Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Creative Use of Conventional Resources

An Unconventional Example: The Release of My Original Full-Length PowerPoint Parodies 
There’s no denying that my PowerPoint movie preview parodies are part hokey, corny, cheesy and amateur at best, but it’s also worth noting that some are memorable.  They’re different…unique, and a lot of work went into figuring out how to create and coordinate sounds, music and animations.  About six years ago I created a couple of full length feature Star Wars parodies for my company’s Ad Department.  They originally included different versions of the multiple preview parodies I’ve posted over the last year:

Most were originally sales and not research and analysis focused as they are now. I simply didn’t want to include company revenue goals or internal references in these public posts.
Some people were impressed others not so much.  I remember some people suggesting I include actual movie footage or real graphics to improve them.  I’m flattered they demonstrated this level of interest and passion for the parodies, but they were missing the point.  I was really trying to demonstrate what can be done with limited resources.  I hear people complain all the time about not having accessible technology or resources to do their jobs.  In a small way I was able to demonstrate that with enough effort some of the most limiting resources can surprise the best of us.  From an aesthetic position, I wanted to maintain the original “South Park-like” cartoon quality that PowerPoint constrained me to at the time.
Why did I create these PowerPoints?
I can’t fully remember other than knowing there’s an instant connection to the movie theater experience for most people: the green preview screens, the iconic production studio symbols, specific movie moments, the music, etc.  Since most of my time as an analyst was trying to convert data into PowerPoint slides and supporting sales materials, I figured I would try to bridge the two and present something that would stand apart from the typical sales presentations.  Good, bad or indifferent; they seemed to work.  To this day, I still get people stopping me to ask about some of these PowerPoints.
Ad Wars VII – The Research Strikes Back
Background to the original parody:
The year was 2006.  Six years doesn’t sound like a lot, but in media and advertising it’s almost an entirely different generation.  Our sales department wasn’t fully integrated in print and online yet, so in these parodies you’ll notice a focus on print advertising.   Bob Garfield had recently written and article in Ad Age titled The Chaos Scenario.  He was predicting the demising of traditional advertising through the growth of consumer control.  The idea of media fragmentation and growth in disruptive technologies were creating new challenges for advertisers.  One of the more interesting things since was to see how capable consumers have been with adding additional media to their plates.  The rate of growth in sources viewed, read, listened to or used seems to be outpacing the rate of declines.  As the challenges existed at the time, we were refining our products’ “value proposition” versus our closest media competitors.  Note: I replaced any proprietary data with cover slides in this parody release to simple demonstrate what we were trying to communicate.  I’ve noticed some dated references to PDAs before they were firmly established as smart phones.  You’ll even see images of old blackberries and flip phones.  This short PowerPoint is corny, but at the time was effective in “engaging” our sales staff with our product benefits and creating something memorable.
Before the end of August (as originally promised in the Ad Wars Parody Preview), I will post the last full length PowerPoint parody Ad Wars VIII - The Return of the Analysts with a similar background and set up.  After that, I’m likely to stay out of the crazy PowerPoint animation business for quite some time.