Aug 01

Imagination at the Expense of Engagement
 
By Rob Wallace
 
The Olympics Opening Ceremonies, seen by one of the single largest viewing audiences worldwide, left a billion of us scratching our heads.
 
Danny Boyle’s £27m spectacle cobbled together a frenetic stage performance with a dizzying, incoherent array of mixed media.  It bounced from a historic retrospective to a James Bond vignette; to fast paced video clips set against a distracting stadium light show. Everything fired so rapidly that the viewer was challenged to focus, resulting in visual ADD.
 
This references a disturbing trend that we’re seeing across much visual communication. We live in a world of content that feeds our ever-increasing appetite for the new, the disruptive and the “what’s next” while contributing to our ever-decreasing attention span.  What’s lost in this “give me everything now or lose me” strategy is content, story telling and engagement.  We have no time to reflect or process; we just react. 
 
Great visual storytellers know that flashy fireworks have their place - but only at the service of leading the viewer on a meaningful journey.    
 
For me, the most powerful moment of this Olympian melee was the ad featured above, from New York Presbyterian Hospital.
 
P&G’s “Thanks Mom” campaign also crafted an eloquent, emotional connection.
 
When an authentic story grabs your attention and makes you feel, think and act, that’s when communication works best.  To me, these ads were the most engaging two-minutes of the entire four-hour experience.   Ah, brand narratives saving the day again.

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