Panasonic has just launched it's 2009 iteration the Next Generation Talent contest - a campaign that challenges students to create a television ads [or film that will be distributed online and via television, but you get the idea] for their HD Home Hub products.
All well and good. They site has the details and a proper brief and a twitter to follow and everything.
They've announced this year's contest via the web film above. And it's pretty funny - it's just kind of depressing.
Now, don't get me wrong - I don't feel I have quite enough gray hair to be terribly concerned about my imminent obsolescence in a world and business I no longer understand.
I've been quite bullish in my support of children being the future and that - I even presented the student Clio Awards and was delighted by the ubiquity of technology in the winning ideas.
And there's some of the classic shock of recognition triggered by caricature.
[In some ways it's both flattering and low latency that the flash mob ad is now mentioned in the same breath as the gorilla.]
[And, to avoid being hoist upon my own petard, I advocate cultural recombinance, not copying ideas from other ads.]
It's just that the emotional core of this attempts to tap into advertising's seemingly endless capacity for self loathing, and I find that really depressing.
I don't think we need to be so down on ourselves. Advertising, or brand communication if even the word has become tainted for you, is one of the pillars of popular culture. It pays for events, and media, and museums, and is at the confluence of anthropology, psychology, media, technology and business.
At its best it brings people together, and gives them something to do, and finds ways to make their lives easier, and happier, which is something I can get behind.
And even at its worst, it means that you don't need to pay for basic cable.
People like buying stuff. And they like buying branded stuff more. Brands seem to create symbolic value constructs around boring everyday products, that somehow make them more than boring and everyday, in a way that seems to warrant people paying more for them, more frequently.
In fact, the brandgram seems to trigger a different physical consumption experience, an emotional or ritual aspect to the otherwise functional experience, that people seem to like enough that it sways what their tastebuds otherwise say.
And, best of all, it's a professional, proper grown-up business where the wearing of sneakers and the having of silly hair is welcomed.
So, especially now, can we all try to be a bit more upbeat about this business we call brands?