plaid summer tour: fun, information and inspiration

We're still barreling down the west coast, on the last few days of the Plaid summer tour. We've met so many cool, interesting and inspiring people.

Highlights from the last couple of days include:

+ Getting kicked out of the most celebtastic cemetery while broadcasting The 11:40 Show live

+ Interviewing Robert Scoble at his house, and then broadcasting the 11:40 Show from his front lawn.

+ Burritos at Dos Pinas. Hot Dogs at Pinks.

+ Danny Bonaduce smirking to the van on Hollywood Blvd, on the way to the gym.

Watch yesterday's wrap up show above, and then check the tour dashboard for all of the stuff you haven't seen yet!

internet 'flips' are the next big thing.

Flipping houses is sooo yesterday. According to the New York Times, the latest new flipping trend is websites. People are buying crappy sites with potential, turning them around, and then selling them for a profit. Cool.

got milk crates?

When I was your age, we used milk crates for everything. For hauling records to DJ gigs. For book shelves. For storage systems. And chairs. Soon, everyone will recognize crate culture. There will be milk crate meet ups, milk crate socials, and milk crate festivals.

For now, there's a crazy milk crate chandelier, and even a blog devoted to milk crate creations. Milk is the new black.

start tracking everything

Ryan Kuder has turned us onto zeaLog, a new social measuring tool. Use it to keep track of, measure, graph and track whatever you're doing. And then share and compare with friends from across the world.

It's a simple, fun tool to use, and I wonder what kind of mashups might be possible. Like would it be possible to make a social version of a running tool, similar to NikePlus?? Could graphs be embedded into other media? Lot of possibilities and ideas are churning...

It's in beta now, but sign up (or beg someone more popular than me) for an invite.

is your advertising illegal?

Illegal Billboards says that nearly half the billboards in NYC are illegal. And they're doing something about it. They've created a campaign to raise awareness, created a forum and a blog to keep interested people involved and informed.

And they're coming to your city too. Media buyers take note. Are you putting your client's brands on illegal boards?

spielberg: watch out.

Here's another Google product that maybe you didn't know about. Google SketchUp lets users create 3D graphics. With Google ease.

We haven't tested this tool yet, but we trust in the Google gods that anyone can now design buildings, create motion picture 3D effects and produce technical models for NASA. Sweet.

From Krolls, via Twitter.

sadly, this is necessary

Maximizing downtime is awesome. And what better way to maximize your downtime than being productive when you're walking from point A to point B. Thanks to your lovely iPhone, you can now email/text/tweet while walking down the street. Only one problem: Obstacles.

Pedestrian obstacles are no problem, because you can just plow through them, and snarl as you tweet down the sidewalk. But street poles. Nothing stops a good tweet or text message like a light pole in the forehead.

Thankfully, Chicago will be installing padded lampposts. We need these everywhere. And yes, that's sad. But there are important twitter moments just waiting to be documented.

Plaid tour now in week two.

If you're not already following the Plaid tour, be sure to check out the dashboard at There are daily wrapup videos, live webcams, and oh, so many more things to waste your otherwise productive day away with. The wrapup video from Friday is above. Enjoy.

outdoor that recognizes you

NEC Corp has created a digital signage system that can determine the gender, generation and other attributes of a person standing in front of it. Deliver a different message to the viewer, dependent on who that viewer is. Creepy.

when computers filled rooms and cigarette smoke filled offices

It's not really clear what this is from, if it's authentically old, or what exactly this was about...but apparently this is a collection of slides from an old 70's presentation by IBM. Gotta love computers that were bigger than SUV's.

your promo crap is sitting in a landfill

About to print 10,000 keychains to give away at your upcoming conference? Keychains that were produced with stinky petroleum, and that will be thrown into landfills once the conference is over?

Rest easy - because Eco Imprints has your back. A promotional goodie company that's devoted to producing more eco friendly and socially responsible promotional swag. A good idea whose time has come. Thanks Ryan!

behind the scenes with obama video

Here's a really cool post featuring some behind the scenes juice from the director of video field production on the Obama campaign.

There are a bunch of interesting links and details - like the fact that the average viewer of videos on and is 45-55 years old, and those viewers want long-form content - proving people have more attention span than we usually give them credit for.

Good information here that could be applied to a variety of brands and campaigns.

it's friday. sit back and enjoy the plaid tour

If you haven't already heard, our agency is in the middle of a summer tour.

