The incendiary howl of Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner was certainly an arresting fanfare for the start of Dubai Lynx week – and an intriguing prelude to Bob Isherwood’s opening address. But then things went distinctly off key.
A jarring succession of films, audio clips and photos followed – steam trains, Bob Dylan, The Simpsons, Mohammad Ali, Concorde, the Guggenheim, Good Morning Vietnam. And so it went on… And on… For about half-an-hour, in fact. Interspersed with words such as “originality” and “inspiration”.
When the former creative head of Saatchi & Saatchi finally appeared on stage, a stunning explanation was required. How sad, therefore, that Isherwood began by urging people not to leave. Not a good advert for your own speech, surely.
Next came a highly-complex lecture on nano-technology. It seemed ‘the point’, if ever there was one, had long ago left the auditorium and gone for a leisurely coffee. When ‘the point’ eventually appeared, it made a muted entrance. The preceding lecture, a transcript from a senior scientist, was very good but irrelevant to this particular audience, explained Isherwood. The point being that messages must be relevant. Had it really taken us almost 45 minutes to arrive at this?
Messages, he said, must be original, relevant and emotionally connective. According to Isherwood’s rather crude analogy, the acronym is ORE, which can of course be turned into gold.
Then came a demonstration of this, combining an image of Black Panthers at the Olympics, Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, and Bruce Springsteen’s “We Shall Overcome”.
How disappointing that a seminar about originality largely comprised of borrowed material; a seminar about relevance said so little about advertising; a seminar about emotional involvement relied upon epic moments of history and culture to entertain us.
Did anyone learn anything from Isherwood at the Dubai International Advertising Festival today?