Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Impact vs. Inclusion

So, I've recently been hearing this phrase bouncing around our truly brilliant media department: Impact Media. It's not that I don't like the phrase, I do. It's very hip sounding. Easy to glom onto. Here's the problem. I don't agree with it. I know that in the world of advertising we are always tasked with "breaking through", with "having an impact". Some agencies refer to this as "disruptive media".

This past year, in order to promote McDonald's iced coffee, our creative team put to-go mugs reading "cold is coming" inside ice blocks and in the wee small hours of the morning left them in the middle of downtown Seattle. Very cool. The press picked this up (of course), people walked around them, took pictures, etc. Was this guerrilla tactic "impact media"? I think it qualifies based on my loose understanding of the jargon.

But the problem comes with the encouragement of all teams to come up with "impact" tactics. I think there's an opportunity missed. Maybe it's just semantics, but I think rather than coming up with ideas that shock and awe, we should be creating ideas that delight and surprise (endless praise & big thanks, Bruce Mau). I think we should be encouraging our creative teams to discover ways of making citizens (note: not consumers) want to be part of the experience. And I don't mean by "opting-in" to email bombardment. I mean getting people to want to find your product or service, and hunger to be a part of it. Experientially. Sensorily. As Mike Murphy from Facebook said at APG, "don't be disruptive, be inclusive."

Lastly, I think inclusivity is the tactic most overlooked and misunderstood by creative and media (and yes, absolutely, positively) planning departments. I believe if we're defining new media, we mustn't forget that the key element to the way people engage with the world feeds off of the notion of personal choice and high personal stakes. Not in a superficial "what's in it for me?" way, but in a way that clearly reaches out to the values and behaviors that are important to the engaged citizen. Remember that aside from its current online implication, the word "interactive" means creating a give and take, communicative relationship between user and product. A two-way street if you will that goes beyond making an impact, it creates a relationship, a bond. We should aim for tactics and experiences that don't just "wow" people, but ones that ask for their participation (be it to touch, watch, share, taste...). Calling all advertisers, calling all clients: Now is the time for Inclusive Media.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Is Photography Dead?

Normally, I'm not a Newsweek guy, I'm a TIME guy. But on a long trip to Rutland, VT, I picked up a copy of the "other" news reader and other than discovering a heavy commitment to experts from Harvard every other page (there are other reputable Universities, folks), I was really taken by a smart, insightful article by Peter Plagens entitled, "Is Photography Dead?"

In it, Plagens eloquently points out that the 21st century generation of photographers, for all their digital, Photoshopping, fabricated innovations and perfection have lost the honesty that the first photographers were able to capture using the medium. It's a great point. One that is linked to the controversial digital backlash. Is the world, in its pursuit of ease and technological advancement, becoming detrimentally removed from the idea of humanism? There is a fine line between social connectivity as we know it now and soulful, corporeal connection, or human to human contact.

Let me give one extended quote from the article:
"Digitalization has made much of art photography's vast variety possible. But it's also a major reason that, 25 years after the technology exploded what photography could do and be, the medium seems to have lost its soul. Film photography's artistic cachet was always that no matter how much darkroom fiddling someone added to a photograph, the picture was, at its core, a record of something real that occurred in front of the camera. A digital photograph, on the other hand, can be a Photoshop fairy tale, containing only a tiny trace of a small fragment of reality. By now, we've witnessed all the magical morphing and seen all the clever tricks that have turned so many photographers—formerly bearers of truth—into conjurers of fiction. It's hard to say "gee whiz" anymore."
So what say you? Do we have the ability to capture truth anymore from this medium? Can we look to photographs to capture moments for us the way we once did, or have the expectations already been set that photography is now a manipulated rendering (sometimes remarkably so) of the vivid imagination of the photographer?

me and Malcolm are back in action

(crickets chirping. chirping.)

Yes, much like Malcolm Gladwell, I am back from having taken a bit of a hiatus from the ol' blog. The main differences are listed below:

1) I was not working on a new book. He was.
2) Many eager thought leaders rejoiced over his triumphant return. My blog has had a total of 3 comments.
3) Gladwell is fun to say. Gingold is gutteral and could potentially hurt a dry throat.

Regardless of these minor differences, the Hogwash will flow once again. Be prepared and enjoy.
the thoughts and opinions expressed below are entirely my own, and are not necessarily shared by my friends, family, or employer. (though they very well might be...)