Sunday, December 14, 2008

Since when did ads become 'digital films'?

There's been lots of interesting rants and observations recently about the misuse and appropriation of labels like viral and social media.

I thought it was high time I chimed in with my own.

I'm not against labels per say. 

They can be oppressive, and inherently construct a definition of 'the other' through exclusion. They can be used by the dominant culture to maim minorities.

But they can also engender a sense of pride and belonging, and help us 'identify' with ourselves or others.

In the world of communications, labels can cut a useful swathe through language, improve group comprehension and contextualise human behaviour.

One label that has caught my eye recently is digital films.

Since when did ads become digital films? 

Since TVCs found their way online, online production budgets opened up and content became 'cool'.

I don't want to be a hand wringing pedant but an ad is an ad is an ad.

At what point can we say something is a film versus an ad?

Film is an artform. If you believe Wikipedia, it's also a 'cultural artefact' that reflects and affects the world around us.

I like my filmic friend Jaydub's thoughts on this subject:

A film tells a narrative to entertain, explore the human condition or make commentary. That's not to say an ad can't tell a narrative or any of the above, but if the biggest point of an ad is to sell a product, calling it a film is fanciful self promotion and an insult to the institution of scriptwriters, directors and film industry professionals.

The democratisation of production and distribution means that the art of film making is no longer just the domain of industry.

It means brands have a role to play too.

But that doesn't change the basic nature of what connects a film to its audience. 

In simple terms, a brand funded film needs to have the entertainment and the audience as the primary concerns - ahead of the brand. 

Otherwise, it's really just an ad.

So agencies, choose carefully and claim with pride. 


MarkBoogie said...

Hey Kate. The 'film' label could simply be a cultural thing. I have a feeling that ad people in the UK use the word 'film' instead of 'ad' - 2 people I've worked with from London agencies used 'film' instead of TVC. If you re-read the articles you're referring to you - and if they're English (not sure about USA), you may find the meaning slightly different and not as you took out.

Digital strategy on Twitter

Miss Karen said...

This is a really interesting post - especially considering that a lot of 'films' these days are packed full of product-placement and can almost be considered advertisements for the ensuing merchandise. I think the line between film and ad does blur when creativity is increased. When it becomes a partnership between the function of advertising a product and the creative expression of the ad-maker.