The “whoa” business model
On Christmas Day, my wife and I walked into downtown Portland’s Regal Fox Tower, one of many such multiplexes Regal Cinemas operates. It’s a nice theater, with comfy seats, sharp screens, and friendly staff. I’m told the local owners are hip people, and this is evidenced by the oddball/artsy films they often run. Overall, however, this in not in any essential way different from other similar, big-name, popcorn-and-soda theaters.
Which is why it was downright shocking to me when, upon entering and seating ourselves, having chatted away the fifteen minutes we had until the screening, we watched the house lights dim down and the screen turn on—yes, it had been off until now—and the very first thing we saw was a grainy shot of some desert rocks, and the first thing we heard was a twangy guitar riff that opens Luis Bacalov’s theme to Sergio Corbucci’s Django, now repurposed as the opening of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
You read that right. The theater showed no house ads, no local ads, no previews for TV shows, no featurettes, no trailers. At 7:45 PM, the advertised screening time, they showed the movie we came to see.
It was magnificent. It felt like watching a movie, as opposed to going out to see a movie.
I’m sure that those local ads, TV previews, and trailers make money for the theater (by the way of making money for the studios etc.) I’m also quite positive that if this theater decided to show every movie this way—if that were even possible, because I imagine that the reels (hard drives!) they receive from the studios have some of this baked in?—they’d suffer financially and, potentially, legally. I don’t even know why it happened this time. Other screenings of Django Unchained definitely included all the advertising detritus. Was it because the movie is long-ish? Because it’s, uh, offensive to advertisers? Because, gosh darn it, it’s Christmas?
I wonder if there’s a business to be gotten into where one shows movies the way everyone wants to see them: just the movies, from the very first second you start watching. It’s a naive thought; I understand that. But I can’t forget that when those lights went down, when that screen went up, and when that twangy riff kicked in, there were audible gasps and cheers in the audience, and someone behind me yelled out “whoa, awesome!”
I want to believe that there’s a business to be gotten into that capitalizes on “whoa, awesome”.
Beginning in 2003, MUJI began declaring its vision for each year in newspaper advertisements. With each running to approximately 1,600 characters in length, they were rather wordy for newspaper ads. Although they were somewhat unsophisticated, they were written with the intention of prioritizing contents that would clearly communicate the thinking of the company each time, making it possible to chart the course of the brand from the ads of past years. The ad for the first year, 2003, contained two pieces. One was “The Future of MUJI,” which described the history of MUJI from its birth more than 20 years earlier and its direction for the future. The other was “MUJI on a Global Scale,” which was based on the “World MUJI” concept described in the fax that had been sent to Ikko Tanaka by Kenya Hara.
The 2005 ad pictured above was titled “Tea House and MUJI,” and featured a photo of a single bowl that MUJI had just marketed that year in the Dojinsai Tea Room at Jishoji (Ginkakuji) Temple, said to be the original model for all Japanese-style interiors. The photo taken by Yoshihiko Ueda was shot in black and white, filled with rich shades of light and dark. Through variations in the implements and items associated with a tea room, a Japanese tea room can alter its spatial reality in unlimited ways. It is because MUJI is simple that it has the freedom to flexibly accommodate the varied interpretations which people have of it. The only word on the poster was the Japanese MUJI logotype, with these four Chinese characters functioning as a receptacle to catch the thoughts of everyone who encounters it. (via Nippon Design Center)
By: Andrew Gall, McSweeney’s
Dear esteemed prospective client:
I can’t wait to get started on this exciting new advertising campaign for your product/service. It is truly a great opportunity.
By entering into this freelance contract with me, I agree to provide you with the following materials for your new advertising campaign:
- A mood board session, in which my team will provide you with 2-3 mood boards that, while appearing to be simple pictures clipped from magazines and then pasted onto black foam core, are, in actuality, THE FUTURE FOR YOURBRAND’S DIRECTION. These pictures will be edgy and artsy and will take your brand into a new edgy and artsy direction. There will be at least two photographs of Ashton Kutcher.
- A dozen made up words related to your product that will “draw consumers in.” These shall include, but not be limited to, words with the following suffixes: “–tastic,” “-tacular,” and “–riffic.” Also, while you probably already know this, I was the one who came up with the word “crumbelievable” in 2007 to describe the Keebler company’s new line of coffee cake cookies. It goes without saying that following the institution of this new word as a product line tagline, sales proceeded to go through the roof.
- A logo exploration that includes at least five unique logo designs. These will consist of differently sized circles and in one case the words will be rotated to a landscape rather than a portrait view. If you want your actual company name below the logo, that will be part of round two and will require additional dollars and conceptual exploration time.
- Five conceptual print advertising ideas that don’t actually contain your logo or company name at all.
- Three television storyboards for proposed television commercials. The explosions, large groups of people, and time of year you will see depicted in these storyboards will be occurrences that can only be shot in New Zealand, so these three ideas must be shot in New Zealand in order to be an effective advertisement for your product/service. This is non-negotiable.
- At least one media-agnostic concept that involves a Rube Goldberg machine.
- A direct mail concept that you won’t open or ever see. (It’s actually a piece of my son’s lined notebook paper with sketches of monsters on it, not that it matters.)
- A web homepage layout, which will be a rough sketch with black pen on white paper, on which I will have taken the liberty to draw boxes to indicate where you should put your web content. If you’d like to see this concept “come to life,” it will require an additional estimate and 5 more weeks of conceptual exploration time.
- A mobile device layout, which is a new offering. This will be a slightly smaller version of the web homepage layout. This, as a “new media” offering, is not part of the standard scope of work and will require additional funds and weeks of conceptual exploration time.
- Fourteen unique PR stunts that include ways to build a “buzz” for your brand. Half of these will be ideas for celebrity endorsements or involvements that aren’t possible either because you can’t afford them, the celebrity actually hates your product/service, or because the celebrity is dead or fictional or trademarked (e.g., Aquaman). The remaining seven will all involve putting a large billboard somewhere in Times Square in various locations.
- Two-to-Six “viral” ideas that involve a cat.
Please find enclosed my contract, which I request that you sign and return at your earliest convenience.
Again, my sincerest thanks for considering me for this project.
Freelance Advertising Professional