Art direction and creative trends sweep through the advertising community like small pox through a Raj-era Indian village. Sometimes these trends are sparked by ecological and other disasters. For example, several years back when global warming and the dangers of pollution started grabbing all the headlines, advertisers began taking a very clean and sterile approach towards ads. This was the dawn of the "simple" campaigns. Ads were clean, on a white background, driving simplicity as part of its brand message. It was time to clean up our environment--and time to clean up our ad layouts.
Last year, the Russian population crisis was the disaster du jour. Well, I dare you to find an ad that doesn't include children or a family oriented message.
Now something new seems to be afoot. Recently Russia unceremoniously celebrated the 50-year anniversary of the Mayak nuclear disaster, the world's first major nuclear accident. While it didn't garner headlines like Lindsay Lohan's latest arrest, some media were able to highlight the ongoing ecological and human health related nightmares that this part of the world continues to radiate. Perhaps in keeping with the advertising industry's disaster related modes, the latest micro-trend to hit Moscow is what I call "radiation reklama."
The examples are all over the city. Pioneer Electronics has unleashed a series of international adaptations with their KURO range of kewl gadgety entertainment center thingies. These freaky ads feature hands with eyeballs in place of fingerprints, eye sockets with ears in their place, a mouth and teeth in place of an eye retina, and a gazing eye staring out of a man's chest. If you remember the film Basket Case, well, it's something like that except in black and white.
Fly mobile phones are out in the market as well, fighting for their share of the mutation segment. In an ad for a dual SIM card handset, Fly's layout features a radiation bald male, sporting two ears on the right side of his head.
This mutation trend started earlier this year, with several high-profile campaigns employing anthropomorphic objects. One was the walking, talking, sexy noodles and tomatoes from Big Bon soup. At about the same time, Orbit launched their international adaptation of the blue haired space freaks, complete with walking/talking teeth and other intergalactic mutations.
Slightly earlier than that, the radioactive theme was explored by Peugeot and later Snickers with their mutating transformer cars and teens. However, all this was a small step away from the genetic disasters currently in mode here in the city. The Ewok-friendly intergalactic plush toys quickly gave way to frightening human mutations. One advertiser added four additional limbs to the model in their ad layout (four arms and four legs), sort of like that Indian girl from recent CNN headlines.
So what's next? Well, there's a host of potential disasters that we can explore in the advertising world. The melting polar ice caps, species extinction, international terrorism, genocide in Darfur, dwindling natural resources--the list is growing all the time. It's like that Chinese character doubling as both crisis and opportunity, which you'll have to Google to read more about. I have to run and club some Siberian tiger cubs at the Moscow zoo if I expect to have advertising material for next year.