Here's what happened this week at the world's most non-dull design and branding firm:
We started work on a very cool promotion for Janet Jackson. It's going to be talked about everywhere, and seen by everyone. We're really excited, and can't wait to show you. Saw some gorgeous Janet photography, in the process.
Giuli's been here for two weeks now, and hasn't kicked anyone in the shins yet. We think that's a good sign.
We took on a couple of new clients this week - including a construction company, that builds the most jaw-dropping homes in some of the most affluent neighborhoods in America.
We're talking about maybe planning a VIA spelunking trip.
Finally, the founder of our favorite law firm spent a few days in the hospital earlier this week. He swears his ailment was brought on by the stress of not being featured on BrandFlakes. Texting from his hospital bed: "I keep hearing about how excited you are about branding dog food. And what's this crap about you pretending to actually have a social conscious and being enamored about your new Adoption Foundation client? If you (BrandFlakes) had been focusing on truly important people like me, and my tireless work of resdistributing wealth in this country...then you would be doing something other than just playing on your rooftop and eating frozen organic pizzas..." Redistributing wealth. Hehe. To which we reply - "Don't be a hater."
In his honor, we've included his photo above, instead of a saucy Janet Jackson photo. We're feeling the love.
This outstanding ad for Guinness is winning all kinds of awards, and getting loads of well-deserved attention in our industry. (Also check out the making of the spot.)
Figuring that everyone's already seen it, I hadn't posted anything on it. And then Eliza sent me this post on Shakespeare's Sister, who points out:
These adverts, of course, only run in Britain, where things like evolution—and Guinness being a fundamental part of life—aren’t up for debate.
Is there anything more pathetic than the thought that this commercial, if run in the States, would probably elicit a boycott care of the fundies, but the beer ad I saw last night in which a woman "hustles" free drinks for her brother and his mate using her feminine wiles against stupidly horny men, doesn't even raise most eyebrows?
Sadly, I believe she's right.
We've been discussing how unnecessary the phone is within our daily business life lately. So it's especially entertaining to read this post from the Guardian about the inefficiency of voicemail. An excerpt:
"It takes much longer to deal with the voicemail than the original message. People ramble. They say their phone number veryquicklyindeedinonebreath. They mumble. They use phones that seem to be located underwater. It's all wasted time."
The whole post is funny - and dead on. From LifeHacker.
The July issue of Wired has another article about how the entertainment industry has changed forever. This one's actually an excerpt from The Long Tail, a new book by Chris Anderson. Titled The Rise and Fall of the Hit, (not available online until 7/6), the excerpt talks about how the entertainment business has now been broken into fragments.
The niche is now king. I was particularly impressed with the graph shown above - which details how TV's number one show is attracting an ever dwindling piece of the pie. Think American Idol was huge? Less than half the marketshare of Gunsmoke in 1961.
Cannes, Cannes, Cannes. World Cup, World Cup, World Cup. Can't wait till they're both over. Anyway, here's another World Cup ad. This one from Budweiser. It would be amazing if they actually choreographed something like this - but not at all impressive when you consider it's likely all CG. From AdJab.
The Toronto Zoo just launched a campaign titles Jealous Animals. It's really cool. And a little creepy. There are three spots, all featuring animals that get jealous when you visit other animals in the zoo. There's a pretty funny companion website, MySpace profile, and more. Work done by the ever-wonderful Lowe Roche, Toronto.
Logic + Emotion has the most social mediatastic post about how everything's changed for brands, and the immediate worldwide power that a single consumer now holds. Written so much better than I could summarize - so just click on the link and read it.
So simple, so stupid, but yet I bet you'll spend too much time here. I did. A new viral for Sonic lets you mix a drink for TJ. Get the right combination out of 168,894 possibilities, and you'll win a free drink. If you want the correct combination, check the comments. From Adrants.
Today is your last chance to vote for us in Marketing Sherpa's 3rd Annual Best Blog & Podcasts contest. You have until midnight tonight. But don't put this off. You know you'll say to yourself, I'll do that at the end of the day. Or as soon as I get home. But you won't. You're too easily distracted. Just vote now. Look for us (and some other wonderful blogs) in the "advertising" category. Vote now.
