While there is a great tide of anti-advertising sentiment flooding our hive-mind, one must also consider the undeniable truth surrounding the act of hawking a product: We want/need things and there are people out there that can supply those things for us. But, growing up on a steady diet of commercial foie gras, I have grown bitter towards the industry as a whole. The idealist years of my 20's provided me with a rabid “fuck you and the Chuck Wagon gravy train you rode in on” attitude towards commercial filmmaking. I had a few offers of hired-gun style directing gigs, but I never accepted until I was approached by an agency representing Trojan© brand condoms. It was this campaign where I glimpsed the future of advertising... As I would like to believe.
The agency was scouting independent filmmakers to help create spots for a new campaign to raise condom awareness amongst teenagers (A subject very close to my heart, BTW). What was so special about this campaign was the artists were encouraged to submit their own ideas for each spot. Normally in a commercial situation a group of agency folks focus-group an idea until it is drained of all creative vision. It is then handed off to a director to act as a drinking bird toy that goes through the motions while the agency gaggle enjoys their field trip to the studio and “cleverly” re-write the spot while filming.
The Trojan© campaign was completely different. The artists chosen were given free reign to create their vision with minimal agency interference. (And when I say “minimal” I mean: After the final script is approved, no one other that the artist and the crew are there to make the spot a reality.) This is not only rare, but it is a wonderfully freeing environment for a filmmaker/artist to create something designed to sell a product – an experience not regularly one of artistic virtue.
I cannot adequately express my appreciation towards the agencies which took a chance on me and my ideas for their product. And, as you can see they are hardly mainstream fare – yet all have had wild success on the internet and edgy networks like Comedy Central.
However, as rewarding an experience the Trojan© “Evolve One / Evolve All” campaign was, nothing could prepare me for the complete freedom of the intensely progressive campaign for Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics new Spring line: “Lo–Fi”