We just left the office to take one of our creative excursions - getting away from our computers, and experiencing something different.
Today, appropriately, we created gravestone rubbings. Or I guess you could say, we got tired of annoying our clients and decided to annoy dead people instead.
Gravestones are always a wonderful source for beautiful type, and old world graphics, and we experienced both. Giuli also found an empty grave. Hmmm.
You can see the Flickr photo set here. (Leigh was being all dark and mysterious - and didn't show up in pictures - further proving that she's a vampiress.)
Plane crash lawn decor. Oh my.
Skeleton on motorcycle. An oldie but a goodie.
Flaming bag of poo. (Thanks Donnie!)
Cool party posters from an Amsterdam ad agency.
Industrial Light and Magic's costume party. How George Lucas rolls.
Freaky geeky costumes
Google's top 10 pumpkin searches. Not at all sure why you need this information.
Make the Logo Bigger has a great rundown of the movies you should be renting this week.
Joseph Jaffe points to a fantastic headline that's music to my ears: Better ROI From YouTube Video Than Super Bowl Spot. Hwa ha ha ha ha.
Second Life just announced a price increase for land in the virtual environment. The price for islands went up over 30%. Yikes. That's more than Manhattan real estate in the middle of a boom. Existing residents aren't happy. And the real money is only beginning to enter the game - as the ad agencies and major brands begin to discover this untapped audience.
Justus, in our office, pictured above, says "The stars and stripes that I wear on my ass are a symbol. A symbol of the dollars and cents spent by hard working people in virtual environments. Hard working people trying to earn a good living, and buy a good virtual home. These are the people that I stand behind. This is why I wear pants."
He didn't really say anything like that - but it would have been a good excuse for those pants, if he did.
I was fortunate to check out the Jules Feiffer exhibit now on display at SVA in NYC.
I don't usually go for what I call "high brow" cartoons. In fact, when I think of cartoons, I usually imagine South Park. Or the Simpsons. Not the stuff that requires a little bit of intellect to comprehend. Not Pulitzer Prize-winning, not New York Times, not New Yorker type cartoons.
But I checked out his show anyway. And it was quite the inspiration. One piece in particular, was completely inspiring - and if I can find a link to it somewhere, I'll add that later.
It's always great to see how other creative people think - so to see Jules' sketch and writing process on a legal pad - next to the published piece (pictured above) - amazing. Check it out, if you have a chance. The show ends on December 2.
Concord Litho announces a new smellriffic printing process that allows them to print scented paper. An improvement on the old scratch and sniff method, Concord's method embeds the scent into the varnish - so that it apparrently lasts longer - and is released when touched. We're going to try it out, and will report the details. From industrial brand creative.
Mmmm. Everyone here makes fun of me because I still grow facial hair like a 14 year old kid. One day, I'll have real whiskers. But until then, I think this will do - an Oreo Cookie dessert mustache. Work by The Perlorian Brothers, for JWT New York.
Here's what happened this week at the most already-missing-summer design and branding firm:
Our new package design for HeadBlade's new razor, the HeadBlade sport, is now available in stores. We've been stoked about the design for some time now, and we're happy to finally show the world. We'll have to get a better shot - cuz the one above really doesn't do it justice. If you shave your head, this is a must-have.
We started work on a massive Second Life project. Can't give details just yet, but I think this will be a ton of fun for everyone involved.
The remodel of our lunch area came to a screeching halt, as our plumber fell off a two story building (on another project, not ours!) He lived. He's fine - he just can't walk right now. We're searching for a new plumber, with two working legs, to keep this moving forward.
We produced some really nice conceptual work for a GPS device website - (for another agency, so we can't give the details). It's great working with a larger agency every once in a while, and to collaborate with other creatives.
We received the forms for our season passes to Mohawk Mountain. All of our employees get a season pass for maximum ski and snowboard action. It's the only thing that makes the early sunsets more tolerable.
Giuli's getting supplies today for gravestone rubbing. I think we're taking a field trip on Monday or Tuesday of next week. Should be fun.
