3. Retro Cinematography
Everything comes back. And thus emerges a retro visual style that is distinctive and occasionally polarizing. Now, I’m a little out of my depth here because I’m not a designer or a cinematographer so I lack the vocabulary to describe this well, but let me try in everyday terms: Washed out colors. Nontraditional color palettes and hues. Muted lighting. Minimalist set design. Unconventional camera angles. And then of course the wardrobe and the casting mentioned above, which plays into the whole effect as well.
The earlier examples should also help illustrate (check out the very beginning of the Sprite ad), but here are three more examples by a small independent agency, La Comunidad, which for years has been one of the clearest and most successful proponents of this type of visual and storytelling style:
For Perry Ellis
For Volkswagen (who can tell me what city this was shot in?)
How did this style come about? – It’s a long story for a separate post. But I’ll give you one source: cinematic influences had a lot to do with this. Check out some of Wes Anderson’s work, such as the trailer for “The Royal Tennenbaums” below. You’ll find much of the same visual language, a similar quirky approach to humor, design and cinematography.
Should I expect every ad from Argentina to look like this? – Of course not! That would be terribly boring, unoriginal, and misguided. What I’ve described is the “calling card” of sorts for Argentine advertising as seen in overseas award shows. The visual signature that is linked to Argentina in creative circles. But there is much more out there, from commercials about breakfast cereal, to cars, to diapers, each with a distinctive style that is suitable for their target, product and message. And keep in mind that, as with all art, this identity is evolving constantly. Authenticity is key, and what was “in” 4 years ago is no longer “in” today.
Is it healthy for a country to be identified by a visual signature, or should this be the domain of agencies, or even individuals? All in all, I think in this case it definitely has paid off. It allowed ideas from smaller agencies to piggy back onto the previous success of other past winners, and it created an aura of respectability and intrigue for the Argentine school of creativity that everyone profited from. Look into the leading agencies of the Spanish-speaking world (and even beyond), and there is a very good chance that you’ll find Argentine creatives that were involved in the establishment of this Argentine Advertising Aesthetic!
And as you read at the very beginning of this post, the explosion of Argentine creativity is still in full swing today. One day perhaps, an Argentine will step into a taxi somewhere around the world, and upon telling the driver where they’re from, the response will be “ahh! Argentina! TV ads!”. To date, though, I’d still put my money on “Maradoooona!!”, or “Evitaaa!”, or “Taaaango!”, or “Meeeessi!”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
I’d love to know what direction you think the next stylistic evolution will take. Let me know by posting in the comments section below.
A special thanks to Hernan Jauregui for his thoughts on the matter, and as always, thank you for reading!