how to be creative while surrounded by december stress.

All of your projects are due in just three weeks. It's all got to be done before the holidays. And the family stuff. And the Xmas shopping. And your boss expects breakthrough creative.

Take a deep breath, and bookmark this sweet advice on maximizing creativity from LifeClever. SERIOUSLY. This is outstanding advice.

(The Cherry Chocolate Rain video is for your enjoyment only. Has really nothing to do with this post.)

it's that time of year again...

Time to Elf Yourself. In case some of your friends didn't get elfed last year, Office Max has re-released and reinvigorated their all-powerful elf maker. Enjoy.

(I have no idea who those elves are, in the screen shot above. But I'm too lazy to make my own. So let's just pretend those are all my friends. That girl in the front is kinda cute, too.) First seen on HowDesign.

the wonder of branding

A cute slide show of oddly branded items. Awesomely illustrates the power and value of brands in our heads. Not that there's anything wrong with a Hermes mud flap. (My wife is totally going to dig that tape measure, for xmas.)

Found on Urban Outfitters. Blog.

a holiday surprise

What a gorgeous holiday spot for John Lewis, a UK retailer. And there's a behind the scenes video on Adverblog, too.

So much better than the Zales approach of buying every available spot in inventory on every available channel, and then playing that Zales 'drill through your head' song in each and every spot. Over and over and over again. I think there are voices in that song, and they're telling me to do things...

forget how much it costs. let's jump in the mud.

Just discovered the most fun trend ever. Trashing your wedding dress after the big day. Think about it - why spend 6 gatrillion dollars on a dress, and then just let it hang in the closet for 50 years?

Go somewhere fun, get dirty, and photograph the event for everyone to see. Awesome. There's a host of photographers who specialize in Trash the Dress events - and there are even group trash the dress sessions, in fun locations like ghost towns. Allegedly, most dresses never get trashed beyond what a good dry cleaning couldn't take care of. (But who cares, anyway?)

This would make a fun promo event for any brand related to bridal services.

Photo above is from Pamee, via Flickr.

facebook tells all your friends what you're buying online.

Facebook is treading in some socially dangerous waters. Read
this post from Ethan Zuckerman about how when you buy something on Overstock, the purchase appears as an item in your NewsFeed.

Yes - you could stop it, change your settings to not allow it in the future...but, do you really want to have to do that with every retailer from here on in? Don't think so. Should you have to install some cookie cleaning scripts on your machine to combat this? Not fair to expect the general public to do that.

There are rants across the internation all about this, and protest groups on Facebook. Lots of unhappy noise.

Facebook friend Mave Gibson said it brilliantly:

"I am concerned because of what it means in terms of the cultural landscape. we need to speak out against these new things as they are happening, lest we allow precedents to be set that will inform what the internet of the future will look like.

what facebook has done is change the implicit understanding/precedent that has existed on the web to date regarding privacy and how sites can use/access information about us."

Here's something to consider.....Google would never do this. And it shows the value of Google's mission statement, "Don't be Evil."

virgin america acknowledges that people know how to buckle a seatbelt

Hooray for Virgin, for recognizing a branding and entertainment opportunity with their in-flight safety video. And double hooray for being the first airline in history to recognize that every human understands how to buckle a seatbelt. And having fun with it.

This is already making the rounds on the interweb, and I'm sure leaving a smile on passengers faces, too.

2010 olympic mascots: totally hot

The 2010 Olympic mascots are out, and they totally rock. More reason for the 2012 Olympic logo to run away and hide.

Everything about the Vancouver mascots is sweet. Their announcement website is awesome. They appeal to multiple audiences. They cross international/cultural lines really well. They're going to work beautifully with product and licensing.

You can even find out which mascot is most like you, by taking the quiz. (Apparently I'm Miga - which I totally disagree with. I so want to be Quatchi.)

just when you thought all the shaving was done...

Philips Norelco has introduced their latest version of ShaveEverywhere, titled Second Puberty.