Crayon launched their new marketing company in Second Life today. Sounds like a wonderful venture, with some remarkable people. I missed the presentation, but made it just in time for a fun cocktail party.
Meanwhile, the Second Life press releases continue to roll out - agency by agency. Adrants points to some great discussion about how marketers need to be careful about driving full speed into Second Life. Like any audience, Second Life residents are understandably becoming resentful about these big agencies jumping in and taking credit for inventing their world.
We too, are about to launch a couple totally awesome projects in Second Life. But we're being careful to consider the audience. This reminds me of some of the work we've done with action sports companies - in the skateboard, mountain bike and snowboard industries. We laughed hard when the big agencies tried to latch onto this demographic by adding the word "extreme" to everything they did, a few years ago. Of course, to the genuine audience, using the word "extreme" was an immediate red flag, symbolic of un-cool, corporate generated crap. Everything "X" or "extreme" was usually the work of an out-of-touch Creative Director (or client) attempting to identify with the stereotypes of the audience they thought they knew.
So when it comes to Second Life - we all need to be careful not to make the same mistake. Let's be true to the existing members who were here long before us, as well as the hundreds of thousands that will come in the next few months. At our firm, we're spending good time learning about and respecting the audience, and creating something that's genuine and useful to them. And we're not going to be EXTREME.
Most excellent way of bringing an ad into the weather forecast. Yes - the weather forecast. Sun beer in Brazil, as featured on the sunny day forecast online. Even better, the suns click through to the beer's website. Think sun. From American Copywriter.
Mountain Dew is re-tooling it's brand image. They're dumping the 13-year-old "Do the Dew" theme and moving from their "extreme" positioning. Which is good, since "extreme" ended the day they made it successful.
Mountain Dew was the only Pepsico soda brand to gain marktshare last year. Most other sodas have suffered the fate of the anti-soda movement - as people now enjoy getting their sugar from waters, teas and coffees.
According to BrandWeek, VP-Marketing Frank Cooper says that the infamous "Do the Dew," theme goes too. Cooper says "If you change the whole approach, you have to change that. Although we might wink at it."
Inspiring video titled "free hugs" has received over 4 million views. And that's just YouTube. That's a lot of exposure for Sick Puppies - the band that provided the soundtrack. Any doubt about the media landscape changing?
Excellent work. Even the star of the spot comments on the YouTube: "The best anti-smoking video ever made! Of course, Im bias. Im the cowboy in the video! (PS: Is not a TRACHEOTOMY, ITS A LARYNGECTOMY)HELP SPREAD THE TRUTH!"
This is an idea a friend of mine, Rob had about two years ago - but didn't have the time to realize it (or the creative directors who would listen). VW in the UK is offering customers the option of vinyl decals for their cars, created by up-and-coming artists and illustrators.
Hat's off Rob - you're two years ahead of the curve.
Last week, the Gap launched Piperlime - a new online store for shoes. Similar to Zappos, the store features NON-Gap brands. This is a new model for the Gap - and some say it could be part of a new merchandising model for their other stores - harkening back to the day when you could buy Levis at the Gap. Interesting development. Thanks Laura!
Wow. I was just notified by the Cambridge Who's Who Among Executive and Professional Women, that I've been chosen to be included in their book. I believe this is pretty impressive - because I'll bet I'm the only man on the list.
Granted, this comes a day after I've admitted to liking Tab. Maybe that was the clincher for the professional women. According to the letter that I just received, "Recognition of this kind is an honor shared by thousands of executive and professional women throughout America each year." Thousands of executive women - and I guess, me.
I'm completing the form, and submitting a profile. This should be a gas.
I get made fun of a lot because my new favorite energy drink is Tab. You know, the girl's energy drink that comes in cute pink cans. I'll support nearly any product because of great advertising or package design. And Tab's new cans are beautiful work.
So I laughed pretty hard when Adfreak pointed to the old Tab spots from the 70's. When I was growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, my best friend's mom was a Tab model. Kind of a Stacie's Mom moment in my life.
