Superfad posted a couple new spots for Sprint that fall neatly into my category of “visual essays.” Employing a style that’s reminiscent of the data viz aesthetics in Royksopp’s legendary “Remind Me” video, both spots go for long-form persuasion instead of broadcast commercials’ usual wham-bam approach. The result is a pair of detailed narratives that aren’t afraid to toss out piles of statistics to make their case.
Usually, the visual essay approach is used to sell an idea (recycle more!) or explain a tricky concept (net neutrality) in a way that persuades and informs the audience. In the case of the Nextel spots, there’s an added benefit to the visual essay approach: By creating a sense of complexity, both in the visuals and in the voiceover, the adverts make viewers feel smart.
Superfad and agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners were careful not to overwhelm people with too much information. The trick was to strike just the right balance between sophistication and simplicity. So the characters are nearly featureless, except for tell-tale costuming details. And the ambient occlusion is dialed down to vector-like flatness. They were even cautious about switching between parallel and perspective camera angles, realizing that an entire advert seen from an isometric point of view would start to feel a little inhuman, a little forced.