Art and the promotional video
We at Perspective Pictures love a bit of art; well, the whole concept of video making is an art form, with its entire function rooted in creativity, bringing beauty, and indeed sometimes ugliness to life in different and eye-catching forms. Over the years, many, if not all, advertising execs and video makers alike have looked to the world of high-art for inspiration.
Some of the best adverts you’ve seen over the years have been largely influenced by art in its many forms - from performance and painting, to classical music and sculpture. It’s impossible for us to not look and find something intriguing that we wish to imitate or trigger something creative in us, when we look at high-art.
Long before the promotional video came into being, advertisers were employing artists and creative visionaries to bring about a merger of art and advertising. The Victorians being the all-time masters of this, you can even see remnants of that today, especially in high-end shops - like Fortnum and Masons, where you’ll stumble upon some ‘Empire Tea’, with its original artwork, inspired by Ancient Indian and Anglo-Indian colonial art. Karen V. Wasylowski writes on the Victorians and the birth of modern advertising, their influence and more specifically, how the Victorians way of taking the elaborate and aesthetically rich elements of art and putting into advertising remains to this day. Far from churning out tons of cutesy imagery, they pushed the boundaries - “Victorian advertising did not only feature sweet children, pets and mama. The activities of the industry reflected the Victorian passion for outlandish stunts and would make the basis of a fascinating TV drama series along the lines of Mad Men. Consider the Monkey Brand and Brooke's soap.”
As video became the main proponent of getting ideas and products out to the masses, creatives transferred the Victorian enthusiasm for art to their videos. This resulted in promotional videos getting the same treatment as Hollywood movies, with all the high production and artistic values we get from Paramount and Warner Bros. Speaking on the relationship between art and advertising Shawn Wen and Frank Stasio say - “The relationship between art and advertising is usually portrayed as antagonistic, even exploitative. But then, fine art of the 20th Century has been closing the gap between art and advertising. In the 1940s, Norman Rockwell drew illustrations for Jell-O and Orange Crush. And, of course, Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup paintings irrevocably changed the art and ad world. What is the relationship between art and advertising? “As marketing and art merged for me, [my work] became more about communicating a message and making sure that when someone viewed it, they had something to take away and consider,” Dave Alsobrooks said in an interview on the State of Things.”
From the early promotional videos of the 1950’s and 60’s, that explored rudimentary selling points, through to the 80’s and 90’s - when we saw everything from Thatcherite fantasies of wealth and power, to avant-garde explorations, borrowing from the likes of Warhol and Francis Bacon, art and advertising have become eternal bedfellows. Today, we see videographers and advertisers creating a range of styles, inspired by art of the past, and even creating art from scratch. Remember the Sony Bravia “bouncy balls” ad from 2006? Writing in The Huffington Post on the best ads of the past 60 years, Louise Ridley says, “The 250,000 rubber balls in this ad are real, not computer generated. Three giant skips sent them bouncing down a street in San Francisco, creating this unforgettable film.” An amazing achievement and proof that art and advertising are now completely in sync.