Please turn off your cellphones for a moment’s silence.

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When I was a kid, cinema advertising was the highest level of advertising experience. We used to look forward to watching the commercials, and in turn, brands would put on their best show. Like the Superbowl relationship brands have with people now. Where there’s real occasion to the communication.
Lots of cigarette brands seducing me to get progeria and grow to 24, go skiing in St. Tropez in a bright yellow onesie and tar my lungs in the company of genetically magnificent human beings. Or while Nascar racing. Or while achieving amazing Jungle crossings in a Defender.
The experience was epic. Custom made. Memorable. You could feel they’d pulled out all the stops to make the occasion memorable.

Now you go to the cinema and you see the most rancid, lame, poorly produced commercials.
I get that the business of cinema advertising changed, and now you can deliver a really precise targeted message, ie. targeting menopausal women for the local RSL, but it’s a real shame to see how the medium, that used to be quite proud, is now just schlock. Low res schlock. Shameless, take the money and run schlock.
And this proud showcase of schlock is intercut with Dolby delivered propaganda about how effective and captivating advertising in cinema is.
No, it’s not. I’m sitting through it. It’s the advertising equivalent of date rape.
Now the interstitial should say (still permitting dynamic type, panning laser sound effects, impressive light refractions) that cinema advertising lets anyone make an ad to advertise anything, and is that indiscriminate with the standard it sets, that it’ll pretty much run anything provided it keeps necrophilia to a minimum and money coming in.
It’s pointless to argue which commercial is the worst, because they’d all win.
Each an insult to the viewer’s intelligence.
And an insult to an industry that used to create a real unforgettable experience.

Why?

Technological advancement.
Digital media.
Mass access to shooting, editing, publishing.
Greed. Survival. Ignorance.
Cost Cutting.
Evolution? (Note, evolution happens in both directions…)

Makes me think of Infinite Monkey Theorem – a monkey randomly hitting the keys of a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will almost surely write the works of Shakespeare.

I don’t think so.
BUT, I do think that we’re living that experiment right now.
And cinema advertising is just the tip of the iceberg.
The microcosm of a much bigger threat.
That the levels that we’ve reached in craft and communication will be challenged, eroded and replaced by low cost entry to mass publishing.
And the economy that once supported and cultivated that superb craft, will die.
All for very rational and logical reasons.
Because it’s much cheaper to buy a 5D that delivers super hd picture. And edit it together on the mac that costs under 2 grand.
And have a product in half the time. 

But, I urge, it’s the infinite monkey theorem.

Because it’s fast, or cheap, or new technology, does not make it good. Or right.
The insight, the script, the edit, the craft, the discerning use of technology – all those skills, make it right.
Don’t get me wrong. I think technological advancement is incredible and important. It’s that advancement that got us from a silent movie to a full sensorial experience. It’s that advancement that got us from Gone with the Wind to Star Wars to Fight Club…you get my point.
But it’s not about the tech or the access alone. It’s about the craft, and the quality of how it’s delivered.

And if the monkeys take over, Shakespeare won’t happen.

(By the way, the film I eventually got to watch was superb. A reminder of why Cinema is far from dead. Magnificent.
Ironically, a film about the dramatic last printed issue of LIFE magazine, due to all of the above.

😦

See the movie. Avoid the ads. Save the craft.

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2 thoughts on “Please turn off your cellphones for a moment’s silence.

  1. Nice article, Julian.
    I agree – most cinema ads look like they’ve been put together in Powerpoint (hardly a cinematic experience).
    It is interesting and somewhat ironic that in a throwaway world, cultivated by advertising, that the craft of good advertising is now one of those expendable items (in the eyes of many). We have been moving away from quality, and towards volume (or to put it bluntly – a ‘throw enough shit and some will stick’ mentality).
    Although not the focus of my article, I also briefly touched on the trend of ‘cheap and fast’ vs ‘bespoke craftsmanship’ here: http://dingosbreakfast.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/is-your-big-idea-a-one-off/

    Like

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