Beyond race, CH marketing video remains problematic
I have no doubt that the Cleveland Heights marketing department now has an understanding that race was mistakenly misrepresented in its initial marketing video. While the marketing staff is bound to fix it, it was unfortunate, and certainly preventable.
I have a profound concern that the original video failed for a second, and entirely different, reason, and I’m concerned that, for likely contractual reasons, it will not be fixed on the second go-round.
The video’s stagnant camera work, the rigidly scripted "older" voice of the voice-over talent, the editing, and music were ‘80s old-school and corporate in approach. I believe that any company that produces marketing films—whether it was a film production house or a marketing firm—that ignores contemporary film aesthetics and techniques will be incapable of making “the proper” video that the city needs and deserves.
Although I don’t know him, I am grateful to Adam Dew for his talent and dedication to our community, as reflected in his unsolicited/unofficial promotional Cleveland Heights video, posted on Vimeo following the release of Cleveland Heights’ official marketing video. While Dew pulled his video together from existing footage, with just a few hours of editing, it was dynamic and represented the similarly dynamic community that so many of us proudly call home.
I hope the city will only release videos promoting Cleveland Heights that package the city directly to young singles and young families, keeping [the aforementioned] four film qualities at the top of their priority list. Otherwise, any marketing video will be reverse marketing; it will not promote our city to this target market, and, in fact, it may repel it.
The approach to making a film is every bit as important as the content within it. Young people today are sophisticated regarding all things communication related. Our city deserves to be continually flooded with a new young population, and it has a responsibility to market to young people in the language that they value.
I recommend breaking off the relationship with the current marketing firm and hiring one made up of the demographic we are targeting. At the very least, our city’s marketing department should have one employee who is in this demographic and is aware of current film trends (but possibly it already has such an individual on staff).
I feel for the marketing department. It cannot be easy having so many caring and vocal citizens passionately speaking out. However, I’m certain our city can make this happen, and I’m sure that it will. We will all be the beneficiaries when it does.
In advance, I thank you for listening to our community and responding.
Daniel Levin has been a Cleveland Heights resident since 2009. He's a father of three, and a professor of photography at Cuyahoga Community College.