features don't matter

This outstanding essay by Andreas Pfeiffer points out that product features don't matter. It's the overall user experience that's important. iPod being the perfect example - "as the iPod abundantly shows, user experience (along with a strong brand, and clever marketing) is much more important for the success of a device then technical specifications."

He also highlights ten fundamental rules for the age of user experience technology. My favorite rule:

10) Less is difficult, that's why less is more
Let's face it: it's usually harder to do simple things exceedingly well, than to just pile up features. The 80/20 rule applies here too: do well what 80 percent of your users do all the time, and you create a good user experience.

Excellent read. Related (kind of), watch this interview with Alex Bogusky - who explains that the brand is more important than ever. Every product is great. No product is really better than another. It's the brand that differentiates. Brands are people. Cool.

what if microsoft designed the ipod packaging?

Ever wonder what the iPod package design might look like if it was designed at Microsoft? Check out this clip on YouTube. Thanks Eliza!


Microsoft has some new hardware coming out. Supposedly. They've launched a Flash promo site, which doesn't tell you anything - but uber tech geek Kevin C. Tofel found reference to a video on their agency's website, which, up until this morning showcased exactly what it does. (Click enter, click Work and then BrandTheatre) The clip was removed from the agency site this morning. I saw it yesterday - and if it's true, I want one.

The device featured in the video included a GPS, wifi, touchscreen, windows media center controller, media storage, and so much more. Possibly the coolest Microsoft product yet.

YouTube copied the video clip before Digital Kitchen removed it from their site. See it here.

clay is gay?

Nine idiots are suing Clay Aiken's record label because, according to tabloid reports, Clay is gay. Even better - the basis for their suit is that the record labels knew this, and withheld the info. They claim "this is tantamount to a manufacturer concealing information about a defective product."

So - are they saying:
- gay people are defective?
- or that because they purchased the CD, they actually had a chance of dating him?

Were they also surprised when Ellen came out on national TV? Moronic warning labels exist because of morons like this. CAUTION: your coffee is hot. I can already see the warning label on future CD's:

This artist may or may not be gay. As a buyer of this CD, you are not in any way assured the slightest chance of dating this artist, regardless of his/her sexuality. The buyer of this CD assumes all risk and responsibility that may result from perceived, reported or actual sexuality of the artist."

pigs anonymous

The Advertising Women have just produced the best call for entries EVER.

In our industry, awards shows (we're third in self congratulatory stuff - right behind Hollywood and the music industry) typically create promo pieces for agencies to submit their work to the shows. Most of the time, these pieces are created on a probono basis, and its an opportunity to step out. To produce creative for people in the creative industry.

Well. The Advertising Women have just produced the best call for entries that I've ever seen. Pigs Anonymous is a site to promote entries for the GBU Awards - the Good, Bad and Ugly advertising portraying women. It's usually a really good show. Even for a guy.

The work actually reminds me of a project that we have in house for another client - and has certainly inspired us to push it even further. (Just wait, Carley!)

star's fan mail

Ever wonder what Star Jones' fan mail looks like? Christopher Monks has been writing letters to Star for four years now - but he hasn't sent any of them. But he does post them on his blog. Hilarious.

where your deleted photos go

HP's new spot shows where all the images that you delete from your camera go to. Funny. The spot promotes HP's new brand line Shoot fearlessly. Delete Easily.

hello, moto

Motorola has launched WhatIsRazrSpeed to promote their new Razr V3x. It's cute, but I found more enjoyment in their Generation 3 Fact Sheet which explores the impact of third generation mobile technology on society around the globe.

buy brand management. not buzz

I agree with adjab. Just because it's not television, or print advertising, or radio (is that still around?) doesn't mean it's new. Or that it's buzz.

We're as happy as anyone to see radio and television budgets crushed. And lets all spend wads of cash on interactive campaigns. But internet advertising is far from new. And a good brand campaign is media agnostic. Articles like the MediaPost piece need to let go of the whole "new" thing.

