monsters as fine art

Worth 1000 is a site that features regular Photoshop contests - and is a fun place to stop by, when you're bored or need some creative inspiration. Today, I suggest you visit their monsters collection. It asks the question "If the renaissance took place in more recent times, and the models were famous movie monsters/aliens, what would the artwork have looked like?" These would look great, printed and framed in your lobby, today.

do they know it's halloween

This is a few days old - and pretty much has nothing to do with design or branding. But it's Halloween, so let it go.

Check out Do They Know It's Halloween, a song that features a myriad of artists including Beck, the Yeah Yeah Yeah's, the Postal Service, Sonic Youth, Malcolm Mclaren, Sum 41 and many others. Proceeds benefit UNICEF. And there's a video, too.


In July of this year, the blogosphere was lit up with posts about a shoot that took place in San Francisco. Someone dropped hundreds of thousands of superballs onto the street, and filmed it. Bloggers all over the Bay area reported on the shoot, with pics, and there was a bunch of hoopla about what the spot could possibly be for.

Well now, the spot's out. It's for Sony, and it's some beautiful work.

there really are ghosts in our building

If you've been following our posts, you know that our building (an old theater) is supposedly haunted. The Warrens have been here, and plenty of other people in the building have experienced ghostly activities. We even embarked on our own ghost hunt, earlier this week.

Today, we were planning to do a seance, and attempt to contact some of the spirits in our building. The response that we've received from friends, clients, and readers of BrandFlakes has been overwhelming. Several people (including the Warrens) have strongly recommended against a seance. Two of our employees here were also very uncomfortable with participating in such an event.

So here's what we've done instead... Last night, we setup a camera, prior to leaving our building. We focused the camera on our brainstorm area, which is in the center of our work space. And we ACTUALLY CAPTURED SOMETHING ON VIDEO. All I can say is, it's creepy, so listen carefully. Check it out for yourself.

big & tall spot

Here's a viral video clip created as part of a viral promotion for a chain of big and tall clothing stores. I'd rate this PG13 - so don't watch it if you don't appreciate sick humor. From screenhead.

what users expect when they visit your site

Here's a study that shows what users expect when they visit your site. Where do they expect navigation to be? Where do they expect the "back to home" link?

The results are shown in grids, with darker colors representing the majority of the response. The grid above shows where most people expect to find links to pages within a site. And it's no surprise that most people expect to find primary navigation on the left hand side.

Don't expect to be astonished with the results here, but perhaps it's just a good confirmation that you really do know what you know. And that's always good to know.

our place is haunted (update)

Watch this video clip of Sheila - who used to work in our building, and was actually driven away from her job by ghosts.

Sheila worked the night shift at an answering service, formerly located on the third floor of our building. She was often alone in her office, and has some scary stories to tell. The incidents that she experienced seemed to take place solely in the hallways. She heard footsteps, felt cold entities - and was even locked out of her office by someone. Or something.

We convinced Sheila to come back to the building, and sit down in our space, to tell her story.

comedy central launching broadband site

Comedy Central - one of the only television channels that young people still watch - has announced plans to launch a broadband site. Titled Motherload, the site will feature five original series, and up to 80 fresh clips each week.

This isn't a surprise to any of our regular readers - as we're always droning on and on about the downfall of television - and how in the future, programming will be delivered on a viewer's schedule. And on the internet.

On the poor planning/missed opportunity side - the press release has obviously been let out, but as of 9:37 AM EST, the folks at Comedy Central don't even have a temporary page up.

time to update your startup sound

I don't know why - but I find this totally hilarious. I'm usually the first one in the office most mornings, and everybody here has their computers set to startup automatically at different times. So I'm usually entertained by their sounds each morning.

