what are they eating in the midwest?

Not a day after I blogged on the new health and beauty retail concept in Minnesota, AdFreak reports on yet another new retail concept - and again in the midwest. It's called Cereality. In fairness, there's also cafes in Arizona and Pennsylvania. I'd whip out a cool Pennsylvania joke now, but it's too early.

town sprayed with scent to attract females

Check out this funny fake newsreel about a town that sprays itself with scent to attract females. A great viral video clip from Axe deodorant. From adrants.

dog poop + blogs = fame

Oh, the power of blogs. Apparently, this woman in Korea had her dog on the train, and the dog left a big brown mess on the floor. Passengers began asking her to clean it up, and she became belligerent. A couple of photos, and several blog postings later, she was labeled gae-ttong-nyue (dog-sh*t-girl) and her pictures and parodies are spread throughout the blogosphere. She's eventually identified, and people start to recognize her on the street. Lesson learned the hard way. Curb your dog.

new retail concept

Here's a new retail concept that just launched in Minnesota. I think that's somewhere in the midwest. eq-life is a retail experience that includes spa & salon services, beauty and wellness products, and events like pilates, yoga and nutrition classes. Think of it as your neighborhood health, beauty and wellness spot. The concept comes from a former Best Buy executive, who, I guess decided that even people in the midwest need great retail experiences. This is a concept that has to hit both coasts soon.

construction update

Here's the latest development in the build-out of our new conference room...yesterday the electrician came, and installed our recessed lighting, network cables, audio/video stuff - and electricity. We've even got a ton of wires and cables that lead underneath the conference table area. In theory, we'll be able to hook into everything right from a laptop on our conference table. Watch out.

Which, btw - we're shopping for a six or eight foot conference table - with a lot of translucence to it. We'd prefer glass, lucite, or some other kind of plastic. Think super modern, clean lines, with a hint of steel. Seen anything cool? Know anyone that builds stuff custom? Give us a shout.

toys getting real

Check out McCarty PhotoWorks, the site for Brian McCarty, a photographer who specializes in toys. Actually, really cool toys, photographed in the real world. Wonderful stuff. This would make a great concept for an ad campaign.

UPDATE: bookmark his site, and check back later. Apparently he's received so much traffic from his feature on BoingBoing (and no doubt BrandFlakes), his server couldn't handle the traffic.

magic water

This is at least a couple of weeks old, but I just came across this, and had to share. In the premier issue of Radar magazine (think Spy Magazine, but built for the 2000's), they created a hilarious prank taste test where people taste bottled water by Paris Hilton, Star Jones, Ricky Martin, and Jason Giambi. It's all just Poland Spring water, put into bogus bottles. People of course, react differently to the taste of each water. Ahhh, the refreshing power of branding.

dvd powered booth babes

We've all seen the magical powers that "booth babes" have over male trade show attendees. Well, here's an alternative, that has equal WOW factor for guys and girls. Imagine a handful of mannequins with DVD projected faces at your next trade show. This would have huge WOW factor - and undoubtedly have a crowd of people in amazement at any trade show, shop window, or promo event.

zines are the new blog

Independently published magazines (zines) have been the alternative press for ages. And then came blogs. Well now, zines are back, big time. Check out this roundup from Style.com, on their favorite zines. From rockers who knit (!), to sticker art and street culture, there's a zine out there for whatever you're into. Always a great source for creative inspiration or insight into a culture that you weren't previously familiar with. Check 'em out!

when popsicles attack

Here's a great case study on why every live promotional event requires detailed advance planning. While this one's not as bad as the poor soul who lost his life jumping off the eiffel tower to promote a brand of jeans - this certainly didn't look great for Snapple in NYC. Total meltdown at their attempt at a Guinness Book World Record - with the end result just a sticky mess. Live events are always unpredictable. Be prepared to deal with the worst!

shake it, shake it.

Aren't you always wishing that all of your photos could be Polaroid photos? Do you wish you could shake it like a Polaroid picture? Now you can. Check out the Polaroid-o-nizer™. You just enter the url for the photo you want to use, and enter the comment you'd like written under the photo, then click Polaroid-o-nize it. Presto. I used a handsome pic of David, above.

construction update

Cafe VIA is open for business. One of our rooftop patios is complete - and we're pretty happy with the way it came out. We've got a couple of cool tables, and some lounge chairs - perfect for goofing off on a day like today. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood, and we'll serve you a beer.