So ask your agency for a branding campaign. Not a buzz campaign.

why kids are on myspace

BoingBoing points to an excellent white paper on why teens use myspace.

An excerpt from the piece, by Danah Boyd:

...there are three important classes of space: public, private and controlled. For adults, the home is the private sphere where they relax amidst family and close friends. The public sphere is the world amongst strangers and people of all statuses where one must put forward one's best face. For most adults, work is a controlled space where bosses dictate the norms and acceptable behavior.

Teenager's space segmentation is slightly different. Most of their space is controlled space. Adults with authority control the home, the school, and most activity spaces. Teens are told where to be, what to do and how to do it. Because teensfeel a lack of control at home, many don't see it as their private space.

Given this perspective, you can of course see the benefit that MySpace provides to a teen. Great insight.

artists paint the town orange

Artists in Detroit are taking charge of urban blight in their city. They're painting derelict buildings orange. Not just orange - but Tiggeriffic Orange.

As a result, the city has quickly demolished the buildings - usually within a few weeks - ultimately speeding the demolition process, and making Detroit more presentable.

Artists and creative people have long been credited with reinvigorating neighborhoods. Artists go to places that they can afford (the run down buildings), fix them up and make them cool, and then everyone else wants to be near the artists. Ultimately, pushing the artists on to the next neighborhood. This has all been brilliantly documented in Stewart Brand's How Buildings Learn. But now - artists are affecting urban blight in a whole new way! Hug a creative person today. From BoingBoing.

volkswagen stuff on ebay

Some of the best internet campaigns are completely integrated. They include media and "events" online that you wouldn't normally expect - yet take advantage of every brand opportunity possible.

The new VW campaign from the dudes at Crispin is an excellent example. The new GTI ads have hit and now AdLand reports that limited edition versions of the prop "FAST" from the spots are on sale at eBay. That's a great example of using all of the media tools available to you. And creating buzz. And getting bloggers to devote time to you. Nice job, Crispin.

creative secrets exposed

Take an inside look at our process for creating ingenious concepts. The blue ball represents an idea.

how to beat writer's block

The Fontayne Group gives you ten steps to beat writer's block. For the next time you're just sitting there, staring at your screen...

website color schemes

Here's some fantastic advice for picking color schemes. It's designed for web developers, but who says you can't use it to match your shirts to your socks?

keep a sketchbook

Here's a great post from Jason Santa Maria on why you should keep a sketchbook. How many times have you had that brilliant idea, that you swear you'd remember, but forgot an hour later?

And I'll take this one step further. Keep a paper sketchbook and a digital sketchbook. Your digital sketchbook can be a digital camera, your delicious links or some other tool. Not everyone's an illustrator - and sometimes a digital tool can better document a really cool texture, an inspirational website, or interesting person. Keep these things with you always!

life takes visa

The new Life Takes Visa campaign has officially launched, and with it of course, the official Life Takes Visa website. I was waiting to hate this site - because I still think the brand statement sucks - but I have to admit, I'm loving the site design. Very creative.

It's their first new brand campaign in two decades, so I guess we'll cut them some slack on the brand statement - or we'll just accept it because you know they'll spend billions pounding it into our heads. Thanks Tally!

don't hire us to do your blog

Adrants and GapingVoid make an excellent point about the new Guinness blog. It's a decent blog because it was not done by their ad agency. It's written by the Guinness marketing crew.

This is great advice if you're thinking of starting a company blog. Devote in-house resources to writing. Authenticity will show. So hire us to design your blog. But have your marketing geek write it. Dave says: "mmmmm. Guinness."

taking responsibility

I pay careful attention to teenagers - part of staying on top of youth culture, and trends. One of the many remarkeable things I've witnessed most teens go through is the "it's not my fault" stage. During this stage, absolutely nothing is their fault. I mean nothing.

