Lawyers Killed the Internet Star

Legal Executive
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Seven months ago I acted in a corporate video that was creative, evocative and inspiring.

Six months ago I acted in a second version of the video based on a revised script.

Yesterday I acted in version three.

Not surprisingly, the video did not get better with each iteration. It got more wordy, more specific, more literal.

Whereas the original focused on how the company helps customers (we make life better, we make your day easier, etc.) and why it does what it does (we’re passionate, restless, curious, etc.), the latest version tilts heavier to specific product attributes and technical specs.

One of the lines was so wordy and had so much technical mumbo-jumbo in it, it took me 30 minutes to memorize it. A single sentence.

Aside from the obvious lesson of editing scripts BEFORE the video is actually shot, this experience is emblematic of mission creep: people forgetting what the project’s original intent was OR trying to make it general enough to fit every situation and requirement.

And I don’t know if it was actually the lawyers who made these changes. But it was definitely lawyer-like behavior. Let’s cover the whole landscape. Leave no questions unanswered. Spell everything out.

Even though all of that stuff — those facts — can be easily found elsewhere. Including on the very website where the video is playing. Bit by bit, the video is losing its heart, its soul.

As Seth Godin put it:

The market is not seduced by logic. People are moved by stories and drama and hints and clues and discovery. Logic is a battering ram.

Or as I put it: there’s a reason facts are often described as “cold” and “hard” — they’ll only get you so far.