how to end that call

Here's a fun tool to use the next time you're stuck on the phone on a real boring call. SorryGottaGo offers a host of excellent sound effects that give you just the excuse you need. From "someone's at the door" to "there's a fire drill", you'll have every excuse you could possibly need, for any situation.

mad mag covers

Someone's assembled an archive of Mad Magazine covers. The archive goes back to 1952. I had no idea the magazine went back that far. This is a great collection of satirical and hilarious art from what I'd call the originators of punk rock attitude in publishing. From Screenhead.

people as brands

A couple of us attended another speaker panel at Advertising Week yesterday - this one centered around brand buzz, and people as brands. The panel included a bunch of people from large agencies, a moderator who mumbled all of their introductions (thanks!) - and most notably - Andre Harrell, CEO, Nu America Records, who proceeded to steal the show.

Andre entertained the crowd with a very funny story about Whitney Houston, Eddie Murphy, and Bobby Brown at a party that he attended. This was in response to a question of "how did Whitney Houston turn into white trash, and Bobby Brown become a star again?"

A couple of great points were made by Andre. The first - that the current multi-cultural youth generation has been raised on hip hop. Rock and roll has gone out of style. This was to his point that people - or brands don't go out of style, but attitudes do. The rock and roll attitude of previous generations is out - and the hyper success attitude of successful hip hop stars is in.

Another great point he made about youth culture was the impact that celebrity culture has on kids. Today, kids have an extremely strong desire to achieve success. Financial success. Now. The Olsen twins are worth billions. Teenage hip hop stars are worth millions. And it's all flaunted in their face on Cribs. This generation of tweens has an insatiable desire for success - and brands that understand that are going to succeed. This is the youngest generation ever with an appreciation of luxury brands.

what if the shining were a sweet family movie?

Every wonder what The Shining would look like as a chick flick? A post production house explored this, and other classic films - where they completely re-edited trailers for the movies, to make them seem like something else entirely. Pretty funny clip.

drug testing starts today

This morning, I was minding my own business, trying to get some work done, and was interrupted by boisterous laughter at the other end of the office. Upon investigation, I found that everyone was enjoying the above photo of Kevin, taken right before his morning coffee run.

We've never had a drug testing policy before, but perhaps we should reconsider.

new creative shops

Yesterday, Leigh and I attended New Kids on the Block - Perspectives from hot new creative shops from home and abroad, as part of Advertising Week in NYC. The panel of speakers included Chief Creative Officers and business development gurus from Taxi, Anomaly and Strawberry Frog. The panel was moderated by Andrew Jaffe, Author and past Editorial Director for Adweek Magazine.

We viewed some truly wonderful creative work. These agencies have become legendary in our industry, as they're seen as new business models - small firms who are doing big business. These are the agencies that have done the work you've seen for Mini, Dasani, Nike, Heineken, and other clients who continually grace the pages of Communication Arts.

The most entertaining moments for me came from Paul Lavoie, CCO of Taxi. Paul's an extremely talented storyteller, with a charisma that steals the show and undoubtedly wins his firm clients. He spoke about the value of being small, with a fantastic analogy - the restaurant business. He compared the big agencies to cafeterias, and the small agencies to an independently owned restaurant. The indie shop strives to make every dish (or project) an outstanding creation. The cafeteria has a few samplings of outstanding work, but buried in a sea of mediocrity.

All firms have a great track record of being media agnostic - and keeping the creative palette open for what makes the most sense for their message. This is a philosophy that our firm shares as well.

There were some great audience questions, and panel discussions. Overall, a worthwhile event.

happy advertising week

So we're in the second day of Advertising Week in NYC today. A couple of us are going to some of the events today and tomorrow, and we'll give you the full report. In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful collection of advertising icons on parade from AdFreak.

the art of the zen presentation

Garr Reynolds writes a wonderful post about great PowerPoint presentation, and uses our hero, Steve Jobs' recent presentation in San Francisco as the ultimate example.

my favorite blog today

I'm in love with the generator blog. It's not about generating power - it's about generating important stuff. Stuff like your own Rush album cover (how did we ever get by without this?), your own cause magnetic ribbon, your own custom A/C van (mine's pictured above), and of course, the corporate gibberish generator. Loads of fun for everyone. Spend the rest of your day here.

potty humor

Here's a hilarious story about a tapeworm. I'm not sure what else I could possibly say about this - and I certainly never thought a story about a tapeworm could be entertaining or well illustrated - but this is both.

what you look like as a lego

I've previously blogged about the South Park character generator - where you can make yourself into a South Park resident. Now, you can put yourself in plastic. Check out the Mini-Mizer, from Reasonably Clever, and turn yourself into a Lego action figure. Mine is pictured above.

web 2.0

I'm constantly ranting about how we're attempting to run our business in a web based way. And, more and more applications that are important to our business are becoming available as web-based applications - or, we're developing them on our own, or for our clients.

