May 6, 2011

When Advertising Originality
Goes Blind

Another interesting viral video recently flashed across my screen.

Take a look below at "The Power of Words."

This is a tightly edited piece, both filmed by and advertising for the services of Purple Feather Online Content Specialists.

The U.K. based company has promoted a touching video which tells a story that draws you in. The "power of words" is illustrated through the effective re-write of a blind man's "plea for help" sign. This plays directly to Purple Feather's perceived strengths in copywriting and content generation.

The clip is further enhanced by a slow piano musical accompaniment that effortlessly tugs the heart strings.

But after digging up a little research, my initial vision on this has become somewhat clouded. In fact, Purple Feather may have ruffled somebody else's feathers in creating this online piece.

Below is the Short Story Winner of the 2008 Cannes Festival.

Look familiar?

Running at almost six minutes, the film titled "Historia de un Letrero", 2007 (The Story of a Sign), bares an almost identical resemblance to Purple Feather's viral video.

This version was created several years earlier by Wama Films and produced by Alonzo Alvarez Barreda - without a budget, in Tampico, Mexico. Along with the Cannes award, the film has won a swag of other awards as well.

After seeing this, I have several criticisms to make about Purple Feather's effort.

  • Clearly there has been a lack of any creative thinking (which is evident if you do a little research) and the story is virtually directly copied.
  • There is no evidence anywhere in the viral video recognizing the original. This is poor form and bad ethics.
  • After seeing the original, the rewritten sign in the story makes a lot more sense. The sights and sounds of a beautiful day in picturesque Tampico are a much more compelling motivation than the more-often-than-not drab, gloomy grey days which plague the U.K.
  • On visiting the company's website, it becomes strikingly clear they are a company full of writers. I just think they would be able to make their site more visually appealing by employing the use of a single art director / web designer. This is poor production value and fails to integrate the message of their viral campaign.

They say "good advertisers borrow, great advertisers steal." But when they're trying to sell their creative abilities, Purple Feather really should have made an effort to at least alter the story with some sort of twist. I feel like I've been sold a cheap imitation of a service. 

It leaves Purple Feather looking like a blind bum on the street - begging others for any imagination and originality.

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