Monthly Archives: April 2012

Welcome to the Tribeca Drive-In: A Dash of Hollywood in NY

The Tribeca Film Festival began yesterday, meaning that:

  • Movie-goers and celebrities alike will pack the typically quiet streets of Tribeca to attend screenings of both new and classic films – many of which are free and open to the public
  • Sponsors will be competing for the best activation; festival attendees will happily sample free foods and strut around with their new swag bags
  • Taxi drivers will be busy, to say the least

From free film screenings under the stars at the Festival’s Drive-In, to engaging conversations with some of today’s top directors, the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival has great events and perks for everyone.

Time Warner Cable will be a top-contender for most exciting activation at the Tribeca Drive-In. TWC’s philosophy, “Enjoy Better,” will be brought to life via a red carpet Hollywood experience where the customer is the star, inclusive of paparazzi, celebrities, and swag. TWC will also distribute exclusive gourmet snacks from celebrity chefs Aarón SanchezRoble Ali and David Burke.

See the schedule below to check out one of TWC’s exciting events during the Drive-In at the World Financial Center Plaza:

Thursday, April 19th

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM: Appearances by EB & Carlos from Hop, Austin Scarlett, Project Runway

Celebrity Chef: Aaron Sanchez

8:00 PM – 10:00 PM: Movie: Jaws

 Friday, April 20th

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM: Appearances by Alvin & the Chipmunks

Celebrity Chef: Roble Ali

8:00 PM – 10:00 PM: Movie: The Goonies

 Saturday, April 21st

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM: Appearances by Wilmer Valderamma, nuvoTV’s Pastport: Venezuela, Super Why & Wonder Red from Sprout

Celebrity Chef: David Burke

8:00 PM – 10:00 PM: Movie: Knuckleball!

 

Frank Rose’s The Art of Immersion

The comprehensiveness of Frank Rose’s The Art of Immersion is a testament to its own assertions and concerns. In its 333 pages, the book managed to convince me of its philosophical backdrop: knowledge may be anywhere, in anyone, at any time.  The assertions, psychological and cultural allusions, and anecdotes form a huge—but somehow cohesive—network of meaning (kudos, Rose). At the center of Rose’s focus on the changing landscape of advertising and television are two things: storytelling and narrative, and Rose keeps the text interesting and diverse by invoking psychologists, classic writers, and even fictional avatars. He jumps right into the thick of it in his Prologue, discussing the human necessity of storytelling for two reasons: first, for its inherent reliance on a symbiotic human relationship between teller and hearer, creator and viewer; second, as we’ll learn later in the book, because humans crave meaning. In part because my Masters thesis deals with this very issue, I couldn’t help but unite the two reasons and wonder where, how, and by whom is meaning created?

In the 1950s Madison Avenue era, it was the prime job of big Don Draper-esque creatives to construct concepts with branded meaning embedded, waiting to be interpreted by viewers and consumers. The relationship between teller and listener was skewed. But as consumers have become “smarter”—and that word itself seems already a bit outdated—the dynamic between teller and listener has shifted. At the end of the day, advertising’s currency is language. Whether it is visual language through print, auditory through radio, or (what’s more likely these days), a combination of several types through online, television, and branded entertainment, some medium of expression makes this all possible.

