Advertising is a Performing Art

People love a good show. In fact, I believe that stories, performed live or captured through motion picture – will always captivate audiences no matter how far technology develops.

Cinderella is a wonderful story. We love a good underdog or a hidden princess, so it will always have the potential to move people on an emotional level. However, beyond the age of 6, we expect more spectacle, more drama, more visuals – to go with the story. Just hearing your mom read it from a book isn’t enough anymore. We want the story brought to life and in new iterations and guises.

The advertising industry, as a concept, is based on the idea that clients do not have the time or skill to effectively convince the public, en masse, to buy their products or spread their idea. Otherwise, why have an agency at all? Clients devote their time and energy to making the best possible products, managing costs, managing staff, driving sales, etc. But when it comes to gathering the public around the collective campfire, and performing – through words, gestures, costumes, props and music – the stories that will pull their hearts toward a brand or company or cause, that will stir an entire market to action – this is best left to a good agency. Provided the agency understands that advertising is more than just crafting the right story, it entails performing that story to the public in a way that’s unforgettable.

Witness the 2012 Superbowl spot from Chrysler, “It’s Halftime in America.” Millions of people gathered around their TV sets and devices, the collective campfire, and there appears a man’s silhouette, like a shadow play, and the unmistakeable gravel of Clint Eastwood’s voice, uttering a narrative of struggle, courage, redemption and eventual victory. With music that rose in a crescendo as the story moved from sorrow to fierce resolve. With faces of Americans worn by harsh economic times – but unbowed. Now that was a performance. And judging from the 11 million views on YouTube alone, it got a whole lot
of applause.