On Tuesday, a film about the Milton Hershey School was screened at Tribeca Cinema. The director Cynthia Wade and the producing agency ArnoldNYC walked a fine line with their closed wall client to come up with a documentary that would be both compelling and serve the clients' needs. Together, they solved a big problem. They stretched a thin budget, recast client suggestions, and took cameras outside the school walls. Trust and vision let the film meet its mark.
In Detroit, an even bigger problem needs to be solved: “America’s most struggling city needs to attract business and talent.” To help, Time Inc. invited agencies with Detroit offices to develop campaigns to encourage young and creative people to consider Detroit as a place to live and work. The result? Pretty conventional. Yet, no barriers were placed on the agencies. With skies wide open, why hold back? Has the nature of advertising in general become to create: oatmeal?
Think about it. The problem with Detroit is an American problem, not a regional one. We've been quick to let our cities sink into the sea once they're tarnished. What makes cities work is intensity. To revive their spirit means to conjure up that intensity.
In Detroit, you have a city that once sold its soul to the auto companies. It couldn't hold onto many of its own. Consider Detroit's Class of 1984. scenarioDNA's own Tim Stock (aUniversity of Detroit high school grad), Majesty Crush's Odell Nails (now a lawyer and with Mahogany in NYC), Philly artist Michael Frechette, NY film maker John Walter who cut his teeth in Detroit on Evil Dead II with Sam Raimi's Renaissance Pictures and Mark Crilley creator of Akiko who went around the world before choosing to settle in an outlying Michigan city, not Detroit. Has anyone ever thought to ask them why they left and how to strengthen bonds to bring them (or those like them) back?
Powerful stories exist within the city, as well as among all the ex-pat Detroiters, who never dress the city down while the rest of us sweep where we come from under the rug. Now that's compelling. There is a dialog to leverage from those ex-pats to those living and breathing within the city limits.
Detroit is a narrative that extends beyond the city and its suburbs. It lives in New York. It lives in Arizona. It lives in LA. It lives in Philly.
Sadly, unimaginative thinking among those charged with pushing the message of Detroit will further erase the troubled city from the states if we don't all pull together. To bring the city back to its glory, all the narrative threads need to be identified, organized and brought together. We can't get bogged down by politeness and mired in consensus. Don't erase Detroit. Tweet your Detroit stories with the hashtag #erasedetroit. (Photo: Abandoned house by smooveb)
Lest we forget that lines of sight vary from person to person, consider two perspectives on this year's Sarah Palin Halloween costume. The context for costume is evolving as room is made for simultaneous reverence and satire.
“I want to go as Palin because she is an
enigma to me,” said a 26-year-old New Jersey lawyer. “She’s random, she's ballsy, and she has the most
outrageously close-minded politics I’ve ever come across.” The
registered Democrat’s costume consists of a red power suit, American
flag pin and an ostentatious fur stole.
A 50-year-old from Boerne, Texas, a largely Republican
community, will be wearing rimless glasses in honor of the politician.
“I think Sarah Palin was the smartest thing the Republican Party has
done in years,” wrote Kim, whose friends find the costume to be a
classy, powerful statement. “[And] my boyfriend thinks she’s hot.”
(Photo: Rubies Costume Company has sold more than 15,000 units of its latex Sarah Palin mask since start of
production in late September, and it can barely keep up with requests. In past years, election-related masks were a good
indicator of who was slated to win the presidency, but this year it’s
“confusing”: Obama is outselling McCain, but the Palin mask is clearly
blowing them both out of the water.)
Considering the cacophony of late from recession to politics to terror, much like any brand we all need a little white space to gain perspective. A certain barometer of the times, NYC's Village Halloween Parade couldn't have a better-timed theme: Ghost. How's that for back to basics?
"A white cotton sheet with two holes for eyes floats before you. It is the first and the simplest of masks. The sheet defines an absence, or rather an invisible presence, made perceptible only by its earthly veil.
"Beneath the veil lies the sum of our hopes, fears, and memories..."
From now until Election Day, an artist in Brooklyn is calling on peers to simply circle round public objects (manhole covers, storm drains, pipe caps, etc.) making them into large Os,
and then chalking the letters 'bama' to the immediate right of the
object in the street or sidewalk, so that it looks like [ROUND
OBJECT]bama. The point? Get people to think "OBAMA!"
whenever they see an O-shaped object in public.
Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart said Thursday night that Universal
Music Publishing and Sony BMG have sent a cease and desist notice to
the McCain-Palin campaign over their use of 'Barracuda.'
"We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our music. We hope our wishes will be honored," the group said in a statement that
said they "condemn" the use of the song at the Republican convention.
The cover story of this week's NY Times Magazine deals with the diminishing child rate in Europe. The ripple effect on cities and global commerce is shocking. The video is from a documentary from last year titled "Where have all the babies gone?" by Journeyman Pictures.
<br><br> (excerpt) In the 1990s, European demographers began noticing a downward trend in population across the Continent and behind it a sharply falling birthrate. Non-number-crunchers largely ignored the information until a 2002 study by Italian, German and Spanish social scientists focused the data and gave policy makers across the European Union something to ponder. The figure of 2.1 is widely considered to be the “replacement rate” — the average number of births per woman that will maintain a country’s current population level. At various times in modern history — during war or famine — birthrates have fallen below the replacement rate, to “low” or “very low” levels. read more
We are a bit obsessed with networks here at scenarioDNA. Our job is to flesh them out and focus their potential for our clients. A great article in this week's NY Times Magazine by Dalton Conley of NYU's Sociology department touches on the power of networks in relation to the Democrats struggle with articulating their "New New Deal". Dalton identifies the root of the problem as not recognizing the fundamental cultural shift. We live in stark contrast to post-WW2.
(excerpt) Government and big business had an understanding, famously embodied by
the line, “What’s good for the country is good for General Motors, and
vice versa.” Employers, in turn, agreed to pay their (male) employees a
living wage and provide generous benefits.......Today, by contrast, the most common model of social organization is
crosscutting social groups. Less than a quarter of families still fit
the traditional nuclear model. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of
households with two or more adults have multiple breadwinners.
...perhaps we need to reimagine these nesting dolls and instead think
of the social contract along the lines of a computer network or the
hub-and-spoke airline network in the U.S. In such “scale free”
networks, distance has been collapsed by long links that allow you to
skip between any two points in a couple steps. The government’s role is
less as a backup provider — in case one link of the nested chain breaks
down — and more as honest broker and resource hub across groups. Read more [image Corbis]
A ban on bikinis at the
city pool [in Kanab, Utah] is expected to be revised, ending a short-lived prohibition
on the popular two-piece pool attire, reports the Chicago Tribune. But that does not mean that
lifting the G-rating is going to lead to poolside G-strings.
"My recommendation is going to be no thongs or string bikinis," said
City Councilwoman Nina Laycook, who called the original dress code an
Bikinis that don't reveal too much will be allowed, as will Speedos for
men when the new public pool -- known as the Cowboy Water'n Hole --
opens July 4 in the community just north of the Arizona state line.
An article in this week's Time covers the history and strategy to picking a VP. There are lessons here for non-political brands that seek to match up effectively.
(excerpt from How to Pick a Veep) 1. Play to Your Strength: In 1992, Bill Clinton picked another Southern baby boomer with a moderate record. Picking Gore reinforced Clinton's claim to be part of a new generation
of Democratic pols, liberated from the tired (and losing) politics of
4. Hug Your Rival: That's what Ronald Reagan did when he picked George H.W. Bush in 1980
and how John Kerry came to choose John Edwards in 2004. Sometimes party
unity simply demands it.
(from the New Yorker) Currently, the Department of Defense is testing Virtual Iraq—one of
three virtual-reality programs it has funded for P.T.S.D. treatment,
and the only one aimed at “ground pounders” in six locations,
including the Naval Medical Center San Diego, Walter Reed Army Medical
Center, in Washington, D.C., and Weill Cornell Medical College, in New
York. According to a recent study by the RAND
Corporation, nearly twenty per cent of Iraq and Afghanistan war
veterans are suffering from P.T.S.D. or major depression. Almost half
won’t seek treatment. If virtual-reality exposure therapy proves to be
clinically validated—only preliminary results are available so far—it
may be more than another tool in the therapists’ kit; it may encourage
those in need to seek help. VideoRead full article