The TV ad built from extraordinary photography, the ICP Infinity awards, the return to photographic craft and the parody that will have photographers laughing through their lens-flare
The Superbowl, normally a dizzy mash of high-intensity sport, funny ‘water-cooler’ adverts and supercharged-snacking had an unusually reflective ad moment this year. Dodge Trucks released their ‘God Made A Farmer’, an elegy to a way of life, featuring a voiceover (a speech given by broadcaster Paul Harvey, who died in 2009) and photographs by 10 photographers.
A carefully curated piece the ad features work from: National Geographic photographer William Allard whose first book, Vanishing Breed, chronicled the old American ‘West’; and multi-talented shooter Kurt Markus whose work ranges from the photographic Americana of Buckaroo and Cowpuncher, to music videos for the likes of Tori Amos and a documentary on musician John Mellencamp.
The ad, while popular, was not without its critics, with some initially questioning its similarity to an older youtube promo by Farm.com but in fact Chrysler is actually a longtime sponsor of Future Farmers of America. While others such as the Latino non-profit group Cuéntame questioned the ethnic make-up of the farmers and whether that really reflected the reality of farming in the US and made their own video in response – it’s nearly 50 years since the nonviolent civil rights campaigns of Cesar Chavez for migrant farm workers.
There’s no question about the glow of nostalgia around ‘God Made A Farmer’ but what made it stand out was the stillness, and quality, the understated emotion of the photography that contrasted and cut through the noise and clamour of the Superbowl. And for Dodge, the message sits with ideas of ‘tradition’, ‘handing-down’ and generational connection.
The International Center of Photography announced their annual Infinity Awards which included: a Lifetime Achievement award for David Goldblatt, known for documenting his home country of South Africa through the years of Apartheid; the Young Photographer award went to Kitra Cahana who got an early break aged 17 when one of her photos of the Israeli Disengagement at Gaza ended up on the front page of The New York Times, she is also part of an ongoing stream of photographers (Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Stefan Ruiz) who have been at Benetton’s Fabrica school; and Erik Madigan who won the Applied/Fashion/Advertising award whose photography traverses fashion, art and surrealism.
A thought-provovoking piece on Craft versus Technology by Ignacio Oreamuno, Executive Director, Art Directors Club, who wonders whether agencies and creatives have got lost in paying too much attention to ads with apps, and geolocation, and case studies that show an ad was shared 5 trillion times. But Oreamuno predicts a counter-reaction among clients back to notions of craft for very simple reasons:
“Have you ever done a product shoot for food with a good photographer? I was shocked when I did to see the photographer spend hours arranging lights and meticulously placing every drop of fake bottle sweat (actually, I learned that it was glycerin) with a toothpick. Now, with campaigns being complex hybrid solutions over multiple media channels, it’s harder to focus on each piece and give all the attention to craft that it deserves.
Nevertheless, I think we have reached a point in our industry where it’s time to flock (I predict a high-flock rate in the next year or two) back to craft.
Why? Because there is just too much stuff out there.”
Professional excellence or craft, as we know from working with our photographers at Image Source, is expressed in the work – it’s the quality that shines out in an image. It’s what makes great imagery stand out and be effective for clients because it connects.
And finally, funniest promo of the week by Matthew Frost for Viva Vena clothes that has a number of fashionably creative stylings in its parodic sights, from camera flare, to dreamy voiceovers, to “authentic” vinyl collections…
…I better get back to working on my collage…Au revoir mes amis…