The only thing left to be done is to put in a railing - to keep bad employees from falling off. In one of the pics above, Justus is showing a polite smile, while actually thinking about throwing David off the roof - for annoyingly taking a cell phone call during their late morning tea. How rude.

desktop doodles

This is a very cool toy to play with the next time you're supposed to be paying attention during that monthly conference call. It's called typedrawing. Basically, it's a drawing tool, but you use fonts as your ink. The sample above might look as if it were done by a monkey on crack - but it's actually my handywork. I used the words "brand flakes for breakfast". It's a tree.

the long tail

Here's a great article in PRWeek about the latest buzzword "long tail". But it's also an article on how using the "smaller" media (like blogs & viral internet promotions) can be more effective than using traditional big media. An excerpt:

Some PR practitioners now argue that a strategy of approaching the smaller voices can be as effective as going to the larger voices.

"In the 'Long Tail,' media coverage comes in great and small numbers, and they all have influence," Rubel says. "Putting bloggers on the same playing field [as the national press] - that's 'Long Tail' thinking..."

"...There is a generation growing up [that is] not used to reading newspapers and that is looking for less mediated engagement, and they're not particularly looking for a press release translated by a writer and interpreted by an editor."

There are many questions and challenges to be answered by the PR industry - and a huge, long ginormous tail for the rest of us to ride.

even vomit needs design.

Think you've seen everything? How about a collection of vomit bag designs.

And the vomit bag industry must be buzzing this week - as Virgin Airlines, Activision, and LucasArts has released limited-edition airsickness bags to promote the Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith Video Game.

Proof that everything is better with design.

headblade in MOMA

Congrats to our client HeadBlade, who was just accepted into the Architecture and Design Collection at the Museum of Modern Art! The design of the HeadBlade Razor (in addition to it's package design) has been the subject of much press, and many awards. Congrats to Todd and his HeadBlade crew!

keepin' it real. stupid.

Ever want to have sex with a cheeseburger? Me either. In an effort to be totally hip, McDonalds has incorporated the phrase I'd hit it in this latest online banner campaign. And apparently they don't understand what I'd hit it means. Or perhaps the whole thing is just a viral joke. Or, maybe following the Paris Hilton Carl's Junior ads, they actually want people to have sex with cheeseburgers. Whatever the case - if you're attempting to speak to a younger audience in their language, be sure to understand their language first!

construction update

For those of you that are keeping track - we're building a new conference room onto our rooftop paradise. Today was a big day - as a full construction crew arrived, and began the process of framing the room out. Kind of exciting to see it take some shape.

The animated gif above shows what took place today. Just to be clear - the last frame in the animation is of Kevin, pretending to be a construction supervisor, when he really should be sitting behind his desk. Kind of amazing that the real construction dudes didn't kick his ass.

Meanwhile, on the other side of our space, they resurfaced the roof, in preparation for our new patio. No photos, as that was kind of boring to look at.


Leigh took a few days off, went to Colorado, and GOT ENGAGED! We thought that maybe she picked up some freaky hitch-hiker out west, but it turns out that her long time boyfriend Ken popped the question. Yes - she's blonde, and about to marry Ken. She's already heard all the Barbie jokes.

Her ring is pictured above. Looks big. And expensive. Good thing her fiance is a rocket scientist (or something like that), and not an employee of VIA.

Since Leigh works in an office full of guys, we likely won't be throwing a shower. But we can't wait for the bachelor party. We've already decided that we're taking Leigh to a strip club.

Leigh just informed us that it would be a bachelorette party - and that involves a strip club that we're not interested in going to. We'll have to keep you posted.

iPod hijinks

Check out this hilarious video clip of a guy dressed as a "silhouette", dancing in an Apple store. The best part is how people do their best just to ignore him. And then he drops his iPod. Has nothing to do with design or branding, but then again, has everything to do with the power of a brand. Fun to watch.

reality check

Here's an excellent article from the San Francisco Chronicle about advertising. And authenticity. And ultimately, brand image. You should really read this prior to launching your next campaign. In the end, your brand is only as strong as the product or service that you deliver. Too many brands have left honesty by the roadside and as a result, have created a less than honest representation, and in the end, a disconnect with their intended customers. Take the Olive Garden example, cited in the article:

Take the Olive Garden, whose commercials brazenly suggest an alternative universe where old Italian men flock to the restaurant and then dance in the aisles from the sheer joy inspired by the authentic atmosphere. Meanwhile, viewers are led to believe that all the chefs are whisked off to Tuscany to undergo intense culinary training.

