Posts filed under ‘video’
Just about every week, a client asks me if we can use a famous person’s video clip or voice in one of their productions. The much talked-about “Come Back to the Sea” Carnival Cruise lines Superbowl Spot brings up yet again this topic much discussed among creative media-makers: what rights are involved, even for public domain archival materials?
So-called “rights of publicity” are often something to consider when you are using a person’s image or voice to endorse a product or brand. In an interview with PR Newswire, the Carnival spot’s Director Wally Pfister (Dark Knight, Inception) seemed to be saying that an implicit product sale wasn’t the point of the ad (“we aren’t just asking consumers to purchase a product or widget, but instead, we are hoping to move them to feel a certain way about cruising.”) While the JFK’s “we are tied to the ocean” 1962 speech made to the Ambassador of Australia and delegation might be considered public domain because he made it while serving in public office, the audio could be considered to fall under rights of publicity when it comes to promoting a cruise line. (Disclaimer: I’m not an attorney. I don’t play one on TV. And I have no personal knowledge of whether or not BBDO requested these rights from the Kennedy estate.)
As creative content producers–whether commercial ventures or nonprofit enterprises–we should always be wary about this issue of the rights of people to their own voices and images, even when they are deceased. A few relevant cases come to mind. Ford Motor Company used a “sound-alike” voice in a commercial and Bette Midler sued. The appellate court ruled in favor of Midler, saying that her voice was protected against unauthorized use. The ad agency who came up with the creative (Young & Rubicum) was also named in the suit. A similar situation occurred with the estate of Erol Flynn when a photo of him was used in car ad.
Well, these are famous Hollywood stars you might say. JFK was a public servant. True enough. But the family of Richard Nixon raised a big fuss with Disney over Oliver Stone’s movie “Nixon”. On the other side of the ledger, the makers of “Selma” completely avoided using the actual words of Martin Luther King in his famous speeches, presumably because of the highly litigious reputation of the King family when it comes to MLK rights of publicity. That’s really too bad, as a generation of film-goers might never read or hear the real speeches.
So it’s a dilemma, and one you can’t always determine with full clarity in advance. As media makers, we always need to be mindful about archival clips, why we choose them, and how to use them properly. That often means running creative ideas by attorneys (as if EP and client reviews aren’t enough!). Defending our creative choices in the courts isn’t really what we have in mind when we’re designing storyboards, so it does need to play into our thinking.
Amy DeLouise is not an attorney nor does she play one on TV. She is a creative producer and director, and speaks and writes about the issues faced by other creative types trying to earn a living making interesting content.
In philanthropy, the saying is that people give to people, not causes. Connecting at the level of hearts and minds has always been critical to building long-term relationships with donors, and also with grassroots supporters. And the best way to do that is through storytelling. Now that YouTube, Vimeo, and other Web 2.0 tools are giving so many nonprofits a “channel” for their stories, personal narrative is being rediscovered. But to tell a compelling story requires critical elements.
What makes a compelling story about mission?
1. Focus on outcomes. Everyone loves a success story. Reality TV is filled with them: obese person becomes thinner, aspiring chef wins the prize, talented singer gets a record deal. Think of the success stories in your organization, but instead of listing them as bullet-points, express them through anecdotal stories.
2. Focus on people. The people who make it happen and the people whose lives are changed. Who are the people who made a difference in students lives? What are those students doing today? Who is the volunteer who went into a community and changed it for the better? What is happening in that neighborhood now? What would have happened to that child without a medical intervention paid for by others? What kind of life does this child have today? Interview-driven narratives are highly successful at building the case for donors and volunteers.
3. Show why your organization matters. Somewhere in the narrative, you need to show viewers why your organization made a tangible difference in the outcome. It wasn’t just random acts of kindness that led to this success. It was your people, your dedication, your/their dollars at work.
4. Engage viewers in their own narrative. Make sure there is a call to action somewhere in your story, usually at the very end. “How can you make a difference just like Alice did?” “With just 20 cents per day, you can change the life of a child like Shawn.” “Join us at our XYZ event to make your voice heard.” Think about what story viewers want to create for themselves after watching yours.
5. Provide follow-up options. If a viewer is moved by your narrative, they should easily be able to click somewhere next to the video or case study to do something–sign up for the conference, make a donation, become a member. Despite the tendency to want sheer numbers—hey, our video got 20,000 views!—you really want qualified viewers. And viewers who will ACT once they’ve heard your story. So be sure you provide a way they can engage other than passive viewing. The framework around the video should have clickable links. And if you are participating in Youtube’s nonprofit program, you can embed links to your nonprofit site directly in your video content.