Rose’s first few chapters plunge into the world of storytelling. He starts out old school, citing Robinson Crusoe, which was known as one of the first novels in the 1700s, as an example of the issues we confront today. Rose is fascinated by Crusoe’s Preface, long studied by lit majors as a sort of conundrum in the fact/fiction dichotomy. “If ever the Story of any private Man’s Adventures in the World were worth making Public, and were acceptable when Publish’d, the Editor of this Account thinks this will be so…the Editor believes the thing to be a just History of Fact; neither is there any Appearance of Fiction in it…” The almost paranoid insistence on the factual nature of the book is due mostly to the changing genre of literature at the time—the world was moving from historical literature to fiction, and as with any major cultural movement, distrust ensued. The novel was an instant success; Rose highlights its pretensions towards fact as the reason for this. Later in the book, Rose connects genres of literature to gaming, considering to what extent it is a simulation of reality. When we create a world for consumers that isn’t their own, where they must suspend their disbelief, should we expect it to be met with the same wariness that fiction prompted in the 1700s? The thing about asserting fact is that it precludes the listener or the reader from creating any meaning of her own. The meaning lives on the pages, and it needs only the reader’s eyes to glance over it to make it come to life. In the 1970s, a controversial literary theorist stepped on the scene with these very ideas. Stanley Fish asserted, “Meaning is…something acquired in the context of an activity…the focus of attention is shifted from the spatial context of a page and its observable regularities to the temporal context of a mind and its experiences.” The statement is eerily forward-thinking, given that Fish said it 11 years before the Web launched—an experience that epitomizes exactly what he is talking about. But of course, Fish was talking about a fairly narrow kind of literary theory that took away from all of the pretentious literary critics’ views of the unchanging meaning in the text. Instead, the book was no longer a commodity, with sheets of paper that touch our fingers as we flit through. There is no black type; there is only the conceptual distance between reader and writer, teller and listener. So what do we do with this? Who gets involved in any kind of content, whether it be video, book, or painting? Rose’s thirteenth Chapter, “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart” deals with this. He compares the simulated “universes” of Walt Disney and Philip K. Dick (sci-fi writer), where we come full circle on questions of reality and listener involvement. When it comes down to it, Disneyland really is trippy. Rose describes it as “some sort of three-dimensional pseudoreality”—as if it were from The Sims computer game. Rose then discusses Dick’s story, “The Electric Ant,” whereby a businessman wakes up one morning and is told that he’s not human at all and is actually an android. The whole story is a caricatured version of what consumers go through today, balancing reality with simulated universes, whether the universe is created in a game, novel, 10-minute short film, or Twitter account. Rose goes on to argue that the imperfect universes like the ones Dick crafts—where characters have to question which reality is actually real—are testaments to the chaos of our technological world today. Video games, movies, ad campaigns, etc. are all striving to push the boundaries of fiction—turning reality into fiction and fiction into reality—reverting back to the age-old tension between fiction and nonfiction, this time in a consumer-grounded way. The Twitter accounts of famous Mad Men characters are a testament to this. They take the complicated psychology that today’s consumer has to be able to process in order to believe in a fictitious Twitter handle. Rose makes the point that AMC could not shut down the Mad Men Twitter accounts; there’s no way to defeat autonomous authorship. Roger Sterling’s fictional memoir, Sterling’s Gold, was even published by Grove Atlantic. With an overwhelming amount of channels through which viewers can react to, and even extend, their choice of entertainment, fans are capable of being creators themselves. A world in which fictional entertainment becomes real and tangible on a 360 degree, 365 day-a-year basis erupts. As Rose rightly and astutely conveys, this new and fascinating chaos is a concept we need to embrace, and the power isn’t only given to the consumer. The limits of creativity will certainly disintegrate the more we embrace all of the channels through which we reach consumers.

 

Escape Fire wins The Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award

Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare has been awarded The Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in North Carolina.

Escape Fire, by Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke, asks what can be done to save our broken healthcare system? The film examines the powerful forces trying to maintain the current medical industry which is designed for quick fixes rather than prevention. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012.

To read more about the award click here.

To learn more about the film, click here.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words? How About a Billion?

One billion dollars later, Facebook is now the proud owner of the ever-popular Instagram.  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom have teamed up to bring everyone under one roof and make photo sharing an even better experience.
Instagram is a free photo sharing application that has managed to acquire a passionate and loyal fan base in less than three years.  The app allows users to take photos, add frames and share via social networks.  No doubt that combining the popularity of Instagram with everyone’s ongoing obsession with Facebook will be lethal.
But back to the money.  One billion dollars.  We all know Facebook is extremely successful and profitable, but one billion dollars is not loose change when you’re talking about an app that doesn’t make any revenue.  Looks like it’s reach and popularity were enough of a driving force for Zuckerberg to complete the deal.  I think fans all over the world will be excited to see what new capabilities come out of this partnership in the months ahead.

Unilever Germany Says “”F*** the Diet”

Unilever Germany is testing the boundaries of Brand-Consumer communication with promotions for its new line of low-calorie food products, using the tagline: “F*** the Diet.”

Unilever supplied this translation for the German TV spot:

“You don’t want to count calories? Just let it be.

With Du Darfst you can enjoy food without regret.

Because Du Darfst means “you don’t have to.”

Just take what you want — F*** the diet.

Du Darfst [you may].”

A spokeswoman for Unilever in Germany said in a statement Tuesday night: “Although the current Du Darfst campaign has become a bit of a talking point in Germany — as effective marketing should — it is targeted specifically at German consumers and uses language that we do not believe most German consumers find offensive. This is because the term in the campaign is frequently heard on German TV and radio, and is used in newspapers and magazines, and in the context of ‘let it be’ it is not censored or seen as inappropriate by most German consumers.”

The brand’s website explains the rationale behind this new campaign. “No fat, no carbohydrates and no food after 5:00 — the list of dietary rules is long and frustrating. Stop it! We have developed some great tips with dietician Silke Kayadelen. Try it — reawaken your passion for food and you’ll never look back!” Ms. Kayadelen is a TV personality, fitness coach and author and is regularly featured on Germany’s version of “The Biggest Loser.”  I applaud Unilever encouraging Germans to focus on sustainable, healthy eating instead of inevitably difficult and unsuccessful fad diets (with the hope of potential customers choosing Du Darfst, of course). I also appreciate Unilever testing the boundaries of corporate communications.

Context undoubtedly plays a major role in whether usage of the F-word is socially acceptable. With the rise of social media and increased brand-consumer interactions, the lines of appropriate communication have become blurred. The F-word is used intimately and often jokingly between friends, but as the connection between consumers and Companies continues to grow, is it acceptable for today’s Corporate-entities to use swear words?