Thursday, February 22, 2007

Did the earth move for you?


Last night there were a series of small earthquakes in Auckland. The biggest was 4.5 on the Richter Scale. Not big tremors in the grand scheme of things, but enough to remind one of the fact that the city is squarely within a volcanic ring. Rangitoto, the landmark island in the Hauraki Gulf is quite recent and is considered dormant rather than extinct.

It struck me as slightly strange that such a potentially destructive force of nature could seem to be a minor thrill; in the same way that throwing oneself off a bridge, tethered by a bungy cord isn't the indicator of mental illness it might once have been. I realise that feel mildly excited by a shake might sound weird, but it reminds me of the concept of creative inflation that I wrote about in my latest column for Idealog magazine (referring to remarks made by UK planner Richard Huntington to Russell Davies).

Things that were once the cutting edge of excitement become dull and we need a bigger fix. Perhaps it is related to the concept of quality demand in economics; for example: when you first start working in an office you might buy your first modestly priced business suit. But you can't wear the same suit every day, so you get another in order to rotate them. After a while you have earned a little more, you buy a better quality suit and suddenly the original purchases don't ring your bell the way they did. You progressively increase your demand for a better quality product and rarely go backwards. In some cases you might prefer to have less of something than to revert to more volume of an inferior product or experience.

I felt quite blase about the shakes last night, a mild thrill. In another time I might have felt the need to sacrifice a goat to read its entrails to determine why the gods were angry...But don't get me wrong, I'm not keen on anything that could be classed as a natural disaster. As Winston Churchill once said "There is nothing more thrilling than to have been shot at with no result."

And on the subject of 'rocking your world' Simon Law has given a heads-up to a movie The Alchemists produced by the One Show (American advertising award show). The trailer promises much - I am looking forward to seeing the movie, though I am a little confused about whether it has been produced or is in production. Looks like it will be a fantastic teaching tool for my Advertising paper at Massey University.

Here is the synopsis.

Imagine a movie that, for the first time ever, pulls the curtain back to reveal a small group of individuals you've probably never heard of, but who undoubtedly changed your mind and your behavior… THE ALCHEMISTS is a surprisingly personal exploration of some of the most influential advertising giants of the last century, and the communication they created which rocked our culture. Inspired by the social movements of their time and driven by the need to communicate some greater truth, these artists and writers despised mediocrity and the status quo of the advertising industry and brought a revolutionary spirit to their work:

Lee Clow, who created the most-famous commercial in history by introducing Macintosh computers in "1984"; George Lois who single-handedly saved MTV from extinction with his trademark in-your-face celebrity campaign; Phyllis K. Robinson who helped define the entire "me generation" with her liberating spin on selling Clairol; Hal Riney who got President Reagan re-elected; and Dan Wieden who, inspired by the last words of executed murderer Gary Gilmore, came up with the little phrase "Just Do It" and revolutionized advertising forever. Sports, fashion, music, politics, technology-our culture-was deeply affected by these alchemists.

Through their stories, and with humor and drama, THE ALCHEMISTS will be the definitive film of the 20th century phenomenon of creative advertising.

It will feature celebrities, upbeat cultural commentary, and an amazing display of commercials and history from the last century, including the ground-breaking work of Bill Bernbach (VW), David Ogilvy (Hathaway), Jay Chiat and many others. But this is not a historical documentary or a tribute, and it's not an analysis of the perils of consumerism and thought-control. It is a film about creative rebellion, and how all-powerful art springs forth from deeply personal, psychological sources and the need for change… even in advertising.

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