Well - imagine if your startup sound was extra long - and you were in the library. This clip shows what happens - and it's really funny.

one man's trash...

is another man's art. Check out Chris Jordan's online photo gallery, featuring portraits of - waste. It's a statement on our consumer culture and consumption, and at the same time, it's beautiful art.

burger king + focus = success

This month's Creativity Magazine has a great article on creative marketers, and includes spotlights on the marketers behind Adidas, Converse, ESPN, and a few others. One of the features is of course, Burger King - which has quickly become a case study of viral marketing success stories.

From the outside, it appears as though BK has taken a huge risk - and went out on a limb to produce some extremely creative marketing and branding. But there's one point made in this article that really says it all - and it's about having focus.

The strategy behind all of the new BK campaigns is that they're targeting what BK's CMO, Russ Klein calls "superfans" of "hardcore, fast food hamburger restaurant patrons". Turns out these are dudes. Why try and market your chain to everyone, when you can focus on the guys that are eating six, seven or even eight times a week in this category?

So what so many people see as a huge risk is, in reality - hyper focused, classic marketing. BK identified it's core audience and went after it, big time. And meanwhile, McDonalds continues to attempt a marketing campaign aimed at everyone. (Creativity requires a paid subscription and super-cumbersome registration process to view their articles online, so if you want a copy, email me, and I'll send you one.)

our place is haunted (update)

On Friday, we embarked on our own mission to document the alleged ghosts in our building. The Warrens have been here (and seen ghosts), other businesses in the building have experienced some pretty odd stuff, and we figured that it should all be documented. And we've seen Ghost Hunters, so we're pretty much professionals.

At around 3pm (the time usually reserved for coffee and sugar runs) a handful of us ventured down into the bowels of our building. The scariest, creepiest and grodiest part of our building are the rear stairwells (pictured above), so that's where we headed first. You can see photos in our slide show of our travels. We didn't really find anything (other than a chicken bone) worthy of reporting in the stairwells. We did however, record a humorous clip inspired by that show Fear that used to run on MTV.

Determined to find a ghost, we headed to the recording studio in our building, which is housed in what used to be dressing rooms for the Empress Theater. The studio was closed for the day. But prior to leaving, we took a snapshot of their door - and here's what we can't explain - there's a misty haze floating in front of their door. We all swear it wasn't there when we took the shot - but there's clearly something in the photo. A reflection? You decide!

LATER THIS WEEK: See the exclusive interview with a woman who was driven away from her job in the building by ghosts!

budget does blog promo

Car rental company Budget has launched a blog-based promotion where contestants can win part of $160,000 in prizes. The promotion melds the real world to the blogosphere with a treasure hunt.

The Up Your Budget blog features clues (like the photo above), each leading to hidden stickers, located in 16 cities across the U.S. Contestants can use the blog's clues to find the sticker, call the phone number on the sticker, and send photo evidence that they've actually located the sticker. Contestants can even submit clues, hints and sightings on the blog. Kudos to Budget for a completely original concept that's bound to get them loads of press, free coverage in the blogosphere, and build the brand image online. And I'll bet it cost a hell of a lot less than a television campaign.

new rules of naming II

A few days ago, I blogged about Seth Godin's post on naming. IgorInternational has posted a point by point counterpoint - and it's really good reading.

One of the many valid points made in the post is that creating a name that's designed to grab the top spot on Google is acting a bit like the plumbing companies of yesteryear. You remember, the companies that were named AAAA Acme & Daughters Plumbing in an effort to be first in the yellow pages. We all know where that went.

Woohoo IgorInternational - both for some great insight on naming, and for taking on the business rock star, Seth Godin.

401k enrollment video

Here's a real entertaining internal communication from agency Neimen Group, that's intended to get employees to attend one of those really boring 401(k) enrollment meetings. It's quite effective at driving home the benefit of why employees should be there, and probably twice as entertaining if you actually work with the individuals "starring" in the clip. Nice work.

the new ad age

Newsweek (and ad-rag) report on the "new ad age", and it's interactive. (Big surprise!) A couple of cool points:

* Broadband users now make up 42 percent of the U.S. population, up from 36 percent in January of this year.
* Video is becoming a more important tool online, as more people with broadband can view it.

