The brands that survive will be the brands that make life better

The brands that survive will be the brands that make life better

How to make a brand stand out from the crowd?

Co.Exist editor, Morgan Clendaniel, writes that companies that aren’t making a difference—to the world and to consumers—aren’t going to be around much longer. Instead of just making your product incrementally better than the competitor, you need to create impact. If you want to build a powerful brand, make people’s lives—and the world—better and more meaningful.

Also read three keys for moving beyond branding and into storytelling.

Social advertising — is it worth your advertising money?

The truth about social advertising and how to get more for your spending:

It pains me to see how a great idea is being crushed under the weight of unsympathetic brand managers. It is sad when you’ve to cook up feel-good stories when the original idea—if executed right— could produce real, outstanding results.

Key to Social Advertising

Social advertising isn’t for people looking for short-term goals. If the primary focus of your social advertising campaign is your brand, but not the social cause which you pretend to espouse, you shouldn’t expect your advertising money to produce the kind of results that you want. A brand can’t leverage from the social advertising if it fails to bring out the merits of the original idea—which is often the case with brands that solely focus on chasing that magic number.

Social advertising is worth your advertising money if your goal is to build long-term relationships with the people who buy your products. The truth is that social advertising isn’t advertising per se. We should think of social advertising as philanthropy or genuine CSR, and then make our campaign strategies accordingly. We shouldn’t be afraid to project the people who buy our product as the heroes of our social advertising campaign. If they aren’t the real heroes of your campaign, it’s unlikely that your brand would emerge as the winner.

Teach Cinema to Children

“The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression.”



“Who is the father of computer?” I asked my 9-year-old niece. “Charles Babbage,” she replied promptly. Then I asked her, “And who is the father of cinema?” “What is cinema?” the fourth grader asked me. “It’s the art of films,” I tried to explain but seeing the little girl perplexed, I changed the topic. We were soon talking about ants that had found their way into a cupboard where she had kept her candies.

The first thing that a man learns is the language of his people. The language of other arts is an acquired and a required skill. When I was in school, I learned about many great personalities but none of them were filmmakers. Why don’t we teach cinema to children?

There is little evidence that we have understood this modern man’s expression. There are not many people who can ‘read’ films. Is this the reason why film history is still not a part of the school curriculum while other expressions are taught seriously? I discovered the new language of cinema very late during my adolescence. If anything, the idiot box was just a major distraction until my discovery of the cinematic language came along with the discovery of P2P and bit torrents. I had only heard about Satyajit Ray until I was 18. The Apu Trilogy was my first download; The Bicycle Thief was second. Sadly, a majority of us are not unaware of the many potentials and powers of the cinematic medium. But I can at least feel satisfied that I’ve already started.

While Ray was a redefinition of what cinema could be, there was one film that just changed everything for me. I don’t know whom to thank for the inspiration or the creation of this great art form; cinema has no such patron deity. It is truly modern. But I worship Ingmar Bergman anyway; it was his persona, his partnership with cinematographer Sven Nykvist that convinced me that cinema is the art of all arts and it warrants a serious study like other ‘expressions.’

The technology that limited the faculty earlier is no longer an issue. The Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, for one in South Asia, has already taken steps to make cinema an integral part of the school curriculum. NJ Nair wrote in The Hindu this January that the academy has proposed teaching the aesthetics of cinema, the technical aspects of filmmaking, including cinematography, editing and sound recording, in the vocational higher secondary education.

“Students should have a serious approach to cinema and they should learn it like literature itself. While appreciating the intrinsic artistic worth of cinema, they should be able to make use of its employment potential too. Hence, we have mooted a serious study of the technical aspects at the higher secondary level,” the academy vice-chairman VK Joseph told the newspaper.

Ronald Bergman started a similar discussion on The Guardian blog. He writes: Schoolchildren should be taught how to “read” films just as they are taught to read literature. They should learn how films systematize time and space and communicate ideas and emotions; how the patterns and structures of film genres allow us to engage specific historical and social rituals; how different conceptions of film history can direct and shape our responses; how film theory is a pragmatic extension and intensification of our interactions with a film, formal, technical and empirical. They should learn how to explore films from different angles and cultural perspectives.

“Why is film history not taught to schoolchildren?” The question must have occurred to many in the later half of the last century. A majority of us might consider it too modern a notion for our country. All great art form is modern in the true sense. Some might call it a dangerous proposition. All art is dangerous. Before our children begin to ask the same question tomorrow, let’s acquaint ourselves with the art of films. Let’s start “reading” films.

