My friends over at DOXA turned me onto this video. I am struck my a number of things in it:
1. There is nothing new under the sun.
“At the moment of truth at the store” was spoken by Walter Landor in the film some 50 years ago. This is the bedrock of Shopper Marketing, which I spent 10+ years working in thinking that P&G’s A.G. Lafley was to be credited for this idea – or at least popularizing it. This entire video is the exact same process for great packaging design that exists today. They even have a simulated store environment to walk shoppers through to research in context!
2. How well dressed EVERYONE is in this film.
Yes, I’ve seen this a thousand times and Mad Men is awakening everyone to the fact all over again, but I was surprised by the shop guys. An ascot, ties and great watches abound. The couples in the focus group rooms are dressed to the nines. I know from traveling abroad that Americans are usually perceived as consistently underdressed because of our love of denim. I don’t know, but seeing real people (not actors on TV) at band saws and turning lathes in a shirt and tie. They seemed to be working on something important. It made their work seem special. Somehow more significant and dignified, even if it was just a glass decanter.
3. The craftsmen involved in all of this seemed to have great jobs.
All of the handwork involved in the making of models, and the tools and skills needed (french curve anyone?). These hand skills are fast waning in our digital age, if they are not gone already. Watching this reminded me of watching a Swiss watchmaker at work. It also made me thankful that the best design schools in the country still require hand skill development as a foundation of design. Yes, the computer has taken much of the tedium out of so many parts of the design business, and it has even given us capabilities we never dreamed of, but in the world of visual thinking, hand skills are paramount. Perhaps it’s just wistful nostalgia, but we seem lesser for the loss of them.
4. How much of the process has remained the same.
The film is dated in terms of shooting style, soundtrack and narration to be sure. And even the end solution package designs seem quaint. But make no mistake, the strategy, the philosophy and the process have not changed. Without passing judgement on the merits of this particular product, you can still marvel at how sophisticated the mechanism of product development and advertising was back in the golden age. It seems that all our advances on the media side of the business have not yielded much advancement in terms of approach or process. I find that very interesting.