Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Where did all the Art Directing Go?

I was schlepping into a meeting on the subway. And of course, checking out all the bad ads. Why is it that the worse ads are always in the subway cars? It's the one place where you have literally a captured audience and it truly is wasted. If I were a big brand, I would seriously think about doing some great ads in the subway cars.
Honda tried to do this with a used car poster. While the headline was good, the Art Direction was absolutely horrible. It was a photoshop nightmare to my eye. I want to believe that the poor Art Director who got this assignment, also got no budget. And therefore had to find a stock background shot to marry a stock car shot into. I cannot rationalize this any other way. Because, to my Art Directing eye I couldn't help but cringe when I saw that the light sources were completely wrong. One was for the background and the other for the car and both were totally different. And whoever the bozo AD was or photoshop person was, didn't know the difference. What has happened to the CRAFT of Art Directing? I see this more and more as so many ads use stock shots that are composited rather than spending what it takes to achieve the idea.

This isn't Joe's used cars. It's HONDA. HONDA has a standard that is set by its international advertising. But it was absent in this ad. It had the HONDA tone of voice but not the HONDA visual standards. Now maybe just maybe this ad was relegated to the junior art director/writer team.

That being said, where was the CD who approved this?

The art of great, tight, every element counts crafted Art Directing seems to be going out the window. So many ideas go flat because an element is wrong or there's too much or the layout is wonky or any number of a million things are off. And I wonder where these folks studied to be Art Directors.

And who is mentoring and guiding them...or is anyone?

In these tight times the trend is to not invest in seasoned creative people who can teach the younger ones the tricks and fine tuning it takes for an ad to go from yuck to brilliant. And in this case, the headline was a great idea, but it was ruined by the art directing or lack thereof.

I was lucky. I had two fabulous mentors. Both crazy and wild and full of passion about the biz. Both very different in personalities but totally the same when it came to teaching the skills, the way to think and look at how you generate ideas, the way to execute those ideas to be as good as they can be and lastly the way to present and sell those ideas to a client. That can never be taught in a school or through a computer program. It is invaluable. And it becomes the DNA that really makes or breaks you as a creative person.

This is advertising for a great brand, done fast and on the cheap. And it shows. Pity.