The New York Times shows a few blue chip identity makeovers, in their reporting about the Citigroup umbrella tossing. And maybe Travelers wants the umbrella back. Maybe they'll purchase the 16-foot, 5,300-pound steel statue of it currently resting in lower Manhattan.
The London Underground has begun replacing static billboards with projected video screens. Passengers waiting for trains are now entertained by video ads, directly opposite the platform. This, the same week that video-like blimps are announced. And now Screens, a blog about internet video. Looks like video is back - big time.
Goth day at Disneyland kicks off this August. I've always wanted to attend one of these - they must be a blast. This would be a cool promotion opportunity, for someone like Hot Topic. The Disney un-authorized "special days" are basically flash mobs, started long before flash mobs ever existed. Goth day at Disney is one of a couple of unauthorized days - the other, equally famous, is gay day. From Boing Boing.
American Express just came out with a card that folds up into a keychain. Really cool idea, that they should open up to all of their members (not just gold). And they should make available multiple keychain types, to match the varied personalities of their audience. From Cool Hunting.
For those of you that follow (or care) about our office gossip, Leigh got married this weekend. The wedding was wonderful, Leigh was beautiful, blah blah blah. That's the girly stuff. Here's the dirt:
Kevin was the messiest eater of the VIA staff in attendance. Evidence is here. It's a good thing he's officially left the company - because now we can clean up our image.
David was forced to the dance floor, thanks to some meddling by Leigh's new husband and a band/crowd chant. Truth be told, they pushed me onto the floor too.
This may be the last blurry photo of Justus and his wife Tricia together, as I noted that Justus was putting some funky moves on Leigh's mom, while on the dance floor. I think she enjoyed it. Tricia was quick to attach herself to Leigh's dad. That's the effect of a good Rick James song. What happens on the dance floor,
Leigh would be horrified that we're publishing photos already - but she's off on her honeymoon, doing things that you do on a honeymoon (tour Alaska, of course).
Here's what happened this week at the totally rockin' design and brand firm:
+ Leigh left to get married. The wedding is on Sunday. We'll be sure to document (with photos) who gets embarassingly drunk, and who dances poorly. I've got my money on Justus and Kevin. We told Leigh that we've organized a tail-gate party prior to the event. Anything to make her more nervous and stressed.
+ Giuli joined the team at VIA. It's Friday, and she hasn't left screaming, or weeping - so that's a pretty good sign.
+ We won four Art Director Club awards!
+ David got approval on revised design for the Lenny Kravitz site. Should launch in the next few weeks.
+ Lots of production work this week. We're really close to launching four new websites. We had a very productive brainstorm for the redesign of the National Adoption Foundation site. A few billboards went out this week. One set is for ski resort Mohawk Mountain, and I'll bet they win awards. We can't show them to you until December.
Son of a Pitch is blogging from the WOMMA sessions this week, and has posted 15 golden rules of blogging, as presented by Mark Schiller, CEO of Electric Artists. Some good advice if you're thinking of starting that corporate blog:
1. Recognize that every client has a different set of business objectives - are you blogging to reach a specific niche or blogging to increase customer loyalty and boost sales?
2. Don't get hung up on results - document your process give your audience a peek behind the curtain of your company.
3. Don't force your employees to blog - passion can't be faked.
4. "Copywriter" does not equal "blogger" - the worst blogs are those that over-written.
5. Offer advice and recommendations to your readers - you are the expert after all.
6. Always strive to be best in class.
7. Avoid stealth blogs; character blogs are bad, too.
8. Share your plans with your lawyers and PR team - get them involved early.
9. Don't let your branding or advertising compete with your content.
10. Let your bloggers publish early - give them the scoop.
11. Update frequently - every day if possible.
12. Start conversations that encourage your readers to participate and come back for more.
13. Keep your content eclectic.
14. Make sure that your bloggers are prepared to respond to legal issues should they arise.
15. Be benevolent.
Justus, pictured above, says follow the rules, or he'll be giving you a beat-down.
There were some server problems at Marketing Sherpa, leaving some people unable to vote for their favorite blogs in their 3rd Annual Best Blog & Podcasts contest. They're extending the contest until end of day Monday. So if you haven't already voted, please go to the Marketing Sherpa survey, and look for us in the "advertising" blogs category.
