did you hear that?

This was covered in Wired Magazine at least a year ago - but now it appears as though it's a reality, available for sale today. American Technology has created a device that allows you to project a beam of sound, like a laser beam, as much as 150 yards. The recipient hears your signal loud and clear, yet his friend standing two feet away can't hear a thing.

Japanese soda machine vendors are already using the technology - to target passers by. As they walk by the machine, they hear a soda being poured into a glass.

Think your marketing budget can't afford it? Think again. The device only goes for $600. Kevin's buying one for our office - so that he can send secret messages across the studio, to David. David will think he's hearing voices. Who knows what will happen next. From BoingBoing. Also covered in Popular Science.

anime eyes

Anime is of course bigger than godzilla. And the trend-setting Japanese girls want to look like their favorite anime characters. Now they're taking the trend to a whole new level. The latest trend for Japanese school girls is to wear black contact lenses - making their eyes look like giant pupils - just like all the characters in anime. These are pretty cool, but personally, I'll wait until they come out with the contacts that make my eyes look like Charlie Brown - just two black dots on my face.

what color is that?

Ever wonder what color something was? Ever wish you could capture that color in your work? Well, Pantone has a device that can help you do both. It's the new Pantone Color Cue. The device can identify any color in 3 seconds - all you have to do is place the Color Cue on an object, click the button, and read the results. Color Cue gives you a bunch of color info including the closest Pantone equivalent, as well as the CMYK, RGB, and HTML breakdowns. Very cool.

Pantone is marketing the Color Cue using the phrase "inspiration in the palm of your hand" - now if only I could get the inspiration to empty my pockets - the device retails for $299 (on sale now for $239).

phoning at the mouth

Nokia introduces the N91 mobile. It’s equipped with a 2 mega pixel camera, it has a web browser and it's equipped with video phone technology. But, this is where the N91 leaves all other mobile phones in the dust. It has a 4 gigabyte hard drive that allows users to store up to 3,000 CD-quality songs on their phone. And since the N91 is always connected to the web, you can download new music while on the move.

The N91 will not be available in the states until late 2005 and it will eat up five-hundred of your hard earned dollars after discounts. But that's the price you have to pay to when you want the latest and greatest.
The fact that this mobile phone has a 4GB hard disk is incredible; a few years ago, your desktop computer didn't even have that!

bottle caps

This is such a great idea. Collector caps for the tops of bottles. Right now, I guess this is a Pepsi promotion available only in Japan - and features Mario Bros. characters. It's been many years since anyone has produced something this innovative in beverage packaging. Sure, it poses some possible distribution challenges - but you know you'd want to collect them all, and display them across the top of your computer monitor, right? American beverage brands, take notice!

microsites as your pitch person

Here's an excellent white paper from MarketingSherpa, with a case study that details how one company created micro-sites (mini-websites) to pitch big-company clients. This is an excellent way to deliver a consistent message, in "your voice", that can be sent to a potential client.

In a larger company, where there are many people who have input to a decision, it's important that they all get the same pitch, right? Well how do you ensure that the presentation you've delivered to your prospect gets communicated with all of the same details, the same content, and the same passion? Creating a microsite allows your contact to pass a simple url to everyone else on her team.

We've created microsites for clients of ours, for the same purpose - and have even used them ourselves to pitch potential projects. This Internet thing is going to be really useful.

we're sooo smart.

Yesterday's New York Times Magazine had this great piece on how TV makes you smarter. In the article, they review television shows from the past (like Starsky & Hutch!), and compare them to current shows like "24".

Older shows like "Starsky & Hutch" follow only a single narrative thread (but they've got such a cool car). Compare that to "24" - where in a typical 44 minute episode (show time minus commercials), a viewer must follow story lines of 21 distinct characters, each with a clearly defined "story arc", and up to nine narrative threads. Clearly, we're processing more information in a shorter period of time. Watch any 70's television show, and it will become painfully obvious how slow and simple these older productions were.

