you know the holidays are almost here when....

It's become a holiday tradition that Justus crashes his car, at some point between Thanksgiving and New Years. And this year, he's celebrating the season in all of its glory. Yesterday, he swerved so as not to kill a woman coming out of her driveway, and instead, flew his car into and on top of a stone wall. Nice. We can't wait to see the actual photos of damages - which, btw, are going to cost about $5K. (And economists are worried that people aren't spending money this season.)

So be careful during the holidays - if you see a large man in a small car, driving about 75mph down the road with only one hand on the wheel, and the other turning up the radio, just say "Tis the Season."

tv 360

Forget the XBox360 - here's the ultimate video device for your next event. A 360 degree LED television. They have indoor and outdoor models - and can even be used to project images from 360 degree cameras. Endless possibilities - and already being used by marketers worldwide, including McDonalds, Motorola, Calvin Klein, Ford, Nike, Pepsi, Universal Studios and Apple.

the inside job

Samsung Australia just launched an online game/microsite to promote their new D600 phone. This is some beautiful work. And the phone seems kind of cool, too. Creative agency is RMG Connect, in Sydney, and brand work by JWT.

phallic logos

These are so funny. I'll refrain from all of the innuendos, and just provide the link to a gallery of logos that (unintentionally) ended up being phallic. Warning: Images are safe for work (after all, it's all in the eye of the beholder), but there is some crude language that might offend or scar more innocent, kind-hearted brandflakes readers.

absolut leaves the print world

Say goodbye to the back cover Absolut ads. Absolut just announced that they're shifting their ad expenditures towards the internet. They're actually not abandoning print, outdoor, or television, but internet work will now get the front seat. And their recent efforts have been quite successful. Wow. Who would have guessed that people who drink vodka use the internet too!

collection of map hacks

Here's a blog that's collecting cool Google map hacks. There are some really useful ones - like demographics and of course the urinal locations map, but my favorite is the dig a hole to the other side of the earth map.

rubberstamped money

A few weeks ago, I posted about ABC TV's promotion where they stickered dollar bills. We're now producing a similar promotion for another client - and it seems odd to think of our currency as a distribution system for a message. But the rubber stampers of the world have been doing this forever.

Mike Seery has created a collection of the more popular stamped currency, online. Some you might have seen - some you have not. An interesting visit, regardless.

designer gift guide

For those that chose to sleep rather than shop at 5am this morning, I figured I'd start a post to serve as a holiday gift guide. You're a creative person. People expect you to give creative gifts. Slippers just won't do. So here's a start to some really cool, unique gift ideas. Please add your own ideas in the comments field, so that we can grow this list. If we can stop just one person from wandering the mall like a zombie on December 24, it will be worth it.

Creatives Care t-shirt Not only a cool t-shirt, but profits help hurricane victims.

This particular floppy disk notebook will probably be sold by the time you read this - but Etsy is a great site for individually hand made gifts - or great ideas for artful gifts that you can make yourself.

Here's something for the geek on your list. It's a desktop aquarium that plugs into the usb port on your computer. Super cool.

I want this. It's a remote control that turns off any TV. Walk into BestBuy, and at the push of a button, watch the sales staff freak out when the entire TV department shuts down. Your CEO is giving a BORING PowerPoint presentation? Shut it down.

Who can't love an ugly doll? If you give this gift to a guy, just be sure to call it an ugly action figure.

separated at birth?

After a trip to the C&C Hair Salon at the Danbury Mall Kevin returned to the office looking quite snazzy, if not a tad boyish. Then suddenly it hit us, Kevin's new look was strangely familiar. Could it really be? Could Ralph Wiggum from the Simpson's be Kevin's long lost twin brother? We're still waiting for the DNA test results but I'd say the nose picking is a dead give away.

xbox 360 viral spot

If you're not already sick and tired of Xbox hype, you'll enjoy this spot that's too much for TV - but just right for a viral.

new at&t logo

We all knew it was going to happen. The redesign of the infamous Saul Bass "deathstar" logo for AT&T. It's here, and the design blogs are all over it.

Lots of mixed reaction on the new look from designers, and, well, most people don't like change. I like the fact that they went to lowercase logo type, as it does seem friendlier. I also kind of like the stripes from the other side - although, they don't really seem to match up with the ones on the front. Anyway - get used to it. They'll be spending kabillions of dollars making sure that you recognize it.

freaky hands

Here's a fun Flash optical illusion, that will have you seeing alien bots crawl under the skin of your hand. Or something like that. It doesn't hurt, so just try it.

intel inside sound

Ever wonder where that "intel inside" jingle came from? Here's the story of how Walter Werzowa created the sound that's heard once every five minutes somewhere around the world. Turns out that in the 80's, he also co-produced "Bring Me Edelweiss", an alternative-pop-dance novelty song. (I think I have it on vinyl!) I hope he's rich from this production, because the photo above makes him look like a lunatic who's about to go on some rampage. But that's just me, making judgement.


