When Trends Demand Quality Brands Demand Change

VSMag, the digital extension of the printed Vogue magazine is the essence of marketing trends. The site provides it’s audience with original content that is engaging and parallels to media being delivered amongst other branded channels – the strategy reinforces “content is king.” The ongoing marketing function of curating authentic content is predicted to only escalate in the coming years. (Source)

VSMag provides details on its mission, “We like our visuals to be storytelling, authentic and expressive — and always beautiful.” A goal that’s puzzle pieced in proportion to reports that online video will make up nearly 70% of consumer traffic by 2017 (Source).

When evaluated in paragraph form, it’s easy to glaze over Vogue’s efforts as a highly strategized ploy, but there lies the beauty of this trend – it demands brands to prioritize quality. With quality at the forefront advertising can become a powerful driver of social change.

Yet no change ever commenced without first recognizing a problem.

VS Mag’s latest cinematic initiative, Aspirational, forces the audience to stare the current dynamic between the culture of twenty-something’s (and beyond) and the role that social networking plays in their lives. It’s an all too relatable plotline.

Two years ago, I watched a Ted Talk I haven’t been able to shake – Sherry Turkle’s, “Connected, but alone?” She discusses how the relationship society is developing with technology is taking us down a troubled road, where we may end up unable to relate to each other and ourselves. She poses that the decisions we make while buried in the screens of our phones – note the woman walking her dog as the VSMag video kicks off – changes us on the level of who we are, not simply what we do.

Turkle suggested we are sacrificing conversation for connection, validating our importance in likes versus interaction.

“I share, therefore I am.”

Aspirational allows viewers to sit with Turkle’s warning for two minutes; the sensation of embarrassment sheds genuine light on the adjustments this culture needs to undergo. The video portrays the core concepts of Turkle’s message in a way that truly resonates with the audience who should be first in line to experience worth through more substantial means than internet perceptions.

The two young women in this short were fans of Dunst, naming pieces of her work, but when the opportunity struck they abandoned conversation and opted for escalating their networking persona. If we were to equate these girl’s “post” as a means of promoting one’s individual brand the “content” would not assimilate with current industry trends- unable to engage the audience, unattached to an overarching strategy, and possessing limited to no depth.

The production leaves room for the audience to infer. Viewers feel Dunst’s disappointment that her fans found worth in her face versus a discussion regarding her creative journey. The audience and all onscreen characters are robbed of genuine “sharing.”

Evoking self-reflection is the first step toward change. Turkle forewarned that the troubled road would leave those afflicted unable to self reflect.

Storytelling has proved Turkle wrong.

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