Front On

9 Oct

I am totally baffled by the disgusting quality of Australian television advertising.

I was enduring the long ad breaks they seem to have in this country and couldn’t help but remark at how mind destroying-ly bad the ads were to my 14 year old brother. Being the tack that he is, he pointed out that the reason most of the advertisements in Australia are so bad is because most of them use the exact same production technique of filming the entire ad from a camera placed directly in front of the subject person.

No panning, no profile shots, nothing of the like. A dolly shot? – you must be joking! You are lucky if you are indulged with a zooming shot.

It begs the question what the marketing company’s are paid for by the corporates in this country. The quality of dreck they force viewers to sit through to get to the next slither of programming shows just how cynical the advertising agencies are here. Although it is hard to see where to draw the line between the advertising agency and the client when attributing the blame.

I don’t know if it makes the outlook better or worse whether the corporate client was complicit in filming techniques. Obvioulsy they would have had to give it the go-ahead at some point so lets just say they’re in on it.

But why so many? Where’s the imagination? Advertising agencies have massive departments called simply CREATIVE. I can only imagine the creative department must be the place artistic souls go to die of mediocrity. At least in this country.

I dated a marketing exec from one of the big three advertising agencies for some time so I have a pretty good insight into how cynical an industry it really is. 18 months of being intimately involved with people in the industry did nothing to dispell my Hicksian view of the franchise.

A New Zealand audience wouldn’t have a bar of it. You can bet your bottom dollar ratings would drop through the floor if someone tried to spill that shite into their loungeroom. It got me thinking “What is the difference between NZ and Australia that would allow such a low quality of advertisement to be industry standard”?

I think that that there are probably a couple of interconnected factors at play here. First are the obvious cultural differences, and second is the some degree of social conditioning.

To view Australian television advertising’s lack of diversity, it would help to see why NZ is so much better (please don’t interpret this as a suggestion I think NZ advertising is good! There are varying degrees of terrible).

NZ as a culture has a sense of creativity at its very core. Whether it be in the arts, or making the most from a length of number 8 wire, kiwi’s are creative people and expect, on some level, to be challenged by new ideas. They also bore easily. Given its small population and remoteness NZ has done pretty well in spite of other culture killing factors like – not having any money. As a result New Zealand almost completely lacks a defineable mainstream culture.

Sure commercial radio still plays the same tunes it plays everywhere else in the world; The newspaper runs the same stories in essentially the same format as their foreign counterparts, and TV plays the same episodes of desperate housewives a week after they air in the States – but try and appeal directly to the “Mainstream New Zealanders” for anything and you find them out to lunch. Just look at Don Brash’s 2005 election campaign if you need any proof.

But I digress; What I’m basically trying to say is that if you are being forced to sit through a set of ads to get to the next section of programme you shouldn’t be insulted with a creative and mentally stimulating vacuum for 5 – 7 minutes. It’s cynical beyond words, but if that is the general level of quality that passes for an ad, you can hardly make a complaint to the AMCA.

I suppose the most frustrating aspect of all of this is that we are expected to vote with our remote, and by NOT buying the products in question. The effect of switching the channel and not patronising the companies who’s products are advertised in such a mind numbing fashion, is so far removed from the creatives that make the ads that you can’t really expect the advertising companies to connect the dots; particularly when we’re talking about the status quo. The only way to turn it around is for there to be a significant and prolonged shift in creative style and for that, I’m not holding my breath.

PS: I tried to find some video links to examples of the ads that I was talking about but couldn’t find any. Apparently they’re too inane to even bother posting on youtube.

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2 Responses to “Front On”

  1. jinbei October 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Haha. My sister’s boyfriend just got a job as a Creative in an advertising company in Australia. Be interesting to see what he comes up with 🙂

    • littlesteam October 26, 2011 at 5:46 am #

      The Creative department is full of genuinely creative people, but due to the corporate and restricted focus that people who work in that department have to invest their efforts, I can see why people rarely last more than around 5 years working for a major advertising company in that department. Also the work environment in those firms is highly political, you don’t need to necessarily be good to succeed there, you just need to be able to play the game. Lots of people end up just leaving and starting their own small design companies and create websites etc.

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