Expertly done, and just in time to sell loads of new razors for the holidays. Gotta love how they've realized secondary shaving markets, treated them as important as primary shaving markets, and become the leader in new categories. Nice.


You're already in love with LOLcats. Rejoice, because the world just became a better place. LOLvogue. The latest LOL craze. So love this.

This is begging to be a really sweet print ad campaign. So wanna see this in a series of full page ads in the next issue of Wired.

banksy in nyc!!

Holy, mother of all street art. There's a Banksy show in NYC!!!

If you're not already familiar with Banksy - some have likened him to a Warhol of our generation. Awesome, cool, inspirational stuff that I'm sure creative directors will be borrowing in ads for years to come.

At the Vanina Holasek Gallery, December 2nd through 29th. One more reason to come to NYC for Xmas, if you live in Kansas. :)

what you see on the tv could be real

It's fascinating to watch television and film's usage of computers, internet and technology. I'm stoked when I see shows like CSI use Twitter, and pissed when I see tv shows do stuff that's just ridiculously stupid.

And then there's the inspirational moments captured on film that make you say "I want that." These moments are created by awesome designers like Mark Coleran - a visual designer that specializes in the design of fictional interfaces.

Adverlab points to some other cool writings on the subject. It's interesting to note how designers like Mark can impact our desires - and ultimately, product that's brought to the marketplace.

I'm still waiting for that invisible screen in the air above my desk to be installed. In the meantime, I'll just pretend.

brand flakes for breakfast gift guide

We've re-launched the Brand Flakes for Breakfast Gift Guide - now an annual Plaid holiday tradition. Just like the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. Or the airing of Charlie Brown Christmas on TV (tonight in the US!)

The BFFB Gift Guide is our wayfinding tool to cool gifts for creative people. We try to keep the featured items to gifts under $100, and items that are appropriately suited for creative people.

Use it for daily shopping inspiration. Or a sweet place to bookmark the stuff you want. Check back daily for more awesome consumer loving bliss! And please share any cool ideas that you find in your travels!

threadless turns merchandising into art

Threadless is having another one of their fab $10 t-shirt sales, and in the email announcement, I noticed something even cooler.

Every week, their in-house artist/musician/snowboarder Joe Suta creates an original painting that's a mashup of the week's winning t-shirts. The painting is used for display in their Chicago store window. At the end of the week, when the display comes down, they sell the artwork. Which has created a wonderous collection of one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Every week.

What an excellent example of doing something local and growing it into something more biggerer. The Chicago storefront is by its nature only viewable by a limited audience. People in Chicago. But by adding the paintings to their retail internet site, they've shared them with the world - all while helping to offset the cost of the process.

An awesome example of creativity, art and commerce working together. Other retailers should take note.

west side rail yard architectural dreams

Five different development companies have submitted their plans for redeveloping the west side rail yards in NYC. You can check them out here. The NY Times says they suck. Regardless, it's always fun to see how other people visualize architecture and the use of space.

blog nothing day

As internet workers, we put an extremely high value on internet content. For that reason, we're participating in Blog Nothing Day, tomorrow. No blogging, no Twitters, No Facebook. (I predict a major influx of national productivity.)

Introduced to us by blog friend Dino Demopoulos, Blog Nothing Day is a show of support for the writer's strike. We're showing our support for the writers on the line. (Except the ones that are marching side by side with Eva Longoria. Those bastards can show us some love.)

For some great perspective on the strike, check out this video clip, from one of the Cobert Report writers. Or this one, from a Daily Show writer.

Kinda ironic that a bunch of bloggers who write for fun are supporting other writers and their right to get paid, huh?

See you on Tuesday!

concept cars suck

I hate concept cars. Just a big tease of something we'll never see.

And now, Chevy takes it to a whole new level. No longer just a tease at the car show, or car magazine, they're actually advertising a car that you can't buy.

