Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Value of Being Amateur

I recently wrote about professionally-produced videos and music being passed off on YouTube as amateur work and I labeled it "Promateur" creation. I also labeled it as "Inauthentic."

This morning, Seth Godin wrote that there are four ways to offer professional quality service to clients in the marketing business:

1. Hire a professional.
2. Be as good as a professional.
3. Realize that professional-quality work is not required or available and merely come close.
4. Do work that a professional wouldn't dare do, and use this as an advantage.

What Seth is talking about in number 4 is what I called an "Amfessional," and this is an exciting concept. An Amfessional is the person that is doing something that would normally be done by a professional and doing it at the professional level because he or she loves it. It's the MySpace fan site that has more friends than the Athletes own page. It's the YouTube video that is getting more views than the TV ad. In the past, Amateur Work was looked at as shoddy and second-rate. But today is the day of the Amfessional.

Because of advances in technology and the availability of professional-level production and editing tools (i.e. PhotoShop, Final Cut, DreamWeaver) the non-pro "regular guy" can now create and interact at the professional level. And now, more than ever, the mainstream audience respects and assigns value to work at this level. Watch as the model is reversed in businesses where, instead of hiring a spokesperson and trying to create a brand around them (Nike's Michael Jordan, the Snapple Lady) brands are finding individual fans that live their brand and then bringing them onboard (Microsoft's I'm a PC, Coke Zero's NCAA Fans, Jared for Subway).

Watch as Target adds more and more Mompreneur brands and hand-made boutique items on their shelves and erodes Wal-Mart's annual sales of store brands and imports. Watch as the heavy-consuming 12-17 year-old category moves from stocking their ipods with big label movies and music and creates playlists of homemade videos and songs from their friends and connections.

Corporations and Marketers right now are not giving us what we want: Authenticity. In a few more years, maybe they'll get it, but right now is a perfect time for the person in the trenches-- that is closest to the product, the brand, the experience-- to create the meaning for the product his or herself. Now is the time of the Amfessional.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Go See Benjamin Button, Unless…

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a great movie to see, unless you feel like you have already seen it. Or have already seen another schmaltzy/romantic time-traveling film like it. Or if you are in the mood for something funny. Or you’re on a date. Or you’re a teenager. Or you’re really old. Or if you’ve recently lost a loved-one. Or if you get emotional over hurricane Katrina footage. Or you’re kind of sleepy. Or you have anything else to do for the next 2 hours and 45 minutes.

I’m not saying I didn’t like it, because I did, I’m just saying that it is not a great movie for everyone to see. Disclaimer Moment: I am a marketer, not a movie critic; for a professional’s opinion, go here. IMO, the demographic for this movie is Middle-Aged Women. You know, the same people that loved The Notebook, The Lake House, or The Bridges of Madison County.

If you’re the kind of person that loves going to movies with the intent to cry through the whole second half, then this is a great movie for you. Or if you like the idea of seeing Cate Blanchett age before your eyes. Or if you love hummingbirds. Or if you are in the Somewhere in Time Fan Club. Or if you believe Brad Pitt is an Oscar-worthy actor.

Now, I’m not ruling out Brad and Cate for Oscars for this one, in fact, they’ll probably get Oscars for it the same way Charlize got one for Monster and Nicole Kidman for The Hours. We all know that getting ugly gets the Academy’s attention. I’m just saying I’ve seen better movies come out this year and I’ve definitely seen better film adaptations of books.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 24-page original story is here and it is a great story in its own right. However, besides the title and the lead character’s name, it has little in common with Fincher’s film. My wife says it borrows heavily from the 2003 novel The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I haven’t read it, so you’ll have to take her word for it. Or, if you don’t feel like reading it, you could just wait a few month’s and see it in theaters. I just read that Brad Pitt’s production company has picked up the title, which is set to release later this year. I, for one, won’t be going to see it. Unless I decide I’m in the mood for another romantic time travel film.

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