even creative firms have lame days

On birthdays in our office, we have an unwritten tradition, that the birthday boy or girl gets a special cake.

Usually, it's a photo cake, making fun of:
+ a personal weakness,
+ something the birthday person likes and we twist it to be dirty,
+ their age,
+ something we've been laughing at recently,
+ or some incriminating or unflattering photo we have of them.

Yesterday and today are Kevin and Justus' birthdays, respectively. You'd think that a double birthday would get a pretty hilarious cake. Well, we couldn't come up with anything. We were really close to some funny ebony & ivory theme, but it didn't happen. So instead, they shared the cake above. The lame cake. Be sure to say happy B-day to both Kevin and Justus, if you see 'em!

streetsy daily dose of street art photography

Streetsy is a new project by the Wooster Collective celebrating street art. The site features new daily photographs of art taken by Jake Dobkin, who has been photographing creative stuff on the streets for years now. From PSFK.

great idea for next year's company picnic

How about a game of chili twister? Or chili slip n' slide? People love to cover themselves with chili. Or at least they do in the new viral promotion for Southeastern restaurant chain Krystal. While this is a funny and creative viral campaign, I'm not convinced it's doing much for the brand image. Does the pic above make you think "mmmmm I could go for some Krystal chili right about now"?

how low can you go?

Ad-rag calls this the new male cleavage. There's a controversial ad campaign in Esquire for Dolce & Gabbana jeans that show extreme low rise jeans. So low, that the male models are exposing what I guess I can call "soul patch". Do you think guys will be wearing this on casual Friday in your office? I'm really not sure what to say.

waterfall printer

What an amazing idea. Someone's created a digital waterfall - that uses water droplets to create an image. This is just dying to be an instore display or trade show art. From Ad-Rag


There's an excellent article in yesterday's New York Times about
MySpace. If you don't already know about MySpace, you're probably in your 30's. Or older. Think of it as your total online social networking tool, with everthing you need in one place. Links to your friends, personal blog, pics, music, and networking. Here's the big news - MySpace just recently surpassed Google's page views per month. Surpassed. Google. Take note. Even the guys at MySpace were a bit surprised.

burning man

Burning Man kicks off officially today - and culminates this weekend. There are so many fun things to watch at the Black Rock Festival - and there's loads of creative, art and technological inspiration. Here's a couple that have already been blogged about for this year: laser harp, early build pics, and Dance Dance Revolution with fire.

the door

Our front door was just featured in the Design Within Reach newsletter, in a section on doors.

It's funny to see doors from all over the world - Santa Monica, Peru, England, Mexico, Italy and Danbury. Maybe we should start charging admission, or get a velvet rope or something.

this sucks

I find this story on ad-rag about the Million Moms pretty funny. Mostly because of personal experience. First - you should know that at the VIA offices, pretty much anything goes. And potty mouths prevail. So far, when I go home at night (and attend client meetings), I'm able to flick some internal switch in my head that prevents me from dropping the "f-bomb" every 30 seconds in conversation. Which is definitely a good thing, since I have kids.

But here's the trouble. My wife and I can't agree on the word "suck." I say it, my kids say it, and it bothers the crap out of her. I say, you can hear it on prime time television - what's the big deal? Turns out that I guess she'd agree with the million moms on the new dish campaign - centered around tv that "sucks." So I dedicate this f***ing post to my wife. Hope she's not pissed.

rule 33

Creative Generalist has written an outstanding theory on what it takes to create and work with a great team. He says it all boils down to a few rules, and he's titled them Rule 33. I believe he's right on. Seemingly so simple, and yet it's so rare that winning teams exist in the real world. Pass this to your team leader, or friend in HR.

ice ice baby

Now that summer's almost over and you have nothing to look forward to but school, and cold weather, let's take a quick peak at something winter related. Check out R Todd King's photos of this awesome winter festival, in China - with the most incredible ice sculptures.

kevin's back!