It's also a fantastic list of all the blogs you should be reading, if you didn't have work to do, and could read blogs all day long.
Eckerd College has brilliantly utilized social media to provide the most awesome tool for their incoming freshman. They may in fact be the only college anywhere, offering this tool.
They've created an online community for high school seniors who have been accepted into the school. When they join Triton Connect, they get to meet their classmates from around the country, and adjust to college life well before they arrive. This is the way to use social interactive media. A real tool, that provides a valuable benefit to their clients. High School students can feel more comfortable entering college, knowing that they've already made a few friends on line.
Student's aren't sold to - but instead are provided with real social networking tools, in a community that they develop, grow and blog in. Nicely done.
Casey Pacquet from Eckerd points out another interesting fact. They've been running this program for 3 years, and this year's user generated content has been racier than all previous years. Casey attributes this to the MySpace effect. I agree.
The site also won a well deserved gold award from CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) last year. Big money Universities - pay attention!
I guess this is kind of obvious by now, but was funny in the way we came to this realization. Giuli joined our team this week. She started on Monday. At the end of the day on Tuesday, we realized that her phone was never setup. And she hadn't received training on the phone system. And you know what? It didn't matter.
Two days into the job, and she didn't need the phone once. Her email and IM were of course setup within the first hour of employment - but phones? So over. One co-worker coined a new phrase in the process - since he works in a different city, he IM-troduced himself to her. Hehe. Yes, we're dorks.
You've got a website. A flickr and MySpace presence. But are you doing business in Second Life? Seems like every day there's a new story about a bold new business or branding investment happening in the online world of Second Life.
Two great recent examples - American Apparel just opened up a retail store within the game. And - if you're wondering how you might do the same, or get your brand in on the action - you should attend the "Avatar Marketing: What Is the Future for Real-Life Companies Marketing to Second Life Avatars?" Conference. You won't need to book a flight or hotel - the entire conference takes place in Second Life, this Friday afternoon. From Micro Persuasion.
We won four new Art Director Club Awards last night:
One gold - for DataAddicstAnonymous,
Two silver - for ProtectThePets, and the SnowJam Snowboards product catalog, and one Excellence - for ProtectThePets b2b category.
Congrats to Justus, Leigh, Eliza, Paul, Chris, Brent and everyone else who helped out on these projects. Oh yeah - and thanks to the clients who made it all possible.
Justus, who took home a gold, already called and said he'd be in late this morning. He wanted to hang around the house a little bit, in case the Good Morning America team shows up. Leigh, who took home two silvers and an excellence, says that she expects to be presented with a tierra today, in a formal ceremony.
MarketingSherpa has included BrandFlakesForBreakfast in their 3rd Annual Best Blog & Podcasts contest. We're in the "advertising" blog category.
Please take 30 seconds and vote for us. Voting ends this Friday at midnight - so hurry, and get three friends in your office to vote too. We need all the help we can get - we're in the same same category as the big guys. And some of our very own favorite blogs!
Nike's ad celebrating the day of England's World Cup match against Sweden is creating a bit of a stir. The concept uses the English tradition of hanging a flag out your window to support the national team. So they made a bloody flag.
I think I might have posted on this like a year ago, but I'm too lazy to look it up. Even so - worthy of another mention. Agency 86 the Onions has created a unique homeless project, called Project Hello.
The project attempts to put a name on the face of the individuals who live in our streets. The online gallery and exhibitions around the country feature photographs of homeless people holding a "hello my name is" sign, with their name written in their own handwriting. The project's goal is to raise awareness about the world's growing homeless problem.
They've even got a section of the site where you can download your own tools to participate in the project locally. Which means, I guess, that we need to stop referring to our favorite local as "zombie woman." Sorry.