Telling and hearing stories is our oldest human instinct. Web 2.0 just makes it easier to share.
Amy DeLouise helps nonprofits tell their stories, strategize about their futures, and influence the world around them.
When my husband lost his job in the 2009 recession, we cut all non-essential expenses. But even after he was still looking 9 months later, I held off on cancelling my mail-order wrinkle cream. It seemed like giving up on the dream of staying put in the middle class. (My other dream to get rid of spider veins did go on hold, however, since that would cost thousands not covered by insurance, least of all our only-if-you-get-hit-by-a-bus stop gap plan.) My husband did finally get a job. But now I’m eying the wrinkle cream as a possible budget cut now that our older son is headed to college in a year.
And so, like many other Americans—mostly women—my face tells you my economic story: it’s OK, but it could be a lot better.
Like many families, we are working harder to stay in the same place. According to most statistics (CBO, etc) real family income for the vast percentage of us has been dropping since the 1970’s. During the same period, plastic surgery for the upper income –and even upper middle—group has grown exponentially. More than 14.6 million procedures in 2012, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Americans spend more than $14 billion A YEAR on cosmetic surgeries and procedures. And boomer men are getting in on the action in order to “stay in the game”—i.e. find and keep meaningful work.
But apparently there’s hope for all of us without deep pockets to rejuvenate our looks and keep our visual brand young. Just as you can finance a college education, a house or a car, you can get financing for plastic surgery procedures! More than $1 billion of procedures every year is financed by companies such as medical credit cards (low intro rates, then they hit you with interest and fees), unsecured medical loans or even special doctor payment plans. Maybe there’s a face lift in my future after all?
Amy DeLouise, wrinkles and all, is a multi-media producer and branding consultant.
After 5 college tours in 3 days, I can tell you a lot about the best and worst of college marketing. We took our oldest on his first round of tours, and as a video and multimedia producer, I was particularly intrigued by the use (or lack) of audio-visual storytelling. One school got high marks for its all-visuals slide show supporting a dynamic speaker. He knew his material well, had gone to the school himself, and delivered lots of insightful anecdotes. He gave us some stats, too, but understood that those are easily found on websites and print materials, so he focused on painting a vivid picture of the undergraduate student experience.
At another elite school—which shall remain nameless—the presentation couldn’t have been more different. The speaker said “uh” every other word. He held on a single slide for more than 3 minutes at a time–deadly! And each slide contained text in a poor layout so that while it was very large, it was still hard to read. Of the two videos he showed, one was a fun “trying to be viral” piece focused entirely on one athlete in one very popular (nationally recognized team) sport. It was cute. But the fact that it was 50% of the content shown conveyed the message that this particular team is central to the college culture, and maybe that was the intent. The other video we saw was supposed to be more all-encompassing about the university, but clearly had no script other than “get a bunch of students to talk to the camera and edit it all together as quickly as you can.” This video was filled with poor quality shots–blown out lighting, sound you couldn’t hear– along with a terrible “corporate” repetitive music bed that made it hard to follow. The editing was poor quality, too, and a last freeze frame was on the wrong field, resulting in a weird blur on a student’s face. What this show conveyed was “we’re such a great place that we don’t really have to invest in this video because you’ll probably want to come here anyway.” Mission accomplished.
The school that impressed my son the most likely did so in part because of its emotional, effective and high quality admissions video:
The #Elon video is effective for many reasons—I won’t bore you with a film lecture—but one of them is the original music being performed by students and the thoughtful edit sequences and camera setups. This is not just a mash-up blizzard of images of the school, but a story well told, and it had its intended effect on one prospective applicant. What it told his mom is this: we respect the story enough to approach filmmaking (and its various crafts of writing, directing, editing, music composition, etc.) with creativity and professionalism, just like any other academic discipline.
A school we didn’t see, but might on our next jog north, could be University of Rochester, which took a very different but equally compelling approach to an original music composition, with this well-made admissions rap video:
My take away from this experience is this: if you are marketing yourself, whether to prospective students, customers or donors, how you tell your story matters. A well-planned and executed project—whether a speech with slides, a rap video or a documentary-style piece—will convey your passion. A poor one undermines your message.