in the present day. But the past was an entirely different era. On television, on the internet, we are living through multiple eras of advertising, preserved like amber. Traditions are loathe to be abandoned.
. . . . . . . The willpower to do good advertising is absent from the agencies. They are spineless, flabby-hearted creatures who go to meetings out of the love of a good gab. What about brainstorming? Why not sit in a room and force a eureka moment with your next ad piece? This sounds like a good idea to me.
. . . . . . . A block of time purchased on TV cannot do miracles. But it can raise attention to your product or service. Ideally, you want what you’re advertising to have some merit. It’s always easier to huckster a product when you can believe in it yourself. So it’s not just belief in yourself, it’s also belief in the product you’re representing. If you love motorcycles, then advertising Ducati is a joy. A red Ducati doing the turns at high speed is a thing of beauty. It’s also an effective sell. More than any testimonial about the bike, seeing it in action turns heads.
. . . . . . . Yet the thing is, there’s something of value and beauty in everything, even a toilet bowl cleaner product. After all, shit is gross and who doesn’t love a sparkling clean piece of porcelain? Look at it from the right angle. Perspective is everything. Creative ideas can flow out of the right angle of sight. For example, take the shit-eraser. A brown ring can be displayed on the screen, with an eraser going down the screen, erasing words like UNSIGHTLY and USED, and then get to the bowl and erase it clean. The erasure of words is the visually interesting part.
. . . . . . . A lot of what is a fail on TV is the failure to make it visually interesting. With CGI technology, anything you dream of should be possible. The problem isn’t the technology, it’s a problem of imagination.
. . . . . . . Most of the people with the best imaginations are working on real TV shows. They’re not doing advertising. And that’s the problem. Advertising is full of second-rate people, the people who couldn’t hack it on the real TV shows. They’re not the titans of creativity.
. . . . . . . Even their artists, the ones who work for the ad agencies, are second-rate. There’s little daring or new in their work. Photographers likewise. There’s a visually arresting picture I like, of a spider capturing a small fish. Why can’t more advertising photos follow in this vein? It doesn’t have to necessarily directly tie in with the product. It can be something to please the visual palate and give a taste of a new world out there. Or what about Photoshop and new photo montages. That’s another rich vein of possibility to explore.
. . . . . . . But back to willpower. To be creative, always, takes an act of willpower. Willpower to cut through the white noise and produce a small flower in your hands. But when this willpower is lacking, half-hearted, stunted things take the place of those perfect little flowers. Weeds come to proliferate. And when you look at the big picture of advertising works being created, you see fields upon fields of weeds. They’re pollinating, those motherfuckers. Cross-pollinating, as advertiser steals from advertiser. Theoretically, the world of presentation should be infinite. Practically speaking, it’s miserably limited.
. . . . . . . The intrusion of Left-wing political ideals into advertising spells doom for a product. People don’t want to be lectured to, and all the Left wing does is nag, nag, nag. It’s like a bad religious sermon with those people. I’m not saying all political positions taken by the Left are bad, but let’s face it, they need to get off their moralizing high horse and be normal for a change.
. . . . . . . So you want your morals to be an even keel normal. But you want your advertising to be extraordinary. How to reconcile the two?
. . . . . . . First, recognize that people’s time is precious. 30 seconds wasted is lost forever. From that starting point, you can begin to see how to shape and mold your ad piece. It’s even possible to teach a little. People like learning, if it’s relatively painless.
. . . . . . . Eye candy is empty without context. When working on ads, you should resist the urge to throw up any old image. The image should tie in with the message.
. . . . . . . Eschew words like “quality” and “service.” They’re dead words, dead as doornails. Who really gives a flying fuck anyway? Treat “who gives a flying fuck” as a golden road to move on. That’s your guideline: avoiding the sensation that you’re wasting my time, buddy.
. . . . . . . One of the good ads is the Red Bull cartoons. In one of them (Red Bull gives you wiiiings) a hero confronts a hydra and the hero puts a can of Red Bull down. The hydra ties itself all up trying to get to it. It’s a simple little piece with a good message. And by the way, animation is almost always good. If you can make your TV ad look like Heavy Metal the movie you’re doing something right.
. . . . . . . Voiceovers should be professional. The man’s deep voice holds water, but it’s possible to have a cool-guy voice, a Voice of Experience voice, and other acceptable alternatives.
. . . . . . . Again, I cannot emphasize enough how you must B E L I E V E in yourself. This is critically true of novelists, and ad-men could take a page or two from their book. Elmore Leonard says that to write a book just remove all the boring bits. You could paraphrase that to write a successful ad just remove the dry bits.
. . . . . . . In the final analysis, an ad is only as powerful as the minds of the men behind it. My final recommendation? Steal creative types from the entertainment industry and set them loose. And oh, pay them well. They deserve it.