We're taking a Plaid van down the west coast in the spirit of everything creative, in a rolling social media palooza. We're meeting other creatives, interesting brands, internet workers, and people that we'd like to do more with. And we're hitting donut and cupcake shops, wherever possible. We're blogging, tweeting, photo blogging and sharing in every way possible. You can even watch what's happening in the van on live webcams (when the van is in motion, anyway.)

We're producing a wrapup video of each day on tour (yesterday's clip is above) and shooting a live vidcast titled 11:40, broadcast live from wherever the van might be at 11:40 pacific time.

We've already hit Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and Medford. Today we're in SanFrancisco, and next week we're hitting San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles, San Diego and Vegas.

If you're on the west coast, come say hi. If not, spend the rest of your day catching up with the tour on our dashboard, and then stay tuned every day next week for even more fun. Don't worry. Just tell your boss that you're exploring new ways to use social media, and learning about what other brands are doing. And seeing some freaky people on video.

japan gets better quality aliens

The aliens that visit Iowa and Kansas look like pot smoking spirograph users, compared to the crop illustrations that the Japanese aliens are doing. Ad agencies should be reaching out to this new alien race, and get some sweet crop art happening in the U.S.

If this is what they're doing in Japanese farm fields, I wonder what's going on with Japanese abductions??

a tool you need right now

How many times have you been in a situation where you didn't want to type notes into your iPhone, but weren't carrying your heavy Moleskine notebook or your laptop around? "I'll remember this idea." Yep. We've all been there, and you know you'll never remember that grand idea, website, or other snippet of genius that you're not writing down.

You need Field Notes. This is an awesome product that we discovered while on the Plaid tour. What cell phone cameras are to digital cameras, Field Notes are to notebooks and laptops.

They fit in the back pocket of your jeans. You can bend it, drop it, write on the cover and never stress about it. Just big enough, just small enough.

We're using them on tour for show notes, reminders and things that we need to remember for later. Mine is pictured above. And it's awesome.

What's in your pocket?

introduce yourself to an interesting stranger today

Yesterday we met Victoria. On the streets of Chinatown, in the heart of Portland. Victoria is a character like no other. With a sweet pink helmet and a banana seat bike. You can read about our encounter on the Plaid tour blog.

Here's the thing - there are interesting people in every town across America. But most of the time we're all too busy or too intimidated to actually stop and say hi to people outside of our circles.

I've learned on tour that having a crew with cameras around increases the comfort zone a bit, when approaching strangers. But this is something that every creative person should be doing, every day. Without cameras.

It's easier than you think. Start with a compliment. And then ask questions. You'll be surprised at the interesting characters awaiting your discovery. And the perspective and stories you'll earn in the process.

power to the people

If you really dig old school stencil art, the Russian revolution or propaganda art, then check out this new book Power to the People.

The book features stenciled Russian Telegraph Agency window posters that hung in storefronts from 1919 to 1921, just after the Russian Revolution. (T-shirts, just waiting to happen.) From Print.

incredible idea just waiting for you

AdFreak points to a really sweet idea just waiting for an opportunity.

A choose your own adventure series on YouTube. Watch this one, and you'll get the idea on how this could work. AdFreak is right. This is soooo ripe for a really cool promotion or branding campaign. Let's do it.

life on the road. it's all glitz and glamour.

If you're not already watching, don't forget to check out the Plaid summer tour - happening now over at

There's a handful of Plaidsters barreling down the west coast in a Plaid van. Think life is all glitz and glamour on the road? Not with Plaid. Check out my bathroom for the ultimate in luxury accommodations.

Two good quotes come to mind:
"A picture really is worth a thousand words."
"What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."

We're in Portland, spreading Plaid love today. Stay tuned for more action!

lion king done different.

Who doesn't love lions? And singing carcasses? Samsung does a musical with lions, just a little different, to promote their new digital stills camera.

read the internet while at the sports stadium

If sports stadiums had LCD screens and the internet in every chair, then I'd go to games every weekend. Popular Science has a feature on a new field for the Oakland A's that might feature such devices.

I wonder how on earth these would survive beer spills, vomit comets, and team rage abuse. But then again, maybe in Los Angeles, people are polite and laid back at their sports games. And wash their hands before fingering public touch screen devices. The more I think of it, the more I like the idea of staying home. Safely in front of a computer screen.

how they make legos

Legos. We all love them, remember them fondly, and can still have fun with them today. If your boss doesn't let you play legos at the office, maybe you'll enjoy this tour of the factory instead.

give a creative person a pocket knife...

And they'll carve you a sweet ride. Introducing the Pinewood Derby contest for creative people. A fun creative exploration that lets agency people explore a medium they're not accustomed to working with day in and day out: a block of pine.

