One of the underdiscussed aspects of the viral-superclip era is how it has given rise to what one might call brand delusion. In the hands of a less-than-self-aware marketer, the web video can morph from a simple promotional artifact into an exercise in reality-denial and/or-reconfiguration. You see it every day: "We view ourselves a certain way. If you don't, you're wrong and we're right and please like us on Facebook."
Were y'all aware that an organization called The Innovation Center For U.S. Dairy exists... and that it is AWESOME? Its minders are out there innovatin' and inventin' and proselytizin' and whatnot, fighting Big Nutrition wherever it would seek to deprive schoolkids of their constitutional right to pizza. In fact, they've got this one initiative where they're just slapping cheese on everything - fish, coffee cake, nectarines, you name it - and being all like, "Yo, who's getting his RDA of calcium now, beee-yatch?" They don't merely tolerate lactose; they celebrate every stealth-sugary kernel of its being.
After watching "Clean Break," a Schick-backed series in which a pair of outdoor adventurists embark on outdoor adventures, I'm supposed to feel something, man. I'm supposed to start questioning authority, embrace the rituals of bonding with my peeps and chatting up surf rats, and ask my travel agent about bungee tours of the Serengeti. Then I'm supposed to affirm my newly forged emotional bond with Schick, the brand that raised the blinds on my sad stationary existence, by ditching the Gillette razor that I've used for years.
When I started seeing ads for Badoo plastered all over New York City subway stations and bus shelters, my first question concerned its ever-so-whimsically-nonsensical name. Sure, "Badoo" rolls off the tongue easily enough and is fraught with Joycean allusion. But why not Urkywiggle? Why not Sassafrig or Ookedymook or Frmmppp? I demand that the linguists and semanticians charged with naming this web site/app dealie detail the thinking that drove their decision.
I first watched "Let's Go 2012," the first volley in the second wave of Shell's ongoing we-are-environmentally-responsible-no-really-we-totally-are-ask-anyone brand campaign, with the sound off. This made for a fun guessing exercise: Which head-up-its-ass global superconglomerate had sprung for this parade of generic images intended to emphasize, like, the commonality of human experience?
The smoking-is-bad talk from my parents went something like this: They sat me down on the family-room sofa, much the same way they did when they told me about an uncle's imminent divorce and when we watched the Cheers finale. They cleared their throats a bunch of times and approached the topic from a point somewhere north of Nova Scotia ("there are things that are bad for you, and can have terrible consequences, but we trust you to make good decisions"). This led me to believe that I was about to get a second birds-and-bees primer; the first one, delivered …
I'm a veritable whirlwind of creative ambition. Why, at breakfast the other day I spruced up a drab grey t-shirt with several fun streaks of maple syrup! The creative flourishes that heighten the senses, that invigorate otherwise colorless entities and experiences - they're, like, the air that I totally breathe. Choreographing step dances to arcade-game jingles? Adorning the Burger King condiment station with origami swans? That's SO me.
One unexpected boon of the YouTube era is how it has given rise to a promising new genre of creative expression, one that I like to call M.W.S. (marketing while stoned). Now that the Internet has freed marketers from the burdens of shoehorning their work into 30-second slots and keeping it sufficiently pure of heart to air during shows starring Charlie Sheen, they're free to do whatever the hell they want. They can slyly allude to Pulp Fiction, riff on the menace of de-elasticized athletic socks or populate their spots with anthropomorphic appliances. If in the process a brand is …