Thursday, August 11, 2011

Great creativity went into your Mac. What comes out of it?

     Technology seems to be changing everything, including us.

      I've learned, for example, that technology has changed fine leather. As a result of chemically enriched feeding for cattle, their veins are larger and more visible, and hides have more resiliency. Check your handbag.

      Technology has changed apparel, as computers enable quick knockoffs of European designers --- but not their fine manufacturing methods. And computers efficiently turn bamboo into what our government says should be labeled rayon.

       Many people claim technology is even changing the meaning of friendship. Changing it into the guarded, everything's rosey, non-commital relationships we have by the dozens on social media.

       What about advertising? Has technology changed the salesmanship and persuasive power in ad-making? Watching how professionals work today, I'm getting worried.

       I see art directors rummaging through site after site of stock photos, in search of the perfect visual. They clearly won't find anything original; stock is stock, by definition. If, for example, the ideal visual for a handbag ad is a woman swimming with alligators, changes are slim you'll find it in a stock photo. And even if you do, will it be the right model, looking the right way with the right attitude, in the right environment with the right lighting? In many ways, the computer which frees us to do so much confines our creativity.

      What about advertising writers and technology? Computers make it easy to add and delete words, remove paragraphs, and generally fool around. But words look great on a computer --- and there's no such thing as idea-check. In your writing, you can have a weak idea or none at all, and it's hard to push that delete button on your precious words.

      To me, no writer should write a headline without a writer's rough layout, complete with both visual and headline. Writers don't like to do that anymore; their computers get envious. The ads are suffering. The old excuse that "the headline is so good it doesn't need a great new visual" stifles good advertising.

      Just when more products are becoming more alike more quickly, thanks to technology, commercials and ads are also becoming more alike, thanks to technology. Instead of wracking their brains, some creative people are just wracking their Macs. But Macs have no judgement, no empathy, no human understanding of people and what interests them.

      Those are what advertising needs most.

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