Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Three Bugbears of Ambient

After attempting to celebrate the Ambient medium a little, it's time to list my three 'Bugbears of Ambient'.

Daddy Bugbear:

There's a nice book called Guerrilla Advertising by Gavin Lucas and Mike Dorrian that has a great selection of Ambient work. But you know what that book should really be called? "Photos Taken By Creatives". Too many Ambient ads are scams. They're not done for a real Client. They're whacked into place by the creative team, snap, then removed. There are plenty of award-winning Ambient pieces whose media lifespan was less than 2 minutes. Example:

(click if you need to make bigger)


Mummy Bugbear:

Too many Ambient pieces only work as a photo! They only work because the photo is taken from exactly the right angle. In real life, they wouldn't work. Unless you happened to be standing exactly where the photographer was.


Baby Bugbear:

Clients never buy it.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree, like that f-king nose job cup.


How many people who read this can think of a piece of ambient they've been directly exposed to?

Cause I can't think of one.

Ben said...

Grandaddy giant fucking bugbear with elephantiasis:

That first picture you've got there is a brilliant example of the 'we just happened to be there with our cameras when this bloke walked by and, good heavens, he was just the bloke we were looking for, because he was almost going to walk on by, but then - bloody hell- something caught his eye. And do you know what that something was? Only our ad! It's not as if he's one of the creatives or their mate or anything. No way Jose' photo. Very annoying, especially when, as you point out, that plug hole was only there for 10 seconds.

Schmeeboo said...

Scamp,

Speaking of great work, you should check out Goodby's posts from the final judging of The ANDY Awards at Campaign Brief. Top notch.

Anonymous said...

Here here!

I've got a lovely campaign going out soon - tv, press, online, and a sweet ambient/ pr piece. The client said yes to everything, but now that we're in production the ambient's out the window.

Even clients don't take it seriously!

Anonymous said...

''Mummy Bugbear:

Too many Ambient pieces only work as a photo! They only work because the photo is taken from exactly the right angle. In real life, they wouldn't work. Unless you happened to be standing exactly where the photographer was.''

Like sitting up on a billboard in the middle of nowhere in some hideous looking area with the drunks walking past as the day draws in. Surely not...

TFIF said...

Surely the draw of ambient, as you mentioned earlier scamp, is to try and get some PR (metro, i think your example was). that way you can control the environment and the photo etc...

other than that, yes, it's a pointless exercise.

please don't make next week leaflet week.

Christian said...

Not a fan of the whole ambient thing because of that reason.

But you could look at it from another perspective.

Most of these fake or genuine ambient ads have a much bigger audience online, and you just gave the perfect example. Maybe no one actually saw that thing on the sidewalk, but now 'cause you posted the picture, a whole lot more people did see it. Not in real life, but sometimes that doesn't even matter.

I call it the "let's not and say we did meme": http://www.zeppelinrepair.com/?p=31

I wrote

Ant M said...

Anon 6.57pm:

"How many people who read this can think of a piece of ambient they've been directly exposed to?"

The Partners' National Gallery campaign - one of the best ambient campaigns ever, I reckon.

Anonymous said...

Ambient is the poor man's radio.

Anonymous said...

I'd much rather see ambient scam than press/poster/tv scam.

Anonymous said...

I was directly exposed to a piece of ambient in a bar toilet. I found a wrap of coke. when I opened it I found nothing inside but white type saying don't do drugs and drive.

DIGITOOL said...

ANON 11.25

i know how to do a digital smiley face and a digital sad face and a digital wink, but i wish i could work out how to do a digital rolling of my eyes.

Anonymous said...

gutted

Anonymous said...

I was looking forward to this week, and i'm a little disappointed scamp.

Sorry mate, but you chose some howlers.

Anonymous said...

Scamp can you show some of the other stuff that people sent in??

Anonymous said...

re 11 25

how gutted were you?
Bet you thought you had a right touch.

Anonymous said...

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=campbells+soup+edinburgh

A great ambient idea for an Andy Warhol retrospective at Edinburgh National gallery.

Anonymous said...

Scamp. I don't understand how you can say that creatives snapping their own work is one of your main bugbears! Maybe they are following the advice you gave earlier this week,

"So why not do it yourself? You only need one location. You can often use cheap materials, and take the photo yourself. Then if nothing else, you'll have a nice piece for your book."

Anonymous said...

Have you noticed how account men love ambient?

They love it because it makes the pile of work look bigger.

they see it as nice client impressing fillers.

Scamp said...

Whooops...

Pauly said...

I know a CD who calls it SCAMBIENT. Seems about right.

Ranen Carmel said...

Most guerrilla advertising is actually viral. We usually get the story ABOUT them (blogs, video, mail). How many guerrilla acts have you actually seen on the streets?