I’m currently getting ready to direct a commercial; right now it ‘s in the planning stages. It’s a low budget ad, just for the Internet. It’s for this thing that you can use in restaurants where you swipe your card at the table instead of the waiter taking the card and running away and buying a car, so it’s intended to appeal to restaurant owners. It’s this company’s first commercial, and I guess I don’t actually know that I’m hired, but I’m assuming so because I put in my bid for how much it would cost to make, they didn’t reply, then later they asked when it was going to be done, and why isn’t it done now? So I’m taking that as an affirmation. If only all job interviews were that easy. “I’d like to apply for the available position. Here’s my resume.” ”Why are you standing around, slacker!? Get to it!”
It’s worth noting that while I’ve directed quite a bit, I’ve not directed commercials before, and also have very little experience in advertising. The closest I came was when I worked for a coffee shop and did some promotional things for them, and this woman approached me about getting involved with something she and her husband were interested in. I thought she was trying to get me involved in some deviant sexual thing, and it turned out she was trying to get me to sell Amway. I think we all came away from that conversation worse for wear.
Anyway, that being said, I do teach rhetoric, including advertising structure, and have ideas about how an advertisement might work, but also recognize that this commercial is a product I’m making for these folks. And what these folks want – for this commercial targeting restaurant owners to sell them a credit card swiper – is something “edgy” that will go “viral.” Yes, they really said that. You just now this is a group of businessmen who’ve heard that something went viral and that was a positive thing, so let’s do that. Like I should shoot an ad of Rebecca Black singing about LOL Cats looking at a double-rainbow.
But “edgy”? I’m trying to picture 14-year-old boys surfing the Internet saying, “Oh, man! Have you seen this video? It is in-SANE. It’s like ‘double-rainbow’ meets that ‘hide your kids, hide your wife’ guy, meets ’2 Girls 1 Cup’! After I graduate I’m totes going to culinary school and then take some business classes and open my own restaurant and then totally get one of those, yo! It’s going to be wiggidy wack!” (Or some other phrase meaning “good” that those durn kids use, with their slang and their roller-skating and baggy pants and no respect). I just don’t see the target demographic as wanted their face-melted from the edginess.
Worse, some of them got very excited about the idea that to show the evil waiter stealing the card and selling the information, we could see him throwing copies of the card to people wearing sombreros, and china hats and dashiki’s and whatnot.
I, and my friend who’s writing it, felt that this might appear a skosh, you know… what’s the word… insensitive. They took this as confirmation of its edginess. And I have to cede that point, but there’s edgy and then there’s edgy to put it in edgy, viral terms. And if you don’t know the difference…?
If you don’t know where the edge is, and are maybe unclear on what an edge looks like, just stay away from anything that might be an edge, edgy, or edge-esque. It’s like when you’re with friends, and laughing about something, and everyone keeps adding to the joke, and then someone takes it waaaaaaay too far because they just don’t quite get it? Like, maybe you’re joking about the worst date you can imagine, or something, and everyone’s laughing about your date wanting to fist-fight you before dinner, or burning your magazines with a lighter while you get ready, and then someone says, “Or while you’re getting dressed she cuts your dog’s throat!” and then there’s a crushing silence, and someone forces out an “Ah ha. Yeah.” That’s the person who doesn’t know where the edge is.
In any case, the writer and I have slowly, gently moved the commercial in some other directions, mostly rooted in some vague “logistics” problems with plan A. We’re keeping it edgy, though. Fo’ reelz. I’d tell you where to look for it when it’s done, but there’s no need. It’s going to find you, because this credit-card swiper ad is going to be totally in your face.
p.s. – discovery for the day: if you say the word “edgy” too many times it starts to sound weird.