Ben over at Thought Gadgets points out how the campaign is a loser, for all of it's assumed intended audiences. I agree.

everyone wants to be an ipod

Check out these two advertising images. The one on the left is from iPod. The one on the right is from Sony. Hmmmm.

behind political poster design

Think political poster design is boring? That no creative thought goes into them? Check out this funny NY Times slide show on what those political posters are really saying. From Boing Boing.

what product designers can learn from the kindle

We now have extremely high expectations for electronic hand-held devices. (Thank you, Apple.) And people are really not digging the new Amazon Kindle. Some have renamed the device the Amazon Swindle. Robert Scoble's review is just totally awesome. A must watch for anyone remotely involved in any sort of product design.

denver post: best paper/blog/site in the entire world.

Check out the #1 blog on Neal's list! Thanks Neal!!!!

this week at Plaid: thanksgiving edition

An early weekly update, as we close our offices for the Thanksgiving holiday.

As I search my brain for a list of fun stuff that happened at our joint this week, I'm realizing that I was either out of the office, or in meetings the entire week.

I've heard there were a couple of food fights. Something involving marshmallows and sausage - two things that taste great together, I'm sure.

Giuli is buying the oddest crap. It's supposed to be related to our holiday card, or holiday gift for our clients. But there's some odd stuff arriving via FedEx and UPS.

We're out of room, and are looking forward to getting our new addition off the ground. We have interns, assistants and account people sharing desks. Be thankful for the internet.

Brian is shopping for new phone systems. Giuli is finding some cool furniture.

Hope your thanksgiving is filled with yummy, fatty, highest calorie food, and nothing on this list of the ten worst Thanksgiving dishes. If you live in a place where turkey day isn't celebrated, then it's time to get your consumerism on. Start holiday shopping. They've been playing xmas music in the stores since July, so you might as well jump in and get started. They're waiting for you.

See you at the mall.

i'm mr T and i'm a night elf mohawk.


flash as a fine art tool

Think Flash is just for animating flying cows? Artist Erik Natzke uses it to produce some beautious artwork. Not that flying cows aren't beautiful. In their own special way.

the place where all great ideas begin

Agency Euro RSCG Worldwide has produced a pretty sweet notebook. Made from napkins. Cocktail napkins. All neatly bound together, with a pen - to inspire your creative genius. Or flatter your drunken genius. It's up to you.

If you can't afford a bunch of napkins all bound together nicely, then you can play around at the promotional site -

This would make an awesome gift for creative friends. It's going to be available at the MoMA store - soon.

Which reminds me - we're launching our ever popular Brand Flakes for Breakfast Gift Guide on Monday (cyber monday to all of us internet workers). Daily gift giving inspiration for your pleasure. Check it out next week, or in the meantime you can view all of last year's gift suggestions.

it's snowing typography

We've seen the first snow here in New England. So it's a good day to share typography snowflakes.

(Cmon, nobody's actually getting work done this week anyway. Your boss is practically expecting you to fill your day sending your friends type snowflakes.) Found at the glorious How magazine.

the latest in social media fashion

Can't keep up with your social media networks? Get this shirt, and show the world what networks you're a member of. Excellent holiday gift. (If it's not already outdated, because the internet gods added more social network juice to the land of socialness.)

meet the next generation of social media stars

Here's a wonderous collection of laptops, as realized by a bunch of 7 - 9 year olds. It's great to view, and there's some nice insight into a new generation of kids that have had laptops and the internet since birth. Reflective not only of technology, but also pop culture.

I'm thinking of having a "barbie" button installed on my laptop. And I'm kind of wondering what that might do, when pressed...

twitter on csi!

Not sure why this is exciting in the least bit - but Twitter was incorporated into the storyline of a recent CSI episode. I'm too lazy to count, but it looks like that first post featured is longer than the 140 characters that Twitter allows. Not that I expect realism on tv. Unless it's reality tv. Or something.

present like a superstar. be like an actor.