We were sooo stoked to see Kevin walk in our door yesterday. He'll be working half days a few days a week for the next couple of weeks, as he continues his recovery. It still hurts when he laughs, so we'll be doing our best to torture him regularly. Because that's what we do. Feel free to stop by, say hi, poke him in the chest and say, how you doin'? (Just joking about the poking in the chest part - that might hurt him, and would be mean)

please make it stop

Luxury cars. Luxury condos. But luxury toilet paper? It's true. There's a new brand of paper - expensive toilet paper - and I guess it's sweeping Europe. Or cleaning up Europe. Or wiping the ass of Europe. So many butt and poop jokes, so little time. We'd love to do the viral campaign for this product - and we could call it "my ass is better than yours."

phantom sites

Pilots Design in Amsterdam found that someone had pirated their entire site, and used it for a design firm in Chicago. Details in this story on Core 77. Not long ago, the same thing happened to some pals of ours, MediAssociates. They too, discovered a phantom site of their own site. Someone basically stole their entire site. At first glance, it appears as though the thieves are trying to replicate their business, in another market. I believe instead, that this is an email address harvesting scheme.

If this happens to you - here's what you can do:
You own - or have properly licensed from your design firm - the copyright to your site's design. There's an act called the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), which protects copyright owners. Your attorney can send a cease and desist letter to the site's host company - claiming an infringement on your copyright, and that you plan on pursuing based on the DMCA. If the host company removes the site immediately, you won't hold them responsible. Typically, they'll get the site removed.

Here's another great resource for Internet-related legal rights - and a truly fantastic non-profit organization - the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

None of the above is meant to be actual legal advice, as it's pretty much a miracle that I've spelled "desist" correctly, above. For actual legal advice, seek someone who wears a suit - like an attorney.

design pays

Time to increase your annual design budget. Here's a great study that shows how companies that spend more in design actually perform better. Up to three times better. Not that we were surprised ;-)

flickr magazine covers

What a totally fun way to waste your work day away. If you don't already have a Flickr account, this "make your own magazine cover" application is yet another great reason to start one today. Now you can use your photos to create your own instant magazine cover. I made the above cover in honor of our love of donuts. Tasty.

optical street ads

Julian Beever is a street artist who creates these amazing pieces of work that appear three dimensional, when viewed at the right angle. Very cool stuff.

con edison logo

Business Week online now has a regular column devoted to design. Check out this article from the logo doctors, about ConEd's logo, and its creator, Peter Arnell.

control issues, those crazy yutes

Here's a great article on what we've been claiming forever, now. Media on demand - giving the people what they want, when they want it, is the future. It's all about the uber-niche, and control. Told you so.

In other trend reporting, AdJab reports that the ever popular social networking and blogging site MySpace.com has increased it's share of ad impressions in July, and now accounts for nearly 11% of the market. ELEVEN PERCENT of the market. That's huge. We're seeing entire campaigns being launched on MySpace - and it's becoming an integral part of youth culture. Watch out.

kevin update

As many of you know, Kevin went in for heart surgery a few weeks ago, and has been home recovering. We just heard from him - and he's happily in a drug induced haze, sleeping most of his days away. Some things never change.

He's actually hoping to grace us with his presence next week - perhaps even working a few half days. We can't wait to talk to him in the "old man voice" we've used for weeks now, when referring to him. The old man impression has lived on, ever since our first phone conversation with him, post-surgery.

Yes, we're ruthless.

freedom rocks?

It's always painful to see advertising that's completely inappropriate. Not that we haven't had a couple "misses" over the years - but at least we try to perform preliminary "research and discovery," to learn about our client's business, industry, and target audience - well before we start designing a campaign.

It appears that the person who put together this banner campaign for the National Guard, did so with their eyes closed. Doesn't look like they have performed any research - or have even used common sense. Yikes.

Who's the audience here? What's the expected action? What brand image does this represent for the National Guard? Simple questions that apparently weren't asked. Or answered. Ok, I'm done ranting now.

restaurant interiors

Unbeige just found this awesome link to a gallery of NYC restaurant interiors. Very inspirational interior design, and loads of ideas for lighting, creating drama or whatever it is you need to do at your next renovation, party, trade show, etc. When you get to the site, click left to view the gallery - it goes on forever.


We're going to see a couple of new festivals this year - all centered around gaming. The first is GAME, or "Games and Music Experience", produced by CNET division GameSpot. This event takes place at the Moscone Center, December 2 - 4, in San Francisco, and features a mix of music and game sampling. It's the first of six events taking place across the US next year.