Metacool writes about Feedburner's hackathon. They gathered in their conference room, and brainstormed on projects that could be completed by 5:00pm. And then went for it. They put everything else aside, and at the end of the day, had built some really cool new features for their clients.

We've tried this at VIA to varying degrees of success. Usually, it's been a half-hearted attempt at "closing down at noon, and devoting the rest of the day to project X". The concept works - but I believe you've really got to commit to it wholeheartedly, for it to work. We'll try this soon at VIA.

let the holiday virals begin

What I think I love best about the holiday season is the influx of holiday virals. And that people who are bored at work spend so much time watching them. And sending them. Here's one from Absolut.

My first thoughts were cheezy. But then I couldn't stop watching. This is good cheezy. Think William Shatner cheezy, not David Hasselhoff cheezy. I guess. Somehow the bouncing ball lyrics just kept me mesmerized. Work by Stockholm agency Great Works.

stay away from the burritos

Don't eat the yellow burritos. Or you'll end up in a spot like this. From Screenhead.

freaky friday

Far be it from me to be shocked (especially in this office), but we just had the most titillating conversation about the use of IM symbols climaxing with Leigh's comment that Dave's symbol was too big. What started out as a simple question about what the symbol for heart is in IM-speak quickly turned into an orgy of dirty symbols by a most unexpected source. By the way, this is the IM symbol for heart: <3 here is a wink ;) For more info - you're just gonna have to IM us.

mini drawing tool

The work that CP&B has done for Mini is of course, awesome. Their magazine inserts continually amaze - from both a creative standpoint as well as a "pulling out all the stops with the budget" standpoint. The insert above is in the current issue of Metropolis, and is an actual plastic drawing tool, to help you imagine your own Mini. Nice work.

google logos

Here's a collection of all the Google logo variations that they've used over the years. Some of these go way back - and are pretty cool picture of Google history.

pop-up blogs

Pop up blogs are the new black. Pop-up blogs are blogs that are created with an intentionally short life span. They're typically produced around a specific event.

Making the commitment to produce a regular blog for many companies can be daunting, but starting a short term blog is a more manageable feat. Even though it's a pop-up blog, you should keep it live indefinitely - says blog guru, Steve Rubel "We believe - when it's possible - that it's far better to leave the blog online, although be clear that it's designated for an event. The reason is Google. Why let all that Google Juice expire?"

We've produced a couple of pop-up blogs for our clients - and there's certainly been more discussion around the concept as of late. Keep it mind for your next big company event.

speak up!

Big news in the blogosphere - BrandFlakes now allows for comments. If you see a post on our blog that you'd like to add a point to, remark on, or otherwise get your opinion across, click on the "comments" link on the bottom of the post.

This is an experiment for BrandFlakes, and we'll see how it goes. We're pretty sure that we can count on some pretty funny and intelligent input from our clients, readers and friends. But then again, many of them are lazy slackers too - so who knows what to expect. The pic above is of "Gene Simmons", from the Kiss cover band that we hired to celebrate our new comments feature. The Kiss Komments Kickoff party was awesome.

album on USB stick

The can't-categorize-them band Barenaked Ladies are about to release an album on a USB stick. Innovative for the music industry - but also a great idea for your next promotional campaign. Why not deliver your program on a USB stick that recipients can keep and reuse?

scared of santa

This is almost as old as the internet, but I just came across this again, and figured I'd post for those that haven't seen it yet. Photos of kids that are scared of Santa. Always funny. This would be a great holiday card concept for someone. Call us if yours isn't already printing.

the poofect gift

Are you holiday shopping for someone who has everything? How about pee and poo? Everyone does it - so why not celebrate with fun filled poo and pee action figures? It's the ultimate excrement toy.

apple 1984 ad

It's one of the classic case studies in nearly every Advertising 101 course in the U.S. Here's a nice behind the scenes story behind the infamous Apple 1984 ad. What you might not know - is that it almost never aired.

