No-Collar and Creative Advertising

Ross’ book, No-Collar gives an interesting point of view at a specific company that, in the 90s, was trying to reinvent the workspace and produce more creative work habits. Advertising played a big role in Razorfish’s existence. Ross writes that by the late 90s, “The word was out that it might just prove to be a long-term career prospect. Razorfish had already established itself as the place to be, especially if you had a fresh artistic bent…At a time when companies and organizations wanted brochureware to advertise themselves on the Web, Razorfish had delivered virtuoso graphics that consistently raised the bar and harvested the respect of other Web developers” (25). Razorfish was not only creating advertisements for other startup companies, but it was also marketing itself as a cool new company with a good reputation and the ability to make something out of nothing, with the help of the new-ish “Web”.

Look how far we have come from “brochureware”. Now we have so many different ways of advertising that don’t even seem like they’re trying to sell anything (at first). Last winter I was waiting for a train at Downtown Crossing in Boston, and thought I saw a hundred dollar bill on a bench. Naturally, I freaked out a little bit. Upon taking a closer look, I saw that it was a fake, and printed on the back of it was an ad for some religious group. All around the station there were more of these, some that looked like iPhones or credit cards. I thought, that’s the best way you could possibly get anyone to pick up your business card! These “drop cards” don’t even take much technology to make, but they are definitely creative!

Remember pop-up ads? Weren’t we trained as young kids not to click on them? (Anyone remember this game?) Ross even writes that during the 90s, the Internet had been a commercial-free zone, and “Advertisements were unacceptable and private gain was considered a violation of the ethic of shareware and cooperation” (27). Gone are the days of popups, since most everyone has adblockers now. But the internet is still full of ads, and we are sometimes blasted by ads before YouTube videos, especially if you’re watching them on your phone. Sometimes they don’t let you click the “skip ad” button, and sometimes they even give you a choice, unlike this Geico ad. Aren’t the best video ads the ones that keep you guessing until the end what it’s for? Or they sneak in the brand at the beginning, but the story is so immersive that you forget what the ad is for? Like this Christmas commercial. The best ads that keep you guessing are filmed and set up like a movie, or a trailer. Then they completely shock you at the end. Click here to watch my favorite recent PSA video.

The question rises, are advertisers no-collar workers? Ross says that the no-collar mentality applies to “knowledge workers whose high-tech skills or aptitude for problem solving wins them a measure of autonomy in a data-rich workplace purged of rigid supervision and lifestyle discrimination” (34). This goes back to the creative workplaces that we’ve been talking about for the past few weeks. Now, since so many cities are trying to create no-collar spaces, and so much advertising is digital, the two worlds collide, and advertising companies are beanbag-filled, warehouse spaces filled with people on laptops generating the newest ideas on how to spread the word about a company, or how to sell a car, or how to advocate against smoking. The film industry is also hugely involved in making video ads. For two 13 hour days, I was a (freezing) background extra in a Dodge Ram trucks commercial that they filmed in Dedham MA (guess how many times we listened to the entire speech that you only hear snippets of in the final cut! Thousands? I’m at 0:35) Imagine if any companies today still “did not have a strong technology base” (Ross 61) like Razorfish. Without the internet and all the technology we have today, nothing would ever get promoted or sold, and then we would be reliant on Sixty Minutes.

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