The second is brought to us by GameTap, titled The Download Festival, which is a Clear Channel Entertainment event that's been imported from the UK. It's called the Download Festival because attendees can download tracks and videos of the concert's lineup.

Both events point to a change in event production that shouldn't be a surprise to youth marketers - where gaming is everything. But that's not the only audience. According to this article from AdAge, producers expect gamers to bring their friends, and their girlfriends. It's also noted that Dad's play games too, and get this - GameTap has identified a market segment they call Chills - "80% are women, who might come home, grab the bills out of the mailbox and relax with a glass of wine and a video game."

real butts

Dove received tons of press for their latest campaign featuring real women. And now, Nike's jumping on board. For now. Check out the big butt ad, which is one in a series of ads featuring big butts, big thighs, and knobby knees. Although judging by this particular layout, I'd argue they're reaching a different audience. Men. Who like big butts.

fedex sculpture?

This is a great story. I'll admit that we once used FedEx boxes to ship stuff via another carrier - and all laughed at the idea. But that's nothing. Some guy in Arizona furnished his entire apartment with furniture that he crafted from FedEx boxes. And then, of course, he documented the whole thing on his website. His couch is pictured above. And now FedEx came down hard on him.

What a shame - this could have been a great promotion for FedEx. Why not celebrate fandom? Why not create a microsite, and invite other FedEx sculptures?

target buys up the ads

The New Yorker has announced that their August 22 issue will have just one advertiser - Target. The entire issue will be sponsored by Target, with "Target art" inspired by New York. The sponsorship reportedly cost Target about $1 million - which when you factor in the number of pages, plus all of the free press coverage about the sponsorhip, is probably a bargain.

This is a great idea for a smaller business to do in a specialized market. How about having your company sponsor an entire issue (or a special issue) of your industry's trade magazine? Might not be as outlandish as you think.

court tv outdoor

Check out this outdoor ad for Court TV, on King Street, in Soho, pictured above. Really creative, effective work - yet not obnoxiously obtrusive to the neighborhood, like some outdoor advertising. They call it advertecture. Creative done by Venables, Bell & Partners.

games on demand

According to joystiq, Turner Broadcasting is planning to launch an "on demand" site for PC gamers in October. PC gamers will be able to download and play games immediately. Like Gamefly, for your PC - and as an instant download. Even better, the Turner project, titled GameTap, will feature PC games that emulate older console games - like Atari 2600, Intellivision, Genesis, Sega Master System, Dreamcast, and others. Something to keep an eye on - especially from the "on demand" aspect of media and entertainment distribution.

have lenny kravitz pick out your couch

This is a bit old, but wow. Lenny Kravitz started his own design firm. If Madonna can have hotels, why not Lenny Kravitz? It seems that Lenny has always had an appreciation for architecture and interior design. Vogue covered one of his homes, and everyone started asking Lenny to do their homes. So now he's doing it. And apparently, rocking at it.

costco - the art gallery

Did you ever buy art at a discount store? Target might have Phillipe Stark, but now Costco's got Pablo Picasso. That's right - for the super-saver price of just $129,999.99, you can purchase an original crayon drawing by Pablo Picasso. At Costco. That goes a long way in affecting the brand image of Costco. I'm guessing of course, that you still have to be a member.

custom emblems

Do you ride the fastest office chair in your workplace? Then maybe it's time you pimp your chair with custom chrome-like letters. Or, if your office doesn't allow office chair racing, (or pimping of chairs) you could create a custom emblem for your Yugo. Or whatever it is that you drive to work every morning. YourEmblem.com creates custom emblems for your car, your computer, or whatever else it is that you might be pimpin'.

tilt, caffeinated alcohol

Mmmm. This will look good in our fridge. I know that the media is generally giving this new drink poor reviews, but then again, the people writing those reviews probably aren't in the demographic that this product is aimed towards.

I'll drink this - because I like sissy drinks that don't make me feel too much like a sissy. While Kevin and Dave would prefer a properly poured glass of Guinness, I prefer maple syrup on my pancakes, not in a glass. So fruity, caffeinated and sugarized it is. Hello Tilt.

Tilt's package design is unique and the graphics are really nice. Exposed aluminum has been done everywhere, but the seemingly rough, brushed surface is new. Nice work. Let's drink.

