A Simple Detail, A Production Cornerstone

The Special Olympics World Summer Games will be held in Athens from June 25 to July 4th this Summer.  Right now, athletes around the world are preparing and competing, hoping to earn a bid.

Which means corporations are preparing and promoting their involvement with the games.  After all, in a society where fierce opinions surround even the most banal issues, one would be extremely hard pressed to take issue with this initiative.

A few months back, longtime sponsor P&G released this spot as part of a multi-platform campaign highlighting their involvement.  The spot centers around the relationship between Kerry Hincka and her daughter and Special Olympic athlete Molly.  It is nothing overwrought, simply an unadorned story of a mother’s wish for her daughter–the universal wish of every parent that their children will find joy, fulfillment, and their own place in a big world.  And precisely because it is unadorned, it is particularly powerful.

What impressed me most about this piece was how the filmmakers discovered a simple detail and used it so eloquently.  The lifelong series of snapshots taken of their daughter all share one common feature: Molly is consistently at the center of the frame.  Think about that how simple a truth that is; the Hincka’s always put their daughter in the center.  As a metaphor and as a practice, that is itself beautiful.

But as a production detail, it is a revelation, elevating this spot with grace and poetry. Beautifully done.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

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PS:  If you’d like to support the Special Olympics with P&G’s money, go to http://www.facebook.com/thankyoumom .  Everytime you like, share or comment on the page, they will d0nate a dollar to the Special Olympics Team USA.

A Connected World Highlights Our Flaws, Which May Help Us Outgrow Them

Apparently there’s a royal wedding this week. And that’s a pretty big deal.

If you live in the UK and have sentient awareness at a level greater than say flint shale, you definitely know that.

Unless you are Cameron O’Reilly.  Cameron is eighteen, a member of the red jacketed, bearskin-hatted Scots Guard and–as we are all growing increasingly aware–prone to the sort of bellicose self-aggrandizement of a young meathead whose bench press far outstrips his IQ. In pounds or kilos.

Dennis Ryan, Olson, Advertising
Actually, The Post Is Mightier Than The Minimi Light Machine Gun…

On Monday, a mere week before his wedding day duties, Cameron posted this to his Facebook wall: “hur and william drove past me on friday n all a got was a shitty wave while she looked the opposite way from me, stupid stuck-up cow am a not good enough for them! posh bitch am totally with u on this 1 who reely gives a f*** about hur?”

On grammar alone, that’s a dumb statement. Considering his job, that’s three dimensionally dumb—dumb at a level even teen narcissism can’t begin to explain.

Young Cameron posted this and his other opinions on the internet where they reside in a Valhalla of digital immortality. And so, in short order, a press corps already exhausted from their breathless interviews with royal florists and lace tatters and bath salt blenders started poking around the rest of the Cameron O’Reilly web stream oeuvre. They found Cameron’s insights on Pakistani people: “a was gonae put a few rifles in ma bergan anaw but then a remembered a couldnt fit any in cause a had 2 many paki’s scalps in it already”

They also dug up this exchange with a pal regarding Jewish people: is watchin a massive jew gathering outside the window at the tower of london!! av never seen so many rabbi’s in ma life.” When his similarly quick-witted pal suggested “Get the rifle out…”, Cameron answered “Have got one of the Jews in my sights now lmao”

The world is not laughing its ass off with Cameron. With blinding speed, Cameron plunged from being a faceless member of a storied honor guard to a universally-reviled waste of skin less evolved than a jackbooted soccer hooligan. Cameron’s not unique; he’s simply the latest in a seemingly inexhaustible list of self-revealing ass hats.  Like him.  And them.  And her.

The amazing thing about living in today’s globally-connected world is that most of us average, ordinary people have less to fear from the smears of others than the damning statements we make ourselves. We may try to bury our basest prejudices, but in moments of fury, they will inevitably out.

Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe someday all our daily connecting and sharing and linking up will not just help reveal them.

Maybe it will help us outgrow them.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

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An April Friday Image

Here at the end of a week of religious meals and dietary restrictions (the Seder that heralds Passover, the last of the meat-free Lenten Fridays), consider this image a bouquet to people of all faiths and creeds, united by the universal attraction of bacon. Mmm, bacon. Unless your faith forbids it, in which case just think of it as a clever bit of meat origami.