This is just such a fab idea, I'd love to implement it at our agency. Or even extend to other agencies in the market. Creative 'field trips' are good for the brain, and a whole lot of fun. Let's get pocket knives, some beer, and some wood! From Coudal.

alien crash site in london

Someone's put together a cool looking stunt at the foot of the London Bridge. A crashed thingamajig, that obviously fell from the sky at an extremely high speed. And it's being guarded by men in cool suits and skinny ties.

From the looks of it, I'm guessing it's one of the following:
+ A promo for a new Schick 72 blade shaver. It'll shave your face off in six minutes.
+ A new Dyson hole drilling machine. Perfect for drilling tunnels or backyard bunkers.
+ An airline industry plan for saving fuel. Drop an engine mid flight, and reduce weight and fuel consumption, while producing wonderful lawn sculptures, for those on the ground.

We'll find out what it's really promoting shortly, I'm sure. Thanks Devon!

jeep: driving people together

Really liking the concept and design for these Jeep ads in Malaysia. Gotta love a client who says it's ok not to include the product shot.

meet parker

Parker the Intern came to Plaid at just the right moment. And by right moment we mean just in time for the Plaid tour insanity to begin. Ever wonder who actually assembled all those key chains and put together those sweet blogger packages? That's Parker. She's an assembling machine. Even better: she claims to like that kind of stuff. She's still giving us the thumbs up, so we'll assume she's cool with it.

But don't let her appreciation for the mundane fool you. Parker has impeccable design skills, too. You can check out some of her Plaidtastic work on our tour site and see for yourself.

Parker will be with us through August, when she returns to a life of cafeteria food, homework and student projects. (Which, after a summer of working with David, she might be looking forward to Salisbury steak and student work.) Welcome Parker!

this week at Plaid

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

We finished our first round of interviews for the design position that's open at the agency. Some really awesome talent out there, and we're beginning to narrow it down.

Outside of emergency deadlines, most of the Plaid team was busy getting ready for the upcoming Plaid tour. There's a massive amount of production work necessary prior to sending the team to the west coast. We produced the first tour video. (Guess you could say it's a "pre-tour" video.)

We kicked off pre-tour operations. The pre-production team headed to Seattle to secure the Plaid van and get it wrapped, wired and ready for next week's tour. You can watch it all live on the PlaidNation dashboard starting Monday.

Our local paper did a nice spread on the tour, and even included a callout to the story on the front page. Always cool to make the front page of your local paper, without getting arrested.

If you're not already - be sure to follow the Plaid van on Twitter, too!

See you Monday, live from Vancouver!!

this dude will not be at roger's picnic

Roger's Wireless is putting on a big music festival that they call Roger's Picnic. And they want to let everyone know what kind of cool bands are playing there. And motivate the audience to check out the Roger's Picnic website.

So M30 in Toronto created a campaign that promotes the festival by showing you what kind of bands WON'T be there. Who won't be there? This totally metal dude. Or Bomb Bay. Or Roulette.

What a cool way to build curiosity, and drive traffic to the site. Nicely done.

look what's cookin'

Animation and production studio PES shows you what they're capable of with a little Western Spaghetti.

If they can make this out of candy corns and rubber bands, then imagine what they can do for your project. Nice work.

reporters are looking for you

XtinaR tells us about Help a Reporter. Sign up as a potential source. Reporters email you with stuff they're looking for. If you fit the bill, you help them out. Everyone wins. Cool.

print is the new interactive

Frog Design started a new magazine, DesignMind. A magazine. On paper. That you get in the mail, or on a newstand. It's written by frog designers, technologists and strategists.

This will be interesting to watch it's progress, as other publications struggle to survive on paper. If nothing else, at least there's a website.

the big one is coming...

Now here's an interesting use of Twitter. Earthquake alerts. The Earthquake Alert guy has a twitter stream. And he stays up day and night monitoring seismographs, so that you don't have to. And if there's a quake coming, he'll tweet the details. Awesome.

If you're planning a trip to Japan - watch out. EQ dude says a 7.5 Richters quake is hitting in the next couple of weeks.

nike dunks based on the color of your neighborhood

This cool application for Nike lets you take a snapshot with your cell phone, and then create a custom pair of Nike Dunks based on the color scheme in your photo.

So awesome, you could be rockin' a new pair every week. Or for every favorite scene in your life. Like urban camo. This is a great idea that could be applied to a multitude of situations and brands. From Three Minds.

most fun you'll have waiting in line

Check out this really sweet piece to raise awareness about water conservation in Denver. Awesome concept.

where are they now??

