Cameras to Prosumers: How We Influence Professionals

A couple days ago, my school hosted an event with producer and University of San Diego alum, Tim Lynch. He talked about his journey from being a USD student and not knowing what to do after graduation, to now being the founder of Woodshed Films. I always find it extremely fascinating to hear about peoples success stories and how they found their way into their current industry. Wanting to get into the video side of advertising myself, it was motivating to hear about his successes and failures about getting into the industry.

One thing I found interesting about his keynote how he said that the individual with a camera, not another agency, is one of his biggest competitors. When shooting commercials for Ford, the client is constantly comparing his work to works on Vimeo or YouTube. He said that on multiple occasions, clients will call or send video, telling him to “make your commercial look like this.” This shows the power of the prosumer, that we have influence on the mainstream and can create grassroots level creativity.

Another thing I found interesting that Tim mentioned was his love for 16mm film. I have only worked on a 16mm shoot once, and while it was a fun experience, it is obviously much easier to shoot digital for multiple reasons. The part that I find interesting though is how, while digital quality gets better and better, people still hold to the old methods. Take for instance, Instagram; we take beautiful pictures with our 8MP iPhone camera, then crop them down and add 1969 Kodak filters to it. Same with Hypstamatic, using filters that degrade the quality of our photos. While I am all about original content, I find it interesting that our technology is getting so good, that we tone it down to create more unique looking photos.

Video Challenge

Like most students, I don’t have a large yearly cash flow, it is actually quite menial. Being that I don’t have a huge disposable¬†income, it makes it difficult to buy expensive video equipment. I improvise by shooting videos on my iPhone and editing using the iMovie app; where the quality may not be on par with a DSLR, you can still see my ability to create great shots and tell a story.

Being the motivated person that I am, I drove to Los Angeles to a professional studio to use professional equipment. This is what I created in six hours, including a full script and creative outline for a “secret” project (hint, the future of advertising):

What Creates an Effective Advertisement?

What creates an effective advertisement? This is a question that is asked over and over in my advertising classes. A liberal arts education is different in terms that we don’t just study advertising in practicum, but also in theory. When you break into the theory of advertising, you being to look at different aspects of an ad, to the point where it feels as if you’re in a hybrid communication/psychology/sociology course.

When studying the effectiveness of an advertisement, the professor will put it on the board and ask us to discuss it. I would say that 9 times out of 10, I have studied these specific advertisements multiple times and have read about them on several blogs. A few weeks ago, we studied the United Colors of Benetton death row inmates campaign. After a 20 minute class discussion, the professor asked if this ad was effective, I raised my hand and said yes, that if we just spent 20 minutes in a professional setting discussing this ad, then it was effective.

Advertisers should look at their ads beyond simply generating sales, they should incorporate the idea of public relations into their advertisements as well. I heard a few weeks back from an industry professional that through the years, public relations professionals and advertisers will merge closer and closer together. This is an effective strategy that the industry needs to take into account, the idea that advertisements themselves can generate buzz beyond traditional methods.

Guerilla marketing has been a huge fascination of mine, and would love to work at a firm that solely focused on it. This style of marketing “gets it” in terms of buzz marketing into advertisements. Advertisers need to look outside the scope of sales and numbers and look at their advertisements from a public relations point of view; this view could lead to a breakthrough and to the future of advertising.

Drive and Passion

One thing that has always been on my mind is if greatness is achieved by what one does, or is it simply who you are. My time at the University of San Diego has been very fulfilling; I have gotten involved in every club, professional event and business related venture I could get my hands on. When I explain to people my involvements around campus, including an internship and time in the Navy Reserves, they like to say, “I’m sure the Navy had a great part in shaping who you are, making you a overly motivated person.” This has always lead me to wonder, was it the Navy or was I always this way?

My time in the Navy was an eye opener for me; I was able to see what I could and couldn’t handle. Was this enough to drive me to become a better person and take on more responsibilities than before? I don’t think so. While I was in high school, I was involved in just as many things as I am today, joining several leadership clubs geared toward helping underclassmen. When I first joined the Navy, I was stationed in Japan and had never really been out of the country; this was initially difficult for me because of my small town upbringing, and the fact that I had not traveled much outside a 30 mile radius. After the initial culture shock, I soon realized that there was even more of the world outside of Japan, and I wanted to see it. Was this curiosity sparked because I was ignorant, or because I was curious to seek out more?

I believe that at a certain age people decide to be curious about life, to find and create something better than what they have been dealt, or to remain stagnant. Is this something than can be taught? Possibly. Is it something that is learned through experience? I believe so. Every one shapes their experiences, and while some are born with a curious mind, others create it. As long as you maintain that curiosity and drive, others will see it, and it will be your own willingness to learn more that will make you a better person and make others question how it is that you are so driven.

Social Media and Generations

I was talking with a colleague the other day about the differences in generations, and introduction into the world of social media. I am 29 years old, and in my lifetime I have seen the adaptation of home computers, video games enter the main stream, the invention of email and the internet, starting of text messaging and the integration of social networking. I believe that social networking is on par with the greatest advances in the past 30 years because of the way it has shaped how we communicate.

Being from the generation that didn’t start off computer mediated communication, I was able to go about my childhood spending a lot of time outdoors, and if I did spend time in front of a screen, it was playing split-screen Nintendo on a television. As much as I classify myself as a nerd, I still pride myself in my personal skills; speaking well in front of people has always been one of my strong points. As we get deeper and deeper into computer mediated communication, I notice that a lot of people are being more passive aggressive with their speaking tones, even waiting until they are away from someone to ask them something via social media or text. Are people becoming less personable and relying on text to get their message across without fear of face to face confrontation? From my experiences, I believe so.

Finding people from this generation is the best way to gear your social media team and we hold the best of both worlds: we are old enough to remember how to effectively communicate face to face, but young enough to see the implementation of social media and know how to use it. We are not too old to understand how the younger people think, and are not too young to know how life was before way things are today.