(image via Dario Escobar: Sports Recontextualized «)
I have a half-baked idea that I’ve been discussing with friends recently–alright, half-baked might be generous, this idea is still flour and water.
Being a communications geek in the company of more geeks, I often get onto tangents about mass media, annoying advertising, ads that don’t work, the changing media landscape, etc.
I keep coming back to the idea of a metaphor, a thing taken as something different. Metaphor is at the core of understanding and creativity, it makes it possible to take wild leaps and connect far away ideas. It can make something liquid into something more concrete, and vice versa.
Some folks, like George Lakoff, even hold that metaphors are the tools that shape how we see the world, and that understanding how we use metaphor to connect objects and ideas can pull back the curtain on how our minds work.
For instance, why are all of the metaphors for marketing about warfare? We position* ideas and products to best reach our target*. With the right strategy we might even win a price-war*.
Our messages typically get packaged, sharpened, and shipped out to reach an audience. But there’s just one problem: ideas don’t travel by freight.
This isn’t news, as brains like Seth Godin and Russell Davies will tell you, but those of us in cultures that are inundated with mass media have become desensitized to the messages we are bombarded with on a daily basis.
Apathy is a gateway drug, and it’s usually the best defense against the weapons of mass distraction that litter most public spaces under the guise of commercial speech. But–and here’s the interesting part–there’s another way to communicate with people that doesn’t rely on the packaging of content, but rather the illumination of context. Design.
It makes sense that the professionals who routinely get pre-packaged content (along with a scribbled note that says ‘make this pretty’) are experts in getting an idea across through context.
Commercial communicators (advertisers, marketers, bears who dance with signs) have a lot to learn (read:steal) from the designer’s toolbox.
A lot of the best art inspires, in part, because it makes a space for a person to enter in to and live their own story. Also, I think we’re too quick to forget that all of those Medici sculptures and temples (David and Il Duomo included) were ads in their own way … for a bank!
The beauty of digital media is that background and foreground can swap pretty effortlessly. Messages can be subtle, pixelated, and elegant, all without the aid of an idea assembly line.
//How many ads can you think of that would’ve benefited from a little negative space?
//How many jokes are better when told REALLY LOUD?//(almost none)
//As Ogilvy put it, “I have a passion for landscape, and I have never seen one improved by a billboard.”
//Considering that I spend an inordinate amount of my time absorbing touch screen radiation, I’d like nothing better than to see an ad that was actually beautiful, or even cool.
//Ultimately, being cool is useless, except for when it makes something interesting.
Just a thought …