Unfortunately, some people never grow out of this stage. And that's exactly the topic that Seth Godin covers in a post yesterday. It's a story about a Valentine gift arriving a day late. And the seller, Shari's Berries, sends a stock automated email to announce the service failure. And lost a customer forever.

It's always difficult to admit mistakes. My previous post about Lexus is a great example of how to turn the negative into a positive. It's ok to make mistakes. But in our new hyper-transparent, everyone-connected world, it's more important than ever to take responsibility for it when you do. That's it. I'm going to stop preaching, and go make some mistakes now.

gig posters

I started in this business, I suppose, designing flyers for a punk rock band. So it's no surprise that gig posters offers fantastic creative inspiration. This site is kind of a one stop haven for rock posters, handbills and promo stuff from around the world.

toys still exist

With the internet and video games, I didn't know that they still made toys. But with BrandNoise's peak at the Toy Fair this week, I'm tempted to go toy shopping.

The rage of course, is dolls. I mean action figures. I mean art pieces. I mean designer vinyl. Like the Ugly Dolls, The Krypt Kiddies, and BlackWater Toys. Cool stuff for your desk, or the top of your computer. Also good for any of the kids you know, should they get bored of the internet or video games. If there's a toy store near you that's still in business, maybe it's worth a visit for some creative inspiration. (I also heard that Kid Robot is having a scratch & dent sale.) Stop by if there's one near you.

put godzilla on top of your office building

A new open-source tool has been developed at Eyebeam that allows you to import 3d objects from Maya into Google Earth maps. This offers some really cool possibilities.

wall street journal article on parody

Here's a nice article from the Wall Street Journal on producing a parody, for the internet. They're rampant. We've produced them. But are they legal?

Unfortunately, the article raises the question, without providing many answers. I had the pleasure of sitting in on a lecture a few months back by a lawyer with the EFF, who was able to share much more light on the subject. Here's more detailed parody information from the EFF site.

3d painted rooms

Check out these amazing environments - where strategic painting has produced a 3d optical illusion. Really cool. This would be really cool at retail, a trade show or your office. Thanks Paul!

via featured in upi story

Your favorite design and branding firm was just featured in a UPI story titled Internet vid content jumps on mobile wave. Our Christmas Gory viral piece was featured, as well as a few quotes from yours truly!

are you ready for a blog crisis?

My previous post about Lexus shows the value of the blogosphere, and how it can spread news about your brand. Good news and bad news.

Writes Steve Rubel: "Every company - and I mean every - must have a plan for how they will handle a blog crisis. Increasingly, many firms should have a blogging policy too. The larger and more distributed your customer base and workforce are, the more critical this becomes."

lexus gives nanos to clients

Here's a brilliant customer service move. People who purchased the Lexus IS250 AWD model last month, but were forced to wait for delivery due to a recall, each received 2GB iPod Nanos as gifts.

That's a few hundred bucks from Lexus, and customer loyalty worth thousands. Maybe hundreds of thousands. Now, happy customers are telling their friends - and - people are blogging about it. That's true customer appreciation and brand building.

david hasselhoff rocks

Just in case you forgot, David Hasselhoff rocks. And sometimes, he humps Pepsi bottles. That's ok, because he rocks.

world's top brands

This is a couple of weeks old, but still worth a read. Brand Channel lists the top worldwide brands for 2005.

hyper real photography

A group of photographers on Flickr has assembled a collection of photographs using the "high dynamic range" plug-in for Photoshop. Photographers use the plug-in to merge multiple exposures from the original and blend them together to create the "HDR" effect. The end result produces vivid, hyperreal colors.

toyota spot not entirely a lie

Perhaps that Toyota spot that originally aired during the SuperBowl wasn't entirely a lie. In the spot, a guy leaves his truck on the beach, and the tide comes in, washing the truck all over the place. The tide recedes, and he gets in his truck and drives away. Yeah, right.

