Friday, May 30, 2014

Rube Goldberg continues to influence ads and pop culture long after his death - Creative Excellence Fridays

It's a huge honour to win the Rube Goldberg Award (the Reuben).  It's an award given to the cartoonist of the year and named in honour of a cartooning pioneer. Reuben Garrett Lucius "Rube" Goldberg  was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer and inventor. His claim to fame were his series of cartoons depicting complicated gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways.  Why put two pieces of toast in a toaster when you can rig up 1 minute of  stunts leading up to it.


Goldberg was a founding member and the first president of the National Cartoonists Society. He is the inspiration for various international competitions, known as Rube Goldberg Machine Contests, which challenge participants to make a complicated machine to perform a simple task. For cartoon enthusiasts, there is a new book out that was written by his grand daughter.  The Art of Rube Goldberg.  It's a coffee table book that I spent far too long leafing through at Indigo last weekend. Why all the attention to Rube Goldberg in a column normally focused on the ad industry?  Because Goldberg's influence on style and art direction still touches us even today.  I came across this outstanding ad from Purina and wanted to share it.

This ad is pure magic.  Not just because it ties in with a 20th century iconic cartoonist. It follows the 3 cardinal rules of commercial advertising.
  1. Communicate the main selling proposition in an entertaining way.
  2. Appeal to the right emotional trigger.
  3. Make them remember who you are.
You can't have a better hand off than the message at the end of the ad "'s good for you."  And the art direction brands the Purina colours all the way through.  You're glued to the ad til the end.  And even better, you have to watch it at least a few more times to notice the subtleties of the dog wagging his tail to trip the lever or the puppies slightly shifting their weight to push the wagon down the ramp. This is brilliant on every level.  And best of all, it's just fun and very sharable.  The only thing missing was having one of the dogs trip a lever after taking a selfie.  But I'm sure that'll be in the sequel.

With over 30 years experience, Tim McLarty  currently works out of Toronto Canada as a writer/voice performer, producer and media strategist producing advertising and entertainment content.

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