March 28, 2014

Poem that made fun of generic brand videos becomes a generic brand video


A generic stock photo of "happy employees", via Shutterstock.

A generic stock photo of “happy employees”, via Shutterstock.

Last month, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency published a poem by Kendra Eash entitled “This is a generic brand video” which poked fun at the stock language and footage that is often used by brands in their advertising campaigns. Here’s the opening stanza of the poem to give you an idea of Eash’s excellent mockery:

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

It’s a great poem which itemises the stock images routinely used by brands and pairs them with the message ad execs believe the moving images will inspire in  a gullible public. “See how this guy in a lab coat holds up a beaker?” asks the brand-speaker of the poem, ”That means we do research”. The question/answers perfectly and hilariously exemplify the way brands suggest and simplify to the point of absurdity. In a later stanza “See how we’re part of the global economy?” is answered by 
”Look at these farmers in China”.

Considering that Eash is basically taking the piss out of brands that use stock footage, it came as something of a surprise this week when Dissolve, a company that specialises in providing stock footage for other companies, made an actual generic brand video out of Eash’s poem. But then who would be better placed to create such a video than a company that has produced a library of “Royalty-free HD footage for today’s visual storyteller”?

On its website Dissolve explained that:

… the minute we saw Kendra Eash’s brilliant ‘This Is a Generic Brand Video’ on McSweeney’s, we knew it was our moral imperative to make that generic brand video so. No surprise, we had all the footage.

Dissolve’s manifestation of the poem is brilliant in achieving a nightmarish medley of every single generic brand video you have ever seen rolled into one meta-ad stuffed full of signifiers and lacking in any meaning whatsoever, complete with generic voice-over and gently undulating piano music. It’s perfectly horrific.

Not only this, but Dissolve has been kind enough to dream-up  numerous other witty one-liners on its website for any future poems Eash might chose to write. There’s “Stylish young men in a coffee shop”, “A happy horse enjoys golden hour”, and the achingly poetic “A hand grasps and turns in slow motion”. Reacting to news of the video on Twitter, Eash wrote, “looks awesome guys! I’m vaguely inspired!”

Zeljka Marosevic is the former managing director of Melville House UK.