click fraud article

An article on click fraud in the new issue of Wired is an absolute must read for anyone investing in search ads. Not that we want to scare you out of allocating the majority of your marketing budget online (because you know you should.) The article covers two kinds of click fraud - that initiated by an advertiser's competitors, and by publishers (like bloggers!) who fraudulently click on ads to increase their revenue.

interactive displays



Here's an amazing product for your next trade show, or point of purchase display. Huge, interactive flat screens. It's called Displax. The product combines rear projection holographic screens with finger tracking to bring interactive storefront displays to retailers and various commercial applications.

Yes, the couple pictured above look really silly. We could do without the stripper style shirt (I guess), and the guy showing the girl how to point her finger. But that aside, we're dying to explore this on a new project, so get in touch with us if you want to try it!

sand game



If you're working this week, this one's for you. It's the most addictive game, and will pretty much suck up at least an hour of your day.

Basically, you draw lines, and the lines affect the flow of sand. Sounds simple, but once you start, you can't stop.

2005's ten sexiest geeks



I realize that I already posted about hating year end lists - but I couldn't resist referring you to Wired Magazine's 2005's 10 Sexiest Geeks. This has absolutely nothing to do with branding, design, or VIA - but c'mon, everyone loves sexy people. Note to Leigh (our in-house editor and arbiter of what's appropriate for BrandFlakes): This is not sexist, because sexy geeks are both male AND female. Not sexist, but sexy. Can I say that?

Absent from the list is Xeni Jardin, BoingBoing contributor, Wired writer, and uber-geek. And of course, G4TV's Morgan Webb. Huge oversights, in my opinion. Not that I have a list of sexy people, or anything...

holiday blogging schedule



Just a note to let you know that our offices will be closed for the holidays December 26 - January 2. We'll return to our offices on Tuesday, January 3rd, ready for action.

Expect only periodic posts during this period - dependent on time and boredom factors. (Kevin is pictured above - already getting a jump start on the holiday vacation.)

Happy Holidays!

year-end lists

Personally, I can't stand those year end lists that come out this time of year. So I'll spare you, and not make an attempt at coming up with any BrandFlakes year-end list.

If year end lists are your thing however, please visit Darren Barefoot's blog. He's managed to put together a really neat list of year-end lists.

And I'll add one list to his list. Check out the top ten website redesigns of 2005, from Erratic Wisdom. This is the type of list that would be cool for us to generate, but we're too lazy. So thanks, Erratic Wisdom.

top ten ads you won't see

This is already a few days old, but if you haven't seen it, it's worth a visit. Adage presents the top ten ads that America will never see. Because we're too uptight to handle it.

even more holiday viral fun



The holiday virals continue to pour in. Here's a pretty funny one from Akqa, that shows the frustration of the creative process.

feed them pepsi



This very funny Survivor "behind the scenes" spoof is produced by members of the Writers Guild, who are not particularly pleased with the way product placement seems to be taking over television shows. An excerpt from their site that explains their position:

Some of us work as reality writers and editors (yes, those shows really are written), and we know first-hand how the story gets short-changed every time a reality show gets taken over by an advertiser. We’re the ones forced to put in long hours just to figure out how we’re going to embed that can of soda into the storyline eight more times before the final episode.

From AdJab

the 59th minute



I just found out that my old friend Dan is featured in a really cool video art installation titled "Countdown." On the 59th minute of every hour, you can see this program on the giant Astrovision in Times Square. Creative Time details the project, with an essay by Martha Schwendener. Howdy Dan!

optical illusion ad



A while back, Leigh blogged on some really cool optical illusions. Shell just incorporated one of them into an ad. And it works!

it's a wonderful internet



Imagine a world without the internet? Ant Farm interactive did just that for their online holiday greeting, titled It's a Wonderful Internet. If you're a fan of It's a Wonderful Life, or just rely on the internet for everything in your life (like me), you'll love this. From Screenhead.

more holiday virals



Sedgwick Rd., an agency in Seattle produced a pretty funny video christmas card. The clip shows what might happen if an ad agency were to produce a campaign to make christmas more popular. From AdRants.

