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Google's Chaitanya Chunduri on Stock Footage

By Chaitanya Chunduri , New Delhi | In Advertising | May 16, 2017
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The ubiquitous stock footage that we see in most visual media around us can prove to be more influential than we can imagine, says this Google executive.

It all started with this video.

Tickets for the Fyre Festival were sold for upto $12,000 with promises of VIP chartered flights, luxury eco-friendly villas and gourmet food. Reality, as it turned out, over the last few days, was very different. And the internet has been going crazy over this. (read here, and here for more on this)

For me it's the (above) video that fascinates the most. Composed of what looks like glamorous stock footage and some fancy copy (like, "..on the boundaries of the impossible..") and made to look more like a video for a bikini fest than that for a music fest, it had all the clippings (pun intended) of an inflated bubble of pseudo reality.

Speaking of stock footage you should read this short poem by Kendra Eash called ..

This is a generic brand video.

It begins with these lines..
We think first
Of vague words that are synonyms for progress
And pair them with footage of a high-speed train.

And goes on to poke fun at the stock language and footage that is often used by brands in their advertising campaigns.
The interesting thing is what Dissolve did with this poem.
With a stroke of marketing genius, Dissolve, a stock footage company, went ahead and made a video of this poem using (surprise, surprise) its own stock footage and turned it into an ad for itself!
The result - work that is, in equal parts, parody and ad, that went on to win the 2015 Shorty Award for Best in B2B. See the video here.

Extending this thought over the years, Dissolve brilliantly leveraged the US Presidential election campaign and made 'This Is a Generic Presidential Campaign Ad' on very similar lines. This again, won them a Shorty Award for 2017.

Now with the 'Fyre Festival Fiasco', I really hope they go ahead and make a 'This Is a Generic Music Festival Video Ad'.

Can stock footage say anything about us as a society?

Image Hack


A lot, it turns out.

Mindshare in Denmark tapped into an insight around how the advertising industry has been perpetuating stereotypes around beauty over the years (knowingly or otherwise).

So they turned to one of the largest stock footage sites - here and devised what they call as Image Hack as an initiative for the Dove Real Beauty campaign.

Check out this video for more detail.

Though it arguably feels a bit 'case study-isque' (you know what I mean) it is definitely an insightful, novel and refreshing approach to give more wings to the conversation around 'Real Beauty'.

One stock photo at a time.

(Bonus Link: Speaking of stock footage, check out this new music video from Cassius, featuring Pharrell Williams and Cat Power. The amount of stock footage the director Alexandre Courtes went through to find all these corresponding split screen images must have been staggering!)

(The author is Industry Manager, CPG, Google India. He blogs at brandednoise.com)

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