The Logic Of The Irrational Image
Maury Postal is an associate creative director at Social@Ogilvy. Follow him on Twitter @mopostal. He spoke about the role of the GIF in Storytelling on Thursday, February 21 at Social Media Week with Digiday’s Saya Weissman.
In our modern age of hyper-communication, simple written language is no longer simple. To communicate effectively in the present, we must embrace the endless possibilities that exist beyond the written word. The essence of a complex emotion can now quickly be expressed through a few frames of thoughtful and captivating motion. An entire, lucid and culturally-accepted conversation can be had by exchanging iconic scenes in “Napoleon Dynamite” over an iMessage.
How did we get here? Through the evolution of an early, entirely functional file format, the GIF. Originally meant to transform the Internet into a more visual and visceral world—the GIF is now the common platform for portable, delightfully out-of-context entertainment.
The genesis of this newfound fanaticism over small units of repetitive scenery is firmly rooted in past and present human behavior. Looking back through history there are many instances of honest entertainment starting with the observation and celebration of simple, yet memorable moments in the physical world. In the modern age we self-identify as pop culture aficionados, elevating scattershot shared experiences to levels of epicurean delight.
As marketers, we must come to terms with the return of simple emotional pleasures. As volatile as real emotions are, these can be manifested through the expression of many logical feelings or become something of a true spectacle, bordering on the absurd and irrational. Whatever their form, they all must to be relatable and repeatable. The very nature of society synthesized down to an asynchronous, platform-agnostic, meme-friendly set of imagery.
To embrace and understand the cultural nuances of the moving image is only part of the equation. Applying those learnings in a smart, fluid, expressive manner is the only way for a modern brand to form a tightly knit emotional bond with the very people who communicate and share with their hearts, instead of solely listening to their heads.
For our Lincoln client we challenged ourselves to redefine what the essence of the brand would look like to a group of people that now communicate through emotion-defining imagery. To do this, we couldn’t merely pull from the past. Instead, we had to interpret what larger cultural elements would resonate and reinforce the soul of the reborn automaker. We focused on how an entire state-of-mind could characterize a simple moment in time: seducing and enchanting the cultural zeitgeist into being a part of our animated Shangri-La, while teeing up a new future for the brand.