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Avid's new upgrades - great for mere 'content production'

Content can be art. Art can be content. But when content is just a commodity, there is surely something going wrong.


I received an e-mail today from Avid's marketing department with the subject line, "The new standard in content production". Hm, there's nothing like the aspiration to mediocre standards to have me going to the stables over the road from where I live to borrow their high horse.

I don't mind the word 'content' as such, generally meaning any form of human expression that can be digitized. But when 'content' becomes synonymous with 'commodity', then I do have a problem with that. To save you reaching for your Oxford English Dictionary to find the precise meaning of 'commodity', the word refers to goods that are identical, or treated as though they are identical, no matter where or by whom they were produced. Copper, for example, is copper whether it is mined in Chile or in China.

So when I read Avid's subject line, what goes through my mind is not so much, "The new standard in content production", it is "The new standard in churning out commodity content for the masses who will watch anything, particularly on daytime TV".

OK, I realize that the line was written by a copywriter, or maybe a junior in the marketing department, or maybe even an intern. Maybe it was an afterthought. Perhaps it's a test, and other recipients of this message see a different subject line.

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But if I were in charge of this campaign, I'd want to see a subject line that told me how Avid's products could help make really fantastic productions, high art even. Or how Avid's products could streamline the production process so that great content - notice the 'great' - can be made more efficiently. Or I'd want to know how I can upgrade my Avid software, keep everything else the same, and make more profit! Any of these would be good.

In summary, I'm not going to say that there's too much mediocre content in the world, because the world will get the standard of content that it wants, and is prepared to pay for. But my firm belief is that what Avid should be telling us is that it is providing tools that will help produce great content, or produce content more efficiently, or help media-related business make more money.

By David Mellor Wednesday April 10, 2013