Don't necessarily trust your gut

When Schwab “borrowed,” or as I like to call it, “ripped off,” the technique of animating over film that was showcased in "Waking Life" many years ago, my reaction to the first spot I saw was to recoil and dive for the remote. I have been similarly driven to flip with every viewing of every subsequent Schwab spot. I don’t usually have such an intense visceral reaction to TV commercials. So I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting on why it is that I find these commercials so abhorrent.

When I viewed "Waking Life", I had nothing resembling this revulsion. In fact, I enjoyed the movie, though I felt like the technique was simply an interesting novelty and had been pretty much “used up” with this film.

So, why my reaction to the Schwab spots? As near as I can figure, there are two reasons: the first is that the people characterized in these spots are, to me, extraordinarily unlikable. They make me think of all the shallow, money-driven, affluent people that I try so hard to avoid in my daily life. The writing in these spots captures very effectively the way these people talk and think.

The other reason is harder to articulate. There is something about how this particular version of this animating technique unfailingly renders the subjects of these spots, for lack of a better term, creepy. I feel like they are automatized. Rather than enhancing or personalizing the individualism or humanity of each character, these aspects seem to me entirely, eerily, absent.

Pretty much every one of the dozens of people I’ve discussed this campaign with report having a similar reaction.

On the other hand, while the campaign seems to be aimed at boomers and almost boomers like me and most of the people I’ve discussed the campaign with, mine is a small sample, and may be anomalous. In fact, I have to assume this is the case because Schwab just keeps cranking out these spots, which surely must mean they have determined that the spots are working. Lots of people out there somewhere must be having a completely opposite reaction to mine.

My point? Advertising sure is subjective, ain’t it?


M Guy said...

I think you nailed the problem with the re purposing of the rotoscoping technique in use here. In Waking Life Linklater used the technique to augment his characters and their world views as well as to underscore the dream-theme of the film. Timothy "Speed" Levitch's monologue being a great example.

Anonymous said...

I love the spots!

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the horrible thing is the spots are just boring, using (or stealing) an interesting aesthetic is so much less affective than reworking the creative would be...

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