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Make it a Good and Happy Friday!

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

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Capturing the Physical on Film

I’ve never skydived.

Bungee jump? Yep. River rafting? Sure. Hang-gliding? Uh-huh. But no jumping out of airplanes. Still, you can imagine how that must feel: the heart-in-the-throat thrill, the deafening rush of wind, the giddy sense of momentary weightlessness…

So how do you sell something so experiential? How can film capture the immediate sensory overload of the actual jump?

If you’re Melbourne Skydive Centre, you produce a remarkably artful piece using cheap but durable GoPros: mountable, wearable, HD sports cameras that truly are point and shoot. You give the piece a catchy, provocative name, like Experience Human Flight (as opposed to Experience Human Dropping). Then you get it out on the web for enthusiasts to share.

And because the web is worldwide, it travels all the way to Minneapolis where it puts my heart in my throat…and adds one more line item to the bucketlist.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson
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Social Media Hasn’t Replaced TV Viewing, It’s Connected It

Sixteen years ago, academic and data geek Robert Putnam hit a national nerve with his essay “Bowling Alone” about our collective loss of ‘social capital.’  By 2000, he published a book expanding on his premise that Americans were growing disconnected from their families, communities and nation due to culture trends like two-career families and television, which reduce our participation in groups.

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonAn article posted to Ad Age yesterday might gladden Robert’s heart…somewhat. Despite DVR’s, the declines in live TV viewership over the past few years are reversing.  Appointment TV has made a resurgence as Facebook, Twitter and cell phone based social media outlets now drive live tune-ins.

Apparently, we still like to watch alone, but we link up as part of a larger social group through talking, texting, posting and commenting. As we watch, e like to gripe about the White Sox bullpen, seek explanations for the Bull’s careless ball handling and whine about the Blackhawks disappearing offense. Okay, maybe that’s just me but the point is we form very active, regularly scheduled communities around live television viewing.

Robin Sloan, who works with Twitter’s media-partnership groups says “If you look at the tweets about a TV show, a huge proportion come from when the show is airing live, not an hour later.” Tweets and status updates have a shelf life shorter than shredded cheese in a warm refrigerator; it’s all about commenting in the now.

And how much do we like to tweet?  At this year’s Super Bowl, the most-viewed TV event in history, viewers launched over 4,000 tweets per second in the game’s final minute, earning that game the highest volume of tweets for any sports event.

We may be alone physically, but not socially. A whopping 86% of mobile net users watch TV with their mobile devices. Further, the communities that form range from the very broad, like for the Super Bowl, to the very, very engaged, like the people who tweet and text about “Glee.”  “Glee” earned the Number 2 spot on Trendrr.TV which measures TV chatter across various social media, which sounds awesome for ratings.  Unfortunately, the show itself ranked 77th on Nielsen’s prime-time list.

So a cheesy show about awkward high school types inspires awkward types to tweet cheesily just like high school…  Hmm, that figures.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

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Making This Monday Effable

Chicago woke up to snow this April morning. Minneapolis has anywhere from three to six inches on the near horizon. But that does not mean anyone should be looking for an excuse to utter ‘eff’ this–no, today’s post concerns a matter of linguistics.

Dennis Ryan, OLSON, AdvertisingThis weekend, I threw up an innocuous Facebook status that read “Easter Egg Trees in the rain look ineffably sad.” It drew a few comments but none as informative as this one:

“ineffable” is one of those bizarre words. “Incapable of being described in words” and yet it’s an adjective–a word used to describe or modify another word. And you rarely see it used in its de-prefixed form “effable”–because rather than say “that’s effable”, people just use words to describe the subject.

This insightful commentary comes from Mark Wegener, a banker with a highly-unlikely wit who blogs sporadically at Local Paper.  It also firms up my knowledge of this word, which candidly, was a bit shaky. Yet another upside of the participatory web. Thank you Mark for being so…ept (as opposed to ‘inept’).  And Happy Monday.

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By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

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