We're finding this true here, as well. We've seen a considerable uptick in the amount of video creation we've done in the last few months - and every bit of it has been produced for delivery online.

More and more, our clients are producing separate microsites to promote their events, individual products or specific promotions. The days of producing a single company website are long gone. (And we're liking that trend a bunch). Meanwhile, audiences are participating, and loving every minute of it. From Newsweek: "the voluntary ad-watchers don't just go to a promo Web site once; they will often visit repeatedly. According to Linkner, the average visitor to the ePrize sites returns five to seven times over the 60- to 90-day life of the promotion."

head transplant

Fun hoax? Or is this for real? Someone believes it's possible to do a head transplant, and they're supposedly going to try it. Personally, I'm convinced this is a hoax and this is either the product of:

1. Someone with more free time than us, and we're jealous;
2. The early stages of a viral promotion, and we'll find out the product association shortly.

This reminds me - we've got an outstanding idea for an internet hoax - but don't have the time to implement it on our own. If you're looking for a really good viral promotion, let us know (because we can always find more billable time to do fun stuff like this), and we'll give you all the details.

our place is haunted (update)

In follow-up to our earlier posts about our building being haunted - the Warrens mentioned photos that were taken in our building, where ghosts appeared. We haven't yet obtained copies of these, although we're working on it. In the meantime, we figured that if there's ghosts to be photographed, who better to accomplish the task than a design firm?

We're going to embark on our own adventure - and take photos ourselves. We'll visit the scariest locations in the building - in the dark, armed only with digital cameras. We'll of course post anything that we discover here. More later.

mr. floatie runs for mayor

I swear there's no potty humor theme to BrandFlakes this week - but I couldn't resist telling you about this story. Poop runs for mayor. Actually, his name is Mr. Floatie. And he really is running for mayor in Victoria, British Columbia.

The best part is that there's a mascot costume that somebody has to walk around the city wearing. Now that's a crap job. (Sorry.)

the new rules of naming

Here's a wonderful rant from Seth Godin on naming. This is a must read for anyone about to name a new product, company, service, promotion, etc.

An excerpt:
I think many of these rules have changed, largely because of the way people use Google.

If you want Jet Blue or ikea or some other brand, you're just as likely to type the brand into google as you are to guess the domain name. In essence, we've actually added a step in the process of finding someone online. (How else would anyone find

This means that having the perfect domain name is nice, but it's WAY more important to have a name that works in technorati and yahoo and google when someone is seeking you out.

fart humor works every time.

To promote their 1st annual chili cookoff, agency Liggett-Stashower created an original fart instrument that lets you play along using your keyboard. It's a gas.

the warrens were here

In a follow up to our post last week about our building being haunted, Kevin contacted the Warrens today. He spoke to Lorraine Warren, who had visited our building a few years ago. Lorraine confirmed that the building is indeed haunted. There are photographs which apparently show some of this activity (we're working on getting copies!), and the ghosts include an older man, and a young woman.

Ms. Warren also indicated that some photos show an ugly hag looking creature. (Kevin swears he was not on site when they took these pictures, so it can't be him). Here's some more details from his interview:

Kevin: Are they bad spirits?
Lorraine Warren: Oh no, these are good spirits. The hag could be there to scare off people.

Kevin: Are there any spirits on our floor?
LW: No, there was no activity in the upper level of the building. All the activity we found was in the lower level. The gentleman was a caretaker for the building.

Kevin: Can we contact them?
LW: Oh, god no. You don't want to do that. That's the worst thing that you could do. You'll open up all kinds of doors, and you never know what will come through. Usually, it's bad.

Wow! That's a lot of information for us to absorb. We'll continue to investigate, and report the details as we discover them.

virgin healthcare

Watch out health insurance industry. There's an awesome brand opportunity here, when you consider:

1. The general public considers themselves underserved by the insurance industry.
2. People today aren't brand loyal to their health insurance provider.
3. The health insurance industry has been providing services in roughly the same manner, seemingly forever.

