Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A blank page

A blank page taunts me, mocking my inability to extinguish its existence. The taunt spurs me into action. I exhort my already exhausted grey cells to work overtime. But nothing seems good enough to take on the blank page. Helplessness has given way to despair and now seems to be in a mad rush to admit defeat.
I realize I am no match for the blank page. I am not an avid blogger with a point-of-view on anything and everything. I am neither a voracious reader with eclectic tastes, one who can pull a trick or two from the bag. I am just a passerby on a busy street. If something makes me smile or gets me worked up, I am prone to have a go at the blank page. It is then that thoughts, like dark thunderclouds, begin to emerge in the corners of my mind.
Alas, now my thoughts are swept away by the bright countenance of the blank page. Words that were trying to sneak in also beat a hasty retreat.
This is not a battle amongst equals. A blank page is a formidable foe. How can you fight nothingness without fighting yourself? You will try hard to sound more intelligent than you really are. You will try to be more curious than you really are. You will try hard to be more social than you really are. You will try to be anything but who you really are. That is the power of your opponent.
It is when faced with such moments that all brave men resort to the same powerful strategy. Surrender.
A blank page continues to taunt me.

(Image courtesy:alles-schlumpf)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Nobody knows anything

The line ‘nobody knows anything’ is attributed to William Goldman, Hollywood’s highly acclaimed and awarded story and screenplay writer.
According to him, it is not possible to predict people’s tastes and therefore the success of a movie script. However, studio executives (the suits or corporate B-school types) of Hollywood are in a state of perpetual denial of this fact. They constantly try to pre-test scripts and modify it with the hope of creating a winner. More often than not, the scripts produced this way fail at the box-office while the scripts that were lucky enough to escape the suits attention do well. For example, this year’s much awarded Hurt Locker was never researched. It was produced without a single change to the script and the rest is history.
Isn’t there a sense of déjà vu for people in the agency business when they hear this? Creative routes are constantly researched in an attempt to attain brand salvation. All it results in is brand homicide. Why does this insidious practice happen time and again?
Celebrated marketer Scott Bedbury says - it is the inability to take responsibility for the advertising that has been created that drives agencies and advertisers to take refuge in pre-testing. Focus groups can be like expensive toilet paper - they cover your ass.
Be it movies or advertising, big monies are involved. Research can play an important role in our understanding of the situation and in helping evolve a sound platform for the creative to be developed.  Thereafter, any attempt in trying to predict the outcome of the creative through research will only lead to disaster.
William Goldman’s line is at once profound and simple. It comes into play in far more critical areas of our lives than Hollywood and advertising. Economic forecasts and stock market analysis have been known to be repeatedly way off the mark. People’s hard earned savings and nation’s wealth have gone up in smoke as a result of trying to predict macro-economic behaviour.  All this makes the mistakes in Hollywood and advertising seem trivial. Don’t they?
(Image courtesy:aeter)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Google Chrome Advertising Campaign - As unconventional as the browser

How do you tell the world that you have the fastest browser in the world?
You don’t.
You show it.
This is exactly what Google and their agency BBH NY did with their latest campaign for their Chrome browser. The campaign had an unusual beginning. They launched it with ‘behind the scenes’ video which has helped create incredible buzz online for the campaign as well as the browser. As Griffin Farley points out, this is a departure from the norm. Normally the ‘making of the ad’ video is released on the internet after the ad campaign runs its course in paid media as a way for agencies (and clients) to extend the story.
But then you can always expect the unexpected from Google and BBH. Sit back and enjoy this great work from them.