Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Why People Use Super 8 Film To Create Hip Campaigns for National Brands
Recently, various members of the press who have been curious about who uses Super 8 in 2011 have interviewed me. Their curiosity has been sparked by the release of the recent J.J. Abrams Film, Super 8. The press usually starts their inquiry about Super 8 with people at Kodak, or some college professors who may have taught a super 8 class “in the day.” They may have spoken to an archivist who works with home movies and historical collections that represent a fabulous montage of our history and culture from the 40’s, 50’s 60’s and 70’s. But then, invariably, the get referred to me, a director of marketing for a company that has specialized in Super 8 film for over 35 years and who has had the privilege of knowing first hand that thousands of projects of all kinds, from various industries, are shot on Super 8 film every year.
A few days after the Super 8 movie came out, I was called by MSNBC who wanted to do a segment at a real Super 8 camera store. They were hoping to see an enormous collection of vintage camera models, both obscure and common. When I told the person that called that we didn’t have any cameras like that or any projectors– she said, ok then, we will have to get back to you. Which they didn’t. They didn’t get it.
Unless the interview is being done by one of the film industry trade magazines, (which has a little more understanding for the desire to work with a variety of mediums), the conversation usually goes something like this.
Interviewer: “So, is Super 8 back?”
Me: “Back? Where did it go?”
Interviewer: “Well, who shoots this stuff? A few people who want to create a sense of nostalgia, right?”
Me: “Well no, actually it is being used in some very hip campaigns for companies such as Roxy, Billabong, Whole Foods, Swiffer, Ford Automobiles and hundreds of other national brands for food, beverage, clothing, sports teams, fast food restaurants, and more. You can see it in TV shows such as American Idol and True Blood, and Music Videos for some of today’s hottest artists such as Katy Perry and Beyonce, as well industrials, independent projects and political campaigns.”
Interviewer: To create a sense of nostalgia, right?
So instead of feeling frustrated and defensive for the umpteenth time that “they just don’t get it” or offended that no matter how much time I spend explaining about how we upgrade the cameras with things that modern filmmakers would want, state of the art negative film stocks which we reformat, 16 x 9 aspect ratios, native 1080 scanning and Pro Res files off our state of the art scanner, I started thinking about it. What is nostalgia from more if an intellectual perspective? And I decided, maybe these interviewers are more intuitive then I thought.
Nostalgia is by definition as a sense of longing. I decided to embrace this possibility. What is it that makes me nostalgic? What is it that I long for? For me it is a wish or desire to connect with people in a way that is engaging, organic, and intimate. To get away from the Facelessness of Facebook and the 500 people in my network, many who I really don’t know that well, or in some cases, at all.
I think that purveyors of National Brands get this. Modern society tends to be very isolated and spread out. Many people are looking for a simple way to communicate their product or brand. This perhaps may be the fall out from all the corruption we have seen in recent years in the finance industry, bailouts, and sex scandals among the politicians.
I think there is a movement happening. A shift toward taking back our power in small ways individually. It’s an awakening that does make us feel nostalgic for the corner store or a place like “Cheers Bar,” where everybody knows your name. The needs and wants that have been created by a corporate-driven culture that feed our egos are being replaced with a need to feed our souls.
Community. Connectivity. Individuality.
Big brands are caught up in this, and now have to re-brand themselves to fit in with this movement and economic cycle. They want to embrace the local farmer; small bank and many in the face of unemployment are themselves cultivating entrepreneurship. They want people to see them as committed to sustainability and protectors of the environment.
So how does a company like Wal-Mart portray themselves as the local hardware store? Personal story telling. Focusing on individual contributors as opposed to corporate culture. What better way to do this then with Super 8 film?
So yes, bring on the nostalgia. Everyone loves a good story and that “feel good” feeling especially shot on Super 8 film!