Posted by admin on July 27th, 2010
Please watch the following video:
The first time I watched this I kept expecting a Wrangler Jeans or Levis logo to pop up at the end. In fact even the second time I watched it I kept looking for clues so see if what I was watching was a viral ad. I still can't say for sure, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was an advertisement for jeans, or shoes, or Pepsi for that matter. Would it have made you feel differently about what you had just watched? Would you have been more or less likely to send it to a friend or post to your blog?
Graffiti artist Banksy once said "The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative and ambitious young people, leaving us mainly with the slow and self-obsessed to become our artists.."
Who would have thought this guy could be such a downer?
Now I think he was making more of a cynical judgement on the current state of modern art than he was about marketing and advertising, but I am more interested in applications to the latter. Advertising, and for my point commercials, are often more about brand than product (this is all very interesting but skip to The Brand Era paragraph).
'In this twenty-first century brand space, Nike is no longer a shoe company — it is a concept that represents transcendence through sports. Consider the Nike ad above: Lebron James is deified in a Christ-like pose and with religious language (‘witness,’ ‘believe’), both of which imply spiritual transcendence...In the corner floats the simple, austere Swoosh. In this context, the logo is a sponge, soaking up the ‘brand equity’ created by themes of transcendence and flight as well as the basketball star’s fame/endorsement/deification.' -Dan Redding Smashing Magazine
When you are selling a brand or an identity or a feeling the door is open for more creative expression and the line between art and advertisement can be blurred.
Easy to recognize you are watching an advertisement
Not so simple to recognize it's an ad, or at least it isn't until it tells you.
The fact is that Walk Across America video can still feed our idea of a brand even without being a advertisement in sheep's clothing. We all market products by driving a certain car, drinking a certain beer, buy a certain phone. Our personal brand can be represented, and too often is, by the brands we use and associate ourselves with. And brands can be cross-promotional. After all doesn't this video fit in nicely with Levi's America (Go Forth) ad?
We believe that blue jeans are a part of the American identity, the American brand (count the ideas of Brand America represented in the Levi's ad). Would Walk Across America have made sense if the guy was wearing a tailored Italian suit or a Ushanka? Does it have to go through a marketing department in order to be an advertisement? Does it have to promote one company over another in order to be branded?