Here's a great article and meme map which visualizes the most popular, useful tools. People are seeing the web as a cost effective, scalable, remixable, and available everywhere tool. And that's got some investors worried that we're going to experience another Internet bubble. Welcome to the web, 2.0.

the true story behind bed, bath and beyond.

Well, not really - but if Andy Dick were in charge, this is what might have taken place at the ad agency that created their name. Funny piece.

web based word processing

At our office, we've been moving towards a web-based way of life for our business applications for some time now. I use backpack for my todo list. We've built our own web-based CRM solution - and we're even working towards a web-based project management system.

So, everytime I need to use a word processor, I feel like I'm cranking up some old, rickety machine when I have to start up Microsoft Word. "Start up the Word Machine! Engines full power! Clicking start now! Ready your keyboard!"

When I'm working at home or on the road, inevitably, I'll need access to a document that's saved on my office machine. Why can't everything just be done on the web?

Well, finally - there's a web-based word processor that seems to be getting a lot of positive ink. It's called Writely - and you can compose and save documents online, share, collaborate and edit documents with co-workers (at the same time!), and even publish documents to your blog or elsewhere. You can save your documents as Word files too, just in case you have a need to crank up the old machine.

marketing folk don't enjoy podcasts

Before you invest half of your marketing budget into podcasts for next year - confirm that your audience is actually listening. While they're immensely popular in many demographics, a recent study shows that people in our industry - marketing people and/or bloggers, generally don't have time to listen to marketing oriented podcasts. Typically, they'll only listen to a podcast after it's been raved about in the blogosphere first.

True to form, I do listen occassionally to podcasts - but there's a marketing/brand oriented podcast I've been meaning to listen to for some time now, and just haven't gotten around to it. Called Across The Sound, blog reports say that it's really good (so maybe you can check it out).

Separately - your kids are listening to podcasts. And be aware of what they're downloading. The newest trend....PORNOcasts.

getting inside walmart

The Wall Street Journal has followed a couple of entrepreneurs through their quest to get their product in Walmart stores.

We have a couple of clients that sell (or have sold) their products in Walmart, and have heard both praise and horror, dependent on the client, so we'll reserve judgement. This story offers some great insight into the process involved, and some great tips for brands that haven't yet cracked open the doors to America's retailer. From AdJab.

do pumpkins fly?

Short answer - no. But it was pretty cool that the pumpkin featured above was looking right at the camera, smiling.

Today we staged a most interesting video shoot from our rooftop patio. The shoot utilized several random items, (including a pumpkin), and gravity.

The footage will be used as part of a self promo piece for our upcoming open house (email us if you need an invite), and will eventually be posted either here or our official site. Keep your eyes to the sky.

ethical search engine optimization

This is an an outstanding essay on search engine optimization. Specifically, ethical search engine optimization, written by a Phoenix area interactive firm.

giant bunny

Art group Gelatin has designed and built a ginourmous bunny, and placed him on a hillside in Italy. They're going to keep it there for 20 years. You can walk around it, or if adventurous, scale the 20 foot sides and have a picnic on the bunny's belly.

This reminds me of the time where we had a bunny costume left over from a photo shoot. Bored one day, we put the head on, and walked around Main Street near our office. Hilarity ensued.

screen font tool

Here's a cool tool for web designers that allows you to compare fonts for the screen. They even categorize fonts by "safe", "PC default" and "MAC default".

idea generation

What do you do when you're sitting in a brainstorm, tired of staring at the wall waiting for brilliance to arrive? Here's an exhaustive list of idea generation methods meant to help you pull ideas out of even the emptiest of heads.

speech bubbles

Ji Lee posted thought bubbles on top of outdoor ads across NYC, and left them blank to see what would happen. He returned, and photographed the results. He's posted his collection of photos - and it's quite entertaining.

design encyclopedia

What a great idea. The crew over at UnderConsideration have created a Design Encyclopedia wiki. It's really in its infancy today, but this has some great possibilities to become a go-to resource for graphic design information. Explore, or become a registered user and contribute!

aaaarrrhhh. happy talk like a pirate day!

Someday, everyone will celebrate this holiday. Businesses will close, and we'll all go to pirate parades. There will be fantastic "talk like a pirate" car and furniture blowout sails (hehe). But for now, you can celebrate Talk Like A Pirate Day by doing just that.

If you didn't take Pirate101 in college, you can brush up on your pirate language skills with the Talk Like A Pirate Translator.

construction update - final!

Here's our last construction update! Our new conference room is now complete. It's beautiful. We're holding any photos until the official unveiling - at an open house that we've scheduled for Thursday, October 6.

