04 February 2014

Mixed Media Musings

I meant to post Monday, for the extra alliteration, but life happened. Oh well.

First off, have you seen the reading speed test from Staples floating around recently? Matt and my siblings have always teased that I read ridiculously fast, so when Matt saw it on Reddit the other day, well, I had to try it. The result? After retaking the test three times to make sure the results were accurate, we can confidently say that I read an average of 575 words per minute. How quickly do you read? Check out the test here!

While I meant it on Friday when I said that I like watching the Super Bowl for the football itself, as former media students, Matt and I both really enjoy analyzing the commercials to pieces. "See why they used that color there?" "Mmhm, and the downsweeping camera angle gives the viewer the illusion of power..." "Oh, gosh, they messed up choosing him; totally the wrong connotations if people have recently seen that movie," etc. I know, we're weird. But you probably would have figured that out anyway as soon as I told you that my favorite of this year's Super Bowl commercials was... drumroll... T-Mobile's third spot.

Yep, the one with a solid pink background, white text, no video, no voiceover. Just background music from Disney's Robin Hood---a genius selection, by the way. Why? It was pretty near perfect! The ad was daring, completely breaking the mold. It was a calculated risk, but guaranteed to stand out as different: In a venue where everyone tries to out-different each other by going more over-the-top, T-Mobile went with shockingly simple. Action montages can blur together a week or two after the fact, but a whole thirty seconds of that shocking pink screen was unavoidably visually arresting. And it didn't leave viewers wondering who the ad was for, with T-Mobile's signature pink and the shared message with their previous two Tebow commercials (airing it third of the three was very important!). They did a good job with readability: not too much text per screen, a good size, clean edges. And the music...

Gosh, they did so many things by choosing that music. Who is Robin Hood? An outlaw, a renegade, someone who is going his own way instead of following along with the punishing rules of the establishment. A folk hero, one who's out to help the little man. Adventurous. Caring. Plucky. All positive ways for T-Mobile to contrast themselves with other major carriers. For two generations of viewers, the music was calculated to tie T-Mobile's contract buyout program to a fond memory. Did you hear that music and outright think, "T-Mobile is plucky!"? Hopefully not, but did the music stir nostalgia and generally positive feelings, encouraging you to keep listening? Then it worked.

One downside to their unique ad style which Matt pointed out this evening is that it probably won't be shared and rewatched as much online as other ads with big-name actors or exciting visuals or cute little kids and animals. And that's very true, although clearly media/marketing geeks will watch it over and over again. Most people showing friends their favorite Super Bowl commercials aren't going to go back and look this one up. T-Mobile's other two ads, featuring Tim Tebow, probably will get their share of "shares," though, so their buyout campaign will get publicized... and it seems to me that this third commercial was meant more to reinforce the message of the first two than to bear the weight of the marketing campaign on its own.

Enough about that! One more medium and I'll be done for tonight: music. I've been meaning to share Peter Hollens' cover of I See Fire, from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, for a while now. Hollens does layered a capella recordings of covers and original music, mostly covers recently, and shares them on YouTube as well as selling the individual songs and albums. He has a phenomenal voice, and a true talent for presenting all of the rich layers of even heavily-orchestrated songs without any instrumental backup. I See Fire may be our favorite of the pieces he's released so far--it's played pretty much every day here--but his folk songs, like Shenandoah and Scarborough Fair, are a close second. Check his music out on YouTube!

1 comment:

  1. I read 397 words per minute. I think I've gotten slower... or just more tired :-)