In reality, the chain has more than 550 restaurants, serving moderately priced and marginally tasty food, much of it delivered by people who have bigger plans for their lives.

wonderful graffiti

I love it when people re-invent something that's existed forever, and markets it in a new, fresh way. Check out wonderfulgraffiti. Any signmaker will tell you that this is "technology" that's been around for ages - but the people at WonderfulGaffiti have positioned the product for the general public, and they make ordering online super easy. It's basically vinyl lettering and graphics that you can apply to almost any surface. Great for events, parties, lobbies, or your home. It's not permanent, but it holds strong. They've even created a few "stock" items, if you don't want to get all creative with yourself.

urban tanning

Look at what Justus discovered while taking the photo for our construction update the other day. He was afraid to post this - so I'll do it for him.

Hello, girl on the roof. You have a very nice bathing suit. Why do you tan yourself next to those ugly tires? You look like you might enjoy a cool glass of water.

Since Justus is happily married, with children, we'll leave his comments at that.

gorillaz radio

As an update to Leigh's earlier post, check out the coverage the campaign is getting:

VH1 News: Guerrilla Radio? Nah, Gorillaz Radio

geographically targeted marketing.

We've just launched a microsite for the Gorillaz, which will broadcast Demon Detour 2005, a nationwide radio station tour.

The microsite for Demon Detour is an effective marketing tool, which targets consumers simultaneously on both local and national levels. The promotion is a great example of how a national campaign can be geographically customized to target specific markets. This level of localization benefits both the artist and the radio station; and the strategy can be applied to any industry.

Here's How it Works:

Each radio station places a banner on their website promoting the exclusive Gorillaz performance at their station. Prior to the live event, users who click on the banner and are delivered to a complete nationwide Gorillaz tour schedule.

On the day of the event (midnight local time), when a user clicks on the station's web banner, they are forwarded to a locally customized Gorillaz Demon Detour microsite. They'll see photos of the Gorillaz in their hometown and a customized poster featuring the local station's logo. They'll even hear a streaming broadcast of the Gorillaz, just for their market. This is dynamic media delivery at it's best.

Here are a few of this weeks broadcasts...

Wednesday - 6/8/05 - 91X in San Diego, CA

Thursday - 6/9/05 - KRZQ in Reno, NV

Friday - 6/10/05 - Buzz103 in West Palm, FL

You can also check out the Gorillaz official Demon Detour schedule, for a participating station near you.

construction update

Like magic elves in the night, a construction crew showed up while we were sleeping last night (too hot to work on the roof during the day, I guess) and began the process of building our conference room. We're creating our own poor man's time lapse to document the process. We'll take photos regularly from the same angle - so that you can see the progress. Last night, they laid the joists for our floor. Laid the joists. I feel like I need to say that in my deeper, "tough guy" voice.

logo trends

Here's a great report from GraphicDesign USA about trends in logo design. Another great reason to visit the logo lounge, if you haven't already. Some high points: "cmyk" (example above), "flames", "weaves", "whips", and probably the most popular, "puffies". Read the report and it will all make sense.

get small

Business guru Seth Godin has the the most wonderful post that you just must read. It's all about the trend of small.

One excerpt:"BoingBoing (four people) has a readership growing a hundred times faster than the New Yorker (hundreds of people)."

Think microsites, think big business hiring small creative shops (!), think small budget Internet promotion out performing big-budget TV campaigns. Think small.

ten interesting ideas in video games

This is about a week old, and I kept forgetting to post about it - but what the heck, it's still a great reference. Here's an article about ten interesting ideas in video game construction. These are great launching pads for your next brainstorm for an online promotion, Flash game, microsite concept, or whatever project you might be working on. Either that, or throw around buzz phrases like massively multiplayer location based gaming and impress a teenager.

80's culture

Check out this Transformers style TV spot, for the new Citroën C4 in the UK.

The cycle of pop culture has regurgitated yet another decade, the 80's. The influence of 80's pop culture is visible everywhere these days and icons such as the Transformers, have worked their way back into mainstream media. It's truly amazing how many ways retro culture can be re-applied to serve as a demographic marketing tool - and it works. The resurgence of retro culture indeed strikes a cord with a very specific market.

