Access Restricted

Quick Read: Want to generate footfall or demand? Sometimes all it could take is a board saying “Access Restricted”.

Iceland is renowned for its fairytale landscapes, waterfalls and dancing midnight lights. But of all the places, an unusual site has become one of its most talked about destinations – a site of a plane crash. 

Sólheimasandur beach in Iceland is a desolate site, but for the mangled remains of a US Navy’s C-117 aircraft. It was in November 1973 that the aircraft crashed at the site with the crew onboard having miraculously survived.

After the crash, the U.S. military removed everything that was salvageable in the aircraft and left behind the 10,000 pound shell by the beach. For over four decades since then nothing much happened around it.

The landowners of the site almost forgot about it and were perfectly content to let time and nature slowly eat away at the twisted wreck.

Iceland Plane Crash

(Photo Credit: Eliot Stein. Source)

But steadily over the years it has become a not so well kept secret among photographers – who lent it an extra air of surrealism, by way of their documentaries and photographs.

In recent times it came to be used as a location for destination weddings.  Not to be left behind Bollywood even managed to get Shah Rukh Khan to lean backwards, spread his arms while not forgetting to romance Kajol over its fuselage!

Dilwale

(Still from the song in Dilwale)

Hell even Justin Bieber skateboarded on the plane’s roof in a music video in November 2015.

Expectedly it led to a steady increase in visitors to the site and got people into driving all over the place with little consideration about the property around. So in March 2016 the landowners’ of the site decisively put up signs banning all access to the area. 

…and then things started to go crazy!

Google Search Trends - Iceland Plane Crash Site

(Google Trends showing a spike in searches for the crash site in March 2016)

All it took was a “No Entry” sign.

Now, hundreds of people every day are reportedly following GPS coordinates to a remote, unmarked gate on the side of the road and trekking four kilometers through a barren lava desert to try their chances at seeing the plane’s twisted remains.

How Hitchcock Got People To See “Psycho”

When Psycho hit theaters, critics weren’t given private screenings. Instead Hitchcock created buzz for the film by exerting an unusual degree of directorial control over the viewing experience of the audience.

Accordingly the showings of the film began on a tightly-controlled schedule in theatres in New York, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia.  And a firm “no late admission” policy was put in place.

hitchcok-rules

(A standee to announce No Late Admission policy for Psycho. Source)

Theatre managers initially balked at the idea, fearing financial losses. But Hitchcock had his way.

And he was right.

Long lines formed outside the theaters, pulled even more people in and Psycho went on to enjoy critical and commercial success.

Sydney Opera House says “Come On In”

Sydney Opera House is the most Instagrammed destination in Australia.

The challenge:  Only 1% of those who upload a photo ever go inside.

Sydney Opera House found who these people were, recorded personalised invitation videos on the fly, and got them to step in to experience the Opera House from inside with exclusive access and perks.

See the case study video here

While it is definitely a smart intervention that effectively leverages relevant consumer touch points on the fly to get people to step inside, I wonder if the management of the Sydney Opera house had considered the contra idea.

…that of putting up a sign saying “Access Restricted”.

(Featured Image: Sólheimasandur plane crash site by Eric Cheng. Source)

Gyotaku And The Trailer

What is common between Gyotaku and Movie Trailers?

Gyotaku Trailer

1. Both are traditionally forms of ‘advertisements’ of another art form

2. And both have evolved into specialized art forms unto themselves

Let’s start with Gyotaku

Gyotaku is the traditional Japanese art of fish printing dating back to the mid 1800s. Before you read any further, you might want to begin with this fabulous TEDEd video to get a quick introduction on this fascinating art form.

As you can see, the purpose of the early Gyotaku print was to serve as an advertisement and proof of the fisherman’s skills as reflected by the quality of his catch.  The emphasis was thereby to capture just the basic proof of the size and species of the fisherman’s “trophy fish” and to record this permanently.

Now Gyotaku has become so popular around the world that it has dedicated competitions, hobby clubs, instruction classes, museums, books, textile prints etc;  and has currently evolved to the point where the actual activity of fishing is almost besides the point.  The craft has now become a unique representational art of Japanese Culture that honors realism and story telling.

The insight for me here is that,

A good piece of Gyotaku art captures a moment in the ocean and not just a piece of dead fish.

Gyotaku2

In other words each piece of Gyotaku tells a story where:

1. The narrative often comes from what you don’t see – the negative space: A good Gyotaku composition is known to make use of the negative space within the frame and brings to life the concepts like idea, flow and freedom of movement that come with the ocean.

2. Our minds are lead into the frame and then set free : A good Gyotaku ‘hand holds’ our mind by gently leading us into the exquisite form and finish of the fish. But a great Gyotaku takes it a step further by then carefully setting our imagination ‘free’ as it allows ample space for the mind to take the fish on its journey.

Moving on to Movie Trailers

Just like Gyotaku, the movie trailer has come a long way from being a plain advertisement (of a full length movie) to becoming a genre unto itself. Today it is a thriving industry that is almost as popular as that of the movies they’re teasing, with legions of fans following, dissecting, analyzing, reviewing and rating them on a regular basis even as they are feted out at forums like The Key Art Awards and The Golden Trailer Awards (the Oscars of movie trailers).

From being just a linear montage of title cards, voice-over, a few key scenes followed by a cast run-through, movie trailers today are part art, part marketing wizardry and part awesome creativity. Result: They can tease, titillate, shock, seduce, awe, thrill or even hypnotise us via subliminal messages, imagery, and music and lull us into the cinema for the actual full length fare.

The latest edition of the WIRED magazine has an insightful feature on the Art Of The Movie Trailer. Two insights that emerge from the construct of great trailers:

1.The narrative of the trailers doesn’t necessarily come from what you see, it comes from what you hear (the negative space of trailers = music): Trailers are all about rhythm, pacing, and feeling. That’s why music plays a vital role as a key narrative device and can more often than not make or break a trailer. Mark Woollen, the man behind the trailer for The Social Network shares a secret of how he came up with its music for an evocative narrative ..

I’d had “Creep” on my iTunes for five or six years kind of kicking around before the Social Network trailer…And then when this project came along, I started to consider that song. There are a couple of qualities to it that I thought could do a lot for the trailer. It was a fantastic piece of music—the build, the message, the flavor.

And the rest as they say is history – with the trailer going on to win both The Key Art Awards and The Golden Trailer Awards for 2011 for its outstanding achievement in advertising movies. See this trailer here:

2. Our minds are lead into the plot and then condemned to a free fall: A good trailer gently leads our minds and imaginations into the centre of the plot or the tension that is eventually created in the act 2 and then sets it on a free fall. E.g., Alfred Hitchcock’s trailer for Psycho (though being a tad bit long at ~ 6 mins) very gently teases us bit by bit till almost the end before throwing us off the cliff! See the iconic trailer here: (don’t miss the last 2.5 mins at least)

The trailer for Alien is another master piece that stands out for a similar reason.

So there you have it – Gyotaku and Movie Trailers:  two art forms that have begun to become bigger than the art forms that these are based upon, two powerful examples where creativity thrives despite the underlying constraints ; or probably examples where creativity thrives due to its underlying constraints.