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Volvo’s Remarkable New Films About Human Achievement Don’t Look Much Like Ads at All – Adweek

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Volvo journeys to the bottom of the sea and explores the remarkably resilient recesses of the human mind in these evocative, intense and ultimately uplifting brand films from London agency Valenstein & Fatt.

Keeping the cars themselves mostly in the background, directors Edward Lovelace and James Hall (aka, D.A.R.Y.L.) tie the automaker’s quest for innovation to personal achievement and the qualities of the human spirit that can help us beat daunting odds and overcome adversity.

Produced as part of Volvo’s ongoing “Human Made Stories” partnership with U.K. TV service Sky Atlantic, each film clocks in at over five minutes and packs plenty of emotional power, punctuated by poetic imagery and memorable moments. Telling true stories, they transcend the content model to deliver food for thought and some pretty impressive feels.

That’s particularly true for “Music of the Mind,” which focuses on a gifted English violinist named Rosie who suffers a catastrophic brain injury that silences her performing career. Many years later, she rejoins her orchestra thanks to technology that reads brainwaves and translates thoughts into melodic phrases for others to play:

“The first set of films we created got good traction and were downloaded 600,000 times” from Sky Atlantic’s On Demand service, agency creative director Andy Lockley tells AdFreak. “This time round, we wanted to tell stories that were truly remarkable. Stories about people whose refusal to accept the things the way they are has led to innovation that that potential to change the world. We spent a great deal of time searching for these stories and were very selective.”

The team sought out emotionally engaging, intellectually challenging stories because they define Volvo’s target audience as “defiant pioneers—people who inherently do things differently, challenge conventions and create their own path,” Lockley says.

Less of a tearjerker than “Music of the Mind,” though equally effecting in its own watery way, is “Nero’s Garden,” which tells of an audacious plan to save family farms in Italy by growing crops on the seabed:

“In any branded content, product integration has to be integral and not too intrusive,” says Lockley. “If it is, it’s counterproductive, and people will simply reject it. The viewer can choose to stop watching at any point if they felt they are being advertised to.”

With subdued hues, quietly passionate interviews, deft build-ups of suspense and unobtrusive car cameos, neither film feels much like advertising at all.

“The primary purpose of these films is to convey Volvo’s philosophy that it’s humans and human behavior that drive the world forward—not cars,” says Lockley. “The focus isn’t the car, it’s the people.”

That said, the brand connection might, at times, be a tad too subtle. It’s tough enough selling the cars themselves in entertaining fashion. Trying to communicate an automaker’s “philosophy” makes for an even rougher road. Plus, who’s going to remember what a nameplate stands for—or be thinking about any brand whatsoever—after watching “Music of the Mind”?

Still, Volvo deserves credit for attempting to shift the conversation and rolling in an unexpected direction.

“Nemo’s Garden” breaks tonight on Sky Atlantic following Game of Thrones, while “Music of the Mind” premieres after the hit series next Tuesday. Both films will be available for a year via Sky On Demand.

CREDITS
Head of Marketing, Volvo, Georgina Williams
Campaign Manager, Volvo, Terissa Wingfield

Creative Agency: Valenstein & Fatt
Joint Chief Creative Officers: Vicki Maguire & Caroline Pay
Creative Director: Andy Lockley
Strategic Design Director: Wiktor Skoog
Managing Partner: Crystyn Bevan
Business Director: Tim Rogowski
Account Director: Alex Nixon
Account Manager: Dominic Kolodziejski
Agency Producers: Amy Cracknell & Marcus Ely
Assistant Producer: Georgia Tomi

Prod Company: PULSE
Director D.A.R.Y.L (Edward Lovelace and James Hall)
Exec Producer: Neil Andrews
Editor Billy Mead & Amanda Jenkins at Ten Three
Additional editing: Matt Newman, Crispin Deverill & Luke Whiting at Hogarth
Sound Design: Zak Kurtha
Composer: Daniel Hart & Tom Player at Wake The Town

Post Production: GPS
Post Producer: Annika Gustavsson
Online: Esta Burgland
MPC Post Producer: Amy Richardson
Colorist: Mattieu Toullet

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wchw25
39 days ago
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Singapore, Singapore
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Pinboard Acquires Delicious

4 Comments and 5 Shares

This is simply amazing given the history of Pinboard. Strike a win for the indie web.

