Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Advertising and academia.

There's a new spot for airing now for Prudential, the insurance giant. It was created by Droga 5, one of the hottest agencies going, so naturally it received, in the trade press, a decent amount of attention for a couple of reasons. One: What would Droga do? And two: Would Prudential's notoriously banal advertising become, suddenly, intelligent, interesting or less full of boasts and bombast.

Christopher Hedges, the brilliant Pulitzer-prize winning writer (who now writes for Truth Dig) wrote in his great book, "The Empire of Illusion" about the estrangement of academia from the real world. Scholarship has become so esoteric and effete it has lost meaning to anyone not involved in other scholarship. In short, it has become solipsistic and self-referential. It doesn't deal with the problems of our age, it deals instead with other scholarship.

The same affliction has affected advertising. If we want to win awards, work for hot shops, make gobs of money and cavort at Cannes, you don't do ads that move people or products. You make ads that appeal only to ad people.

The Prudential spot is one of these. Here is "Creativity's" synopsis of the spot: "Droga5 debuts its first work for Prudential, a montage of beautiful scenic shots tied together by a single sunrise. According to Creative Chairman David Droga, the entire film was shot in one day, within a three-hour window. Smuggler director Ringan Ledwidge set up 100 cameras across the country to track one sunrise as it rose across the country."

Here is the VO copy that accompanies all those rising suns.

"And just like that, it’s here.
A new day.
A new chance for all of us.
To face the challenges yesterday left behind.
And the ones tomorrow will bring.
Bring your challenges."

In the words of my 10th-grade girl friend: puh-leeze.

"Creativity" is, of course, a complicit actor in the awards-industrial complex. They laud the small, esoteric and spec to the exclusion of real news and real trends and trauma in our industry. I'm a fairly knowledgeable viewer of spots. I couldn't give a rat's ass that the spot's director "set up 100 cameras across the country." That's the ad industry's equivalent of academia saying that Melville wrote "Moby Dick" with brown ink. Who the heck cares?


Anonymous said...

so true.
if it wasn't from hot shot agency it'd be dismissed as a corporate crap.
(although I think Droga5 is great agency)

besides, they could get 100 istock sunrises for 20 dollars.

Sean Peake said...

Have a look:

Red Red said...

I love the way you call it like you see it. Refreshing.

Bukes said...

So, which is better? Doing the ads that move people and products or doing the ads that win awards and earn hot shops gobs of money?