Wednesday, June 10, 2009, 9:10 AM ET|Posted by Will Richmond
Spending half a day in New York City yesterday provided two more great examples of online video's growing pervasiveness.
First, as I was hustling down Seventh Avenue toward Penn Station to catch my train back to Boston, a billboard for "Peter Arthur Stories" caught my attention. It was one of those gigantic multi-story billboards that wrapped around a building and are frequently used to promote new films. But there was something slightly different about it - it seemed like an ad for a film, but it didn't have any actors' images or rating or "in theaters now." I was intrigued and made a mental note to check it out.
It turns out that "Peter Arthur Stories" is actually an online-only series of 4 short (6-8 minutes) episodes produced by the Pennsylvania Tourism Office which was released a few weeks ago. The series traces Peter Arthur (note his initials are "PA," also the abbreviation for Pennsylvania), as he traipses around the state in a sidecar searching for the waitress he's obsessed over since she served him a slice of Shoofly pie when he was 12 years-old. You see the state's lush landscape, farmlands and towns like Gettysburg and Jim Thorpe through his eyes and experiences. There's a campy but catchy musical score that is interwoven at various points. At the series' web site there's also a 4 question trivia contest which enters you into a sweepstakes for 12 different Pennsylvania getaways.
It's certainly a very unconventional campaign for a state tourism office. Think about it - the state bought hugely expensive billboard in a prime, heavily-trafficked Manhattan location solely to drive people to a web site to see its originally-produced video that only subtly promotes the state. That the state pursued this plan speaks volumes about how pervasive and accepted online video has become as a promotional medium. I have no idea if the campaign has worked for the state, but I give the people behind it huge credit for being on the leading edge.
My other experience came at an awards lunch I attended, at which David Walker, former U.S. Comptroller General and now president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation was the featured speaker. Some of you may know that Walker has become the most outspoken critic of the U.S. government's financial policies and the debts that it has racked up
After giving a 15 minute talk, Walker implored the audience to learn more and get involved. How? He held up a DVD cover for the movie "I.O.U.S.A." and said go to http://www.iousathemovie.com/ and watch the 30 minute excerpt of this documentary, and then pass it along to your friends and family. I.O.U.S.A. is an 87 minute educational film that has been called "The Inconvenient Truth of Debt." As a sidenote, I watched part of the excerpt; it really is pretty frightening what's happening with America's finances.
Walker's recommendation is yet another illustration of how activists have turned to online video to generate excitement and action. In the old days passing a petition around to gather signatures was the way incent change; increasingly the tactic of choice is to distribute an online video and build a community around it.
Online video is becoming more pervasive and mainstream; it has far more potential than just being another entertainment outlet.
What do you think? Post a comment now.
Categories: Indie Video