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wchw25
139 days ago
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Wow!
Singapore, Singapore
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3 public comments
codesujal
140 days ago
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wow.
West Hartford, CT
egoexpress
140 days ago
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Wow!
49.46904200,11.11430400
glenn
140 days ago
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lol
Waterloo, Canada

The Outline

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Joshua Topolsky, announcing the launch of The Outline, the new website for which he’s editor-in-chief:

Welcome to The Outline, a new kind of publication for a new kind of human.

OK.

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wchw25
315 days ago
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Cool!
Singapore, Singapore
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★ Why A-Series Benchmark Scores Matter

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Thom Holwerda on Twitter, quoting a tweet of mine touting the iPhone 7’s astounding Geekbench scores:

Funny how just like in the PPC days, benchmarks only start mattering when they favour [insert platform of choice].

https://twitter.com/gruber/status/776295771943600129

I like reading/following Holwerda, because he’s someone who I feel keeps me on my toes. But he’s off-base here. I’m certainly not saying that CPU or GPU performance is a primary reason why anyone should buy an iPhone over and Android phone. In fact, I’ll emphasize that if the tables were turned and it were Android phones that were registering Geekbench scores double those of the iPhone, I would still be using an iPhone. In the same way that I’ve been using Mac, non-stop, since I first purchased a computer in 1991. Most of the years from 1991 until the switch to Intel CPUs in 2007, the Mac was behind PCs in performance. I never argued then that performance didn’t matter — only that for me, personally, the other benefits of using a Mac (the UI design of the system, the quality of the third-party apps, the build quality of the hardware, etc. — outweighed the performance penalty Macs suffered. The same would be true today if Apple’s A-series chips were slower than Qualcomm’s CPUs for Android.

But that would likely never happen. If Apple’s in-house chips were significantly slower than the commodity chips used by Android device makers, Apple would just use those commodity chips. The mobile situation would be just like the desktop situation, where Apple uses the same CPUs as everyone else. That’s what makes the A-series chips’ performance so interesting. If the commodity chips were fastest, everyone would use them. But if the A-series chips are the fastest (and have the best energy efficiency), only Apple gets to use them.

The iPhone has all the benefits (in short: superior design) that would keep me, and I think most other iPhone users, on the platform even if it didn’t have a performance advantage. But it does have a significant performance advantage, and that advantage is exclusive to Apple. This is an extraordinary situation, historically. And year-over-year, it looks like Apple’s lead is growing, not shrinking. It’s not a fluke, but a sustained advantage.

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wchw25
399 days ago
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So true!
Singapore, Singapore
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★ ‘Courage’

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Steve Jobs, on stage with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher in 2010, explaining Apple’s decision not to support Adobe Flash on iOS:

We’re trying to make great products for people, and we have at least the courage of our convictions to say we don’t think this is part of what makes a great product, we’re going to leave it out. Some people are going to not like that, they’re going to call us names […] but we’re going to take the heat [and] instead focus our energy on these technologies which we think are in their ascendancy and we think are going to be the right technologies for customers. And you know what? They’re paying us to make those choices. […] If we succeed, they’ll buy them, and if we don’t, they won’t, and it’ll all work itself out.

As Ben Lovejoy points out in the article linked above, word-for-word this could apply to Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack from its products. The video is worth watching, even after reading the words. Jobs was fired up about this.

