Saturday, August 09, 2008

What were they thinking?

We Suggest Digital With a Lot of Memory and No Shutter Lag
We suggest digital with a big, fast memory card, a high-speed buffer and no shutter lag.

Cute headline on this tourism billboard -- for an earlier era, before technology swept through photography and left it forever changed. Even the image looks like an old-fashioned stock photo from awhile back, shot from the shore.

Actually, most stock photos these days are more dynamic. Maybe this was something that the Dells Boat Tours had kicking around in their files. A more creative treatment would be to have an in-your-face shot that frames excited faces with the kinetic spray of rushing water, with the cliffs of the Dells looming in the background -- if nothing else, someone could stand at the back of the boat, hold a tripod or monopod-mounted digital SLR with a WA lens out over the spray, aim it at the passengers and trigger it with a remote. But that would mean someone would have to actually pay a photographer to shoot it. Of course, that's if it's speed you want to go for, which come to think of it, is a little odd to begin with for such a meditative stretch of beautiful scenery.

Be that as it may, the weird thing is, the billboard is not a fading holdover from a decade ago. It only went up recently. What were they thinking? Are they really targeting a demographic so out of it that they don't know about digital? And if they were, would they even know what you were talking about when you mention high speed film?

Probably not. I'm guessing the problem is with a lazy creative director. There's very little originality in advertising and marketing to begin with, and probably even less in tourism advertising, which is often dealing with limited budgets, cheap clients, and the need to create something out of nothing -- quickly. Old ideas are brushed off, recycled and repurposed. Perhaps the creative director was thinking of an ad promoting Formula One racing twenty years ago, "We suggest high-speed film," and thought "Bingo, that'll work. Throw it on a stock photo and we're good to go." Well, not really.

Note to advertisers: Before engaging in the perfectly honorable tradition of ripping off old ads, make sure the technology hasn't changed while you were asleep.

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