Do you remember those kids at school who used to copy what the cool kids were wearing but got it slightly wrong? I had it easy, I was never anywhere near cool. But those kids, they would eat their own hair to look cool.
I think a lot of those trying-hard-to-be-cool kids found their way into advertising recently. I mean, it used to be a business for mavericks and the outspoken, idiot-geniuses and those who couldn't get a job anywhere else. Even if they wanted to. But now it seems agencies are filled with conformists, people trying hard to fit in. Those same kids from school.
And I think it's starting to show in the ads. Advertising seems to have such a narrow scope of tone-of-voice and look. If you look at what is deemed to be the best work over the last few years, it's all within a certain comfort-zone of look and feel, and tone of voice. Slightly knowing, safe middle-class humour, polite little visual films with endlines that sneak apologetically on screen, print ads that try to do everything with a visual joke. Ads that feel slightly ashamed to be ads.
To me, it feels a bit like everyone is aiming for the same point. That no matter what the brief, product or target market they are all trying to get to the same place creatively. The trying-hard-to-be-cool-kids trying hard to do work that will be seen as cool. Maybe that's unfair. But that's how it feels.
What about if we forget what is cool, or accepted as being good, and just try some different approaches? Just for starters... how would the project you're working on come out if...
The product was the only visual you were allowed to use?
You had to only use words of only one syllable?
You weren't able to use any visual in TV commercial?
You only had three words to get your message across?
You had to use over 300 words?
It was a complete disaster of a mess?
You had to use The Muppets?
You had to put a product benefit first and work back from it?
You only have £500?
You only used half of the ad time length?
Your print campaign only had one word in it?
It didn't look finished?
It wrong a bit sounded?
Okay, so they're a bit lame, I know. But hopefully you see what I mean. I'm just trying to point out that there's more than one way to skin this cat called advertising (I'm as confused by that metaphor as you, dear reader).
Better still, what if all the trying-hard-to-be-cool-kids go and do something else in 'the media'? And let the lunatics take back over the asylum. Then we might get back to some more varied and interesting stuff.
Just a thought.