Here's some outstanding advice on presentations. From Darren Barefoot. A writer, technologist, marketer and actor. If you're really serious, maybe you could dress in some Shakespearean garb. Your boss will dig that.

awesome book cover designs

Sweet collection of cool book cover designs. From Boing Boing

those places with bound works of paper

Check out the stunning new identity for a library - in richie rich Darien, CT. Where most libraries are sporting logos designed by the librarian's brother's best friend, Darien gets an identity from C&G Partners. Totally refreshing. There's even audio from Steff Geissbuhler's presentation of the logo, to the library board, where you can see some of the thinking that went into the new identity.

move, or get fat.

Just in time for the onslaught of eating holidays. Our office will be filled with deliciousness over the coming weeks, and I could definitely use this little reminder. Work is for the German Olympic Sport Federation.

create your own potato parade. just in time for turkey day.

Ok, so they don't celebrate turkey day in the UK, and that's where this e-card generator for McCain originates - but that doesn't mean that you can't make a parade of potatoes for your friends.

Cuz potatoes rock. And they like to be fried. And lightly salted. Great work by Glue, London. Work by Glue, London.

this week at Plaid:

Here's what happened this week at the world's most magically delicious design and branding firm:

Lots of photo shoots. Rob and I had a shoot at an incredibly unique spine and sports medicine facility in NYC earlier in the week. And today, the majority of the Plaid team got together for a really awesome shoot for our upcoming holiday card. All that I can say is there were some silly outfits and embarrassing positions.

Katie brought her dog Taco to the office. Taco rocks. He's got his own Facebook page, and he's already getting popular. Everyone loves Taco.

Giuli used our Segway for an interesting experiment. She rolled out a long strip of bubble wrap, and then rode the Segway over it. So much fun. We're already planning on buying one of those huge bubble wrap rolls, and doing a bubble wrap glide on the sidewalk in front of our office. Should be fun.

Someone sent us a bunch of beer (always appreciated) and some summer sausage. Sausage jokes were flowing all over the office. David discovered that he could shoot pieces of sausage from an air gun that was in the office. So David was shooting his sausage all over the place.

There's some amazing work going on at our shop. Lots of really big stuff is getting close to launching, so we'll be sharing soon.

We met with an architect to discuss some ideas for the new addition to our space. Construction should be kicking off in the next couple of weeks. We need the space bad, so we can't wait.

Next week is Thanksgiving here in the U.S., so it's a short week, which we're all looking forward to.

Have a great weekend! Hope you're somewhere warmer than we are.

throw a lamb out of a plane

The dudes over at Koko Digital have created a cute game for the Make a Wish Foundation, called Lamb Chop Drop. I thought it might be a game where a lamb gets dropped into a meat grinder - but it turns out that it's actually a really cute game with a lamb that parachutes.

The "Donate your final score" feature at the end of the game is a nice touch.

Rob and Ryan from our office may especially appreciate this one.

check art is a bore festival

Becky at RMI points out something that's frustrated me for ages. People who make checks suck. Why isn't there more selection? Cooler checks? Great design? Exciting licensing? Not that there's anything at all wrong with Holly Hobbie. Holly Hobbie rocks.

There's a nice opportunity for licensing here. And, as Becky discovers, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation has realized the opportunity, and is now selling Breast Cancer checks. Awesome idea - and one that other non-profits could follow.

I'm still waiting for punk rock checks - featuring art from Black Flag, Gang of Four, and Minor Threat album covers. Or better yet, Shepard Fairey 'Obey' checks. That would be sweet. But in the meantime, Holly Hobbie rocks.

teens: IM is easier than speaking

This is nothing new to you, if you read Brand Flakes on a regular basis - but if you're putting together a presentation for your board on how to connect with teens, here's some great fodder for your PowerPoint. (Or, be old-school, and email the links to your boss.)

First, Wired News reports from the Associated Press story. And then The Slate has an excellent write up too.

Expect to see Matt Lauer and the Today Show doing a special report on this subject, in a few weeks. And acting all amazed, like they've just discovered some new cult that kids are participating in.

"Next, on Today. Are teens abandoning email!? Find out how teens are communicating on the internet. When we return...this new teen trend may take you by surprise..."

Matt Lauer: So, you're telling me that you really don't check email at all??