Well, check out this episode of Top Gear. They completely destroy a Toyota pickup trick. Almost, anyway. Water, fire, dropped from a building and more.

paul who? **update**

Here is “Dancing Darryl” again – it’s part of the settlement.

paul who?

It has come to my attention that Darryl slandered my name in his recent how to stand out on a crowded street post, by declaring my love for Paul Smith. Well he was wrong... because I actually love Paul Frank and I'm not flying anywhere for that Smith guy's pink store. Paul Frank and his stores are very cool.

Upon reviewing the case... Justus, Kevin and I all agree that it's about time Darryl surrendered his hipster ID card, for not knowing the difference between Paul Smith and Paul Frank.

I have filed a suit which is currently pending.

i want to know what love is

I wish I thought of this. Here's an outstanding agency self promotional effort for Exopolis - in the form of a cassette mix tape. Choose from the cheesiest love songs. Like Foreigner, Hall & Oates, Divinyls and more goodies. Send it to your valentine, and it personalizes it for them, and plays the song you've chosen. Stellar work. From Adrants.

bacteria portraits

The portrait above is comprised of 400 petri dishes, each with bacteria growth. Because oil painting is so last year. Artists - if you're looking for supplies - no need to go to Dick Blick - just stop by the VIA fridge, and load up on bacteria painting supplies.

we get paid for this

Since it doesn't seem that we'll win the best agency blog in the Battle of the Ad Blogs contest, we've got another fun voting site for you.

We just launched a site that we created for rap artist Bubba Sparxxx, MsNewBooty.com. (It's tasteless, but safe for work if you're allowed to see photos of butts like the one above.) But this is not about booty. This is about a sophisticated, viral online promotion tool. At least, that's what I'm telling my wife.

This is actually a fairly complicated interactive production. Girls can submit photos of their booty to the site. There's an extremely user-friendly info gathering and upload tool, that automatically crops and compresses the supplied image.

Images go to an admin area, where Bubba's trusted booty inspectors can view them (Mom, I want to be a booty inspector when I grow up.) Winners get approved, and uploaded to the site - again, using the admin tool.

Site visitors can vote on their favorite booty - with a user-friendly five-star selection method. The site automatically registers the user's vote, and calculates an average rating for each booty. Each week, there are new winners, and the best booty at the end of the contest gets to be in a Bubba Sparxx video.

Says David, who designed the site, "This conceptual work required significant field research. I spent many long nights in front of a computer screen, but in the end, I believe it was worth it."

This is a production that could be applied to your business too. Maybe not the booty part - but any promotion that requires user submissions, voting, and viral promotion. Get off your booty, and think about it!

tiny, tiny, games

"The world's smallest website," Guimp, has produced tiny versions of vintage arcade games. You can play Pong, Pac Man, Asteroids, and my favorite, Space Invaders in full 18 pixel glory.

real 3d projection from japan

A new invention by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
uses lasers to project real 3D images into the air. This device creates real 3d images - not the old school fool-your- eyes 3D, but the kind you can only make by blasting the nitrogen and oxygen in the air at fixed points, resulting in glowing plasma emissions kind of image.

This should make for some really cool point of purchase, and promotional possibilities. It's not clear whether or not you're required to wear silly green glasses, while projecting the image.

life takes visa

Visa just launched their new brand statement 'Life takes Visa’ replacing "It's Everywhere You Want to Be."

I'm sure the spots and associated campaign will be beautiful - but "Life Takes Visa?" So, what happens to life if you don't have a Visa card? You die? So you can't get through life without it? Feels a little harsh to me. I realize that life takes water. And oxygen. But Visa? "Everywhere you want to be" came across as aspirational. You want to have it. Not that you have to have it.

