Tuesday, January 29, 2008

No Logo

I love this advert, a nice little piece of urban visual poetry. The irony of making an advert which celebrates a lack of adverts by cutting together images of a city without adverts doesn't really deserve a mention, so I'll say no more about it.
The City is the Brazilian Megapolis of Sao Paolo (population: 11 Million). Last June the Mayor of Sao Paolo introduced new legislation which tightened up the laws on just what advertisements and billboards could go just where in the City. Then he implemented the laws and lots of the billboards came down, leaving skeletal frames and empty white canvases all over the city. Which the advert cuts together, quite beautifully, in my opinion. Here is a flicker page detailing the city in its de-billboarded state.

Making it work even better is the song choice, "Pure Imagination" written by Anthony Newley for "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" and sung by Gene Wilder. Newley is a strange phantom presence in poular culture - he played the Artful Dodger in the David Lean version of "Oliver Twist", was married to Joan Collins, had a few top 10 hits as a singer, was more or less the prototype for the vocal style favoured by David Bowie and was responsible for writing a couple of the great songs of the last few decades of the 20th Century including "Feeling Good" and "Aint it Funny". This is a lovely song, especially when divorced from the context of the film, and it goes unexpectedly well with the visual imagery:

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8 Comments:

Blogger Ross said...

I saw this for the first time on Friday, before Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, and rather than ironic I thought it was smirking, knowing shit. Whilst I appreciated the use of the song after so many uses of some interchangeable, bass-heavy pseudo dance that most advertisers go in for when doing cinema ads, if they don't want to pay for a name, I found it jarring arriving as it did after a slew of the same old loop of ads I've been watching for months, sprinkled with one or two dredged up from a year or two back. It was like a meek slap in the face.

11:20 pm  
Blogger David N said...

I didn't mean Ironic in a good way. What the ad is selling is plainly silly. What I appreciate is the artfulness of the shot composition, the camera movement, the editing and the use of the music. The pure style of it. I thought that was obvious?

For future reference, if ever I post an advert here, its because I like the way its been put together, either as a compressed narrative or as a stylistic exercise. Not because I like what its trying to sell to me, or even the way its trying to sell it. But as a piece of film.

12:19 am  
Blogger Ross said...

The brazen quality of it's dunderheadedness ruined any appreciation that I may otherwise have had for the thing, besides the use of the tune.

If they had paid the equivalent revenue of the usual ad block, and just screened that before the trailers and the horrible soul sapping Orange skits, I would maybe be able to take in the more subtle qualities. As it is, my eyes glaze over red.

7:51 pm  
Blogger David N said...

Red eyes. Thats from all the games and anime.

12:20 am  
Blogger Ross said...

Seen in the context of a cinema, the ad is provocative and gets my goat up. With the geo-political background you've given, as well as the opportunity to view away from that context, it's a lot easier to appreciate, though I can't help think that the areas now have a lack of colour, of pizazz, whether revolved around commercialism or not.

But the actual idea behind the ad, the 'Sky-movies-now-with-no-ads' announcement, reminds me of the Chris Rock sketch 'niggers vs. black people' : "I look after my kids!" "You're supposed to, you idiot!".

4:57 pm  
Blogger David N said...

That lack of colour and pizazz is exactly where the beauty lies - its a little spartan, a little bleak, maybe. Certain shots anyway. Which is how I like my cities, onscreen at any rate. That VW Nightdriving ad I ran ages ago has a similar quality. Here, juxtaposed with that oddly ravishing melody and the really optimistic, cheesy lyrics, I think it works really really well.

12:36 am  
Blogger jamesinbrasil said...

Sorry to be pinickity, but the population is more like 19 million. It's an important distinction because it begins to give you a sense of scale as to the enormity of the place. Flying into the city on an international flight, it's striking because you think you are about to land, but you don't for at least an hour. It just keeps going.

It's also important as I imagine that a city that big, with all it's billboards removed, must be pretty weird, and eerie almost, which I think the ad captures well. I haven't been there since this change, but I asked Bruna who was there last month, and she said she didn't notice. So maybe this is just another big advertising lie.

12:59 am  
Blogger David N said...

I think your population figure includes the - presumably immensely sprawling - suburbs, mine doesn't. Its like the difference between London and Greater London, I guess. I have flown into Sao Paolo and I recall it seemingly endlessly unfolding below. Made Buenos Aires seem bijou...

I don't think its every single billboard or advert, either, just ones in certain places/positions.

1:44 am  

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