Sometimes It’s Best Not to Say Anything at All


…via video, and every other medium.

I’m a big fan of The Wooster Group – an inventive, provocative theater company based in Manhattan. But this video, emailed out today to herald a forthcoming benefit, is just plain empty of  meaning.

Better not to say (or video) anything at all, than to release a video without meaning. That generates annoyance, the absolute enemy of engagement.

My bet is that no one outside the Group saw this video before it was released. Always test…even if the tester is your partner or neighbor. It’s not about you, it’s about your network (AGAIN)!

Have you seen or watched nonprofit marketing content that annoys you, or is empty? If so, please share the what and why with us.

Nancy Schwartz on January 7, 2011 in Video | 7 comments
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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Laura B January 7, 2011 at 10:10 am

Agree, although I’m also a fan of their work and honestly none of it’s ever made sense to me! ;-)

2 Nancy Schwartz January 7, 2011 at 11:44 am

I’m with you, Laura, on the fan-side despite the obscurity!

3 Phyllis January 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I received an e-newsletter containing this video, which I found unpleasant to watch and in spectacularly poor taste–and certain to alienate the very people the organization is seeking to reach.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWJ62TW2GPQ

4 Nancy Schwartz January 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Wow, that’s something, Phyllis. Humor works when you know your audiences well. This video is so offensive on so many levels, and the content so ridiculously useless that it is indeed a turnoff. Let me share what you wrote to David, the “star” of this video:
Dear David,

I’m a regular subscriber to JTA’s daily e-mails, and I appreciate the work you do. But I am puzzled by this video. I assume this was an attempt to be “light-hearted,” but I found it, frankly, offensive.

The references to “Jewish” activities associated with Christmas, such as Chinese food and re-wording Christmas songs with Jewish lyrics, reinforce negative Jewish stereotypes.

And watching an unshaven man in his pajamas, who (as you said) can’t sing, is a particularly unpleasant experience, and is more likely to persuade viewers to click on “close” rather than “donate.”

As a marketing professional for a Jewish organization, I feel that such a worthwhile and respected Jewish organization as JTA would be better served by celebrating the countless unique and positive aspects of Jewish life and culture.

5 Pamela Grow January 7, 2011 at 5:08 pm

That video brings to mind certain Internet marketers who, once they become big, seem to think that any utterance, delivered unshaven and in a T-shirt (or driving in their SUV’s with their kids in the backseat) is noteworthy. I’m all for pushing the envelope but, as you so succinctly noted: ‘it’s not ABOUT you.’

The second video is wrong on so many levels.

6 Angie January 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm

I can only assume the top video was an attempt to show ‘behind the scenes’ type activities – too bad it didn’t do anything but make me think the fundraiser they’re preparing for will be a lot like their production of “Virginia Woolf” – which, if I’m getting this video, would assume I may have actually SEEN said production – and make me wonder why I’d want to see something ‘very like it’.

As for the second video, I could barely get past the first day.

7 Jamie January 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Hi – after watching the fundraiser piece, considering the observations on the Wooster Group’s vid (and watching several other of their ‘dailies’, i would like to disagree about their efficacy. As you’ve said, TWG offers thrillingly unique ways of performative presentation, and to me (as a target audience), the vids reinforce my trust that even if not slickly “knocking it out of the park”, they will most certainly deliver an unexpected and defiantly unique experimental approach, even to modest market messaging.

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