Russell Arch shows what might happen if the war on christmas was taken to the next level.

CloserLook provides a behind the scenes look at the production of their holiday greeting. I thought the brainstorm was especially funny.

And, last - but also least - we dug up a very old VIA holiday card titled The VBoys. This piece shows what might happen if your favorite VIA employees started a boy band.

top virals of 2005



Boreme.com just announced their top virals for 2005. The number one viral piece on their charts is the VW ad. Other chart toppers include drive through order, Bush escape, and of course, christmas light show.

via holiday classics



A couple of years ago, as our VIA holiday card, we recorded and produced an entire Christmas Music album. The songs have become "classics" with our friends and clients in our own heads. Mostly, they serve as an annual reminder that we shouldn't ever quit our day jobs.

We figured you might like to have them as MP3 files, for your iPod, this year. Or, if you didn't know us back then - please allow us to show you the scarier side of VIA.

So now, you can download them all:
Little Drummer Boy
Christmas in Hollis
Feliz Navidad
Winter Wonderland
Bonus Track

Leigh says she's glad that she wasn't with the company back then, and is grateful that she didn't have to sing "Santa Baby."

lessig method of presentation



People worship internet superstar Lawrence Lessig for many reasons. And now they can add "the Lessig Method" of presentations to their list. Presentation Zen blogs on the "Lessig Method" of PowerPoint presentation - and it's a must read for any presenter.

hotel self check in



Hooray. The Denver Hyatt now has self check in. Just like the airport kiosks, the home depot checkout and the grocery store, you can now swipe a credit card and get a room key. You'll wonder why this hasn't existed for years. Goodbye snarky desk clerks. Hello friendly touch screens. This is a customer trend I hope to see everywhere. Even Taco Bell. Reminds me of the time I was in line checking in to a hotel, behind John Stamos. It was funny that he had to wait in line, and no one came to his celebrity rescue. I wonder if John Stamos uses self check out at Home Depot?

i have an idea



TAXI has just launched an interactive project to serve as an intellectual archive of creative work. Titled ihaveanidea, the site looks to be a great online resource for creatives. In their own words:

"It is our mission to serve the industry as a mechanism for communication, self-analysis and intellectual growth. We will document the world's creative community and disseminate this priceless knowledge to help it grow and flourish. We will ask questions, challenge the establishment and the norms, and make every possible effort to make add fuel to the industry we so passionately love."

There are two ads promoting the site, which you can preview here: Motel Room, and Grandma. Both ads will launch on ihaveanidea.org tomorrow morning.

UPDATE:
Brendan, from ihaveanidea reports:
"One small note. In your post you mention that ihaveanidea is a project that Taxi recently launched, which is incorrect. ihaveanidea is actually an independent organization, founded by Ignacio Oreamuno who keeps it alive with the help of six others (editors, writers, PR, etc). The project launched a few years ago. Taxi has always been a big supporter and we recently teamed up with them to create these spots."

Thanks Brendan!

group illustration



SwarmSketch is a community illustration tool. Users can contribute a line to an illustration, and vote on the opacity of lines submitted by other users. And, over time, an illustration is built. I guess. Looks kind of like a sloppy mess to me. But maybe the line I submitted just ruined everything. Check it out for yourself.

how they make hotties



You've seen this a thousand times, but this site presents it well. Produced for the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs in Sweden, Girlpower shows everything that's done to a magazine cover model in Photoshop. Not that there's anything wrong with that. From Adverblog.

tuesday is cord day at via



I swear this has happened two weeks in a row now. Leigh, Kevin and David all wore tan cords on the same day. We believe they're starting a cord army, and are planning a hostile takeover. They'll force their cord views on the rest of us. You can see them in the pic above - either plotting against us, or doing their best to put on a MySpace pose.