Great creative gets left on the floor everyday in our industry - and it takes leaders with foresight and a little bravery to take the chance and make things happen. Either that, or they blend in with the background. An excellent example of how committees aren't the best approval system for creative work.

lugz guy kicks eminem’s butt

The ad industry was a buzz at the release of the Eminem iPod ad - because it looked almost identical to a Lugz ad released earlier in the year. Now there's a mashup of both ads - where the Lugz guy kicks Eminem's butt.

gettin' sticky

ABA has created a new material that sticks to any flat surface, without leaving residue. It's printable fabric, and it's removeable. You can even restick it to something else. It's safe for indoor or outdoor applications. Possibilities are endless for promo and branding geeks.

Every flat surface is now your canvas. Title sponsor for an upcoming event? Cover the entry doors, elevator doors, floors, tables, shuttle-buses, windows, walls and any other flat surface with your brand image. This would be cool to create giant Post it notes, and attach them to the outside of buildings - "Reminder - get milk". (National Dairy Council, make the check payable to VIA).

breaking the rules of billboard design

Wong Doody (yes, that's a real agency) threw rules out the window when they created a series of billboards in Los Angeles. Years ago, we created billboards for a radio station, and discovered the same thing as the crew at Wong Doody - the landscape is littered with boards featuring humongous radio station logos. As if drivers are going to see a giant logo, and immediately get the incentive to turn to the station.

So the crew at Wong took a different position. The billboard above would absolutely get your attention. And, if you're sitting in traffic, I'll bet you'd be intrigued enough to actually tune in the station. Very effective.

urban beasts

Yesterday's New York Times had a cool article on guys who strap stuffed animals to their trucks. This would make a great conceptual treatment for someone in the automotive industry - since it's something that we've all experienced, and perhaps wondered about. Imagine if all drivers strapped something to their grill, that reflected their personality? What would that look like?

shoe shine viral

I didn't realize that people outside of NYC even shined their shoes anymore. Don't they just throw them away and buy new ones? Perhaps that's the purpose behind this new online branding effort by Kiwi.

Think shoe polish isn't cool? Check out the site for Kiwi Express Shine Sponge. The site features Flash movies (the first one's actually pretty cool) and some nice design work. Proof for everyone that you don't have to be in the fashion or entertainment business to have a fun online brand presence. Shoe polish is cool.

playstation ads

Coloribus has posted an entire retrospective of all the Sony Playstation viral ads.

what do you want to do with your life?

Watching a talented speaker is a wonderful experience. Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Ralph Craft, President of the Boehringer Ingelheim Cares Foundation, speak at a dinner meeting for the AmeriCares Free Clinics, an organization for which I do some volunteer work.

Ralph made several brilliant points - but one exceptionally fantastic item featured a story about the time he ran into an old friend from high school, in a Detroit airport. He found out that his friend had become a tremendous success, and lived in one of those neighborhoods that everyone envies. When asked what his friend did, he replied "I'm an engineer." He was a prominent engineer for a manufacturing firm, that happens to sell a lot of product to a very popular discount department store. That's wonderful, replies Ralph. "What does your company make, that's given you such great success?" His friend replies sheepishly, "coat-hangers". All the financial success in the world, but he's in a position where he's not proud of his work. He doesn't go home with a feeling of wonder and accomplishment that he's done something great today. It was all about the money, and not the passion for what he did.

What a great story. Certainly pertinent to the board members at AmeriCares last night, but also an appropriate story for our everyday lives. What will you do this year that you'll be proud of? As most of BrandFlakes readers are marketing and branding folk, we're all in positions that allow us to create. And in general, we're all producing work we're proud of (right?)

If you're interested in doing something you can be proud of, and want to volunteer on a board or committe for AmeriCares Free Clinics (or give them loads of money), let me know and I'll connect you to some great people.

That's enough high and mighty stuff from me. Back to posts about billboards, beer and babes.


You've probably heard of Flash Mobs. Well, let me introduce you to Phone Swarms. The PhoneSwarm site posts a phone number of a different payphone each week. They show a pic of the phone, give you details about its location. Then you're on your own to reak phone havoc. This week, you can call people as they're getting off of the ferry in Sausolito California.

This would make for a fun consumer promotion, too. You could find strategically placed phones througout the US - post them all on a microsite, and then have people call them with a message. Randomly, people will answer, and give a prize to the caller. It's a viral promotion - spread through old-school technology - payphones. And of course, a well-designed microsite. Just an idea.

photos of beautiful people

Photos are now available from our planning meeting. It's a little bit like showing home movies of our last vacation, but we're all full of ourselves, have huge heads and egos, and think that our poop smells like roses. So of course, we figured that the world would enjoy seeing photos of us having fun.

mouse bait ad

Cool outdoor ad, promoting mouse bait.

black friday store ads

Personally, I'll be huddled in a cocoon, avoiding all things shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. But if you're the super aggressive, shopping at 7am type - then you might want to check out You can get an advance peek at all of the sale flyers from your favorite stores - and put together your gameplan, well before Black Friday.