Ever wonder what happened to those people that the internet made famous? Here you go.

ideas for sale

I sooooooo wish that we thought of this. I want to put a bank of these in our lobby. Ideas, for 25 cents. This would be great at an open house or live event. So many possibilities.

your new outdoor campaign is a wonderful piece of art

Branislav Kropilak has captured billboards in their ultimate moment of beauty. Yes, billboards. Shot from a different perspective, they look absolutely totally gorgeous. From Quipsologies.

steve woodruff is waiting for your genius

Steve Woodruff is a really smart dude. Like many of us, he's recognized the need for a new super tool to confaburate all of the many, many social media tools and devices that we need into one snazzy dashboard. One dashboard, where you can control everything. Only one problem: Steve isn't really a developer. But he knows that as a community, we're filled with designers, developers and girl geniuses. So he's doing something.

Steve Woodruff is crowd designing the ultimate dashboard, deemed MetaMee. Check out his posts (part 1), (part 2), (part 3) and the latest on his blog. Be enlightened or inspired by watching the thought and development process. Or pitch in with ideas and direction to make it better. This is the ultimate tool waiting for your input.

I want this product now. Right now. Can you hurry up and help Steve finish the design process and start coding? Or can some VC company just give him a kabillion dollars to develop this tool today? Productivity is waiting.

yes, google does know everything. everything.

The Googling shows what you can do with Google's "My Maps" tool. A tool so good, it knows everything about you. Everything.

what birthday party clowns do when they end up on the streets

The latest trend in street art? Balloons. First there was Joshua Harris, and now there's balloon word sculptures. My cheeks are burning.

think iphone apps are just for the big guys?

LifeHacker posts that Australian bank ANZ has produced an iPhone version of their site, along with a trading application that users can install on their phones.

Proof that even localized businesses can create tools for their users, that work on the tools that their users are using. That's lots of tools and users speak.

What could you be doing on an iPhone? (Thanks, Justus!)

it all starts with a girl.

A super inspiring piece, all about a girl.

Think you don't have a strong enough production budget? Think only irreverent productions go viral? Here's a wonderous example of the most simple production, masterful copy writing and an emotional message coming together to make something beautiful.

From Shari, via Twitter.

what it's like to live in a garbage truck

Even if this is only a concept, it's a pretty sweet way to build a life for yourself, in a garbage truck.

this week at Plaid

Here's what happened this week at the world's most tour-ready design and branding firm:

Lots of stuff happening in the Plaid house this week. Sadly, coworker Rob is leaving us, for North Carolina. We decided to outfit him with the latest NC gear. A southern suitcase (pictured above), a NASCAR beach towel, hat and car stickers. And a DVD copy of Joe Dirt. And Skoal. We're sure we've officially offended everyone south of the Mason Dixon line. (Which, btw we just discovered is really close to NEW JERSEY.)

There's loads of preparation taking place for the upcoming Plaid Summer Tour. The tour dashboard is nearly complete, where you'll be able to check in and see what's up on the tour at any point in the day. Or all day.

Sara crafted a special foil helmet for RJ, so that he could properly test the tour van's GPS system. We think it worked. And RJ will probably be wearing that helmet at the bars in Block Island this weekend. Cuz that's how he rolls.

Matt completed an intense stop motion show intro for the tour videos. He set up an incredible series of scenes and shot hundreds of stills to animate. Parker prepared our Ustream channels with graphics.

We've begun the interview process for a new designer. Lots of great talent and fun people. Difficult decisions ahead.

There were quite a few new client meetings and phone meetings this week. Definitely something in the air. Really excited about some of the people and brands that we've chatted with.

This weekend will be spent enjoying wonderful summer weather in the northeast, and a few last minute tour preparations. If you haven't already, please follow the Plaid van on Twitter, and become our fan on Facebook. Bookmark the tour dashboard and tell all of your friends. Only about a week till lift off!

a picture of punk rock

A friend of mine, C.A. Vanaria has just published a beautiful book documenting the punk and rock scene in Boston, during the heyday of the 80's. The Boston Years 1979-1986 features stunning photography of bands like Anthrax, B-52s, Billy Idol, The Jam, The Shirts, Talking Heads, The Clash, Tom Petty, X, and XTC before any of the 'uncool' people even knew about them.

This is a great trip down memory lane for aging punks, and a wonderful photographic history lesson for those born in the 90's. Her shots are nothing short of historic. You should buy this today.