So it should come as no surprise that brand superstar Richard Branson is about to shake everything up with virginlifecare. They'll apparently offer low premiums, and frequent flyer type rewards where members get credits for things like working out in a gym or buying running shoes!

Not everything that Mr. Branson has touched has turned to gold - but he undoubtedly understands the power of brand. If you work in the health insurance industry, it's time to start breaking some rules.

celebration florida still celebrating

It's hard to believe that Celebration, Florida is ten years old this year. There's a wonderful piece written by Michael Bierut about Celebration - coming from a designer's perspective. Michael worked on the design for signage and wayfinding graphics for Celebration.

This is a great piece if you love urbanism, culture and of course, branding. Amid all of the controversy and and skepticism at it's birth, it's amazing to me, anyway, that Celebration is here today and thriving. It's a brand, and a concept that's survived.

dollar bill promo

To promote it's new show Commander in Chief, ABC TV has stickered thousands of dollar bills with Geena Davis' picture. But does it work in vending machines?

Banks should just do this automatically - and they could upcharge customers for bills with personality. We'd have Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Orlando Bloom money. We could try and collect them all - but then again, I guess we're already trying to do that, anyway.

picking color

Bored? stuck on trying to find the color palette that's just perfect for that next piece? Check out the color schemes generator(2). You can select web-safe, or completely open schemes. Click until your color's content.

our place is haunted

That's what a lot of people believe, anyway. Since it's almost halloween, we figured that we'd explore this a little further over the next couple of weeks.

First, some history. Our studio is located on the penthouse floor of what used to be the Empress theater. The Empress had a rich history in Connecticut, and included full stage productions (pictured above) and the world premiere of DW Griffith's America (the Birth of a Nation guy).

Our space includes what used to be the projectionist's booth (which is now our video editing suite), and an area for industrial fans that cooled the theater below (now our work area). Since the day we moved in, we've heard countless stories about ghosts in the building. Doors opening, footsteps, and more. Supposedly, the Warrens have even been here.

We're going to explore this fully, and report on everything we find. Stay tuned.

all work and no play makes dave a dull boy

Why should you watch Stanley Kubrick's The Shining this Halloween season?

Well according to Michael Dare's website (portal to all that is The Shining),

"Most horror films aren’t very suspenseful on second viewing; you know where all the surprises are. But in refusing to rely on any of the cinematic shock effects currently in vogue, Kubrick has made a film that gets more frightening every time you see it. This, combined with the fact that he twisted King’s sardonic tale of possession into a comment on American television, makes The Shining a perfect home video horror show."

Why blood flowing from the elevators?
Why the twins?
Why the guy in the bear suit?
Why doesn't Jack look at the waiter in the bathroom while talking to him?
And did you ever notice that when Jack is being interviewed for the caretaker's job there is a tiny axe sitting in a cup on Stuart Ullman's desk?

Looks like I need to watch The Shining yet again.

only old people watch tv

Not that any of this is much of a surprise, but the latest numbers confirm what we've been droning on and on about forever now. TV's audience is getting older. Even the "young" network, the WB, shows an average age viewer over 37. The super rickety old people watch CBS - with a median age of 52.

I'm curious what we'll see develop in the coming years of video on demand - not from your cable provider, but from services like Google, and now of course, iTunes. It certainly seems like that's the future of television. Programs that you want, when you want them, on a computer, instead of a tv. With video iPods, and VODcasts, there's also some great opportunity for early entries into the market. Think about that. What could you be VODcasting?

Whatever. Even if it makes me old, I still like Lost.

stinky ads

How do you promote moistened toilet paper? How about a woman in tight underwear, with a monkey graphic? And a headline (printed on panties, of course) that says "Could you be cleaner?"

