Sunday, 5 September 2010
Saturday, 4 September 2010
Television advertising of video games has never worked all that well. It only takes a quick look back to Nintendo's 1986 Legend of Zelda TV ad campaign to see that it never had a good start (go hunt it out on youtube, I guarantee you will not be disappointed). The problem is simple, the masses do not take video games seriously as an art form, and the masses watch television, so when they see this inadequate form of entertainment they laugh it off. This isn't a criticism, think about it, cinema, music, literature, television all widely accepted forms of entertainment, but video games? The term instantly throws up depraved images of teenage boys sat in dark bedrooms hammering buttons with their thumbs, an association still somewhat valid, the vast majority of people who play video games are still teenage/twenty-something males. Video games have not matured enough in the eyes of the masses to become a serious contender in media. Whilst the Wii is affecting a change, it’s going to be some time until people start taking games such as the Halo franchise seriously. This simple logic however seems to have eluded some developers and others in the industry; who periodically churn out ads like the current 'Halo Reach' ad, a laughably bad piece of melodramatic horse shit.
Its problem is instantly noticeable; it takes itself far too seriously. I'd like to be able to describe what happens in the ad but I honestly have no idea. The whole thing is drowned in grim, dark colours, for what I assume is dramatic effect but just ends up making the sequence look about as deep as a fat goth who’s trying too hard. It doesn't help that the music that it's set to is a solitary drawling piano that leads in to a solitary female hum, a failed and weak attempt to recapture the effect of the Gears of War campaign featuring the Michael Andrews and Gary Jules version of Mad World which was about as charming as a dead cat to start off with. It's all very unclear what's happening, then a soldier (or 'spartan' as my three second scan of wikipedia would reveal) takes into the air, flies in to a large space craft and throws an armed explosive device he recently discovered on the ground next to an identical looking comrade in to the centre of the space craft, leaving the camera to pan out as a large explosion takes place in an almost impressively banal fashion tying in perfectly with the rest of the ad. Now I'm not accustomed with the storyline of Halo but on the surface of it it seems to be genetically modified soldiers fighting aliens in space. Am I right? I'm fairly sure that's basically it, it's about as inspired as calling your main character something hideously generic like Master Chief. Oh wait.
This banality and non entertainment makes me wonder who this advert is trying to target? It's visual dullness and confusing plot line make it unappealing and alienating to people who've never heard of the Halo franchise or even those who have played it and take a casual interest. The only obvious audience it leaves is fans of the franchise, but surely the degenerates who understand and appreciate this exercise in generic storyline and game play (there I said it, Halo is a generic and over rated game) are already convinced that ‘Halo Reach’ will be awesome and will go out and buy it without any further convincing. So why bother? It could have been made well, take a look at the recent StarCraft 2 ad campaign, an example in video game advertising done right, it’s visually exciting, fast paced, intriguing and not all that anal. Sure it’s using tried and tested techniques, you’d be mistaken on first watch that StarCraft 2 is the next James Cameron CG epic, but if something ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Holy fucking dog shit the video title is even more pretentious than the video itself
Friday, 3 September 2010
The menstrual cycle, the scourge of men, women and in recent times television viewers everywhere. Period’s happen, we all know this and we live with it, we just don’t talk about it. Why? Because it’s unpleasant, no matter which way you look at it it boils down to two words, bleeding vaginas. Wince a little? Of course you did, this is why nobody discusses jammy dodger season. Unfortunately the necessity of ‘feminine hygiene products’ has created a necessity to advertise said products, meaning we are now subjected to thinking about this unfortunate twist of nature potentially any time we are too lazy to get up and do something constructive during the ad break.
I can’t tell you much about the vast array of products designed for that certain time of the month apart from Always Ultra sanitary pads, a name now burned into my head thanks to its incredible advertising techniques. My first encounter with this particular ad came a long time ago whilst enjoying Chuck Norris at his finest, before he was cool, in ‘Walker: Texas Ranger’ on Bravo in the middle of the day. Now forgive me if I’m wrong, but surely, no woman is ever watching Bravo, a channel that is so overly macho you expect it to give you a playful yet bruising punch in the ribs and a pint of Stella served on a Nuts magazine every time you tune in. Despite this however this particularly worrying advertisement came blazing on to screen about as welcome as a pork chop in a synagogue right in the middle of a program that is so male oriented it borders homoeroticism.
Instantly we’re hit by a wonderful visual metaphor of bumper cars bouncing off the new “blue secure guard protective contours” which according to the soft female voice narrating this mental torture keep “all you’d want, exactly where you’d want it to be” now I can’t speak as a woman, but I believe if women had a choice the vast majority would want the lining of their uterus to stay where it was and not have to periodically bleed it out, no matter how great the “blue secure guard contours” are. This awful visual metaphor continues for a round twenty seconds, accompanied by traditional fairground/circus music, a disturbing juxtaposition which gives the advert a sinister nightmarish feel ensuring that what you have just seen will be scarred in to your memory forever. It all ends with a tag line that baffles even the greatest minds “Have a happy period” I challenge everyone reading this (if anyone is actually reading this) to find anybody who has experienced a “happy period” A time of the month where women become irritable (understandably may I add just to ensure the sexist door in this post is firmly locked shut) and straight men in committed relationships have to wait anything up to a week to enjoy penetrative sex again, or not, if that’s how you choose to live your life.
We hardly ever see adverts for other genital related products such as condoms or contraceptive pills and there’s a simple reason nobody suffers as a result of their infrequent exposure, it’s because we already know they exist. Like we already know tampons and sanitary pads exist, for what reason do we need televised reminders of their existence, purpose and availability on such a regular basis other than to spoil peoples viewing enjoyment?
One of the undisputed song writing masters of our time Stevie Wonder once sang that “music is a world within itself with, a language we all understand”. But what happens when that world is invaded by money hungry corporations that twist its language to lure the precious little money you have from you in a scenario ironically similar to Stevie’s career in the 80s?
Sadly we’ve all been there, sat enjoying some of television’s richest fruits only to find that in the commercial break corporate blood suckers have seized the opportunity to rape and pillage a much loved song in to a 30 second backing track to accompany garish images of something new to squander your meagre funds on. Most recently Clark’s has touched a nerve, although the rage that I felt when watching this particular advert was more accustomed to somebody physically throttling my spinal cord.
The crushing hammer of musical disillusionment began to fall whilst I was leaving the glare of the TV screen to avoid such a catastrophe during the ad break. It was only until I was just out of the door did I hear the opening line to Birdhouse in Your Soul, a personal favourite by the American new wave come alternative rock band They Might Be Giants, flowing with all its saccharine nostalgia and optimism. In disbelief I whipped back in to the room to see what possible purpose this song could possibly be serving between the two halves of ‘Coronation Street’ only to be greeted to a nightmarish vision of a society, where select children have grown to gigantic proportions and are allowed to run, cycle and skate freely over school playgrounds and idealised suburbia in the name of promoting a shoe retailer most people of recent generations have not had the displeasure of dealing with since they were in need of shoes for school. In little over thirty seconds a favourite song had become irreversibly mentally linked to the thought of generic shoe design and the childhood dread of starting a new year at school with shoes your mother chose for you. All of its original sentiment and personality removed, lobotomised.