The funny thing is, I don't know of any girls that drink Tab. I'm wondering how the product is doing. I believe they're missing some pretty cool marketing opportunities - and I'm worried it's going to dissapear from the grocer's shelves. Tab: Call us. We want to help.
Bill Baker criticizes the new Knicks advertising campaign, titled "Experience the Growth."
Yikes. I have to agree. Are you kidding me? Experience the Growth says that if I attend a game, I might leave with a growth on my body. Gross.
Or, even if I read it as the Knicks would like, how does their growth make the experience more enjoyable for me? Did the brand completely forget they were talking to an audience here? Not investors? Ugly advertising. Thanks Bill!
Joseph Jaffe is about to do something really big. Again. The author of “Life after the 30-second spot”, and producer of one of my favorite podcasts Across the Sound is launching a new company, Crayon.
In his own words:
In short, crayon is a shape-shifter; a mash-up; a company that integrates the best of the consulting, agency, advisory, thought leadership and education worlds. crayon’s goal is to help our clients:
• Amplify, extend and enhance relevance, experience and value through bold, alternative and non-traditional approaches
• Join the conversation
• Create disproportionate positive business impact
Think of it as the marketing services embodiment of “Life after the 30-second spot” and then some.
More will be announced at a meeting in Second Life on Thursday. Keep your ear to the blogosphere.
It's funny that how with the new media landscape, it's easier than ever to reach a national, or international audience. But meanwhile, I'd argue that it's become more difficult to reach a smaller, local/regional audience.
People don't read newspapers like they used to. They're spending less time with television. And radio...is that even still around?
Duct Tape Marketing has an excellent post with a list of ideas on how you can reach that local audience. This is some great advice for any small or regional businesses.
So our agency is back in action today, after a long weekend in Puerto Rico, attending the VIA 2007 Planning Meetings.
You can see the Flickr photo set here (about 2/3 way down, under VIA field trips). We'll be adding more shots over the next couple of days.
Our meetings were really incredible - and we're stoked about some really cool ideas that we'll be implementing over the next 12 months. Here's a quick overview of the stuff we can tell you about so far:
BrandFlakes: Some major content concepts for our blog here, that should give all of our readers even more excuses to stop working, and start reading. I think we've come up with a couple of ideas that really aren't being done anywhere - and will have great value to marketers. More soon.
VIA holiday card: Our agency has built a little bit of a reputation for outlandish holiday cards. A super productive brainstorm netted the concept that could very well top them all. Just wait.
VIA Publishing: I've been working on a book, marrying punk rock philosophy to branding. I've written a couple of articles that touch on the concept - here, and here. We came up with some ideas that are going to make this happen in a fresh, inspiring way.
VIA client service: We're planning to open BaseCamp to our clients, so they'll have online access to all of their projects, and be able to collaborate with us in new ways. We'll begin testing this in December, with a goal of launching in January/February.
And there were quite a few other awesome brainstorms, producing some really fun ideas, and some new plans that will make us a better, stronger, and more wonderful agency. I'm stoked.
And, there was also quite a bit of fun:
On the way to the rain forest, we stopped at a taco stand in the middle of nowhere, for lunch. Really funny scene with five people who can't speak a word of Spanish, and two taco makers who can't speak a word of English. A bunch of delicious surprise food followed.
I discovered the Puma outlet store in old San Juan. Mmmmmm. Puma.
Cramming five people into a cab never gets tired.
They were shooting an episode of Kidnapped in Puerto Rico, and all of the actors stayed in our hotel. Giuli got to meet an actor from one of her favorite shows, Oz.
Mmmmm. Lots of excellent Puerto Rican food.
One of the most amazing life experiences EVER. And worth the trip to Puerto Rico, all on it's own - the bioluminescence tour. Words can't describe this - as the ocean actually glows in the dark with movement. We kayaked out well after sunset, and swam in a lagoon with bioluminescent micro thing-a-ma-jigs. I don't remember all of the science around all of these creatures - but the effect is stunning. The water actually glows in the dark when you touch it, move it, splash it. There are only seven places in the world where this phenomenon exists, and three of them are in Puerto Rico. AMAZING.