Teen: Uh....dude, what's up with your hair?

how much is internet content worth?

Outstanding piece
from the writer's strike - from one of the writers on the Daily Show.

social scrapbooking

Here's a nifty little Web tool called Tribbit (also called my client) that combines the creative self-expression of building a social network profile with the collaborative functionality of a wiki to create an online "tribute" (Tribbit, get it?) for anything or anyone like this band Tribbit to Queen. Multiple Tribbiteers can add photos, text, videos and voice messages to single tribute and then publish it for the public or keep it private.

why you need to have a strategy before you make a facebook fan page

I couldn't say it any better than Jeremia has brilliantly posted on his blog...

In the meantime, go ahead and become a fan of the single most important agency in all of the history of design, branding and interactive sweetness.

orange you glad you're blogging?

Now oranges are blogging. A fruity new campaign from Florida's Natural is promoting oranges with a nice blog, and handy videos. Juicy.

urban decay photography

Check out these wonderful photographs and history of Bannerman's island. An abandoned island in the middle of the Hudson River. Looks like a nice place to spend vacation. From Eyebeam ReBlog.

Lynn Elliott Marketing sucks ass.

We see these counterfeit sites from time to time. And every time I hear about them, it's infuriating. Our media buying friends over at MediAssociates point to another vendor who completely copied their site.

The original is above. The plagiarized version is here:

Just one more reason to hire a reputable design firm to produce your collateral materials. MediAssociates is taking the high road, and enjoying the flattery. I'll take comfort knowing that eventually, Google will pick up on the headline to this blog post. :)

plaid: home of the hot guys

Be sure to pick up this month's Cosmo Magazine. Because inside, you'll see Ryan, as the 'Hot guy blooper of the month.'

You may remember Ryan from the PlaidNation tour this summer - who not only shot all of the awesome footage from the road, but entertained everyone with the most amazing stories you've ever imagined. He's a walking book. We want to turn him into a TV show. And now Cosmo has found him.

Now the rest of us will have to submit photos to the ladies magazines. And the Plaid girls can submit photos to Maxim. I'm sending mine to Better Homes and Gardens today. Hat Tip to Bill's daughter, who reads Cosmo. (That's what he claims, at least)

the boom is coming

I'm about as far as you can get from an economist, or from anyone that understands anything to do with numbers, really.

But I've observed something interesting, recently. There are loads and loads of media reports about bad consumer confidence, poor economic indicators, and the like. Many friends in other industries are worried.

On the other hand, all of the internet workers that I know are booming. Like never before. People can't hire fast enough. Our agency is experiencing the same.

And then, Steve Rubel points (through Twitter) to an amazing study. Look at the number of job postings in the map above. They're exploding in a lot of the tech centers - San Jose, New England, Austin, DC area.

And then, look at the graph of social media, web 2.0 job postings. Through the roof.

The boom is here. (Either that, or we're heading into a recession.) I'll go back to watching YouTube videos now.

video with a purpose.

Wow. Take a few minutes and read this inspiring post about people that are making video. For good reasons. Bloated with amazing links to some awesomely inspiring productions. Who says you have to do work today??

the customer experience ends at retail

So, I want to buy a new suit. I'm really lovin' those new mod/skinny style suits, since they remind me of the early punk/mod days. My budget is in the hundreds of dollars, not thousands of dollars. And there aren't a lot of mod suits in that price range.

I was stoked to see a killer new H&M website , touting their new 'mod style' suits. So I head to their 42nd street store, where the site says they carry the line. "Oh no, you need to go to the 51st street store. They have the new modern men's line." Ok, I can walk a few blocks. Get to the 51st street store, and can't find the suits that are so heavily featured online merchandised anywhere in the store. So I find a dude that works there, who looks way cooler than me, and clearly has some fashion sense.
"I'm looking for those new mod/skinny style suits that are on your website."
"Yeah. You know, like mod. The skinny fit style."
"Uhhh...These are the only suits we have. I don't know about anything called mod."

