New symbols, new features and what Immortals director, Tarsem, can teach us about targeted marketing. This week's Editor's Blog is the letter from Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Michael Weinzettl which will appear in the new issue of L?rzer's Archive (Vol. 1/2012).
When browsing the ads featured in this issue, you will chance upon an unfamiliar symbol - - in the credits.
Let me hasten to add that this is not some kind of Big Brother Is Watching You or even God's all-seeing eye - not quite... In our magazine's 28th year, we have finally come around to crediting the creative director(s) of the campaigns showcased.
Why this late, you might ask? The main reason for not doing so in all these years was that Walter Lürzer tended to regard the creative director's work with some suspicion. He wanted credit given only to those "who actually did the creative work."
Fair enough, one might say, but of course over the years we received lots of letters, telexes, faxes, and emails in which creative directors complained bitterly that they felt left out. Walter Lürzer was not swayed. This resulted in a lot of creative directors having their names added to the names of the actual art directors or copywriters next to the corresponding symbol. This displeased Walter Lürzer too, he having believed that there really could be only one person deserving to be credited with the idea or the art direction.
Here, however, I was able to persuade him to have as many names there as wanted to be associated with a campaign. The more names, I suggested, the more copies of the magazine would be sold. After all, we all like to see our efforts at - as so pithily put by Joni Mitchell on Hejira - "chickenscratching for immortality" publicized as much as possible. Anyway, from now on, creative directors will also get their due in the magazine and will, of course, be also included in our website's Ranking.
From 'immortality to "The Immortals," the title of a movie worth mentioning here for two reasons: Firstly, it was directed by one of commercial-making's brightest stars, Tarsem, the man behind such advertising classics as Levi's "Swimmer" (1991), Smirnoff's "Message in the bottle" (1993), "Elephant" for Coca-Cola (1994), and many, many more. We have a total of 43 commercials directed by Tarsem on view on our website, the latest one - for Kia cars - dating from 2009.
Which is a good place to point out that a one-year subscription to the magazine - 6 issues per year combined with unlimited access to our website - can now be had for just 139 Euro a year, a 40 Euro saving over the previous rate. Find out how to subscribe
But let's get back to our man Tarsem, who branched out into feature film-making with "The Cell" in 2000.
"Immortals", his third feature, has so far grossed $207,662,539. The film purports to tell the story of Perseus but uses Greek mythology, including a handful of gods, who all look like refugees from a Dolce & Gabbana poster shoot, just to put them through the standard paces of an incredibly gory - if rather slow-moving - sword-and-sandal flick. In other words, a movie that releases its viewers dumber than they were before.
That said, Tarsem has nonetheless retained the extraordinarily aesthetics that made him such a soughtafter commercials director. There are some extraordinary visuals and I'd be happy to watch the film again, provided it was a 15-minute director's cut.
The second reason I thought this film is worth mentioning is the way it was advertised. Its US trailer featured a voiceover that went like this (I'm indebted for this information to Rich Juzwiak's fabulous blog on matters pop-cultural, fourfour): "From the producers of "300" comes a movie that's so stunningly visual and so awesomely violent that we can only show it to you in very small bits. It's got super hot oracle chicks, lots of cool muscley guys, and everyone is gonna kill everyone else." This surely must be truth in advertising at its extreme, and in a way funny as hell - but is this also a new height in cynicism or, as one of the blog's commentator claims, "Targeted marketing at its finest." I'll let you decide.
Judging by the movie's box office returns, it certainly seems to have done the trick.
After this rant, let's look at more positive things. For one, our new "200 Ad Photographers worldwide" special is out and, with the 502 photos showcased, provides a fantastic range of work from all over the world. These were the results from a selection by our jury, who had to work extra hard this time as we had to cope with a record number of entries: 10,229 from 860 photographers in 56 countries.
The cover of the book features an image by British photographer Tim Flach, who was also interviewed for the book. The cover image was part of a campaign he shot for a French chain of opticians, the agency was Young & Rubicam, Paris, art director Stéphanie Pasteur. I should be surprised if you were anything less than enthusiastic about our latest cream of the crop in ad photography.
And now, saving the best for last, there's another new feature in the issue.
From now on, you will find QR codes next to the synopses of each spot featured in the Lürzer's Archive Commercials section (as well as with the work presented in the Digital Archive section of the magazine).
We did the same thing in the recently published special "200 Best Automotive Ads 2000-2010", which, in addition to the 200 print campaigns, also featured a selection of what we think were the best commercials of the decade. (The volume sold 6,000 copies before it was even printed.)
This means that you can watch each of the 66 TV, cinema and web commercials on your smartphone or tablet right then and there. If you need instructions on how to do this - as I myself certainly would - you will find them on page 126.
What a long way indeed we've come in terms of bringing the best spots of the past months to your attention! I remember, back in the late 80s, driving every other month to a sound studio on the outskirts of Frankfurt, where Archive was founded by Walter Lürzer in 1984 and its editorial office remained until 2002. There, at the studio, we carefully announced the title of each commercial featured as a storyboard in the magazine. This was recorded and then followed by the soundtrack of the corresponding spot. The mix was then printed onto a plastic audio foil (soon to be replaced by audiocassettes), which you were supposed to listen to while perusing the spot's storyboard in the magazine.
Technologically, this feels light years away from where we are now. But enough of these reminiscences. I do hope you will enjoy this new feature.
Publisher & Editor-in-chief