Those crazy brits.

you can stop capitalizing now

It's official. Wired will no longer capitalize the word internet. Or the word web - unless it's used in the context of World Wide Web. So we're going to stop too. From now on, it's internet. internet. internet. That feels good.

be king for halloween

I'm not sure why I continue to promote the viral antics of the Burger King campaign. But you have to admit it's probably the most impressive, long-standing campaign in viral history. The latest chapter includes halloween masks of the king, and subservient chicken. I might just get one to wear around the office. Maybe we'll get them for everyone, and creep out our vendors when they arrive for meetings.

Separately - but proof that the campaign continues to grow outside of BK's agency's creation - FARK has put together a pretty funny Photoshop contest fit for the king. Check out the full gallery of photoshop king madness.

schwab animation

Have you seen the new Schwab television campaign, and wondered how they did that? Did you assume it was CG, because everything is today? Well, apparently the animation that has the industry buzzing was done by painting over the individual frames of film. Painstaking work, when you consider that there's about 900 frames for each 30 second spot. But the end result is worth it - and has the industry blogging about it. (And hopefully, investors investing).

web 2.0 design

There's sooo much flutter and excitement about web 2.0. (Web 2.0 can be summed up as a handful of new generation Internet sites and companies that are providing new, valuable, web-based applications and tools.) There's also something very important taking place on the creative side.

We're experiencing a revolution in web-based applications, and there's a revolution in Internet design going on here as well. Take a look at backpackit, delicious, flock, and other web 2.0 companies, and you'll see something that they all have in common. Simple. Straight-forward. Down to earth. Blog-like. There's an identifiable look and feel to the web 2.0 so far, and smart businesses will take notice.

Web 2.0 applications exude trust. They're friendly and inviting. And everything's easy to understand. Users are responding to this, and becoming accustomed to the new style. They're also much more about communicating and sharing than any of their predecessors. This will surely impact design for other types of sites as well. Here's an excellent opportunity for a microsite for that new product launch, for that online sales presentation or any promotional Internet site that you might be considering.

A real opportunity exists to be early to market, and get recognized for fresh thinking and a new perspective. Motherbrand is an excellent example, in my opinion (design work done by another firm). There's actually a fair amount of content in this gallery - yet it's overall design is simple, elegant, and cool.

This might not be the most appropriate design approach for your official site - unless you're one of those companies that's always evolving and re-inventing your brand online (and we love you for that). Who knows what the long term trend effect is here - but there's an immediate short term trend that every product or brand manager should be watching closely. Web 2.0 is here, don't fear, get used to it.

survivor toyland

This is why blogs are so cool. Who says you need big production budgets, major network distribution or Richard Hatch to create a reality show? Check out Survivor Toyland, a reality show/blog based on well, Survivor in toyland. Sorry to be a spoiler, and let you know that GI Joe was the first to be voted off. Reminds me of Action League Now, one my all time favorite shows.

smurf village bombed

From the first time I saw them, I dreamed of this day. The smurf village has been bombed. Actually, this is a controversial promotional effort by Unicef apparently produced for the Belgium market. Word has it that the design firm that produced this piece wanted to take it even further - and show dismembered smurfs - but the client tastefully declined.

designer wallpaper

Maxalot offers wallpaper by world renowned designers that is custom fit exactly to your wall. Some amazing design work, all made possible by Epson's large format ink jet printers.

flock has landed. almost.

One of the latest companies in the new web 2.0 revolution is called Flock- and word on the street says it's going to revolutionize the browser business. Advance screenshots, pictured above look pretty interesting. Flock will use Firefox as it's rendered view - but is much more than just another Firefox extension. You can sign up now to get on the list as a beta tester - which is supposedly days away.

off the roof 2005 update

The party's over, and our place now smells like stale beer and middle eastern food. Thanks to everyone who stopped by. My apologies for those that got hit with flying Kibbee balls as they were leaving. Justus insisted that they'd fly if they were "freed", and thrown off the roof, and - well, he was wrong.

