I remember loads of public information films: Green Cross code man,
one with deep sexual undertones about a car overtaking a bicycle ,
But this was a more honest world before multichannel tv, before sky plus, and when men with puppies were only beginning to be eyed with suspicion.
COI still spits out some great public information films, but I doubt they get the same kind of audience charley and sexy bicyclist did. Why? In simple terms it has to be distribution. No longer is there a medium to play films over and over to gain affection by attrition. You've got to get people engaged. Horrible word, but it's the best there is. That's why creative has got so much better. People are interested in it. Engaged.
Now creativity has been woven into the means of distribution. Simon Ellis has directed a brilliant campaign for the Met (presumably through Central Office of Information?) which uses Youtube annotated notes to give you a choice at critical moments in the story, each choice links through to a different video. The tale unfolds as you click through and, once you reach the end, compels you to start again and reach a different ending. So for most people who watch it, they watch it a minimum of two times. Genius.
It's a nice execution using the massively under-used Point of View conceit to great effect. But it's the method of truly interactive distribution that's brilliant. Whether or not the yoot think so, or whether it reveals itself as ultimately gimmicky can only later become clear. Personally, I think it has a limited life-span and genuinely unusual / inspired creative will remain the enduring option. But right now, this campaign deserves bigging right up.*