Analysis: “Epuron: Power of Wind” Commercial

A German Energy Company and a German government bureau sponsored an award-winning commercial spot in 2008. The commercial features the subtle use of devices traditionally used in poetry while expressing recognition of the French New Wave style of filmmaking.

The slow pacing captures viewers’ attention and takes them out of the average commercial experience. This is reminiscent of films such as Jean Luc Godard’s Breathless, but also many of Ingmar Bergman’s works such as Wild Strawberries. These films embody a feeling of reflection involving the central character. The music sets the mood of the spot, and the length of each scene is also important in establishing an aspect of timelessness.

Normally, this kind of spot would feature a commercially available product (rather than a government initiative such as wind power). The activities that the main character is engaged in at first are shocking and inappropriate which begs the question, “what is being sold here, what is the point?” As the commercial plays out, the viewer begins to recognize the device being used, personification. This person is somehow invisible to the people he is affecting. There are some shots where the cues present situations where it is obvious the main character is not another person, but rather, a person representing the wind. In this sense, viewers are invited to participate in unraveling the meaning of what is being introduced. These are all situations where the wind is causing trouble with the featured spectator’s life. The audience can begin to relate to these embarrassing and stressful situations, as they do they begin to understand what is going on.

The turn comes when we see that the wind is troubled by his role. Finally, we witness him meeting someone who recognizes him as a person. As the wind makes a new friend we can relate to this relationship that through these shots and dialogue seems to express repentance. Eventually, during a cinema vérité style interview, we come to recognize that the main character has been sitting in front of a model of a wind turbine. Here we have something we can identify as a product, something we can associate this commercial with. We know how to ask our friends if they have seen it. From the advertiser’s point of view we see how we can support the cause, wind power.

This is an advertisement, but it is also akin to poetry. It introduces us to a world, ascribes to rules or a language to understand, a lens through which to see the work. The themes are universal, loneliness and salvation. Like poetry, it presents us with meter, one scene after another depicting the same action. The repetition is in the main character’s way of relating to people. Our objective is to translate what he is doing beyond the literal, and the producers do this through repetition. We see what fruits this new relationship has come to bear. What lies central to this idea is that people coming together can harness the powers of the earth. This is the underlying theme that the producers wished to pursue.

This theme is significant because it comes from the circumstances that made this commercial a reality. The creative design team was approached by two organizations working side by side to spread awareness: Epuron, a company specializing in renewable energy, and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment. The two groups wanted to raise awareness and dismiss criticism about wind power. What stands is a testimonial to this union, an argument where the premises are public welfare and innovation, and the conclusion is progress.

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Analysis: O’Barr’s “A Brief History of Advertising”

A Brief History of Advertising: Analysis

“A Brief History of Advertising” is a fascinating text put together by William O. Barr concerning the beginnings of advertising in our culture.  The submission traces American advertising from its beginnings in 1609, with an advertisement created to entice Englishman to come to America, and finishes with the current age of personal relationship marketing.  We begin by viewing simple handbills designed to solicit purchases, and ended with an idea of the shape of things to come.

I found the first television advertisement posted to be particularly impressive.  It included a rather sophisticated graphic theme, which depicted the jingle drawn out in musical notes; the camera zoomed in on each note sequentially to reveal a particular aspect of the company’s services.  This would not have been an easy commercial to make in the early 1950s since the only analogous work to be found of this style would be in the mass produced feature film world of that era.

I was impressed to find that Benjamin Franklin played so central a role in the history of advertising.  Franklin was a non-traditionally educated politician, someone known for thinking outside the box.   According to James Dillon, author of “Benjamin Franklin: A Wonder-Based Approach to Life and Learning,” not only was Franklin an ambassador to France, he so thoroughly believed in democracy as to prescribe that it should be extended into the classroom.  He was driven to educating children with a Socratic method wherein rather than students being told the lesson plan, instruction would be self-guided.  Franklin set up his own educational institution.  This reflects an understanding of how Franklin thought the everyday-citizen should be armed with his own ability to think critically.

The marketing aspects of the early advertisements are worth contemplating.

It is interesting to note the juxtaposition between today’s Internet advertising and the personal relationship early advertisers had with clientele.  Advertisements were originally placed in sandwich boards and transoms these were designed to attract customers to particular establishments.  Today’s Internet advertisements can mimic this personalization of the message.  Data mining and behavioral targeting can reveal a wealth of information about a consumer who visits a particular website or makes a credit-card purchase.  As mentioned previously in the blog, websites like Hulu.com have taken advantage of customer information. 

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O’Barr, W. M.(2010). A Brief History of Advertising in America. Advertising & Society Review 11(1), Advertising Educational Foundation. Retrieved August 11, 2012, from Project MUSE database.