On Sunday night The Southbank Show (don't bother clicking on the link if you want to see the programme, they don't have it up, yet. Or maybe never, I have no way of telling and itv aren't saying).
Anyway, it was about Pixar and John Lasseter and what a wonderfully smart man he seems to be.
"I'm the thickest person here now, as we always make a point of employing people smarter than us." Okay, something we've not heard all before and certainly not true but you got a real sense that he believes that you employ people for their thinking and not someone who can regurgitate your own thinking for you.
He also spent some time explaining about how, when he saw the computer generated animation film Tron, he was blown away by it. Not the film, but the fact that he could see the opportunity the technology offered. But the film flopped and the industry said people didn't want to see computer animation, when really they didn't want to see a shit film. So, when Toy Story came along and it went massive, the industry line was that people didn't want to see hand drawn animation and that the future was in computers.
Which is, of course, also bollocks. And he said as much. He couldn't understand why the debate wasn all about technology and not stories and engaging with the audience.
And so when he took over creative control of Disney he commissioned a new hand drawn film and got some of the old school Disney artists back to run it. I think I should rephrase that, He reemployed a bunch of guys who had been put out to pasture, because they had the right skill sets and he appreciates that the craft.
The parallels to our industry are obvious and so I won't insult your intelligence spelling it out.
Oh and he also said, quality is the best business plan. And I'm going to be saying that a lot from now on.
There was an article in The Guardian at the weekend, featuring Paul Fieg sharing his wisdom on comedy writing. It was pretty lightweight if I'm honest but there was still one or two gems of wisdom which would benefit any copywriter about to tackle his/her next script
There are so many comedies that portray people living in the suburbs as
living ridiculous or hypocritical lives. But I grew up in the suburbs
of Michigan in midwest America and tend to think that everyone is just
trying to get through life as best they can. You don't have to sneer or
poke fun at them to get a laugh."
"A great comedy is about real characters who make you laugh because you
appreciate their personalities and how they react to particular
situations. They have to be believable human beings, not just vehicles
"If you're trying to make a great comedy, most of your time and effort
should go into casting. Find the right actors and let them do their
Once again, I'm reminded of a particualr bug bear of mine. The lack of time and effort that contemporay ad agencies spend on the craft side of what they do. And yet, this is for me is where the effort needs to be applied especially now, especially the written word.
I get down from my soap box now, before this becomes a full on rant
Meet Jonathan Harris, he's an artist and computer scientist and the sort of person that makes you feel perhaps you're wasting your life. Not that he's smug about what he's doing, it's just that it's so vital, full of energy and relevance that whatever it is you're filling your days with becomes a little more pointless in comparison
His work celebrates the world's diversity even as it illustrates the universal concerns of its occupants. His computer programs scour the Internet for unfiltered content, which his beautiful interfaces then organize to create coherence from the chaos.
It's so blindly obvious that it's taken me three years to see it, but some of the most successful brands today have actually been embracing transmedia storytelling for sometime. What's been lacking has been the cohesive strategic overview that allows for a stronger relationship between all the separate elements oh and of course, that sodding desire agencies have for media hierarchy.
If you're not over familiar with the term, the mightily impressive Henry Jenkins who came up with it, describes it thus,
Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of
a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery
channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated
entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique
contribution to the unfolding of the story.
I urge you to click on the link. It will be how brands/campaigns will be created and judged in the future.
Oh and the rather nice cityscape is by a fab illustrator called Borja Bonaque.
Over at the fantastic TED site, there's a great video from Sir Ken Robinson who points out the many ways our schools are failing to recognize -- much less cultivate -- the talents of many brilliant people.
"We are educating people out of their creativity,"
I don't know much about Nine Inch Nails. I know I don't like their music. I know I love their marketing skills.
To launch their new album, Year Zero, they included URL clues on their tour t-shirts which lead fans to websites that described an apocalyptic vision of the US. Memory sticks were found in toilets with tracks on them. Samples of tracks were played on radio stations unannounced in the wee small hours. Telephone numbers appeared on fan sites. All very clandestine, all very brilliant. All very I love Bees.
Advertising creatives have an odd rule when it comes to plagiarism. I think it says a lot about the ingrained arrogance of the industry that you can copy any film, art or photographic style, comedian's routine, in fact anyone or anything, as long as you don't copy an ad.
I have heard it said countless of times, 'Great ad, pity it's been done', usually followed by the agency name and year of creation, as the all-knowing CD goes over to his D&AD annuals and finds it for you. Proof, as if proof were needed of his greatness when it comes to the history of ads.
The t-shirt industry obviously don't share this obsession.
Seeing this made me angry. I now don't like Mr Cloud. Why? Because they're lazy and stupid and spend all their time surfing other t-shirt sites looking for the easy way to a good idea.
But the thing is I actually don't know who was first, I based my assumption on the fact Howies is an old friend (known for it's integrity), while Mr Cloud is a new acquaintance, regardless of whether I'm right or wrong. In fact I'd probably take this position even if I found this t-shirt design on some kid's MySpace page.
Okay, what I know of Howies and what I can gleam from Mr Cloud's website would suggest I'm probably right, but I don't know for sure, maybe Howies just improved on the design.
In a world where we are all now meant to be creating content and posting and uploading and plagiarising and inspiring one another, this is going to create a whole new level of problems for brands and their agencies.
Following on from my earlier post on Wii and it's build-in viralability, I have been pointed in the direction of this flickr set, by Russell. As, the man says, create something great and the marketing will be done for you.
There's a great post over at Noisy Decent Graphics that talks about the love of being a designer. You don't have to be a designer to appreciate and recognise what he's saying, just someone who is passionate about what you do.
So if you don't recognise yourself in this, shouldn't you be looking for another job?
After all, if you find a job you truly love, you'll never have to work again.
I know it's been featured on several blogs but in case you haven't seen this yet, do find the time to watch it. It's Jeffre jackson talking about interestingness. And he touches upon something I was talking about recently and explains it well. He says at the end, Is it worth thinking about after the communication? As good a way of judging your work as any I've heard.
He also mentions Howard Gossage, a hero of mine too, someone who would of loved the new world of engagemnent communications
This is a great book all about his work which unfortunately is out of print, but a few second-hand copies do pop up from time to time. It's nothing short of brilliance. I read and re-read it constantly.
How many agencies today would attract such talent?