Sidenote: Leigh is actually responsible for introducing the VIA crew to the best drink ever, during our last employee trip to Miami. They are called Caipirinhas, (similar to a Mojito, without the mint) - if I could pronounce the name correctly, I'd order them more often.

change in new york

Photographer Douglas Levere has put together an interesting exhibit on our urban landscape. He's researched world-renown photographer Berenice Abbott's photographs of New York City, and shot new versions from the exact same locations, using the same camera that she did in the 1930's. The result is a fantastic picture of how things change in New York City.

I've always been fascinated by architecture and urban development (and if didn't require math skills above a 4th grade level, perhaps would have been an architect), and will definitely check out the show at the Museum of the City of New York. And, it's also a book! This also reminds me of an incredible book by Stewart Brand titled How Buildings Learn that, if you share the same interests, is a must read.

designers really are prima donnas

Yesterday, the handle on our toilet broke. Until it was fixed (this morning), you had to reach into the toilet tank and pull the ball cock assembly to flush. (That's right, I just said ball cock assembly in a blog.) When you pull the ball cock assembly, your hand gets wet. With toilet water, yes, but with prior-to-flushing toilet water, from the tank, not the bowl. So really, technically, it's clean.

Ooooh, boy. You should see designers near toilet water. One person here had her legs crossed all day. Another said he should be allowed to go home, because his hand touched toilet water. And Justus just rolls with the flow. Me, I'm just laughing out loud at the words ball cock assembly.

ames room

Here's a commercial/video clip featuring an Ames room, or "false perspective" room that was created by director/producer Errol Morris, for Quaker Oats. I'd love to have a room in our office like this. This is a fun clip to watch.

don't click it

Here's a very cool experiment, called don't click it. I won't say anymore - just click on the link, and then stop clicking.

please support this great cause

AmeriCares Free Clinics is a division of the international aid organization AmeriCares, which I'm sure you've all heard of. The local-based free clinics division, provides health care to uninsured Connecticut residents. As a proud member of their advisory board, I'd like to spread the word about an upcoming fundraising event for the charity.

The event, Larson's Corn Maze - a benefit for the AmeriCares Free Clinic of Danbury is a classic farm corn maze, and the tickets are cheap. Even still, purchasing tickets for this event will help make a big difference. At $15 per adult, you can purchase a block of ten for $150.

Pass them out to your friends, clients, or to your UPS driver. You'll be doing a world of good - even if you don't go the event yourself. To buy tickets, contact Deb Howard, Community Development at AmeriCares Free Clinics.
Please tell her I sent you!

tokyo design mag, PingMag

PingMag is a Tokyo based electronic newsletter/magazine/blog about design and "making things".

This issue features an interview with Samira Boon, who among other things designed the awesome iPod covers pictured above, and these silly get well masks, which I'm sure Michael Jackson is already sporting.

walmart kills that annoying flying smiley face

Walmart's new campaign can be credited to a new Chief Marketing Officer - and it's a brand new look for Walmart. No more silly smiley head "rollback man", flying through the store knocking down prices (now if we could just kill the Snuggles bear, it would be safe to watch TV again). Many people are comparing the campaign to Targets's campaigns - which isn't a huge surprise, since John Fleming, Walmart's new Chief Marketing officer spent more than a decade at the red and white competitor. Personally, I fail to see the similarity to the Target creative. But different for Walmart? Absolutely.

coolest trucks ever

In follow up to my post yesterday about a cool ice cream truck, I couldn't resist posting about these really cool trucks. Unbelievable industrial/auto design. Not that we want to turn this into a truck blog, or anything.

tweens don't care about tv

I've sat on this for a couple of days, because it's really not new information. But I suppose somewhere out there, someone's putting together a marketing and branding budget, and needs even more proof that it's time to spend less on TV advertising, and more elsewhere, to reach tweens. So here you go. Tweens and teens don't care about TV .

we all scream for ice cream

It's hot in the northeast today. Real hot. Which is the perfect time for a post about the ice cream truck. And this is an ice cream truck. It's always great when someone takes something that we all take for granted, and twists it to the times. The above car was custom crafted for Dreyer's to promote their new mini ice cream treats, Dibs.

kevin gets pink love

Today, Pink Is The New Blog (pretty much the favorite blog of everyone at VIA) sends out oodles of pink love to Kevin, for a healthy recovery. Check out Kevin on the pink site, by scrolling about 1/3 of the way down, right after the Hilary Duff posts. We're all lovin' the Trentmeister. And Kevin.


