Over the weekend, I got an e-mail telling me about a new place branding campaign for Paris Val-de-Marne – “The Future is a Place”. A Spanish creative agency, CuldeSac, prepared the following video as part of their promotional activities. I was pretty excited to learn about this initiative. Because prior to “The Future is a Place”, I didn’t know anything about Val de Marne. The video clip, the website and the press release are my only sources of information.
This video clip clearly demonstrates one fact: Place branding campaigns have different missions and the messages/images should change accordingly. This particular campaign wants to attract capital to the region, and all related arguments are quite convincing (i.e. infrastructure, proximity to Paris, transportation, existing businesses etc.). The images (airport, transportation, other facilities) used in the video clip bolster the arguments.
At the very same time, the video clip shows us the difficulty of branding only one aspect of a place. I tried to think like an entrepreneur while watching the video. Although I was convinced in business terms to invest in the region, I wanted to know more about the place. Who lives there? What do people do for a living? Any important landmarks? Moreover, especially during the first part (up to 01:30 min) of the clip, I was highly depressed by the dark images, crowded places, lack of faces, and indoor images. In fact, I started thinking of the movie Noi albinoi (The movie is about a socially misfit teenager in a small fishing town in Iceland).
Everyone knows and talks about importance of audience. Your message should be tailored to fit your audiences’ needs. As this video shows, not only the content of your message but also your medium and even technical details you use should attract your audiences’ interest and gain their respect. The quality of the images will appeal to business owners. However, I am not sure whether online media platforms (Youtube, Vimeo) are the best ways to reach this specific audience.
In a place branding campaign, we shouldn’t forget that there will be many people who have no idea about what we are talking about. Therefore, it is important to refrain from unclear images and symbols. Frankly speaking, I am not sure what is happening between 2:10 and 2:30 in the video. I don’t know the people, I just assume that they are important figures in the development agency. They are sitting in post-modern chairs (I don’t know how to call those chairs), so they should be innovative and creative. But seriously, who are they? Why are they there?
As far as I can see the website and video are produced by two different agencies. Still, I would like to see a consistent message in terms of content and packaging. The colors of the website are different from the colors I saw in the video. As a person who has never been to the region, I don’t know what to expect from Val de Marne. The website also lays out five areas of expertise – five prominent industries. Though I don’t think I saw all five in the video. I saw some themes (life, sustainability etc) on the video which were not mentioned in the website.
There seems to be a theme with the lines and small triangles. We see them all through the video and also at the end when they come together to make the logo for The Future is a Place. I am also not sure why they form that particular shape after 02:32 and constantly move. (- I can go ahead and say well Val de Marne connects several industries in a dynamic way but frankly speaking this interpretation is based more on my communication studies than on the video itself).
Lastly, I think the music has made me think even more of Noi albinoi. Especially together with the darker images, I was a little bit depressed.
Long story short, I would say, The Future is a Place is likely to be successful in reaching its target audiences provided that appropriate media platforms are chosen. The clip looks professional, it is short, and dynamic. In other words, it attracts attention and doesn’t bore the audience. The line of reasoning is quite clear and persuasive. The professional imagery boosts the credibility of the messages. The tagline (The future is a place) cleverly summarizes the project and can be seen in the video. However, especially after seeing CuldeSac’s website, I cannot understand why there were so many cloudy scenes in the video.