I’ve chatted with a handful of friends this week who took umbrage at Phil Schiller’s “courage” explanation for why Apple removed the port. It’s also been a subject of mockery on Twitter. Starting around the 85:00 mark of the event, here’s what Schiller said:

Now some people have asked why we would remove the analog headphone jack from the iPhone. […] The reason to move on — I’m going to give you three of them, but it really comes down to one word: courage. The courage to move on, do something new, that betters all of us. And our team has tremendous courage.

I couldn’t disagree more with my aforementioned friends. You can argue that Jobs said it better. I think he did, too — particularly because Jobs emphasized the fact that they knew people were going to disagree, vociferously. (Jobs was one of the best communicators the world has ever seen, so that’s no ding against Schiller.) But Jobs and Schiller meant “courage” in the same way: having the courage to make a sure-to-be controversial decision when there is a non-controversial option, simply because they believe it to be the right thing to do in the long run.

When we think of controversial decisions, we tend to think of both sides as creating controversy. Choose A and the B proponents will be angry; choose B and the A proponents will be angry. But when it comes to controversial change of the status quo, it’s not like that. Only the people who are opposed to the change get outraged. Leave things as they are and there is no controversy. The people who aren’t outraged by the potential change are generally ambivalent about it, not in a fervor for it. Strong feelings against change on one side, and widespread ambivalence on the other. That’s why the status quo is generally so slow to change, in fields ranging from politics to technology.

There was outrage over Apple’s refusal to support Flash on iOS. Genuine controversy in the mainstream media. Most people saw it as competitive spite against Adobe, not a principled stand for a superior technology, superior experience, and open standards. There would have been no widespread outrage or controversy if Apple had caved and supported Flash on iOS. Android supported Flash for years, and there was no controversy. Now, I certainly would have excoriated Apple if they had caved on this. I understand that Flash is terrible technology. I could see the technical problems — performance, battery life, and perhaps most especially security and stability — Flash would cause on iOS. The technically proficient would have objected. But it wouldn’t have been controversial in a widespread, mainstream sense. What most people would have seen is that the video they wanted to watch on CNN.com would now play, however jankily, on their iPhone. What technically-informed Flash opponents could see is the big picture: that iOS’s profound popularity would slowly but surely force the entire content industry to support HTML5 H.264 video and drop support for Flash.

This was the choice Apple faced: support Flash and shut these critics up; or continue to not support Flash, take the criticism, and just wait a few years for everyone to forget about it, while former Flash proponents enjoy a better experience that they never would have gotten if Apple had listened to them.

I don’t feel nearly as strongly about the analog headphone jack as I did Flash. It’s not even close. Flash is garbage technology. To this day it’s not just bad, it’s dangerous. By not supporting Flash to push the industry toward HTML5, Apple was omitting something terrible (but incredibly popular) to push the industry toward something much better. The analog headphone jack isn’t bad. It just isn’t good, either. But it is popular — more popular than Flash Player even. Wireless — if it works as smoothly as AirPods are advertised — is good. Flash/HTML5 was bad/good. Analog jack/AirPods is meh/good.

That said, the same principle stands: Apple faced a choice between doing something that they knew would be controversial, that they knew would generate genuine outrage, but which would lead to everyone having a better experience in the long run (and for early adopters, a better experience as soon as they start using their AirPods) — or, they could have just kept including a fucking headphone jack and no one would have raised an eyebrow, at the expense of a slower adoption rate of wireless headphones.

Websites could have dropped support for Flash and moved to HTML5 even if Apple had supported Flash on iOS. But most wouldn’t have. That’s just not how the world works. At most media companies, “We should spend the money to update our systems to replace Flash with HTML5 because it’s a better experience, even though what we have now works,” isn’t going to fly. “We should spend the money to update our systems to replace Flash with HTML5 because we are losing a massive and lucrative audience that can’t play Flash because they’re using iOS devices” — that’s an argument that flies.

