It is billed as "a collective experiment in brand perception", so while the big themes jump out at you in startlingly large fonts, there is much comedy to be had reading the small print (such as this one for McDonald's: would rather fist f*ck myself in the ass with a porcupine )
I've just been flicking through this week's Campaign, and found these quotes from two of adland's most respected players:
On page 20, "brave advertising knight" Sir Frank Lowe offers this up:
"We are not in a rich period, creatively speaking. Fear has permeated our industry. Agencies have two aims these days; to hit their profit margins and to give clients whatever they think they want. I'm not sure that these attitudes go hand in hand with creativity."
A few pages earlier, Maurice Levy (chairman and chief exec of Publicis Groupe) had this to say:
"This is a glorious time to think and act creatively. In art history terms, we're at the dawn of the Renaissance after the Dark Ages."
Ok, Maurice is talking about web advertising, but I find it hard to accept that the internet alone is going to herald in a new golden age of creativity in the face of an increasing focus on ROI and consequent risk-aversion.
If we really want it to become a "glorious time to think and act creatively", we all need to take responsibility for it. Fight for better work within your agency. Work closer with your clients. Earn their trust. Help them to be brave. Campaign give the last word to the AAR's Martin Jones, and I'll do likewise:
"Agencies need corporate courage. If a campaign goes wrong, they might lose 15 per cent of their income. Clients need personal courage. If it goes wrong, they can destroy the business and lose their jobs."
If you're still looking for the perfect Xmas gift for that hard-to-shop-for person, then go check out imagini. Rather cleverly, the website asks you a series of questions about the giftee which you answer by selecting from a range of images... then you are presented with a list of potentially suitable gifts which you can buy right there and then.
Last Sunday's Observer featured an interview with John Cameron Mitchell, the director of Shortbus. Among musings on Republican America, the acceptability of the three-hour S&M-athon that is 'The Passion of the Christ', the condemnation of Janet Jackson's nipple, and how the portrayal of honest, real, on-screen sexual intimacy differs from pornography, Mitchell touches on 'social media', and the effects it can have:
'The internet and all this new technology, these opportunities for connection, are at the same time opportunities to be bombarded into numbness... the YouTube, MySpace phenomenon is an example of people reaching out, desperate for intimacy.'
The dangers of those connections, he suggests, are that they offer 'a palliative, a sugar high' and create an addiction to constant newness. 'Kids are afraid now of the lag in between checking their email. You lose sight of the fact that you have to get down to get up, that you have to have boredom in a relationship in order to get to the next step.'
What all that suggests, he believes, and what his film makes clear, is that 'it's a natural human requirement actually to look into someone's eyes at close quarters, open yourself up. You don't get that from looking at a computer screen. Our reactions to that, anomie, alienation, depression, are symptoms of the mind telling us we have to change.'
I understand his point, but I can also see the clear benefits of social media and online interaction -it allows people to be part of a community, irrespective of their location. For young people, and those with niche interests, this is a godsend. MySpace satisfies a fundamental need for human connection, and its success is testament to the ubiquity and power of that need.
People need to have friends as well as 'friends'. Because, really, 'Second Life' is no substitute for real life.