Anyway, the article goes into great depth, with some really cool info graphics that we won't bore you with here - as I'm barely capable of writing one narrative thread, especially while watching tonight's episode of "24".

god save the queen

A microsite we developed for Brooke Valentine, called Celebrity Girlfight, was just profiled in today's Daily Star in the UK. From the article:

Brooke Valentine is mounting an aggressive assault on the charts - by inviting fans to beat up Beyonce and J.Lo. The singer, 19, has set up celebritygirlfight.com, where punters can punch up cartoon versions of the top divas plus Christina Aguilera, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. It's all to promote her debut track Girlfight. She said: "I can't say that I fought a lot of girls growing up. A lot of girls wanted to fight me for some strange reason. Brooke had to do what she had do do...."

We're still getting over the silly words the brits use - like "punters", and forgiving their journalistic accuracy, as Christina Aguilera is not yet in the game.

get brad pitt to hawk your wares

Ever want Brad Pitt, or George Clooney in your marketing plan? Well you can – if you're in Japan. Check out japander; be sure to read the definitions they provide. Seems, some of our most glamourous high profile celebrities are workin’ it over in the Far East. There’s some really funny commercials here with some of your favorite stars. (Now we know what Leigh was doing in Japan for a year.)

finally, a contest that lends itself to VIA’s considerable musical talents

Remember the simple days when his ‘airness’ meant Michael Jordan. Now air-apparents are being born in the bowels of New York’s hip bars. I dug the trucker hat thing, the crappy beer (Pabst, Milwaukee’s Best) kick, but air guitar?? Next we’ll be trading lofts for trailers and buying up all the gas station, velvet Elvis paintings.

pizza. good.

We pretty much love anything that involves pizza. So an artist that makes pizza cutters inspired by chopper bikes is alright with us. They're beautiful works of art. Powder coated aluminum, shocks, ball-bearings and more tool-power than you'd ever thought possible on a pizza cutter. Now if we could only get OXO to release them, for real. From Gizmodo

let's face it, macs just rule.

According to this Tuesday's article in MacDailyNews, Microsoft decided to launch a counter attack on Apple in anticipation of the new Mac "Tiger" operating system release, set to launch Friday the 29th. "Microsoft so thoughtfully posted one of the new "Start Something" ads that's part of the new global awareness campaign for Microsoft Windows XP and invites users to click the image for high-res version." Well, supposedly a few MacDailyNews readers clicked to view the image, downloaded it and checked the file info and guess what the file's EXIF information showed it was created with "Adobe Photoshop CS Macintosh."

So, the campaign was made on a Mac... way to prove a point Bill!

feed your friends

Here's the latest in never ending viral promotions for Burger King. In this game, Need for Feed, you feed your co-workers - kind of like a mommy bird, as they poke up from their cubicles. Best of all, it's got a "look busy" feature that you can click for when your boss walks by your desk.

You can also upload pics of your friends, to customize the game. Work is done by that agency I'm always going on and on about, Crispin, Porter, Bogusky.

grandma stink part 2

I'd like to point something out in the prior Grandma stink post. It was stated that "we" purchased some sort of air freshening system that caused our office to smell like an old folks home. Just to "clear the air" there was no "we" involved in this purchase, this one was all Darryl. I guess he feels that we will be more productive knowing we don't have much time left.

Anyone for a game of Bingo?

grandma stink

Not a lot of posting today on our blog - probably because we're all groggy from the Grandma stink. That's what we call it.

We purchased this aroma thing that hooks into your A/C vents, and sends wonderful smells throughout the office. One problem - what's advertised as "ocean breeze" actually smells like the perfume your Grandma used to wear. Now our entire office is fresh like Grandma, and we're getting sleepy. Very sleepy.

branding works. here's proof.

Not that you weren't already a believer, but here's scientific proof of brand power. Neuroscientist Read Montague performed this study late last year using the Pepsi challenge. Using an MRI, they actually found the sweet spot of the brain. (The pic above isn't Mr. Montague at all - but some other doctor trying mind control on what looks to be a go-go dancer.) Now that's science.

lighten up

You've gotta love people who don't take themselves too seriously. If you're not a doctor - or don't work in a job where you're responsible for other people's lives, why not lighten up a little?