You can bill this as "creative inspiration," when your boss wants to know what you've been doing all morning. An entire collection of 80's music videos. Funny, hilarious, scary, freaky, and embarrassing. Here's how I wasted my hour:
- Chaka Kahn - I feel for you
- Paul Hardcastle - 19
- Visage - Fade to Grey (what video looked like before After Effects)
- Pointer Sisters - I'm so Excited (I bet they play this at Leigh's wedding this weekend)
- The Cure - Boys Don't Cry
- English Beat - Mirror in the Bathroom
- Lene Lovich - New Toy
- ELO - All over the World (nice outfits)
- Black Flag - Six Pack (Rollins could still kick your ass)
- PIL - This is Not a Love Song (what a $200 production budget looks like)
- Psychedelic Furs - Heaven (This guy actually stuck up for me, once)
- Joy Division - Love Will Tear us Apart
- Bow Wow Wow - I Want Candy (I had the biggest crush on Annabella)
- Lords of the New Church - Dance with me (Check out the classic 80's typography in the background)
We've just hired Giuli (pronounced "Julie") to replace Kevin. You'll see that she's much better looking than Kevin. Here's a few other things of interest about the newest member to our team:
+ She says "y'all". We informed her in the interview that we'll make fun of her incessantly about this.
+ She used to work at Renegade Marketing, was a vampire, and actually worked for a company named ACME. She swears her boss wasn't the Road Runner.
+ She's lived in NYC, Fort Lauderdale, North Carolina, Virginia and now CT.
+ She likes soundtracks. We think that's weird.
+ We've already nicknamed her Julia Goolia.
If you'd like to send her a big howdy, you can do that at giuliATviaworldwideDOTcom
Here's the perfect graduation gift for that nephew of yours. Genpets - the first mass produced, bioengineered pets. Choose from several different varieties - including "imaginative and spiritual", "athletic and energetic", and several other models. It's not real of course, but this site concept is awesome. Well done.
Wake up you sleepy head. You can sleep when you are dead. Little bit creepy and completely funny spot for Folgers Coffee.
American Copywriter accurately points out that the companion website has absolutely nothing to do with the wonderful spot above. Why, why, why???
Long story that involves a lightning strike and some home network issues - but the short version is that I used the Geek Squad service yesterday.
Major props for total brand immersion. They've established a brand, and carried it out as far as physically possible. You've of course seen the cars around town, and the geeks in skinny ties - all of which is very cool. But when I called Geek Squad (800-geek-squad), to make an appointment (that's right, a bona fide appointment,) their voice system was actually entertaining (try it!). I can't remember the last time I called a customer service line that didn't leave me frustrated. This was really enjoyable.
And it didn't end there. My geek John (who knows Macs!), showed up on time. I've become accustomed to - almost expect - service people who bitch about their jobs or their employers. Not John. He enjoyed his job. He said great things about Geek Squad. Was even excited about their future growth plans. More importantly, he solved my problem in minutes - and even had necessary parts in the Geek Squad car. The transaction was all taken care of using their web-based system. Even the notes on my receipt are written in Geek Squad style. And John left his email address. Not "email@example.com". But HIS email address.
The website, the phone system, the car, the people, the business card, the collateral - all singing the Geek Squad brand loud and clear. What a great customer and brand experience.
Here's what happened this week at the world's most stupendous design and branding firm:
We've won four Art Director Club Awards. Our work on the SnowJam product catalog and DataAddictsAnonymous.com each garnered an award, and ProtectThePets.com actually won two awards. We're getting four awards total, and we find out at the show on Tuesday whether we get gold, silver or excellence. Anything short of gold, and we're kickin' some ass.
We finished second interviews for Kevin's position. We met some really cool, fun people. We should be making an announcement shortly.
On Wednesday, our elevator broke. Everyone had to walk up four flights of stairs. Waaaaa.
Eliza and David began strategic and conceptual work on a new site for the National Adoption Foundation. They're a great company that's doing some wonderful work, and we're about to help take them to the next level.
The sun finally came out in the northeast. Time to enjoy summer hours to their fullest.
Digg, the most incredible tech-oriented news source, is about to expand outside of tech news, and include other content categories. The dudes over at Valleywag caught a peek at what the new interface looks like.
If you're not already familiar with Digg, its a social based news source - where users submit stories, and readers can "digg" them. The most popular stories make it to the front page. It's become a reliable source of news on everything tech.
I can't wait to get all of my news from Digg - then I won't have to listen to six days of
This article paints a horrific picture of the corporate world, and how ineffective brainstorming can be in bad environments. Reading the article actually freaked me out a bit - when you read between the lines at what sad work environments these people spend their days in.
