Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

08 May 2009

A Tribute to the Abstract and Aesthetic

What's good about a crappy economy is that advertising takes on a neat evolution. At first you see more direct response stuff -- the result of marketers returning en masse to tactics they know to be sharp and sure, if a little blunt.

Then, as outlook slowly begins to improve, you start seeing well-thought-out pieces that speak to people's now-habitual compulsion to think harder about purchases than they used to. We hark back to discretion, and old tropes about a languid, less obnoxious form of luxury.

That's when you see lovely things like the spots below, which emit a kind of damaged, slightly warped innocence:

"Le Sens Propre" (Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Blacklist's Cisma for Adobe's "Shortcut to Brilliant" Creative Suite 4 campaign):

"We Need a Change" (for H&M's Matthew Williamson line):

The Schweppes Coquette, featuring Nicole Kidman (I don't like this much, but it helps illustrate the point, sooooo...):

Welcome respite from the primary colours and hard typefaces that accompany the Constructivist style -- another communications approach that blossoms under ad mens' nimble fingers when the market gets dire.


Ben Kunz said...

Elegant post. I think two things are converging: Yes, languid sensibility, as Americans slow down in shock from the post-consumption-party blood sugar crash, so advertisers are reflecting their new reflective pace.

But the second force is internet video, which is finally arriving en masse and has greatly reduced the cost to put longer-form spots out to the public. Now there is a great chance a 1 minute -- or 3 minute -- commercial can reach its audience. Consumers are growing more comfortable with longer film on screen; Hulu proves the point. So why not slow down the pacing and tease out a storyline?

A slower-moving consumer and a less-costly medium: It's nice, and ironic, that in a dark penny-pinching economy we have incentives for languorous artistry that just might work.

Angela Natividad said...

Kinda brings the Great Depression to mind, when the theatre industry boomed. At the time it was a luxury experience: you dressed up, bought cigars...

This is like a microcosm of that.