Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Make the logo bigger

SO this one time at brand camp when I was in Yale Harvard college I came across the Nieman Journalism Lab. Basically a think tank for journalists (who are shitting themselves even more than ad agencies are, and trying defiantly to come up with ways that they can start getting paid again for doing what they do). Fair enough. Apart from the depth of shit that we're all standing in there isn't a huge amount of crossover, but this post caught my eye.

I thought I'd seen it all with the early nineties fixation on subliminal messaging. Remember, do ya do ya? When sneaky advertisers snuck in a frame or two of brainwashy secret messages and logos and we all went out and bought Foster Grants or Cinzano or whatever the fuck it was? Or maybe that was just me. Anyways, it reached an apotheosis of sorts with David Fincher's Figh7 C7ub. Brad Pitt™ appeared for a frame here and there and ... man, is that film really ten years old? That is depressing the shit out of me. Ten fucking gloriously wasted years, and that punk Pitt still has that physi- Wait, where was I?

Ah yes. Finally, tired old hack that I am, I find Madvertising. Crazy name, crazy guys. Here's what the Harvard Tefalheads at the journalism 'lab' say about it:
At the start of each commercial break, instead of going straight to an ad, there’s a five-second title card displaying some fact about the advertiser — typically, a fact about its past or present advertising campaigns. Sample title cards: “Prescription drugs could not be advertised on television in the United States until 1997,” just before a drug ad. Or “Heineken was the first imported beer in America after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933,” just before (you guessed it) a Heineken ad. It grabs you for an instant, just at the moment when you’re doing to get a drink or head to the bathroom. And it makes you pay at least a little attention to the ad. As an AMC exec told Variety, “That’s AMC’s ‘dirty little secret’…You’re not blowing through the commercial. You’re thinking, ‘What’s going on here?’
I have no real idea what 'blowing through the commercial' might mean. Well, the ideas I have do not pertain to what I personally might be doing, but until I hear Damien Dempsey rapping about it in a way tharr Oi can understandh, I'll just lay it down to Californian craziness.

Ok, I'm getting bored plundering this article now so you can go and read it yourselves. It has a bit of relevance, inasmuch as (I'm never really sure why 'inasmuch as' looks ok, but 'inasmuchas' looks totally ridiculous) I never would've predicted that a frigging five second test card (which UTV probably still run - it certainly feels as though they do. Let us know, media-snorting junkies) could be the height of subversive sophistication.

Lookid, I love you so much that I went out digging in the permafrost and found this, all the way from 1986. If it doesn't leave a lump in your spitoon then you're no contemporary of mine. Pure priceless, and the test cards, now that I look at them, are without doubt the most invidiously cunning brand placement this fragile mind could conceive of. At least it proves that some of our most famous voiceover artists were, in fact, never young at any time.

If nothing else, it's comforting to know, on Darwin's would-be 200th birthday, that we have crested over the apex and are now full steam reverse to the bendy-backed fuckers we used to be. Subliminal frames spliced into our Odlum's Oats ads were a hoot while they lasted (although nobody really noticed, did they?) but now we're back to frigging test cards. And tonight that is surely apt, for this regression mirrors my vapid soul, dear readers. I was erectus when I started writing this, but somehow I have withered.

(And forgive the regression on the language. It may be a lunar cycle or some such shit. Normal polite service will resume whenever the fuck I feel like it. And the Odlum's thing was a joke, ok?)


  1. I remember those subliminal yokes being inserted in the young ones, we had a VCR! (oooo) but had no idea they used them. If it was the USA then there was a lot of blowin' to be done, network tv is just infested with ads- mostly for haemorrhoids from what I could see.

  2. Well, we each take from everything what we see fit and the little man in our house looking at the Irish Times tonight and seeing the above picture was thrilled to tell his Dad - 'look we are all monkeys' - his autism lets him away with a lot!!