If you're on our list, you've already received an invitation. If somehow we've missed you - email us, and we'll send you the details. You really need to see our new conference room, our updated rooftop patio, and the door that was featured in the Design Within Reach newsletter.

If you live far away, and are too cheap to hop on a bus for a pleasant 14 hour ride to make the event - rest easy. We'll be posting a virtual tour of the new space on our new site....which, I guess we could start construction updates for.

Yes, we're in the process of a redesign of our official site. It's tough, because this work has to come between design for our clients, which of course we appreciate. Anyway, we've come up with loads of great ideas for the new site. The architecture is done, as is the initial design concept. Leigh's doing the design, and you're going to love it when it finally launches to the world wild web.

death to (bad) powerpoint

Here's a new blog devoted to helping you produce smarter presentations. Looks like he's just getting started on content - but so far, it's looking right on the mark. Might be a good link to add to your delicious page (which is now 2 years old, btw. Happy B-day delicious!)

ad conceptor

In celebration of the upcoming Advertising Week in NYC this month, the crew over at Deutsch created the ad conceptor - so that you could attend advertising week events, and not have to spend all of your time at the office, generating concepts. It's a funny piece, that's worth checking out.

While we likely won't be using the ad conceptor for any of our clients, a couple of us are planning to check out some Advertising Week events, and will give you the full report. (It's still not too late to sign up for events yourself, I believe.)

chameleon hotel

The Hotel Puerta America, in Madrid, has installed what they call memory walls. One of their lobbies recognizes what its inhabitants are wearing, and changes the interior colors to match. Now that's cool.

pay attention, financial industry

Right on. What a great idea. Wells Fargo has built their own island in Half Life, the tremendously popular MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game), and they're using it to educate teens about their finances.

We believe there's a tremendous opportunity here for the financial industry. There's a huge swell in the population curve, centered around teens, and this is the largest generation since the baby boomers. And guess what - the banking and finance industry has pretty much ignored them. Until now. Go, go, Wells Fargo!

united states of google

Yet another reason to googlefy your life. Google just launched a beta site that specializes in searches for blogs! What's next? Personally, I wish they'd take over the post office, and replace those grumpy clerks. Hell, let's just hand over our country to them, and become a Googlenation.

Oh's another great google maps hack - this one features 2000 Census data.

leigh's put up with us for 365 days!

Today is Leigh's one year anniversary at VIA. We can't believe that she's lasted this long. The office pool ran out months ago. She hasn't run out of the office crying. She hasn't even kicked Kevin in the groin. So now, I guess she has some good attainable goals for the year ahead. Congrats Leigh!!!!

P.S. - Leigh pretty much refuses to pose for any photos. She's a real pain when it comes to getting pictures taken. I believe she's a vampire, and doesn't show up on film - so I've posted the photo above in place of any actual Leigh photograph.

fruit parfait

The kitchen area in our studio includes a refrigerator, like most offices. Ours is filled with an assortment of goodies, including brown bags, beer, moldy stuff - and - get this - a fruit parfait.

Maybe that's not so unusual, until you consider who's eating fruit parfait in our office. Is it Leigh, since she's a girl and everyone knows that girls like parfait? Nope. Is it Kevin, who owns more bags than any girl owns purses? Nope. I'll spare you the rest of the list - and get to the point.

Justus eats fruit parfait. Football player/big tough guy/don't mess with me or I'll kill you/real man - Justus Johnson snacks on fruit parfait. Not that there's anything wrong with that. We just thought that was a little funny.

So much for the brand image of fruit parfait.

people really like the internet

That TV thing is so yesterday. MTV just announced that on their broadband channel, Overdrive, the number of users who downloaded Video Music Awards show content outnumbered people who actually watched the show on broadcast television. And even the people at MTV are surprised. (Because they knew that the VMA's sucked this year?)

bye bye sprint guy

As part of Sprint's new brand and identity launch, they're letting that Sprint guy go . I wonder if he'll be hanging out with the "dude you're getting a Dell" guy.

semi-permanent 05 conference

David, Leigh and I attended the Semi-Permanent 05 conference on Friday and Saturday, held at Lincoln Center in NYC.

Semi-Permanent is a design event put together by the people at Design is Kinky, and the design firm thehappycorp. The event has been very successful in Australia, but this was the first Semi-Permanent in the US.

The speakers, deemed the "super species" by Semi-Permanent, included an extremely talented group of photographers, designers, illustrators, filmmakers, animators, grafitti artists, publishers. Each speaker presented samples of their work and discussed their business, their inspiration, and their creative process.

We witnessed some stellar work... like this, this, this, this and this... and sat through a couple of boring speakers too. We ate some great Indian and Mexican food. Leigh's dog "Bailey," pictured above, really enjoyed the 'happycorp' frisbee included in the event goodie bag.

gap up, banana making films?