Over at Moosejaw, they've built a fantastic site that sells outdoor gear from a variety of manufacturers (including Moosejaw), and have had some fun in the process. Like the quote on the photo above - KC's right arm weighs so much more than his left that he is forced to paddle on his side. 'I've adapted nicely. I barely even notice anymore'

Not sure who did the work here - but it's great all around - conceptual, design, copywriting and execution. And - as a result, a pleasure to browse. Check it out.

tough guys?

If you've met Dave or Kevin in our office, you'd probably think they're regular guys. Go to the gym, mountain biker, come in every morning talking about the game. Time to shatter the image - it appears that both Kevin and Dave are hooked on a new tabloid blog - pink is the new blog. They're constantly checking the blog for the latest Britney update, and of course, were the first in the office to know that she was pregnant. Hmmmmm. Anyway, that's also Justus in the pic above, clearly keeping his distance from Kevin, and still an overall tough guy.

end of the ad world

Here's the first in a series of articles about the ad industry's coming disaster, from AdAge, through BrandNoise. It's a closer look at all of the hype and trend forcasting that shows how television and traditional media are in the midst of a huge downward spiral, and how consumers get (and expect) content to be delivered in new ways. Really insightful stuff that represents both sides of the story.

Separately - but in a way related, Google just launched a beta site for uploading video. Is Google the next broadcast network? Or is it just another daily service addition from the Google machine - looking to boost stock value? An excerpt from the above AdAge article could explain it all:

As more control has been placed in the hands of the consumer, the consumer has shown every intention of exercising it. Especially in the coveted 18-34 cohort, viewers are fleeing TV and going online, where nobody need have their content dictated to them.

Apparently, Google is currently in "gathering" phase. And at this point, nobody really knows what exactly this could turn into... (Flickr for video?).... but we believe this is a fantastic opportunity for someone (hello, VIA clients!) to be the first with something really cool, distributed to the masses in a whole new venue. Welcome to the Google generation.

send this one to your kids

Here's an AMAZING spot done for the American Lung Association - delivering an anti-smoking message. Work was done by Subliminal Pictures.

this internet thing is going to be really big

Here's even more coverage showing how traditional media is going down the tubes. We of course, like anything that confirms what we've been telling clients for years - and it's not looking good for traditionalists.

A peak:
+ Television: network TV's audience share has fallen by a third since 1985
+ Radio: listenership is at a 27-year low
+ Newspapers: circulation peaked in 1987, and the decline is accelerating

So where are they all going? The Internet, gaming, movies and iPods, of course. At the same time, this also points to a great market opportunity. People are tuning old-school media out because it doesn't offer them something of value, or the delivery mechanism isn't convenient for the lifestyles they now live. What about something that comes along and uses old school media in a new way? Something that gets people talking, and becomes viral in a new way?

let them eat grapes

Last night, in celebration of "paper week", a couple of us checked out the party Cellmark threw at Grand Central Station. The event was held at the Campbell Apartment - which is this amazing private room at Grand Central, that originally was the office of prewar businessman John W. Campbell. And what an office. The pic above is from the balcony (look for Kevin and Justus). Imagine having a balcony in your office? Do you think P-Diddy has a balcony in his office?

The evening ended (for us) at Carmines, with a bunch of female Nine West employees tossing grapes into a VIA staffer's mouth. Sounds much more sensual and impressive than the actual drunken escapades themselves. Thanks Andy, Ben, Peter and the entire Cellmark crew!

Welcome to Hat City

Charles and Camilla Gorilla got married, yeah yeah yeah – But what about those Hats!!!

In a CNN poll, Camilla narrowly beat out Zara Phillip’s equestrian inspired derby with her Robin Hood meets Vera Wang - hat, however I think it was the tumbleweed-tossed hay look that really pulled off the victory.