For those of you that missed the event, stop by when you're in town and see the new space. There's a beer here waiting for you.

intuitive interactive design

Here's an excellent essay on intuitive interface and web design. The "knowledge brick" above shows the gap between what we understand a user already knows, and where we've targeted what they should know - or need to know in order to intelligently navigate a site. Graphic design is what fills that gap - or gets users from point A to point B.

nike building morph

Check out this really cool Nike outdoor work in Taipei. The shoe's ugly as cow poop, but the "billboard" is awesome. Done by Ogilvy & Mather Taiwan.

do you have what it takes?

Here's an interview at Fast Company with Dany Lennon, president, the Creative Register Inc. - where she talks about what she looks for in great creatives. And she apparently knows what she's doing. She's placed Paul Silburn, executive creative director, Fallon North America; Dan Morales, creative director, TAXI NY; and many other hot shots.

When asked if people are looking for a different type of person as a Creative Director today versus a few years back she had an excellent example - "I just got a call yesterday from an agency looking for an executive creative director, and they don't care if the candidate has a background as a copywriter, art director, or designer. They want a visionary--someone who can see not only what's happening now but what's possible in the next 15 to 20 years."

That's a great philosophy - and one that we follow here in developing talent. Creativity now requires talent that can see beyond individual job roles. Here, everyone's involved in the process - not just a designer, not just the person responsible for the project - but every single person has input into creative on any of the projects that we take on. Which in the end, has been great for business, but also great for employees.

sneakers on tour

Forget architecture week - there's a sneaker show in town. SneakerPimps is a travelling exhibition of rare sneakers that celebrates the cult status of sneaker design and branding. It hits NYC tomorrow. Read an interview with the show's curator, Peter Fahey at PSFK. If this event wasn't already cool enough, it appears that Public Enemy is also playing live at the event!

open house new york

This is something I missed last year, and was real sorry I did after reading all of the blog reports of others who attended. It's Open House New York - an event that coincides with Architecture Week, kicking off tomorrow. The open house event takes place this weekend - and allows free access to over 150 spaces. Typically, you get to see inside some unique spaces where you're normally not allowed to go. This is a must for the urban adventurer, or architecture aficionado.

one place for all your links

You've got a Skype user name. An AIM name. A mySpace profile. A Flikr photoset. How do you and all of your friends keep track of all of your places? Introducing iDeeMe. One place to keep track of all of that stuff. This is the latest Web 2.0 company getting tons of hype - and it seems like a pretty cool idea.

buzz kill

Is buzz marketing illegal? That's the question asked by this article from Adage. There's a question as to whether or not advertisers should disclose that they've funded a production, as advertising.

This is probably most relevant to those types of viral pieces where it's not exactly clear to the viewer that what they're watching is an ad. As you might expect, the law is not exactly clear - so we'll have to wait for lawyers and the government to get involved. We should all be more confused then.

Here's an excerpt from the article (you'll have to go through a free registration to read the full thing at Adage):

An FTC official said while word-of-mouth isn’t something that the agency is looking at, disclosing commercial relationships is crucial to avoid violating the law. “The real question is whether consumers are being misled someway,” said Rich Cleland, an assistant director of advertising practices for the FTC.

One agency quoted in the article has actually revised their policy to ensure that pieces are appropriately credited to advertisers - and they feel that it hasn't detracted from the message in any way.

off the roof 2005 update

Later this week, we kickoff Off the Roof 2005, the official VIA open house party - to show off our new conference room and rooftop patio.

There are a couple of "unauthorized" films circulating around the Internet regarding the event. You can see them here.

If you missed the invite, and want the details, send us an email.


It might even be worth the advance email registration that Adage requires to read this special 15 part series titled Airworld. The author spends three weeks in airports - traveling around the world, and reporting on everything from terminal man (the guy that the movie Terminal was based on) to advertising (of course), to jetrosexuals.

outdoor art

Photographer Wouter Deruytter has assembled an awesome collection of photographs featuring NYC billboards and outdoor advertising. That's right - it's an art show - of outdoor advertising. From AdJab.
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