In addition to the construction on our conference room, we're also doing some minor remodeling of things around our space. Today was an exciting day for our main entry. Our studios take up the entire top floor of our building. When you get off the elevator, you enter a vestibule, and see our front door. So we added this really cool welcome greeting, pictured above. It was installed today. We're all stoked with how it came out.

astronaut fashion

Where's Kevin, when we really need him? Still at home recovering from surgery (and doing fine, btw). Anyway, Kevin and I are pretty much the self-proclaimed fashionistas of the office. And I know he'd have something to say about the outfits we have our poor astronauts wearing. And the hairdos too. Hello seventies! Gawker put it best, earlier this morning.

lost in translation

While he may be the creative genius behind the entire Star Wars universe, it's no secret that George Lucas doesn't write the greatest dialog in our universe. While receiving the American Film Institute's lifetime-achievement award, Lucas even admitted he wasn't exactly the best writer. Fortunately for Mr. Lucas, our friends over in China have not only bootlegged his latest film, but have added english subtitles to the Chinese translation. I have to say, it's a marked improvement. See for yourself here.

my little pony - lives.

As part of a promotional campaign aimed to re-awaken the classic 80's icon, "My Little Pony" - Hasbro has invited several young female artists to participate in The Pony Project. The artists were supplied large blank "My Little Pony" figures, and asked to customize them in their own artistic style. Their individual creative talents include graffiti, fine art, fashion design, photography, and illustration.

The Pony Project will be on exhibit at New York City's Milk Gallery, starting October 21st.

Following the exhibit, the figures will be auctioned off, with 50% of the proceeds benefiting - the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps.

teens: email is for old folks

BrandNoise reports on a new Pew study that shows teens see email as being for old people. They use it - but mostly just to communicate to parents, schools, companies and other places where adults are. When they communicate to their friends, they prefer IM. They all use email, they just prefer IM.

construction update

A few new developments today, in the buildout of our new conference room:

Most of our chairs arrived, and they look oh, so, Austin Powers. They're going to look great in the room when it's done. Our UPS guy was actually really nice, considering how big those boxes were. I'm sure he cursed us, when he returned to his truck.

The galvanized steel doors to the entryway were installed today. They're beautiful. They were hand-crafted, just for us, by Joe, pictured above. Thanks Joe!

urban animal kindom

Wow. What an event outside our window this morning. Just as we're getting into our Monday morning groove, we heard a loud bang outside on the roofdeck. We were excited that it might be some construction people, delivering the new doors for our conference room.

We ran into the room, and discovered that a pigeon had taken a suicide dive into one of our 9 foot conference room windows. And then we looked up into the sky, and saw a flock of pigeons, flying in circles around our roof.

Our first thought was of course, that we're about to live out Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. But then we saw what's pictured above.

The most incredible hawk was feasting on a pigeon buffet. Hooray. We're no pigeon lovers. It was an amazing site - the hawk's feast, the crazy little bird that continued to dive-bomb the hawk, and the other pigeons who looked on in horror. And of course, our lone suicide bomber bird. Welcome to Monday morning at VIA.

real people as models

Here's a great article from the Village Voice about Dove's new campaign where they use models that, in the advertising and consumer culture world, would be considered fat. An excerpt:

Though we like to think of ourselves as the most progressive person on earth, it turns out we are a lot more similar to most people than we care to admit: We, like everyone else, are so accustomed to looking at skinny, skinny women in magazines, on television, in movies, and virtually every place else that when we're confronted with someone of a normal weight she seems completely freakish.

Dove claims their campaign has been a huge success, and that their microsite for the campaign, campaignforrealbeauty.com , has received a great response. Dove is certainly not the first marketer to use real people in their ads. But they've done a stellar job on execution here, and have produced a campaign that's emotional, engaging, and is getting people talking. Including the press. Nice job.

In other fat news, check out this spot from Marriott, who encourages people to get fat, because you'll be harder to kidnap. Time for me to go eat some chocolate cake.
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