This is all definitely something to consider for your next targeted marketing campaign.

Honestly, I never really thought I'd want to see the 80's again... but as long as the days of parachute pants, legwarmers, and big bangs are over - I think we're okay.

made in america

This might be a surprise to some manufacturers. Findings from the American Demographics Perception Study, a new consumer survey on a wide range of topics, shows that people don't really care about where their products are made. Especially younger consumers, and the more affluent jet-set crowd. Keep that in mind when you're wrestling with tight design space on your package design or advertising materials - perhaps that "made in the USA" logo doesn't need to be as prominent as you thought.

store wars

Think that viral Internet video promotions are only for youth-oriented products and beer companies? Think again. Viral video clips are bigger than ever - and here's proof. Check out this Star Wars spoof - to promote organic foods! It's called "store wars", and the five minute movie's production value is amazing. What can viral promotion accomplish for your business? Thanks Bill, from A&P, for the tip!

kevin class action suit

Well, Kevin's surgery has officially been postponed. So he wasted a couple of days in the hospital for nothing - only to have to go back in the next week or so, and start over.

As a result, we're organizing a class action lawsuit against Kevin - for reimbursement of expenses for flowers, cards, cell phone minutes, and any other expenses incurred as a result of caring for him, or showing any sort of concern. We're thinking that we could all get at least a few bucks out of the deal. Let us know if you're interested in joining the suit.

mmmmm. cheeseburgers.

Here's a really cool collection of McDonald's commercials, along with commentary. Pretty freaky trip through history with that crazy burger-slinging clown.


A few weeks ago, I posted about a product called "backpackit", which I personally love - and use daily.

Now there's a new web-based tool, called PeanutButterWiki, that seems equally cool. If you haven't heard about wikis yet - get on board - they're huge. Wikis are typically community edited sites where anyone can change a page. The best example is Wikipedia, the wiki-based encyclopedia, which has a tendency to be more accurate than traditional reference sources.

With PBWiki, you can create your own personal wiki page. In minutes. Use it for notes, reminders, or whatever else you used paper for in the old days. Because it's web-based, you can access it from any machine in the world, with your username and password. Try that with paper.

kevin update

Here's a quick update on Kevin's condition. He's laying around in a bed while other people feed him, and treat him in a nice way. Doesn't really seem fair.

His surgery yesterday was postponed - and we're waiting to find out if this will take place today. We're thinking Kevin was just being creative about getting the whole week off. We'll keep you updated.

we heart kevin

I'm convinced this is all just an effort to upstage my finger incident from the other day (see "pull my finger"), but Kevin has admitted himself today to Yale New Haven Hospital for heart surgery.

Kevin's in getting some long needed repairs to a defect, and will be home recovering by early next week. We tried to convince his surgeon that the defect was his head, not his heart - but he wouldn't listen. We'll keep you posted on his condition, and if you'd like to send well wishes, flowers or cheeseburgers, contact us for his info.

eleven campaign award

We were just notified that we've won another award! This one's from the Art Director's Club in CT, and it's for the "eleven" campaign that we produced for RMI Direct Marketing. The campaign included full page ads in DM News, a collateral brochure, and a micro-website titled whyeleven.

Congrats to Leigh, David, Eliza, Brent, Paul, and Chris for their work on the campaign, and especially to the crew at RMI (pictured above) for letting us loose!

The campaign won either a bronze, silver or gold award - and we'll find out which one at the official awards show in the end of June. We'll keep you posted, of course.

pull my finger 2

As an update to Dave's post yesterday, this is a most serious condition. I smashed my finger pretty bad. Yesterday, it was swollen to twice it's normal size. You have no idea how many times you need your ring finger while typing. It really was an extremely painful (or dreadfully slow) day for emails, IMs, and of course, blog entries.

But all is now well. (Stop reading if you get grossed out easily). The doctor said the pain was caused by blood building up underneath the nail, and having no outlet. Not a problem, he says. We'll just burn a hole in your fingernail, and release the blood. You'll feel dramatically better. BURN A HOLE IN YOUR NAIL. Yes, I heard correctly. That's the procedure.

So today, I'm happily emailing, IM'ing and of course blogging away. But with a hole in my nail. It's going to take 3 - 4 months to grow out. If you're not squeemish, ask me - and I'll show it to you.
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