By Daisy Bard
The homo sapiens of video ads
Happy new year from Amsterdam, where I’m collecting dots and taking some time off Christmas scamping until January 4th.
Today, we stumbled upon a brilliant exhibit at the Amsterdam City Archives. It centred around photography and film from 1900, when the city was undergoing a drastic transformation in industry and transport, with cars, bicycles and trams beginning to take over. For me, one of the highlights was seeing a video ad from (I think) 1907. It was using film to show one woman putting up a poster for an art fair and another woman who was asleep, ignoring it until she realised what it was and jumped up, excited to get involved.
Now…this is not what we’d call a good ad. There didn’t seem to be much of a proposition (short of ‘you should be excited to attend this art fair’), there was no product benefit dramatised or exaggerated, and it didn’t use the medium in a particularly exciting way. But it was cool to see something where the medium would have been so fresh and unseen that the existence of the ad itself would have been a relevant abruption. Everything would have been heightened for the viewer – the comedy, the liveliness, the positioning of the product – just because it was presented by moving image.
This was the beginning of the video advertising evolution cycle, and it was weirdly wonderful to watch. In Alex Taylor’s words, ‘you’ve got to know where you come from.’ But it was also a lesson in not resting on the medium to make your ad a knockout. The work itself has to do that. You have to do that. They never said it would be easy.
So my last thought going into 2017 is, always make the ad blow people’s socks off. It should be as if they’re seeing a moving image for the first time.