Phew. Looking forward to 2007.
A new voter awareness spot uses the classic "ooh, they're talking about sex" concept. You've seen this idea popup about once a month. "The big O" for overstock.com, and and a few others have used it recently.
Can we retire this for a while? Are viewers really that amazed that people might be talking about sex? Or are they really that surprised when they learn it's not talk about sex? Gufaw, Gufaw, they're not talking about sex. It's a commercial. Hardee har, har, har! Please, please, please kill this concept.
For those of you who care to follow, VIA planning meetings have officially kicked off. Giuli booked us at an awesome hotel - the Normandie in San Juan - where apparently all of the beautiful people hang out (so we fit right in). David compared the scene to the Mondrian, in Los Angeles, only a little less upscale, and fewer blonde people.
Cosmopolitan Magazine was throwing a party in the hotel last night, so of course we invited ourselves. Lots of more beautiful people. And we met some girls in fur bikinis, from Finlandia. They were there to promote some new tequila brand for Finlandia. Recognizing what an awesome promotional idea that fur bikinis were, Giuli figured it would be best to document this with a photo. Justus and I begrudgingly agreed.
Later this morning, we kickoff a full day of meetings. Yes, meetings. No fur bikinis. Lots of plannning, strategizing and brainstorming.
We're closing the office and heading off to Puerto Rico today, for our annual VIA planning meetings. Posts will likely be light over the next couple of days - but I'll be sure to post details and pics of any VIA staffers who do anything embarassing. And with all of the rum available in Puerto Rico, I'm sure there will be quite a bit of that going on...
No doubt sparked by the VIA presence, nearly 70,000 users have signed onto Second Life in the last few days - pushing the total number of registered users to over one million. News reports are crediting Justus' pants for the major draw.
You've seen the Dove spot. Now watch the Ikea spot, where a hum drum kitchen is turned into a wonderful kitchen within a 30 second spot. From Adrants.
Another reason to bludgeon a media buyer today. I always pay attention to when I see the first holiday ads each year. And each year, it's a little earlier. Today, I came across the Pier 1 banner above. October 18. Only more than two months to get your holiday shopping done. Puhleeze.
Our office is officially open in Second Life. It's located in Midnight City. It's across the street from a cool bar. And down the street from the lingerie shop. Because we believe in convenience.
There's still some stuff we'll be adding, building, etc. But in the meantime, feel free to stop by and say hi. If you see any VIA employees there during the daytime - do me a favor, and tell them to get back to work in their first life.
I remember a day, a long time ago, when there was this suite of software products that people used for productivity. It was called Microsoft Office. Hehehe.
One of my favorite companies, 37 Signals, is about to launch some updates to one of the many glorious products that make my day so much easier. Backpack. You can see the video clip of the update here.
If you're not familiar with them, 37 Signals has created a suite of web-based tools for running your life. Or your business. We use many of them religiously. I use Backpack to organize the many lists that make me feel like I'm in control of things. We use Basecamp to collaborate and organize our projects at our agency. It's impacted our business in a grand way.
So, this morning, when I saw the video clip announcement of the new feature about to be released, I smiled. Because I don't think I've ever received such an announcement about a Microsoft product.
ReginaldPike, the crew famous for some of the most awesome campaigns ever, is saving the pig. Some pig that was in some spot, that now everyone loves. But not in a bacon kind of way. You can help save the pig too - by purchasing a pig t-shirt. The proceeds go to his care and feeding.
Here's the email that the pig is sending around, in an attempt to save his ass:
My name is Red.
I'm a pig.
Recently I had a supporting role in a television commercial for a
major international cellular telephone provider. The commercial was
directed by the Perlorian Brothers and written by Mother NY.
Everyone was very nice to me, and I think I did a pretty decent job
for my first time on set, but I've since learned that I'm scheduled to
be slaughtered in a week. This is not good for an actor's career. I
knew it was a non-union job and the residuals weren't anything to get
excited about, but I wasn't expecting to be hung by my foot and have
my throat slit.