Bored again? Don't know how to use Photoshop? Introducing the typoGenerator. Enter any words or letters and click "generate", and the typoGenerator creates one of those meaningless background art pieces using your words, and random photos & artwork from the internet. You can save them as your desktop background, or send them to your mom to hang on her refrigerator.

Personally, when I'm bored, I prefer the fun offered by the folks over at generator blog. How can you beat the Einstein chalkboard generator?

two nice direct mail pieces

Two unique direct mail campaigns have been brought to our attention recently.

Sears just released a campaign which appears to be a children's book.It's presented as a Storybook Reader for Families. Titled "The Mystery of Snowy Way," the book is unique in that the characters in the story are all wearing clothing available at Sears, and at the bottom of the page, readers get a description and pricing information for the featured products. Coupons are also included. This seems like a nice tactic. It's clearly a marketing piece - so it shouldn't come across as sneaky to recipients, but instead potentially becomes a sales vehicle with a secondary side benefit - a story to share with your kids.

Becky over at RMI Direct Marketing pointed us to the Gap direct mail campaign as another cool promotion. If you're on their list (don't worry, I'm not either), you received a thick booklet that pulled out all of the stops on print design and printing techniques. Iron ons, die cuts, special folds, decals, and just about every other print design trick they could muster up. All to promote change. It's almost as is if at some point in the brainstorm, someone said "what else could we add to the book, to drive up the printing expense?" Perhaps we should be utilizing that brainstorm technique. The end result was a very effective piece.

CK one event case study

Marketing Sherpa just released a fantabulous case study on Calvin Klein's billboard stunt in Times Square. The Sherpa folk outline the entire CK plan. Their challenge was to relaunch a fragrance that's 10 years old (most only stay hot for a short period of time).

This is a great behind-the-scenes look at a successful brand event. Calvin Klein estimates they received $12 million worth of media coverage and direct marketing impact from the day-long event, which cost $500,000.

experiential marketing

The two posters featured above use optical illusions to break away from the usually static world of print media (more detail poster 1, poster 2). The design engages it's audience and therefore becomes experiential. According Max Lenderman's blog Experience the Message, he expects "to see more of this technology being used in lifestyle magazines and OOH (out of home) media."

Lenderman's new experiential marketing book, titled Experience the Message, is due to hit stores November 22.

ultimate mcdonald's fan

Could this be the replacement for BK's king of all media? McDonald's has a super devoted fan in the Philippines, who posts photographs of herself in mundane situations, dressed as Ronald McDonald. Another beautiful example of why US workers spend spend 40 minutes/day reading blogs.

via planning meetings

As a part our open open office management philosophy, we spend a weekend each year, reviewing everything VIA, and planning for our future together.

This year's meetings were great fun, taking place in NYC and at Mohonk Mountain House. On Friday, we held meetings in three of New York's great public spaces. The first series of meetings were held at Paley Park, one of the best examples of public space in all of the city. It's a wonderful courtyard, with an entire wall of water on one end. If you've never been there, you should really check it out when you're in the 'hood. In a few minutes, you'll forget that you're in the busiest city on earth.

Our second series of meetings were held in Washington Square Park - a good place to buy methamphetamines, while you watch half naked homeless people mix with NYU students. We spent the later part of the afternoon in Central Park, and witnessed some pretty cool acrobatic kids pull off stunts on rocks (not an analogy for kids on crack or anything - there really were some kids doing sweet backflips on huge rocks).

Day two of our planning weekend was spent at Mohonk Mountain House. Dating back to the late 1800's, Mohonk is a historic castle/hotel nestled in the Shawangunk Mountains. It's a glorious exhibit of 19th Century architecture, and is also a gloriously over-priced hotel. We witnessed some of the best mountain views on the east coast. We also did our best to blend with lots of old money from NYC, crossword puzzle grannies, and outdoorsy yuppies. Not a lot of Puma or Adidas here, if you know what I mean.

