This is going to be a bit of a rant, so in the immortal words of the IT Crowd, you better put seatbelts on your ears (or should that be your eyes? Never mind). In all the whirlwind excitement about the explosion of video content, a worrying truth has emerged. At the risk of sounding like a bit of a content snob, 'more' does not necessarily translate into 'better', and just because everyone talks about brands as the new content producers, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're all going to be any good at it.
The statistics for video consumption are dizzying. According to ComScore, by the end of 2011 the human race was watching 2 billion pieces of video a month. YouTube clocked up more than 1 trillion views across the whole of last year -which should be cause for celebration, except for the fact that a significant proportion of those 1 trillion views will be for total dross.
I'm not talking about the endless supply of cat videos, amateur pop promos, box opening videos, make-up tutorials, advert parodies or illegal film posts here. But aside from the low-quality pap produced by dillusional or fame-hungry members of the great filming public, brands also have to share some of the responsibility for clogging up the servers of the World with recurring examples of rubbish film making. 'More' often means 'more rubbish' and anyone with a camera phone thinks it's okay to call themselves a content producer, when they're not.
A man with a camera phone is just a man, and there's no such thing as a 'citizen cameraman'. Just because you have the ability to upload clips that you've tarted up on Windows Movie Maker for the rest of the world to see, doesn't turn you into Ridley Scott. By the same token, just because you're a brand marketer with a clever idea for a video, it doesn't mean you're going to reproduce the success of the Old Spice guy. Isaiah Mustafa, the man your man could smell like, has a lot to answer for.
So what am I complaining about? Poorly conceived work like this rubbish from Skoda, featuring none the World's most famous pop star that nobody remembers, Anastacia.
The joke connections that could be made between a Skoda and Anastacia are too obvious to be made here, but there partnership feels forced for the sake of the gag. How far did Skoda have to get down their list before they got to Anastacia? (Gap, for instance, was always better at this style of celeb-cameo TV ad).
Alternatively, take this example from Samsung. Now the motion controlled smart TV is an astonishing piece of kit – and it doesn't need to be introduced to the world by a modern day Carry On film, complete with comic sound effects and over-the-top soundtrack. Things take further nosedive when the clip features none other than the Old Spice man himself, complete with trademark white towel.
Advertising just got self-referential, but was it really necessary to rely on another brand's jokes?
But it isn't all bad. Fortunately, a video pops up every now and again that restores your faith in the video medium. Luxury brands have always been pretty good with video – although its arguable that this is only because they have the money to throw at big name directors and top drawer talent. This recent work from Prada is a typical example. It's polished, professional and to all intents and purposes, a short feature film.
But the truth is that the real innovation in brand video production takes place in the smaller brand space, where risk is more acceptable and the creative journey is shorter and more direct. ONLY, is a fashion brand in Denmark which managed to unite the idea of video, online shopping and user experience into an astonishing piece of work.
My gripe about sub-standard video content still stands, which is why it's important to jump and shout about the good bits. As an industry, advertising owes it to itself to raise its video game. It doesn't take much, just more creativity, more innovation and a greater propensity to be adventurous. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.