Playing With the Viewer’s Mind

“I think that the interactivity of New Media is a false promise. The game is rigged, and what is invited is not honest contemplation, but merely “figuring out the next movie.”


Audience Activity

A film, without any visible protagonist, plays with the audience and forces them to become active as the invisible protagonist. The audience feel s/he is there, s/he feels part of the story. Normally the audience can connect to the film through the characters playing on the screen, but is there any film that keeps the gap which only the audience would fill?

A discussion on interactivity in films on The Auteurs.


The future looks promising for filmmakers who want to exploit whatever interactivity technology might offer.

“I think that the interactivity of New Media is a false promise…. the game is rigged, and what is invited is not honest contemplation, but merely “figuring out the next movie”…. most games that I’m familiar with are, at heart, puzzles with actions to be “figured out.” I sincerely hope the day never comes when movies become interactive…. I don’t think motion pictures stand to gain anything via interactivity. I want To know that Hitchcock and David Lean and Tim Burton have made the choices (this is the Ebert argument that I think holds up.)…. and aren’t leaving it up to me to take the next step. But this isn’t to say I want them to do my thinking for me…. and this is where passivity comes into play. I think motion pictures are often a passive experience, but needn’t be, at the best they aren’t….. inviting critical thought is something that many of the best films do and rely on for their impact. But if a video game is active only because you move your thumbs about and figure out where the medipack is…. or even which corners you can go around in a game like Passages….. than this level of activity doesn’t seem to stretch far from passivity in a very meaningful way. I’ve no doubt that some games can give you a migraine thinking so hard about a given problem….. but by getting to move around on your own, I don’t see this as making you far more active than getting a migraine thinking about the issues and conundrums of a filmed narrative. It may take more active thought and hand-eye coordination to complete a task in a video game, but this thought is limited to the task at hand…. a great movie will give you opportunities to leave it behind and contemplate the world around you, which is a very active process, even if it isn’t interactive.”

Patrick does make a convincing argument. Is it interactivity in true sense? I’m trying to stick to the tradition (deciding the structure for the viewer without giving them you-can-choose options) while exploring new possibilities. However, what matters at the end of the day, is of course if you achieved your goal of telling a story and creating an impact best desired. I think it’s a tough call but this human desire to accomplish something unique and new probably drives all of us.

Being Charlie Kaufman

ee cummings: To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.


“Here’s a recent quote that I found: ‘we do not talk, we bludgeon one another with facts and theories gleaned from cursory readings of newspapers, magazines and digests,’. That was actually written in 1945 by Henry Miller, and I think it’s timely. I think what it says is that the world has been on its present course it’s on for a long time. People all over the world spend countless hours of their lives, every week, being fed entertainment in the form of movies, tv shows, newspapers, YouTube videos, the internet. And it’s ludicrous to believe that this stuff doesn’t alter our brains.

“And it’s also equally ludicrous to believe that at the very least this mass distraction and manipulation is not convenient for the people who are in charge. People are starving, they may not know it because they’re being fed mass produced garbage. The packaging is colourful and loud, but it’s produced in the same factories that make Pop Tarts and iPads, by people sitting around thinking ‘what can we do to get people to buy more of these?’.

“And they’re very good at their jobs. But that’s what it is you’re getting, because that’s what they’re making, they’re selling you something. And the world is built on this now, politics and government are built on this, corporations are built on this. Interpersonal relationships are built on this, and we’re starving, all of us, and we’re killing each other, and we’re hating each other, and we’re calling each other liars and evil because it’s all become marketing and we want to win because we’re lonely and empty and scared and we’re led to believe winning will change all that. But there is no winning.

“What can be done? Say who you are, really say it in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won’t be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time, it can’t help but be. But more importantly if you’re honest about who you are you’ll help that person be less lonely in their world because that person will recognise him or herself in you and that will give them hope. It’s done so for me, and I have to keep rediscovering it, its profound importance in my life. Give that to the world, rather than selling something to the world, don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do. Try not to.

“This is from ee cummings: ‘to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting’. The world needs you, it doesn’t need you at a party having read a book about how to appear smart at parties – these books exist, and they’re tempting – but resist falling into that trap, the world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying ‘I don’t know,’ ….being kind. (link)

Resources Online:

On Charlie Rose (Part I & II) (17 min)
On Synecdoche, life, work (with Tom Tangney) (17 min)
On writing, television years (Thinktalk) (12 min)
Charlie Kaufman On Being — And Directing (NPR– audio) (30 min)


Being Charlie Kaufman (Salon)
Interview with Kaufman (Bluntreview)
BFI – Screenwriters Lecture Series  (Close-Up Film)
Anurag Kashyap’s notes Kaufman’s master class