Fortunately, my new friends at Reginald Pike, Toronto, Biscuit, L.A.,
and Mother are working to find me a new home at a petting zoo
(despite all this, I love humans). You can help me too by getting a
limited edition t-shirt with my picture on it at ReginaldPike.
They're only $20 and proceeds go to my care and feeding.
Mmmm. I smell bacon.
This weekend hosted the last shows at CBGBs, as the legendary punk club closed its doors on midnight on Sunday.
I still have the Village Voice ad from when my band was booked at CB's. Something dear to my heart. And so is the punk rock philosophy. A few weeks back, I wrote a piece about how the punk rock credo relates to creating a successful brand.
I believe that punk rock philosophy goes much deeper than music. For many punk rockers, like myself - it's become a part of our lives. And the way we do business.
So in this way, CBGB's will always be with us.
The venue doesn't matter anymore. Punk rock is happening all around us. Punk rockers still question authority. They're still creating messages that break through the clutter and drive change. And they're still producing media themselves - without expensive recording studios or big TV budgets. Look around you - the person in the cubicle next door just might be a punk rocker.
Here's five ways to keep punk rock alive in your life:
- Question everything - especially authority, rules, and "the way it's always been done."
- Promote change.
- Live for the message. Not the money, not the lifestyle.
- Be genuine.
- Allow your audience to participate in the experience.
I met with a real interesting company the other day, and figured I'd share a little about them.
The Jun Group helps get word of mouth marketing programs noticed. Sure - you can produce an amazing video clip and put it on GooTube. You can create a clever microsite, or MySpace page. But how do you drive eyeballs to it?
The Jun Group uses their unique access to peer-to-peer networks to consistently reach very large numbers of influencers. And - it's guaranteed. They get paid on a CPM basis - so they deliver real numbers. This is an interesting business - in that there are plenty of agencies (like ours) who can produce wonderfully entertaining viral type communications - but delivery is still somewhat primitive. What the Jun Group offers is today's equivalent of media buying. Media buying for viral media.
They've already launched some pretty impressive, succesful campaigns, like Coke's Stageside promotion, above. Pretty cool company - we're going to give them a shot on our next campaign.
Here's a great reason to stop everything and get on a plane to Kentucky. Every October, Mecca Dance Studio stages a re-creation of the famous Michael Jackson "Thriller" video in the streets of Lexington.
Last year's performance looks like a gas. This year's event is October 22.
So, book a flight now, and - just maybe, you'll get lucky in Kentucky. Sorry - I've been waiting to say that.
Each year, we close our company for a few days, and take a long weekend to reinvent the company.
During these weekends, we meet and review our current practices, our clients, our work and everything else - and talk about how we can do better. We have some nice brainstorms, too.
Past years have yielded some spectacular results - best practices that we now consider standard, strategic direction that is constantly fine tuned, and some pretty cool self-promotional work.
This year, we're pretty stoked to be heading to Puerto Rico. We leave on Thursday. Anyone with any 'must see' or 'must do' items for creative people in Puerto Rico, please share. Otherwise we'll be practicing our Spanish. Cerveza.
Business 2.0 has started an interesting experiment. They're requiring their journalists to keep blogs - and they're paying them based on their blog traffic. They'll get paid on traffic using a CPM ratio - which, is really interesting. It's pay for performance plan. But at the same time, journalists may end up getting rewarded for stunts and marketing prowess versus quality of work. This will be fun to watch.
We do a fair amount of work in the entertainment business - so we've seen our share of photoshop and stylist magic that makes stars beautiful. And we've always known what a cool thing it would be to show just how it all works...
Well, Dove has shown this process in detail in their new spot "Evolution". I think they've done a great job building a brand that women can believe in. And this spot carries it further. But I'm just a guy.
Here's what happened this week at the world's most virtual design and branding firm:
We spent more time than we should have in Second Life. We've found a great office space, and are in the process of building it out. That's the space above. We'll be putting in either wood or concrete floors, and a conference room that mirrors the one in our first life. Some other stuff, too - which we'll reveal later. We've intentially chosen a space that's smaller than our first life space - to accurately represent who we are - a small, boutique firm.