Not supporting Flash on iOS in any way, shape, or form was a strong push. Removing the headphone jack but including both Lightning ear buds and a legacy adapter is a nudge. But the nudge will help drive adoption of wireless headphones. In the alternate universe where Apple introduced the exact same AirPods and W1-powered Beats headphones but kept the analog audio port on the iPhone 7, adoption of those wireless headphones would be slower. I think a lot slower. More people would have a worse experience on a daily basis, dealing with tangled cords and all the other hassles of having your ears tethered to a device. Battery life would be slightly worse, too. Maybe the iPhone 7 still wouldn’t have optical image stabilization. But in that universe, no one is complaining about the iPhone headphone jack.

Few companies other than Apple make decisions that they know will provoke outrage just because they think it’s the right thing to do. Most companies will do the wrong thing to avoid controversy. Google certainly knew full well how awful Flash was when they supported it in Android. They did that not just to quell demands from ill-informed Android users who wanted Flash, but also perhaps to have a competitive advantage over iOS, by appealing to whatever segment of the mass market was annoyed by Apple’s refusal to budge on Flash. But still, it’s about choosing between unpopular-but-correct and popular-but-wrong.

We, as a species, are hooked up to focus on the short run, and we’re hooked up to seek popularity and avoid criticism. Choosing to do what you know will be unpopular in the short run but you believe will prove correct in the long run takes courage. Courage of one’s convictions, not courage running into a burning building to save a life, but courage nonetheless.

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wchw25
405 days ago
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Singapore, Singapore
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2 public comments
jdguitard
403 days ago
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I think you guys are missing the point... I will gladly pay for a pair of wireless earbuds which work seamlessly between your iOS, macOS and watchOS devices. Name another product able to switch/pair between devices on the fly? This reason alone is what makes these new AirPods sooooo enticing.
Knoxville, TN
steingart
405 days ago
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Omg grubes. This is the courage to compel a $160 upsell. I hope I have the courage to wake up and buy myself a $700 unsubsidized phone and and extra $160 for earbuds.

Also: flash made things worse. Headphone jacks, in stopping people from pretending a phone is a boom box makes things better.
Princeton, NJ
satadru
404 days ago
How long until really cheap bluetooth headphones start appearing though?
steingart
404 days ago
Per the verge I picked up a pair of these http://www.gearbest.com/sports-fitness-headphones/pp_356162.html. Thoroughly OK. Nowhere near These https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003EM8008/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_GEu1xbCY7W9Y1

Museum.

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pexels-photo

He said,

I bet you write for the likes.

I bet you write for the shares, the validation found in a virtual thumbs up.

I bet you only love for the sake of material, so much so that you self-sabotage every relationship you’ve ever been in to gain just one more Facebook fan.

I bet you write about every guy whom you meet; whore your words out to anyone who would take them.

 

You’re wrong.

I write because I’d rather carve words on paper than on skin.

You forget that words can be as sharp as any two-edged sword

but instead of the floor, I’ve found that it is more acceptable to bleed onto paper.

 

I would give all these words back if I could save myself from all that heartbreak

I would return these perverse creations in a heartbeat for one good shot at being loved.

 

You think that you mean nothing, that you are just another post on my wall, an allusion in an Instagram post.

Silly boy.

I wrote about you because I knew that I couldn’t keep you.

That no matter what I say or do, you will always say goodbye before sunrise.

I wrote about the fleeting moments that had us in it as an act of defiance against the ephemeral nature of this life.

 

I wanted to immortalise you on paper and in ink because in time, my memory will betray me.

And I don’t want to to forget

thesmellofyourskintheweightofyouthatsmile

I wrote to keep you alive

for the only way to live forever is to have a writer fall in love with you.

 

But I don’t blame you.

Like everyone else, you read these words, these emotions like exhibits in a museum of bad examples

You walk through these walls and see my pain on its walls.

And when you are ready, you leave.

 

No one walks through a museum and asks it if it’s okay.

 

The post Museum. appeared first on iaremunyee.

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wchw25
420 days ago
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Powerful
Singapore, Singapore
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