Breakdown! I don't normally shop at H&M. But I was sold by the online experience. They nearly gained a new customer. And instead, they totally let me down at the retail store. Think I'll ever go back?

Next stop, Ben Sherman. Wish me luck.

awesome photos that play with scale

Beautious photographs that play with scale, from Julia Fullerton-Batten. Found on Sneak.

most expensive spot in guinness history

Guinness launched a 'search for hidden ads' some time ago, that's been well reported in the blogoland. Caffeine Goddess posts the found spot, in all of its delicious glory. Shot in Argentina, with hundreds of actual villagers. Sweet.

there are no accidents

Incredible PSA spots for Prevent-IT, Canada. The spot above made me chuckle. And then this one made me squirm. If spots like this could get approved in the U.S., maybe people would watch television. Found at adfreak.

back when toys were safe

Remember when toys were 'safe' and didn't include lead? Oh, the glory of goose steppin' Barbie. Movin' groovin' Barbie rocks it.

album art as art. in an ad.

Beautiful series of ads for N9UF in France. Will make you say "wish I thought of that." (Or, maybe you already did, and they just took the idea.)

why that programming dude is ignoring you

Here's a really cool essay titled The Nerd Handbook, that may shed some light on what's going through that massive brain of your co-worker, the coder.

giuli won the ny marathon

Since Rob and I left the office early to get drunk on knowledge, I totally forgot to write a "this week at Plaid" post last week. Yes, lots of stuff happened at the agency last week, but none more important than Giuli running the NY Marathon.

And I think she won. Because all of the people ahead of her don't really count. AND - more importantly, she kicked Katie Holmes' ass. By 20 minutes. Giuli says that "if Katie had worn a sports bra, maybe she would have done better". Damn. Beat Katie, and then kick sand in her face. This competitive thing has really changed Giuli.

Thanks to the thousands of people who stood on the streets and rooted for her, so that we could stay home and avoid the traffic and crowds. (Dave still swears he can beat her, once he puts his mind to it.)

marketers: watch this facebook video

Here's an outstanding primer on how to place ads on Facebook. So easy to target an exact audience. Reminds me of the early days of Google AdSense. So exciting.

Duh - you'll need Facebook to see this. If you're not on, either slap your IT person, or leave your job today.

Plaid checks out Design, Wit, and the Creative Act

Rob and I cut out of the office early Friday and checked out Core 77's event, Design Wit and the Creative Act. Some super awesome speakers, together in one space, on one panel.

The whole thing was moderated by internet superstar Ze Frank, who I chatted with after the event. I was curious now that Ze has a worldwide audience of kabillions of viewers, does he second guess any of his work, prior to publishing? You can see his response above. Oh yeah, and we discovered that Ze Loves Plaid.

Thrasher: a cool mutual fund?

Finally a mutual fund that doesn't immediately make me sleepy to think about. They're not operational yet, but their holdings include apple, google, nike, vw, uniqlo. I'll be keeping an eye on GENDX.

flip cameras are hot

Great to see that Flip cameras are getting loads of buzz in the blogoverse. We recently bought them for the crew in our office, and record everything. Even produced a rough and ready 'beer with Plaid' vodcast.

If you haven't checked them out yet, Flip cameras are video cameras about the size of a large cell phone that record 640 x 480 video. WITHOUT TAPE. It's completely digital, and the cameras come with a built in usb port, so digitizing is a snap.

Our office halloween field trip was produced entirely on a Flip camera (above). We'll be recording and vloging and doing whatever with ours. You should too.

fonts by people, for people.

Check out this awesome collection of human crafted fonts and typography.
Found on Core 77.

joni mitchell: annoying music, cool photography

Even if you don't like old school folk/hippie rock, you can love Joni Mitchell's photographs. Make the logo bigger points to a collection of Joni's photographs of images taken from a broken tv.

Sometimes it's cooler to get altered reality WITHOUT photoshop. And broken tv's are always a hoot to play with. Really nice work. But that song "You're so vain" still annoys me. Sorry, Joni.
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