Now, I’ve heard bridesmaids are there so they confuse the devil – who wants virgins (who doesn’t) - so he can’t tell which one is the bride.
Now, with that logic, is it possible that all these women wear ridiculous hats to confuse everyone, while the queen pick-pockets the male guests?

Either way, you’d think Danbury would have been involved somehow – I mean we are Hat City!!

trailer trash - the new black

It was just a matter of time. Since the New York Times has reported on this at least twice in the last week, I figured it's time we said something about this trend. It seems that trailer parks are the latest thing. In fact, in the hot spots of southern California, there are trailers selling for over $1 million. That's dollars. Here's another great article on the trend, from yesterday's NY Times - focused mostly on Steve Rocco, skateboarding superstar and founder of World Industries. Once again, a skateboarder is leading a cultural change.

how to be a south park star

Ever wonder what you'd look like, if you were a character in South Park? I know it keeps me up at night. Well now you can find out - using the South Park Studio. It's a flash based website - where you can create your own characters. You choose your hair, skin, clothing, facial features, and a bunch of other great accoutrements. That's me, in the pic above. There was an older version of this a couple of years ago - but this has been freshened up, and is all new.

the beauty in decay

As creative people we are always searching for things that will inspire us. The pure existence and perseverance of nature and culture, can create such fascinating environments for us to observe and document. Exploring the environment – the good, the bad, and the ugly, can inspire – color, imagery and dialogue.

The photographic documentation of urban decay has taken on a huge following on the net. In fact, the places that many people consider eye sores – can also be quite beautiful. For those of us who find beauty in decay - it's often entirely due to imagination. How the complexity of an environment can allow our minds to run wild. How we can project emotions onto objects and into buildings. Photographic documentation is a great resource for creative people.

I shot these photos a couple of years ago at Eastern State Penitentiary, in Philadelphia. Eastern State's organization chooses to preserve the decay – the result is a photographers dream! (F.Y.I. - the hospital scenes from 12 Monkey's were shot at Eastern State). If you are ever in Philly - plan a visit - and see what beauty in decay is all about.

generation google

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a very telling article on their quest to learn how to service and market to millenials - also known as Generation Y. This is the generation raised on the Internet. And they don't go to libraries. Or read news'papers'.

Here's an excerpt from the story:

There they were, 11 college students, lined up like some alien species before a curious group of about 50 college and university librarians.

One University of Minnesota student had a bagful of electronics with him: iPod, PalmPilot, cell phone. He was bright, opinionated, well-spoken.

And when was the last time he was in the U's library?

"Last year," he said.

The collective intake of breath nearly turned the room into a vacuum. What's a university librarian to do with this generation of college students?

In one of the kickoff sessions of the national conference of the Association of College and Research Libraries, the group spent seven hours Thursday at the Minneapolis Convention Center puzzling over the habits of the so-called millennial generation.

Confident, sophisticated, tolerant and practical, they are "Internet natives" who are more likely to use Google to research a paper than go to the library.

Full story.

From BoingBoing

how to spread your disease

Here's an excellent white paper/article about viral advertising. An outstanding primer on what constitutes a viral campaign - strategies, best tactics, typical creative costs and more. A must read for anyone in the branding biz. The picture above is of the human rhinovirus - having nothing at all to do with a viral branding campaign - but the word "rhinovirus" sounds pretty cool and scary, doesn't it?

having a grey day?

Check out color lovers. It's a great source for color trends, inspiration or ideas. You can explore, rate, or review colors and color palettes. An excellent design tool for creating color palettes on your next project.

living large

This smells of a press release from the Hot Topic organization - but regardless, we should all be aware of teen retail trends. Hot Topic, arguably the most popular store at your mall for teens and tweens who favor black, has a new sister store called Torrid , that caters to plus size teen girls. But the cool plus size teen girls.

And it's a growing market. Says the Salon article: "According to the industry trade group Cotton Inc., 29 percent of 16- to 24-year-old women wear at least a size 12 -- and 61 percent of them complain that they can't find clothes in their size." Torrid has grown from six stores in 2001 to 76 today, and they plan to open 45 more this year. (You'll need to watch an ad, to read the article without subscription, after the jump.)