What a crazy gap world we live in. The Gap has just partially launched their new online retail site, after taking the old one down without explanation. Random visitors to get to see the new site, others get the coming soon page - (just keep reloading until you luck your way in). On the other side of the Gap world, their sister brand Banana Republic just released this viral film titled Find the Art in the Everyday. It's a really nice piece - and completely unexpected for the B.A.N.A.N.A crew. From AdFreak.

UPDATE: If you really care, and want a sneak peek at the new Gap site (not worth the hype, IMO, here's a link to the working version.

the future of television

There's a wonderful article on Wired about ESPN - and how they're mixing it all up in tvland. Here's an excerpt:

Television is slowly going digital, and sooner or later, like phone calls, it will be transmitted in the form of data packets, using Internet protocol. With IPTV, everything can be delivered on demand, from last night's Fear Factor to a Friends episode from the late '90s. If everything is on demand, channels won't mean much; people will navigate by searching. Which means the value of any network, be it broadcast or cable, will depend more on the power of its brand than its place on the dial.

The article reports on ESPN's new deal for Monday Night Football - and how they see it as so much more than a television show. They plan for a total crosss-platform media frenzy. And that's the future of media.

gamers watch less tv

Nothing new here - just more evidence of a continuing trend. The more people play video games, the less they watch television. More or less. AdAge reports on a new study that television lost another 4 hours a week to gamers in 2005.

the end of the pda

Forget your pda, get a pocket mod!

PDA's are so last year. They're expensive, breakable and use batteries. The new, paper based PocketMod fits in your pocket, works with ordinary paper, and doesn't require re-charging. It's the latest rage in personal organization.

best bus billboard ever

Genius. Gets your attention, right? You know to use the crosswalk, right? No additional explanation necessary.

redesigning the new york times

AdAge asks four top designers what they'd do, if allowed to redesign the New York Times. A couple of things they generally have in common:
Abandon the broadsheet format, and embrace smaller formats;
give the people heirarchy, to understand what the editors deem to be most important; and re-invent everything - don't just think of yourself as a newspaper. Think of yourself as a coffee shop.

picking a winning team

If you know me personally, you know that I don't follow team sports too closely. Actually, pretty much, not at all. So when it comes time to pick teams for March Madness, the Superbowl or other big sporting events, I base my decisions on brand equity. Which name sounds cooler? Who has a better logo? Couldn't a pirate kick a bear's ass? It's answers to questions like these that have earned me the losing position in most office betting pools.

There are other people like me. Sports logo experts Section 219 asked designers and marketing types to analyze thousands of sports team logos, and pick the best. The Yankees ended up on top. No comment.

messages from the dead

When fall (and halloween) nears, the discussions of the supernatural tend to dominate our water cooler chat. There are many rumours (and a few stories) about our building being haunted. It's an old theater, so who knows.

Anyway - someone once brought in a Ouija board - but it freaked out an employee at the time, so we didn't use it. (It's just a game from Parker Bros, right?)

This viral promotion from Tim Burton's new movie Corpse Bride, titled messages from the dead, reminded me of our ghost discussions. It's a very cool concept, even though I keep getting "busy, try again later" messages. How busy can dead people be?

designers helping designers

Displaced Designer is a site that's been setup to assist people in the creative industry that were displaced by Katrina. If you know of available office space, have design tools, or a place to live - and are close to the region, please help out.

sprint launches rebranding campaign.

Sprint has just launched a massive new branding campaign - and a new logo, pictured above. They're attempting to position themselves as a sports entertainment company. This, after their acquisition of Nextel. They're no longer a phone company - but an entertainment company. Now, if they could just stop people from using their walkie talkies while in line at Dunkin Donuts...

oh, the horror.

I'll have to admit, I used to be a poster boy for the Gap. But I've ended my addiction. And, apparently, just in time - because the Gap actually took their store offline. Yes, temporarily - but you've got to wonder, why, how much that costs the organization, and wasn't there a better way?

knock knock. a must read.

Seth Godin has written an eBook guide on creating websites that work. It's now a free download on his site. This is a must read for anyone contemplating a website redesign. Or anyone with a website. Via metacool.

the real deal from the field

Someone's blogging from a 27 floor high-rise in New Orleans about their experience, hour by hour - which they compare to Lord of the Flies. There's a webcam, too. Very intense, scary and disgusting.

An excerpt:
Midnight Update
Since it's war out there, I figure it's time to go back to my military ways.

Camp Crystal is locked down for the night. Team SOTI (that's the crew up here) has broken up into 3 squads. Squad 1 is on diesel detail. Squad 2 is on patrol. Squad 3 is on service and support.

The Final Protective Line is Poydras Avenue. All avenues of approach are secure.

If the above link doesn't work, here's an alternate.
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