Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Value by Association

Steven Barrie-Anthony at the Los Angeles times filed an interesting article last Monday entitled Building Cachet by Association. He tracked a recent jump in the number of advertisers leveraging the look and feel of recently completed architectural works as life-style setting for their products. The article does well to present both the stratagies and the tactics of the creative staffs who are making the ads -- and intellectual property grey-area that the habit veers into. Here are two telling quotes that illustrate the scale of reactions a building receives once it enters the public realm...
"Other executives and producers are less interested in borrowing architectural prestige than in using blurred shots of walls and ceilings and architectural details to subtly compliment foreground products. In this case, buildings are often barely recognizable. ‘I loved the lines at Disney Hall,’ says Deborah White, senior art director at Macy's, who arrived there to shoot a section of the store's fall 2005 catalog. ‘The lines were just perfect. Our trend of clothing was burnt-out velvets, and beading and so forth. Disney Hall lent itself to the whole look — sleek and elegant.’"

"But other architects and aficionados of the craft find its use in advertising troubling. After all, they say, there's a thin line between appreciation and appropriation. Didn't at least some people cringe when a deceased Fred Astaire danced onto TV screens with a Dirt Devil-brand vacuum cleaner? When Mercedes-Benz played Janis Joplin's soulful treatise on materialism, ‘Mercedes Benz,’ as the soundtrack to a commercial? Why should great architecture, when used for commercial purposes, not be included in that same discussion?"


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