advertising agencies no longer limit themselves to producing the traditional triumvirate of television spots, radio spots and print ads.
nowadays, agencies take it upon themselves to produce a wide variety of assets for their campaigns, which not only include thirty-second tv commercials, but are often expanded to include short films which have a broad range of lengths and subject matters, and can be as rudimentary as extended editions of the original spots to stories that completely diverge from their tv versions.
furthermore, the assets that creative agencies produce are not limited to video and print ads, but also include books, installations, games, video games, music, art… the list goes on.
these days, creative agencies produce experiences.
the means of distributing these assets have also changed. no longer do advertising agencies rely upon television broadcasts, print ads, radio spots and billboards to carry the bulk of their messages. in 2010, advertising media are also released through curated channels online (as well as through traditional self-distributed channels), through websites created specifically through a campaign, through smart phone applications, while some ads rely upon bloggers to spread the uniqueness of their message, much like film studios rely upon film festivals to carry the word of mouth news of a noteworthy film that’s making its way down the cultural pipeline.
there is a flood of visual media in production these days.
buffeted by the increase in handheld devices and smart phones which only expand the range of where and when consumers can enjoy their tastes in visual media, it seems likely that the torrent will only continue to expand.
feeding this demand for media is not just limited to advertising agencies or creative agencies. many different kinds of producers are getting in on the act. brand and strategic consulting agencies as well as design firms now produce visual media that are often far more ambitious than printed booklets and power point presentations. television channels create their own visual assets for the purpose of promoting their brand. museums and cultural institutions have recently seen the light. news media and magazines understand that they need to expand their visual inventory and are racing to out-innovate each other. fashion and apparel brands, such as hermés and converse, now produce short films to enhance their online presence: some of these films have even replaced their traditional runway shows. smaller brands which do not wish to invest in the approaches espoused by traditional advertising have begun to create their own d.i.y. advertising campaigns.
though sometimes slow to adapt, traditional blue-chip companies have also taken the expansion of the use of visual media into consideration. documentaries are created for companies like nokia and ibm that are never intended for public consumption, but are often distributed online after the companies see the benefits of opening up these kinds of internal dialogues to a broader audience. many brands create their own commercials and their own behind-the-scenes documentaries to generate more interest in not only the commercials but, more importantly, also to the brand and the wide variety of ways in which that brand can be experienced.
designers working within a broad range of disciplines create video not only to further advance a dialogue about the design of a project in development, where those videos are primarily shown within a limited community, but they are also a part of a long term campaign of transparency directed towards a broader audience, in order to build a groundswell of interest in the project once it has been released to the public.
so, i have been asking many questions of late: who will create these assets? who will generate the demand for these assets? who will define what needs to be produced and the range of experiences that need to be created? and who will assign creative responsibility for the production and distribution of these assets?
it seems like it can come from anywhere and that, right now, it is coming from practically everywhere.
with change coming from outside the traditional avenues, this means that there must also be change from the inside.
people working in motion picture media should no longer depend on being able to act within the traditional roles which have defined their job responsibilities.
nowadays, a director cannot solely rely only upon his or her ability to communicate a vision through delegating a team of specialists and actors. like a designer, the director must also be expected to create visual assets with his or her own hands. they should shoot stills, write stories, edit film, animate ideas. they should get involved in the creative direction, which, with few exceptions, was once the exclusive domain of agency creatives. they should understand the nuances of digital media and the means of online distribution. they should understand cultural experiences that extend far beyond the thirty-second commercial.
and while directors are naturally expanding their set of skills, an entire generation of designers, architects and other creative professionals are rapidly catching up as a natural by-product of their prolonged experimentation with ‘amateur’ filmmaking and photography, which has been spurred on by the increased availability of high-quality yet low-cost cameras and the software that has been developed for it.
there are more visual storytellers than ever before.
it won’t be long before the realm of commercials and branded documentary / entertainment ceases to be dominated by the firmly established names that we know today.
we are very soon approaching the day when the most noteworthy examples of visual storytelling are just as likely to be created by designers and musicians as they are by the directors and cinematographers who’ve dedicated themselves exclusively to the discipline.
creative directors at advertising agencies are making the leap too, while strategy directors won’t be far behind.
we will all be filmmakers soon and ultimately, that’s what we are here for, to tell good stories, to tell stories that are meaningful and genuine. now there are more of us who can do that, as well as more channels through which to share our work.
with so many gifted storytellers entering the arena, it will be truly exciting to witness and experience the collaborations and solo efforts which are right now coming down the pipeline.
updated july 4, 2010