Making You Look #3 – Dots, Balloons And Colour!

Henglein and Steets / Cultura RF

Henglein and Steets / Cultura RF

Remember when balloons were all about parties, cake and crisps? Turns out balloons and colours are now a staple of new tech brands, gizmos and new perception. We miss the cake!

Advertising has always been about changing our perception of a product, but in a world of ceaseless change, for industry sectors such as electronics and technology,  imagery in adverts is increasingly about changing your perception of ‘perception’. And the technique for delivering this is through the use of colour.

Most people born before 1980 found themselves in a world of screen scarcity  – TV, Cinema, and if you were a bit of a delinquent, Arcade games such as Asteroids whose scrawly graphics made you feel like you had entered the future but turns out it was designed by a four-year-old. Now it’s not only computer screens, smartphone screens, Google glasses that have turned adverts into CMYK test-beds.

Even back in the 70s and 80s, colour in ad imagery was a sign of new technology and new perception. But in the pre-smartphone, MP3 playing age, it was a staple of detergent ads, celebrating home and introducing science into domestic life with experts asking housewives to test new formulas of detergent just cooked up in the lab.

By the 90s, colour and washing powder came together in the form of Fashion and Design students from the London Royal College of Art

But over the last 10 years, the use of colour has become the signal of the benefits of new technology, of being able to see and experience the world as if you have actually discovered colour yourself. The pioneers in this have been Sony with a series of ads highlighting a different way of seeing the world though the HD TV, bouncing across the landscape like animated dots in a Seurat painting.



It’s no surprise that the balls echo the optical experiments of Seurat, as it sits with Sony’s wider marketing strategy of technology not just as a vehicle for better perception, but through the medium of their smartphone camera, more interaction and engagement. And some David Bowie for extra impact.



And of course if there’s anything guaranteed to make us question our own perception, it’s a bunch of stop-frame multi-colored, animated rabbits running around an urban centre.



Advert for Sony Bravia

Advert for Sony Bravia


The Holi festival of colours in India has become a default location for colour as the visual sign of spiritual awakening – splashing colours around as a sign of liberation. In this case harnessed to the game of cricket and an international beverage – Pepsi.



Of course Sony weren’t the first to use colour as a sign of new percpetion and self-expression. Apple did it for their iPod nano,



replaying within the frame of the mini-screen, of the colour-co-ordinated Feist promo whose music then wraps around the ad.



And suddenly these tech ads selling new more colourful ways of experiencing the world, are really allowing us to see the world in super-hi-def slo mo. How? Balloons of course!


And what do you hang a campaign for a new satellite TV box enabling customers to see new channels? Balloons? Why not?



Or an MP3 online shop?



As the technology sector begins to resemble the Fashion cycle in their seasonal releases of souped-up phones, colour and Balloons are increasingly the shorthand for escaping into some brave new world of experience.


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