Closing the circle on the Sony ad and "Timing Is Everything"

So I stand by my opinion that the photo was a poor choice for this ad--just for different reasons than I initially thought.

A few weeks back, I posted about Sony using a 1965 John Dominis photograph to illustrate how "Timing Is Everything." Given that the picture in question could hardly have been taken with a Sony digital camera (which wouldn't exist for decades), I thought it a poor choice to illustrate the technical prowess of Sony's latest digital SLR.

After I wrote the original post, I noticed something else when I was studying the original photograph and the one in the ad; they weren't quite the same. I thought it a slightly amusing oddity but not much more. The differences were fairly clear if you looked at a blowup, but they were fairly subtle at more modest sizes.

In any case, while perusing Time Magazine last week I ran across another ad in the series that caused me to go "Huh?" (I think it was a bit saltier than that but you get the idea.) The ad in Time was clearly intended to show an example of bad timing.

In fact, that's exactly the point of the whole series of ads created for this campaign by BBDO New York. (A third ad is here.) As MediaPost says:

Timing is everything, especially when you're taking pictures. If you've ever wondered what a famous photo would look like had it been taken a second or two later, then you're bound to enjoy this print campaign for Sony's Alpha DSLR-A700 camera. Imagine the construction workers eating lunch atop a steel beam while others were still working. Or a leopard readying to attack a baboon. What would happen if a referee stood in the way of Brandi Chastain's winning penalty kick and striptease?

On the one hand I feel a little silly. I badly missed the point of the ad.

Having said that, I have to give BBDO New York a 2 out of 3 for this campaign. The construction workers and the Brandi Chastain shots are clear examples of bad timing. They're witty ads and unambiguously make their point.

The leopard and baboon, however? It's not as good as the one that Life originally published. But the differences are slight. And, in spite of one or two comments made to my original post, I don't see how anyone could call the shot used for the ad a bad or badly-timed photograph in an absolute sense. I won't argue that everyone else should share my aesthetic opinion but I'm confident that had I taken that picture, I'd have a big enlargement hanging on my wall. And I doubt that I'm alone in that.

So I stand by my opinion that it was a poor choice for this ad--just for different reasons than I initially thought.

(P.S. I don't know if the ads used in the campaign are different shots in the original sequences or if they are Photoshopped versions of the original "good" photographs. I was initially somewhat puzzled when I carefully studied the two Dominis shots (the Life version and the Sony ad version)--because there seemed to be more differences on the baboon side than on the leopard side. Nothing conclusive, but it didn't look quite right to be two shots in the sequence even if I did try to convince myself that the mechanics worked. At the time, it just made no sense to me that someone would have digitally manipulated the photo to make it worse. See also the discussion in the comments. Now, of course, knowing that the whole idea was to have "bad" versions of iconic photographs, deliberately degrading part of the picture makes perfect sense.)

About the author

Gordon Haff is Red Hat's cloud evangelist although the opinions expressed here are strictly his own. He's focused on enterprise IT, especially cloud computing. However, Gordon writes about a wide range of topics whether they relate to the way too many hours he spends traveling or his longtime interest in photography.

 

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