When I was taking a continuing-education Film class at School of Visual Arts, the professor took a brief survey on what the students wanted to gain from taking the course. I was the only person who wanted to leverage it to explore a career in Creative Advertising, and also the only person that had studied corporate finance and was working on Wall Street. Others just peered at me like I didn’t know what I was doing with my life, which admittedly, I did not. Also, none of them wanted to go into advertising either–because if that were the case they’d be taking an advertising course instead. But I always believed in the power of learning at the edge instead of studying a directly-related field to model after everyone else in the industry, because I thought innovation came from tangential domains and not a textbook.
I explained myself: that one evening after a long day at work I stumbled upon series of 360 Ad-Campaigns on Youtube. That soon, I realized these weren’t ordinary Tide-commercials that I normally skip through. That I was being reeled into each and every one of them as if I were watching a movie. That a Duracell commercial reminded me of a National Geographic documentary and a Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign hypnotized me like Inception. And that next thing I knew, I wanted to buy Duracell batteries and Dove soap, neither of which I had ever bought in my life before. The students and the professor started nodding.
After the course was complete, I made a few commercials for artists to raise money. The film course had turned out to be much more effective for me than traditional advertising courses.
Creative advertising is not as regimented or pseudo-scientific in its real-life applications as marketing courses taught in school. It’s way worse, a total crapshoot, and completely void of any forms of science. But that’s because it’s follows a screen-play type of logic rather than a corporate marketing strategy; which makes it much more logical when examined in that regard. Like Quentin Tarantino films, creative commercials leave breadcrumb trails for the audience to follow, only to take a complete turn in the end. The audience may not have expected that an avid rock climber could beat his personal record with the reliable power of Duracell, or that women are the harshest critic of themselves and are far less forgiving of their own appearances compared to when they see and measure other people’s appearances (a visual survey powered through Dove).
Compelling stories are an integral component of creative advertising, and an engine behind the ‘immersing’ of the audience. The goal is to tap into the unconscious part of the brain that triggers deepest emotions whether it is nostalgia, regret, or renewed hope. Film is the original art of persuasion, and if you weave it into commercials–risks are much higher, but the potential upside is vastly consequential as it will permanently imprint into your consumer’s minds and beat the contrived brand-management tactics that are used everywhere else.