There's a quote from Paul Baard, a professor of organizational psychology at Fordham University's School of Business, who suggests to the corporate creeps that they should start off like this: "No one, present or not here, is going to be hurt during this process. We will not be using ridicule ... ."
I'm sorry - but any environment that requires a statement like that is too far gone. It's impossible to put politics and agendas aside for a 60 minute brainstorm. If they exist, they exist.
As an agency, we've seen both sides of the fence. I've certainly visited clients similar to the ones featured in the article - who are more concerned with blame and agendas. And I can't imagine spending a day in any one of these places.
But I've also been inspired by fantastic creative environments. I'm always impressed when the President of a company walks into a conference room and people don't tense up. Even better, employees keep smiling, keep joking - even comfortable enough to tease their leader. Maybe even comfy enough to wear a hot dog mascot costume for a company production. That's a President who's created an environment free of politics, where people can truly be creative. Successful brainstorms come from people who are comfortable with themselves, and in their jobs. Not just for 60 minutes - but for their careers.
Scion is hip to the fact that teens and tweens influence their parent's purchases. That's why they've invested in product placement on Whyville.net, an online interactive community of 8 - 15 year olds.
And its working. Ten days into the campaign, Toyota experienced a jump in online chat about Scion, virtual Scion sales within Whyville, and visitors to the virtual Club Scion. Not only are these kids influencing their parents decisions, but they're also forming their own brand opinions. Opinions they could likely carry into their driving years.
We just starting working on a new project for a client in the adoption field, and are stoked to see these spots for the AdoptUsKids campaign, a cooperative agreement between the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children & Families, the US Department of Health & Human Services, and the Adoption Exchange Association. Really nice work.
Leonard writes a neat post (can I say "neat", and not be categorized in the same group as Lee Iacocca?) about what technology that exists today will be essential in our future. He's made some interesting predictions about what we won't live without in 2011. Among his predictions: smart phones, RFID, and shared everything, which is cool.
Promo Magazine reports on a new Miller Beer summertime promotion. Talking cans. Lucky beer drinkers pop the top of their can, and it tells them they've won one of many special prizes. This all sounds very familiar. I realize that Miller isn't at the top of the list of premium beer brands - but doesn't this cheapen the product? Does a quality beer come in talking cans? The promotion is aimed at 21 - 27 year old males. I'm sure there's plenty of market research to support the concept, but I'm not buying.
Lots of blog coverage on the Sasquatch Jack Links promotion. I was writing it off as another average viral, until I really started poking around. The writing in this production is really good. My favorite part is the Sasquatch MySpace profile. And Jim Croce. So funny.
Every Art Director must have a story about something that's gone to print, that shouldn't have. Years ago, at another employer, I remember a comment written by a Sales Manager on a proof, in a profile about some poor librarian. The Sales Manager wrote a reference to a whiskey ad on the proofing sheet, where the librarian was featured. The designer didn't get the joke, and the next thing you know, a completely innocent librarian has been branded a drunk.
That's what came to mind for me, when I saw "you fucking new", accidently inserted into the middle of an SEC filing. Pretty sure that wasn't intentional. What funny mistakes have you seen go to print?
While the mainstream media is still focused on predators, and how employers are checking out students MySpace pages, Fox Interactive launched MySpace Careers last night.
I believe this could be a huge property. Here's a gimongous audience of people who need jobs, and it seems as if the job market is (almost) booming again - this is the perfect timing for MySpace to reinvent jobsearch. They've essentially culled together listings from Yahoo jobs, CareerBuilder, and other job sites. We'll see how this one develops. What other services does the MySpace audience need? What's next in the MySpace economy? From TechCrunch.
I'm really liking the new Liberty Mutual spot. It makes me feel good inside. Or maybe it's the burrito I just finished. Great positioning as the "responsible" brand. According to Hill Holliday, who created the campaign, they're building a brand message around the core human value of personal responsibility. Beautiful work.
Jeff Lange blogs about his visit to Mouse Surplus - a monsterous warehouse filled with old Disney theme park stuff. Amazing. I'm always inspired by artwork that's often referred to as "yesterday's picture of tomorrow," like the piece above. Jeff's found some really cool examples. And the store looks amazing. That monorail car would be the most awesome brainstorm room. Or conference room. Imagine holding meetings inside a monorail car??? From BoingBoing.