The infamous Lee Clow from TBWA was said to have hand picked the slogan. For reference, TBWA is the agency that has a Portugal office - that's kicking our ass in the Battle of the Ad Blogs for best Agency Blog. Just thought you'd like to know, in case you haven't voted yet.

how to stand out on a crowded street

When Leigh reads this, she's probably going to book a flight just so that she can see it in person. The new Paul Smith store in LA is totally pink. So simple. So cool.

it's da video bomb

What Digg is for news, Video Bomb is for viral video. People submit clips, and you can "bomb" your favorites. So many funny clips. So little time. Tell your boss you're working hard, and waste some of your day away. (VIA employees, ignore that last part.)

honesty is the best policy. really.

In our new transparent world, marketers really need to be genuine about brand building. There's a lot of hoopla over a handful of brands - especially Nvidia - that hired people to become members in forums, become trusted friends of people in online communities, and then post positive comments about Nvidia's products. And now the truth is coming out - and people are miffed. It will take a long time for Nvidia to shake this loose.

When I was a teenager, my dad used to say that you have to earn trust (which apparently, you can't do by missing your curfew.) Same goes in the brand building business. And especially online. You can fool some of the people some of the time - but eventually, the internet tells all.

this was my idea, i swear.

There are a few regular homeless people in our neighborhood, and we've created nicknames for them all - Spiderman, ABA, Zombie Woman. We create nicknames because we don't know them. I always thought it would be great to start a blog that interviewed a different homeless person each day. There are probably some fascinating stories to tell. And some interesting photographs to be had. And we're all curious to know.

Now, someone is doing something pretty close to that in Minneapolis. They're asking four questions to the freeway exit ramp beggars. The best ever answer to the "dream job" question, came from Lee Westmoreland: "I'd like to be a pirate. I think that would be a good job. Just give me a treasure chest; I'll be fine." Couldn't agree more.

20 minute brainstorm

We tried something new in our office the other day, and it worked out pretty well. Justus was looking for some input and ideas on a package design project that he's working on. Normally, we'd all get together in our brainstorm area, and see what happens.

But this time, we did a fast track brainstorm exercise. We stopped everything for 20 minutes - and each of us needed to come up with as many ideas and examples of cool packaging that we could, in that amount of time. Use the internet, use design annuals, any of the books in our library, just find as much as you can in twenty minutes.

We announced each five minute period "15 minutes left", and at the end "put our pencils down", and everyone shared what they came up with.

This was really effective. After 20 minutes, Justus had more than ten new ideas to play with. I think it was the 20 minute deadline that worked. No time to over-think. No time to worry about whether this idea was good enough. Just crammin' Try it sometime!

web 2.0 logos

Someone's collected a giant heap o' web 2.0 logos, and put together a collage. It's a great indication of logo trends. Absent: Swishes, circles, and globes (with a couple exceptions.) What's happening: cool type, bubbly type, glassine, great color combinations.

superbowl mid-morning after thoughts

I completely forgot about the Sprint crime deterrent spot, until reading 24 flinchin's review. That WAS a funny spot.

Diet Pepsi. C'mon. Couldn't you be remotely creative?

Burger King - mixed feelings here. I hated it - and I worship everything the Crispin gods do. Kevin and Justus thought it was great.

Lots of people coming down on the Stones. Here's my take - the Superbowl is now a product of government involvement in media, and a community (blame the person next to you) that has a problem accepting anything too creative in mass media. The White Stripes are not going to play the Superbowl. Just not going to happen. So accept it for what it is - a completely safe, G-rated, appropriate for everyone including grandma rock show. Yes, they eliminated the "dead man come" lyric. Understand that there are now huge constraints over what can be done on television (until the internet replaces it.) Rant over. Deep relaxation breath.

all the superbowl spots in one place

You can watch all of the Superbowl spots in one place (even watch them back to back for 20 minutes of fun) at Google video.

superbowl stuff

Adrants has the most terrific rundown of spots, with quick reviews.

I agree - the Emerald Nuts ad was stupid. The Toyota Tacoma ad should be considered false advertising. The Ameriquest ads get my vote for most memorable. Really funny.