Justus entertained the crowd at the Second Life CNET symposium, with what we call a special "pants dance" on the stage, to the surprise of the symposium speakers. Not sure if the executives from Sun Microsystems were as entertained as we were, but the crowd really liked it.
David and Leigh started work on a nice site for a cool gadget for another, larger agency. We're the 'behind the scenes' secret weapon, so we can't tell anyone just yet. Great work, nonetheless.
We spent some time pre-planning for our planning meeting in Puerto Rico, next week (more on this one later).
We started the remodel on our lunch area (in the real world, not Second Life). Giuli ordered the dishwasher and cool new sink, and the plumber comes next week. Believe that, when I see it. You think big agency Creative Directors are rock stars, you should try working with a plumber.
Kind of funny. A little bit ridiculous. A bunch of marketing geeks likely pay an expensive conference fee, to see an important panel discussion about media habits.
Legendary VC superstar Guy Kawasaki shows up with six teens - and asks them to respond to questions like "What is your use of MySpace?" and "Do you play video games?" It's funny to see a bunch of executives watching teens like animals in a zoo. I suppose this is a great way for Guy to illustrate some points to an audience that isn't aware of this audience. Maybe they've been buried in research or marketing plans so deep, they forgot what their audience looks like. Or how to ask them questions themselves. Funny. Don't let this happen to you.
AdAge has a podcast interview discussing the research industry - and how consumers don't want to complete surveys, don't want to be in focus groups, and just don't want to be bothered. That's a big problem for the research industry.
I've seen countless examples of wasted research dollars. I've known people in market research companies who fill groups with their friends. "Here's what you need to say, if anyone asks you," they tell their friends - because they couldn't find subjects that meet the real demographic. And of course, we've all seen bad decisions made as a result of poor research.
This is another example where small agencies can make a difference. Without the budgets for research, smaller agencies have for years dug into the trenches instead. They do the research on their own, find people they know in the demographic, or become a part of the demographic themselves. They absorb themselves in everything about the demographic. What they watch, what they read, what they wear, where they go. Research and discovery. It's real, and it works.
Adrants posted about a nightclub in Nashville that banned certain brands of clothing. Media Orchard/Idea Grove joined in, with a list of clothing brands that aren't allowed at their agency. So why not...here's a list of clothing brands that are no longer welcome at VIA:
Sears Tough Skins
Osh Kosh Bgosh
Birkenstocks (sorry Giuli)
Zubaz (pictured above)
Any brands that we should add to the list?
This should make the folks at CP&B real happy. With their volkswagen spots that end with "sh*t", and their recent Burger King spot that uses "full of sit", they seem obsessed with sh*t. So they'll have sh*t- eating-grins when they hear that spots on Sirius radio actually use the word shit.
Sinus Buster - is the first product to air a commercial containing a "four letter word." No fancy edits - no bleeps. Holy shit.
At first, this piece seemed callous - as if smiles could really help kids with HIV. But after I got over myself, I realized how nice this concept really is. I also think it's effective - in the way it inspires you to give, and in how the program makes it so easy. And the production is funny.
Texting a donation? No brainer. No need to grab the credit card, write a check, or pull cash out of the pocket. Just a simple text message. Nice work.
When we built out our current space, I remember giving Pantone chips to our painter, to match. A lime green, a dark blue and orange, like the shot above. Oh, the looks and discussion that followed.
Well, finally - Pantone has paint. What a wonderful day.
The actor who plays Jigsaw in the latest installment to the Saw series has splattered his actual blood across 1000 posters. They'll be distributed across 25 markets, and some will be sold, with the money going to the American Red Cross. Gorrific.
This reminds me of an old Kiss trick. When they came out with a Kiss comic book, they put their blood into the ink that was used for printing. What a hoot for the press.
Maybe we should put blood in all printed material. Should the blood come from the designers, or the clients? Hmmm.