Alex Steer

Better communication through data / about / archive


371 words | ~2 min

On the subject of wallpaper advertising, Doug Nichol's short film Sunshine, about the experience of shooting two McDonald's adverts in China, makes for fairly bleak viewing. It's an interesting take on the tension between creativity and commerce.

I was struck by this line:

A movie can't just be a bunch of images strung together. But in advertising you can kind of get away with that.

And also by the sense you get from the film's subject, John Benet, that there's something rather accidental, or incidental, about advertising - that it's a kind of strange offshoot of consumer capitalism, disguising itself as a confused form of art. Benet seems at once a lot more cynical and a lot less realistic than a lot of people in the profession, which is necessary to reinforce the strangeness of what television advertising is, especially in markets where it's fairly new.

All that said, there's a risk of making advertising sound either too vacuous or too sinister. I think advertising's at its best when it's at its most self-aware, and when it treats its audiences as people who are smart enough to know they're being advertised to. The result tends to be better, less insulting work, that delivers better results and leaves the people making it happier than if we're all trying to pretend it's art. Our viewers are unlikely to be convinced.

# Alex Steer (15/04/2012)