Stay strong. Continue to wear denim. Don't fall for the cord propaganda.

agency holiday card



An agency in Ontario just launched their online holiday greeting - and it's a content-rich holiday blog. And advent calendar. And holiday life-guide. They're four days into the calendar that counts down to December 22 (the last real "work" day prior to the holidays), and each day is rich with tips, advice and ideas. This is really well done - and every team member (or "family" member, as their agency prefers) contributes a day of content.

What's even better - is that the piece allows for RSS feeds, and user comments. Stuff that you'd expect on any blog - but this is a holiday card, right? Nice work. From Adrants.

printable posters



I'm not sure that I need a poster of a polar bear or a wolf in my place, or our office - but this is a pretty cool idea. National Geographic has created printable posters. You can download images, and print them one 8.5 x 11 sheet at a time - and create your own poster. It's a great idea with a lot of possibilities outside of National Geographic.

If I had this when I was twelve, my room would have been plastered with posters of tribal women. Then again, maybe not.

stereo photography



Jim Gasperini creates stereo photography that allows you to see 3D without wearing those stupid glasses. This would be VERY cool if used in a banner campaign. Let us know if you're interested in experimenting with this...

holiday greetings




We just released our 2005 holiday greeting card. If you're on our list, you've just received the box above. (Not on the list? Send us an email.) When recipients open the box, they receive a certificate sending them to A Christmas Gory.

Inspired by the now infamous remixed Shining trailer, we produced a remixed version of A Christmas Story - in the form of a trailer. We've remixed it as A Christmas Gory. At the Christmas Gory website, you'll see the remixed trailer as well as exclusive behind the scenes footage about the production.

So far - this has been a HUGE hit. It's already gone viral, and has been featured on BoingBoing, About.com, Adrants, San Francisco Chronicle's blog, and hundreds of other blogs (that we love) in the blogosphere. It's also currently the 10th most bookmarked site on the delicious charts!!!

Hope you like it! Happy Holidays!

cola wars



Coca-Cola just announced a new global brand positioning, "Welcome to the Coke side of life." This campaign kicks off in March, and was produced by the Amsterdam office of Wieden + Kennedy. The "Coke Side" campaign supplants the nearly three-year-old "Real" positioning, which became "Make it real" this year for Coke Classic in the U.S.

They'll also launch Coca-Cola Blak, a coffee flavored coke (pictured above,) in January. In France.

President of Marketing Mary Minnick also said that the company would make a greater push into digital media to reach younger consumers.

holiday virals continue



It wouldn't be the holidays without a holiday elf game. The Elf Zapper was created by Inbox Digital for Web Trends. Enjoy.

princess cruises ad



Frequent travelers will laugh hard at this one. An ad for Princess Cruises highlights my typical flying experience. I can't say that I'll take a cruise to my next business meeting in Los Angeles, but amusing, nonetheless.

starbucks red cups go for ride



Starbucks continues their red cup promotion (previously blogged here) with an outdoor campaign where people drive around with Starbucks cups glued to the roof of their car. If you stop them to point out the cup, they'll reply "thanks - and happy holidays from Starbucks." And then you feel like a dumbass for not seeing that you were just used as a pawn in a marketing stunt. From Adland.

interviews from hell



Kendall Tarrant, a recruitment firm in the UK, just launched a microsite titled interviews from hell. Any experienced manager or HR person has a pocket full of stories like this, so what a great idea to promote a recruitment firm. The concept ties to their brand statement "It's not just the people we put in front of you. It's the people we don't." The design work here reminds me of a microsite that we produced for Belimo. Hmmmm. From Adverblog.

jcrew resorts to street vending



Retailers always have a problem with street vendors - claiming that they're taking customers away from them, while not paying the high retail rent. I believe they attract pedestrian traffic too - but that's just me, and I'm no urban planning expert.