UPDATE: From a reader of BoingBoing - (and this is definitely NOT from a Hot Topic Press release) - Megan sez, "I worked at Torrid for over a year from July of 03 to September of 04. From the time I started, I could tell they were trying to change the store... " Here's the full post.

advertising gone bad

If you've been reading any of the NYC blogs recently, or been near the Flatiron building, you've probably dry-heaved at the site of a huge H&M wrap that covers the front end of the architectural beauty. Well good news - zoning has come to the rescue. It turns out that the sign's illegal. We never shopped at H&M anyway. And the problem is, we're not good looking enough to shop at Abercrombie. Looks like its back to the Gap.

we've got issues. hey - look, a bird!

Great. Dr. Bonnie Cramond published a paper for The National Research Center On The Gifted and Talented called “The Coincidence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Creativity.” It turns out that there's a list of personality traits commonly associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and get this - that they're also associated with highly creative people. Here's the list:

• Inattention and Daydreaming
• Sensation Seeking
• Inability to finish projects
• Hyperactivity
• Enthusiasm and Playfulness
• Difficult Temperament
• Deficient Social Skills
• Academic Underachievement
• Hypersensitivity to Stimulation
• Mood Swings

That pretty much sums up the entire staff at VIA. We'll have to keep this list handy for the next time we're writing a help wanted ad, or creating a job description.

Do you exhibit more than six items on the list? If so, stop by our studio, and we'll help you through it. Or we'll watch TV together. Or play pinball. Or run around in circles outside. Wheeee!
From Mediabistro|unbeige

see what your roof looks like

Google just added the ability to see satellite images for maps. Just click the 'Satellite' link and see a view of the address that you've Googled.

For some areas, you can really zoom into great detail. The above photo is of our office. If you could zoom in tighter, you'd see Kevin suntanning on our rooftop patio. So perhaps it's best that we don't zoom in any further at our address. You understand. Check out your roof!

donkey kong - the next big thing

There's an art show in LA, at the eighty eight gallery (April 19th - May 20th) with a lot of work inspired by 8 bit graphics. There's an entire generation of players who grew up playing 8 bit games like Donkey Kong. And now there's art and music inspired by it all. A couple of years ago, Wired wrote about "8 bit punk", who Malcolm Mclaren (of Sex Pistols fame) is convinced he's discovered. Anyway - it's blossomed into a huge deal - (Google 8 bit music, and you'll see what a huge scene it's evolved into.) Gallery story from Screenhead.

UPDATE: Last night the Parsons School of Design held their awards for Retro Redux - a design competition where entrants create games using the technology of Atari’s Flashback 2.0 game console. Wish we could have been there! We'll keep our eyes open for a link to the winners.

good to be king

There's a great article/interview in this week's BrandWeek about some of the people and thinking behind Burger King's brilliant come-back, and the branding campaign that helped them do it. (we'd give you a link, but the BrandWeek site requires a paid subscription to access. If you want a copy of the article, let us know, and we'll mail/email you a copy of ours) The interview is with BK's Chief Marketing Officer, Russ Klein, and Crispin Porter + Bogusky President, and Executive Creative Director, Jeff Hicks and Alex Bogusky, respectively.

Two great nuggets from the article:

"There's a young guy product that basically all of the greatest advertising in the world is built around - that's beer. Here we have the exact same audience. Yet, in general, you have some of the worst advertising in the world. Since they both have the same target there's no reason the fast food category has to be so lame. It's just gotten that way" Alex Bogusky

There's also some great background about how they maintained the brand equity of "Have it your way":

"We were like, 'Bring it back. Don't change it. Don't tweak it. Don't make it flame grilled your way. Bring it back exactly the way it was and don't change it again." Alex Bogusky

That's an excellent example of how you can rescue and reinvigorate a brand - but at the same time, latch onto some rich brand equity. Nicely done.
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