We'll post a slide show of any signicant (and work safe) photos of the weekend, shortly. We'll also try and give you a snapshot of what we're planning for 2006. We managed to lay out some awesome strategies and plans for next year. Lots of rule-breaking fun for everyone ahead. We promise.

we're off

Time to go - today we're cutting out of the office for two days of VIA planning meetings. Today we spend in NYC, and tomorrow, we spend at Mohonk. Should be some pretty funny pictures when we get a bunch of designers on horses, and go horsey back riding. Let's just hope that Justus doesn't lose his lunch in the limo.

ads for your video iPod

It took 22 days. And now, there's officially advertising on video ipod programs. No surprise who's first - Burger King - your early adopting fast food franchise. Thanks to the ads, the programming's free. This will be interesting to see how that develops - and whether or not people will prefer paid ad-free content, or free ad-full content.

the six patron saints of graphic design

When we completed construction on our new conference room a few months ago (virtual tour coming soon, I swear), we ended up with this huge, blue wall - that we agreed we'd wait for "just the right thing" to hang there.

Well, maybe this is it. A gallery of the Six Patron Saints of Graphic Design. Pretty funny. Saint Pantone (also the Patroness of the city of Cmyk) is pictured above.

read dis hella tight blog entry

Ever wish you could write in cool accents like Irish, Yorkshire, Cockney, or just sound like Ali G?

Well chek hout woohoo it's fit blin. TRANSLATION: Well, check out whoohoo it's pretty cool.

It's an accent translator. Those wacky brits - what's in those tea leaves anyway? Try it for your next corporate newsletter.

Much Respect -

Wired opens a pop up store

Wired magazine will open a "pop up" store in Manhattan this month, for the holiday season. Popup stores are the latest rage in retail branding - getting brands and products in front of consumers in major markets over a short period of time. The stores usually also generate a great amount of press.

This could actually be a dream store for gadget hounds. Opening day is set fo November 18. See you there.

pew: kids like the internet

Pew just released a new study about teens and the internet. No big surprises here - the findings showed that the kids really like this internet thing.

According to the study, "57% of teens who use the internet could be considered Content Creators. They have created a blog or webpage, posted original artwork, photography, stories or videos online or remixed online content into their own new creations."

You can refer to this study when you put together your 2006 marketing budget, and need ammunition to justify that gimongous interactive budget. ;) I couldn't find an interesting photo for this post, so I've featured a great shot of Justus, celebrating the new Pew findings.

happy holidays

Our friend Bill at A&P points out that Walmart has launched it's earliest holiday campaign ever. The campaign kicked off on the day after Halloween. The press release indicates that the campaign features a big box full of stars - including Garth Brooks, Destiny's Child, and Queen Latifah.

Marketing offense, or offensive? While most consumers find this terribly annoying, it doesn't bother me nearly as much as the "back to school" sales that pop up after the first week of summer every year.

danger danger update

One of our co-horts, and fellow blogger Brent points out that Danger Doom is way more than a an underground rap band.

Says Brent: "It's actually a collaboration between Danger Mouse and MF Doom. Danger Mouse produced the last Gorillaz record as well as the whole "Grey Album" thing with the Jay-Z Black Album and the Beatles White Album."

OK Brent, settle down. (Side note: we're big Gorillaz fans - and did some really cool online work for them too. Ask us about it!)

Ok - we'll leave it at that, and not turn this into a music blog. If you want more cool music selections, you can check out Brent's blog. He's obviously a music freak with more time than us to listen to Danger Mouse. or Danger Doom. Whatever.

danger danger - where's my logo?

Danger Doom, an underground rap group I know you all jam to on the way to work, has released a record using Cartoon Network's Adult Swim characters like Space Ghost, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and others. We're rockin' the album in the office as you read this.

ATTENTION: Marketing-Speak to commence, NOW:
What's great brand-wise about this is that there are no logos of Cartoon Network or Adult Swim anywhere on the album. There's a belief that because of this lack of marketing there will be an increase in word of mouth that will create an even stronger buzz. Armchair Media has this to say: "The album doesn’t come across as an advertisement so much as a cultural reference. It’s not a marketing ploy so much as an experience that essentially uses branded assets."

Uh, yeah. Get the album - be cooler than your friends.

mcdonald's in coffee fight

This is humorous. On the really smart business move side - McDonald's has come to the realization that they need to provide good coffee. Just look at what it did for Dunkin Donuts. The problem is - they can't get all of the franchisees behind a single product. So the Northeast operators formed a partnership with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and created their own blend of coffee, under the Newman's Own brand name.

They launched an ad campaign (saw it on the TV yesterday), basically trumping the national chain, who had planned to launch a "premium blend" launch sometime in 2006.

Bottom line, it sounds like the franchisees in the Northeast hated the packaging of the new premium blend, and wanted something that would resonate with customers in the Northeast. Green Mountain and Newman's does that. Sounds like everyone in their organization needs to sit down, relax, and have a cup of tea.
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