–everything looks like a nail. This old saw explains why so many brands get the same basic media allocations and the same basic creative approaches: that’s all some clients know. For this, one should blame the agency. But as much as this represents a failure of creativity, it more than likely also indicts the agency’s ability to sell, to introduce new thinking and keep clients informed of media usage and interactive possibilities.
In two unrelated blogs today, leaders of digital shops bemoaned the state of online video, wondering why it hasn’t progressed much beyond rich media banner rollovers. Specifically, both decried the relative paucity of non-linear video; a modern version of the ‘you decide’ story where different choices and actions change the video story one experiences. This storytelling is fundamental to game programming, but relatively rare in the world of advertising.
Look, I agree: something like this would be a hill of fun. I know, because our agency created forty-two minutes of non-linear video for a website we created last year with Tommy Means and Meckanism for Tostitos. Non-linear video makes this site incredibly deep and rich, introducing layer upon layer of discovery and surprise, and creating a powerfully engaging user experience. And it was only possible because our clients at the time gave us plenty of free rein and trusted us to do something remarkable. It took ten days of shooting, a cast of incredible improv comedians, and many late night writing sessions to produce all this content, but the end result was truly singular, earning loads of industry accolades.
We could do something else like it independent of a website, sending people pingponging across YouTube like the Samsung “Follow Your Instinct” program or even hopscotching across different websites altogether, integrating their programming into the storyline. It would take a bit more explanation than a twelve-frame storyboard, but that shouldn’t stop us. With the right kind of client, or a client that’s been introduced to this brave new world of deeper engagement, it can happen tomorrow.
You know, I’ll see what I can do about that…