Reality’s Place in Marketing

The New York Times is looking at the rise of “off-air reporters” armed with video cams on the campaign trail.

Originally hired to cut expenses — their cost is a fraction of a full television crew’s — these reporters, also called “embeds,” have produced a staggering amount of content, especially video. And in this election cycle, for the first time, they are able to edit and transmit video on the fly.
As a result, the embeds have changed the dynamic of this year’s election, making every unplugged and unscripted moment on the campaign trail available for all to see. One particular video shot of American flags tilting over behind Hillary Rodham Clinton last November has been viewed more than 300,000 times on the ABC News Web site. A video of the Fox News host Bill O’Reilly shoving a member of Barack Obama’s staff at a New Hampshire campaign rally has drawn almost 150,000 views on YouTube.

There’s a lesson here for Madison Avenue. Unscripted, off the cuff moments have a genuine appeal. So much so people will seek this kind of content out and share it with their friends, as I’m doing now.

“How DIY is your shop?” seems like an increasingly important question in a mediascape that needs to be fed mass quantities of video.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.