Slow Boat to Kirkenes.

MS_Nordnorge_BronnoysundLet’s start slow this week. A form of entertainment known as slow TV has apparently become really popular in Scandinavia, and it’s creeping toward the U.S. at a glacial pace. (If you understand Norwegian, or don’t mind not understanding it, you can already enjoy it online.) Half of Norway tuned in for the five-day, live coverage of a boat trip from Bergen, on the southwestern coast of Norway, to Kirkenes, 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The show was a project of Norway’s public-service broadcaster, NRK, which has also aired twelve-hour live specials featuring people knitting and making campfires.

What’s it all about? Nathan Heller, for The New Yorker, says it’s about use: “the screens have won” but “we needn’t employ them as directed.” A good point to keep in mind as you consider when, how, and why folks may be tuning into your programming. (Drinking Game of Thrones, anyone?)

Speeding up now to the opposite extreme, a century passes in just a few moments in a new stop-motion video for Philips Hue lighting. The ad, which clocks in at a minute and twenty-five seconds, is only on TV in the Benelux region of Europe. Chris Baylis, of Iris Worldwide, says the ad was aimed at an Internet audience that “likes interesting film techniques.”

Hi-tech bulbs are also the focus of a “fake” GE infomercial from Tim & Eric (of Tim and Eric Awesome Show) which features a tour-de-force, two-minute performance from Jeff Goldblum as fake celebrity Terry Quatro. As web videos go, the GE and Philips ads are surely some high-dollar productions. Another approach to a web video about energy? Send one guy to an REMC annual meeting and have him ask (mostly) real questions of (mostly) real people.

Whether their budgets are large or small, the fact that a lot more quality creative work is appearing directly online is no accident. Quartz posted an article recently exploring how (and why) Netflix and Amazon have broken ground in the sympathetic portrayal of transgendered characters (on shows like Orange is the New Black, and Transparent). The trans-community has largely coalesced online, and Netflix and Amazon are courting a younger, more broadly tolerant web-savvy audience.

Online ads, too, can be riskier, longer, and target a smaller audience. All the more reason for advertisers (especially the ones without giant budgets) to stick up for net neutrality, which is facing new challenges from wireless providers who weren’t covered when net neutrality rules were drawn up in 2010.

Of course, “traditional TV” is far from dead. In part because of the entrenchment of the cable model, the major networks continue to make lots of money from shows like NCIS. Now in its twelfth season, the show generates not much buzz in the entertainment press, but makes plenty of money from advertisers (especially those looking for an older, less net-savvy audience), retransmission fees, online services, and syndication.

No matter how net-savvy your audience, no matter where your ad appears or how long it costs, or how fast (or slow) it goes, the basic principles remain the same. Catch their attention. Tell a story that speaks to them. Show them how you can change their lives. It’s not rocket science. It’s an art as old as the campfire tale, and a tool as powerful as the wheel.

MS Nordnorge Bronnoysund by Clemensfranz (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMS_Nordnorge_Bronnoysund.jpg) via Wikimedia Commons.