In Soho, the JCrew store on Prince Street has taken things into their own hands - and setup a sidewalk display in front of their store. They're selling jewelry, jeans and even art. Competing directly with the street vendors. What a cool idea.

power of dreams



Honda has just launched a beautiful microsite promoting their product lines and history. It's a great positioning piece for them, placing them as pioneers in some of the product categories that they cover - with an uplifting, documentary sort of style. This is really nice work - and the site's pretty deep with content. Work by Wieden + Kennedy.

not for animal lovers



Gerber Blades (people who make knifes to kill things with) just came out with their online holiday promotion.

I have to say, I never realized that you can saw the paws off of a bear, remove the innards, and use them as mittens. You can even climb trees with them. You learn something new every day. I'll have to remember that tip for the next time I'm in the woods, and my hands are cold.

fashion victims



I was just having a discussion with a friend recently about the lack of intense, conceptual photography on album covers today. (Like this one.) When you get old, you have conversations like that - even though what you're complaining about usually isn't even accurate. "I can't believe they don't make Slurpees anymore...what? Heh? Oh, they do? Nevermind."

And today, I came across this new gallery from David LaChapelle. Beautiful work.

ignore obstacles



Fantastic billboard. Work by Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong. Nuff said.

milk crate team

Now, finally - you can have your own personal team of people to set up milk crates in the formation of the letters you type. Your life is now complete. Just push a letter on your keyboard, and they're off working furiously for you. All for you.

13 days till tasty treats



Several years ago, we began working with Eliza Sweet at Word Association. She's created a pretty special (yet unintentional) holiday tradition in our office. Back in 2002 she delivered a special package of baked goods. We're not talking stuff from a bakery (not that there's anything wrong with that,) but home-made goodness. One treat in particular, which she's named white trash, has us salivating at the mere thought of it.

Last year, by December 3, we were so badly needing our fix of white trash, we (kind of obnoxiously) bugged Eliza daily to find out when she was planning to show up with our beloved gift. Yes - rude, obnoxious, selfishly assuming we're getting something every year - but white trash will do that to you.

This year, in an effort to squash our pre-delivery campaign of "when does white trash arrive?", Eliza has given us a delivery date. December 19th. We can't wait. If you're nearby, you'll need to stop by VIA offices for a taste. If you live far away, book a flight today - it will be worth it - we promise. BTW - the pic above is of some other cookie I found on the internet. There are no photos of white trash. Don't even try - her recipe's more secure than the secret formula for Coke. mmmmmm. white trash.

good marketing practice: don't make fun of your customers.

Yes, even if they live in Kansas. That's a lesson that Subway just learned in their promotion for their salmon sandwich. In stores around the country (but not Kansas), signs promoting the sandwich proclaimed "Another reason you're lucky not to live in Kansas." People from Kansas weren't happy. And now Subway has issued an apology.

holiday promotions in full swing



Viral holiday promotions are all the rage - and Starbucks has just jumped on board, with a microsite titled The Red Cup. (OK, it's actually been on line since November.) The site supports a full-scale offline campaign as well. Work by Wieden + Kennedy

Target has started a RSS feed, for those that want to keep totally up to date on the latest sale items.

If you speak Polish, you can play with Coke's holiday microsite. The site features six advergames - but you have to reach a set score before you can play them all.

Josh Rubin over at CoolHunter has published his annual Gift Guide. Just in case you're shopping for someone who is cool.

gap ad



The new Gap ad created by Spike Jonze, the big video producer, is awesome. Wouldn't you love to walk into the mall this week with a chain saw? Just totally awesome. Thanks Gap, for sparing us your celebrities wearing your jeans. Thanks for sparing us your dancing models to musical numbers. Thank you Spike Jonze for fighting for great creative. I might just visit a Gap again. But this time, with a hammer. From adjab.

teens & media

Jack Morton just completed a study of Generation Y (millenials, tweens & teens, choose your own handle) and discovered that they respond more favorably to event oriented marketing. More so than tv or even the internet.

Related, (sort of) another study finds that girls between the ages of 12 and 17 - use two media types simultaneously in greater numbers than do other age groups. They like to watch tv, read magazines and do other stuff while they're on the internet. It's nice to know that I exhibit behavior similar to a teen girl. That's one for the therapist.
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