Is Mediocre Worse than Bad?
I'm having a real issue with "quality" these days. In every facet of life, it seems that more and more, "mediocre" is okay with folks. Well, maybe not food. We're experiencing a real explosion of great food everywhere these days, and people seem to be demanding it. Why aren't they demanding it everywhere else? Why are we tolerating "meh"?
I saw a documentary film the other day. The poster showed off all it's film festival selections; it was narrated by Emma Thompson - a favorite of mine; it was about energy and the environment-- right in my wheelhouse. My expectations rose. In the end: a solid "50" on my tomatometer. 2-1/2 stars. I walked away shaking my head, rather than excited and motivated to change the world.
Not long after, I came across some YouTube videos posted by a former client. I hadn't been "let go." It was more the result of a complete housecleaning. I no longer knew a soul at the firm. So with curiosity, I played some of the videos. They ranged from downright amateurish to barely professional. I could almost hear/see the presentation of the producer/shooter/editor who produced the "professional" piece. "We'll use drone footage to give it a dramatic feel!" Awesome. Yawn.
"Bad" I can deal with. The amateurish videos were indeed "bad." But, hey, someone tried to create some content for free (God, let's hope so). We, as an audience, can see immediately that these videos were shot by an amateur and forgive the bad lighting and sound, and the meandering, uninteresting interviews. If the content is really important to us already, we might watch anyway.
"Mediocre" is the sin for which I have no patience. I'm assuming I was not the only one in the audience with high expectations for the documentary. What a mediocre production did was to muddle an important subject. Worse, it failed to inspire an audience already well-attuned to the subject matter. The filmmakers did have a unique thesis, but they failed to compel us to respond to the film in any way.
My former client happily posts mediocre videos that must've cost some money (let's hope not much). With no creative direction or vision on the part of the producer, the take-away for viewers is a stark branding message: "This organization is boring, does not have a clear mission, and is wasting my time."
It's really not difficult to transcend the mediocre and rise above the "mehs." To create truly compelling content, we need to buy in to the creative process, reject the cliche, the mundane. Question, question, question. "Why should we use a drone?" "Does this sequence really support our message/branding?" "Who is watching this?" "What is the call to action?" "Where is the compelling character in this piece?"
Watch this space for more ideas about generating great creative, which is the foundation for any quality production.