And the half-time show - rocked. Mick explained to everyone just how old he was, by admitting that they could have played the first SuperBowl. And he proceeded to rock. Or at least he danced really well in a belly shirt. We all should hope that we can move like that, when we're his age. Even better - you can see the Rolling Stones banners that we designed (!) on the official Sprint download site.

Probably most importantly, my system of picking the winning team based on brand equity of the team name and uniform design was proven correct. Either that, or the refs just didn't like the Seahawks.

broke back parodies

Two funny Broke Back parodies - Broke Mac Mountain and Broke Back to the Future. Both have been around for a few days now, but I figured that you'd appreciate, nonetheless.

superbowl ad guide

Adland has posted a complete rundown of the ads scheduled for this weekend's big game. Now you can plan your bathroom breaks appropriately.

If you really want to catch both the game and the spots, I'd suggest heading to the can during the Buena Vista Pictures spot, promoting the "Shaggy Dog" remake starring Tim Allen. We could all take a bathroom break during that one.

everything is online

For me, the last part of the puzzle to run our business apps as web based tools is finally here. We run several web based applications - so that employees can have access to the tools they need wherever they are.

I use Backpackit exclusively as my 'to do' organizer, and project planner. We use 'writeboards' to generate copy drafts that team members (and clients) across the country can access and edit from the road. And of course, del.icio.us to keep track of our bookmarks. And a while ago, we created our own custom CRM solution for our agency, that allows us to have access to all of our clients, friends and other contacts with a web-based tool. It's pretty cool.

One of the only things missing was a good, web-based calendar program. Until now. This sunday, it appears that the answer is here. 30 Boxes is launching a web based calendar. And it's a social networking site - which might sound scary when it comes to sharing your calendar - but imagine this:
  • Tagging any event on your calendar, and deciding who on your buddy list can view certain tags.
  • See your buddies events on your calendar
  • A calendar that accepts RSS feeds, flickr links and more.
This will change everything! I'll be testing this out for VIA starting Monday - ask me for updates if you're interested.

mashups are the future, baby.

I've blogged before about our in-house sound system. We have speakers througout our workplace, and there's music playing around the clock. I get a lot of flack for always putting mashups in the system. Like Q-Unit - a mashup of 50 Cent and Queen. Some people just don't appreciate cool music.

Well now, Influx points out that the term is being used to describe business relationships, with a few examples. A business mashup describes the practice of using open source code to create "mashups" of existing applications - to create something entirely different, or better as a combination.

There are countless examples of Google map mashups - using Google maps for other smart applications. Recently, Amazon opened up their code, and mashups have resulted. Perhaps the future corporation will have a mashup department - one floor above the merger and acquisitions department.

go daddy makes the superbowl

Go Daddy received approval on their spot. You can see it now, on AdJab, or just wait for Sunday.

truckers mad at coke.

Truckers are pissed at Coke - and want them to pull their Superbowl ad for Full Throttle (Free registration required to see article - or email me, and I'll send you a copy)

Says some trucker: “It’s taking every negative stereotype about the trucking industry and using it to sell a product. It totally ignores the trucking industry and the 3 million drivers who do their job safely every day." Personally, I'm more worried about the ugly package design. But that's just me.

Maybe they should all just sit down and enjoy the other "new" Coke energy product - Tab - which has a beautiful new package design, and ad campaign to match. Perhaps a can of Tab might make everyone relax. In an energy drink kind of way.

nike air campaign

Cool Nike billboard promoting the new Nike Air Max 360 shoes.

go daddy ads in time for superbowl?

Go Daddy has posted a timeline, along with storyboards and clips of each of the 14 spots submitted to ABC for approval to run during the Superbowl. And still no approval. As of this morning, their site claims that they're still waiting on word from the censors.

They've done an excellent job of promoting this ridiculousness - in the media, and on Bob parsons blog. I wonder if the network would have approved the ads if they replaced their now infamous model Candice Michelle with Betty White. From AdJab
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