I'm still pissed that she got to see XTC, and I didn't.

sweet graphics for your mommy van

Your passenger van is going to look soooo hot. Infectious has produced vehicle graphics that you can use to customize your car. Get bored of them? Want something new? They're completely removable.

They've already partnered with some of the world's most awesome pop artists - and are accepting submissions for future designs from you. The Coop graphics will look bitchin' on your mom's car. Go for it. From Veer.

what it's like to be struck by lightning

I can't help but play this clip over and over, and laugh at someone who decided to stand on top of a mountain during a thunderstorm. With a video camera. Coworker Sara (who has survived a lightning strike) likely won't find it as comical.

now on CD: the sounds of car manufacturing

Agency Bullet just produced a series of videos for Audi to promote the R8. They assembled a bunch of musicians into an Audi orchestra. And they produced a piece to video that includes clips and sound effects from the factory floor.

I would like to see an interactive version, where users can control the orchestra and re-order the video clips to create their own versions. But I'm a control freak, and probably need to see someone about that.

where will you be tomorrow morning?

In line for the new iPhone? Possibly nothing compares to the iPhone devotion (or nutiness) of Twitter buddies Brad and Joe.

Brad has been without an iPhone for 26 days.

Joe is traveling halfway across the country to wait in line with Brad so they can both buy the new iPhone.

Why? Because the iPhones that they sell in Indiana are so much better than the ones in the northeast. Or maybe Joe really wants an Indiana area code, for "cool factor." Or because Joe really supports his buddy's struggle without an iPhone for 26 days. Or maybe it's just that Joe's travel schedule had him in Indiana tomorrow. Clearly, someone needs to produce a documentary to answer these questions.

Happy iPhone eve.

batman is in town

They've turned on the bat signal in NYC. We would assume to promote the new Batman film.

So if you see someone in leather tights and a mask this weekend, it's probably only Batman, responding to the call. Buy him a drink. From the Gothamist and Johnny Bones, via Twitter.

california's on fire this weekend

Not sure why anyone in California would be playing with matches right now, but hey - everyone likes a good burning, exploding art show. The Fire Arts Festival takes place now through this weekend, and features performers and exhibits that are pretty much centered

See really cool stuff like a hydrogen-powered flame sculpture and a shooting gallery rigged with flamethrowers that incinerate targets. Totally hot. From The Underwire. Photo by Gary Wilson

history of bmw told with balls

Check out the sweet BMW exhibit in Munich. Berlin agency Art+COM created an installation made of 714 balls suspended from strings. They're all controlled by a team of children in the ceiling. Or maybe a computer - that's not really clear. Inspiring work and a very unique way to illustrate a story.

when people become fans of your failures

Possibly the most wonderful thing in the world that a brand can achieve is love so strong that users worship your failures.

Twitter has been a victim of its own success. So many new users, so much volume that the application crashes regularly. Sometimes hourly. From the getgo, they've managed to brand their "failure screens" in true twitteresque flavor. When Twitter is down beyond repair, users get the screen that is now lovingly referred to as the "fail whale."

Here's the thing. Despite the failures, Twitter fans remain users. And they joke about the down time, the failed tweets and the fail whale. Someone's even produced a line of Fail Whale merchandise.

Can your brand generate that kind of love? Can you fail consistently, over and over and STILL keep your customers fans? Not many brands can. And that's a wonderful testament to the power of Twitter. Tweet. Tweet.

Already onboard?
Be sure to look me up (darrylohrt) and follow the Plaid van (Plaid) during the upcoming Plaid Summer Tour.

another place for you to wear spandex and elf ears

Google has just launched Lively, which looks to have some massive potential. Lively is a 3D application that allows users to create avatars, place them into virtual environments, and communicate with others in that environment. Yes - just like SecondLife.

But this is a Google product. And there are a few things that look enticing in comparison to Second Life or MMORPG's. With Lively, "rooms" have real-world urls - that can be embedded into web pages, blogs, etc. You can pull in photographs and YouTube videos. And you'll eventually be able to port in friends from other social media tools.

Adverlab and Mashable have excellent rundowns of what's possible, along with screen shots.

For now, Lively is a PC only application. :( But a Mac version is promised soon.

what a zombie attack looks like. on twitter.

Still wondering about Twitter? Or what it's used for? Or why you need it?

What if there were a zombie outbreak? What would you share? What would your friends be doing?

KensingtonVictoria has answered the question - with a snapshot of a Twitter stream, at the height of a zombie attack.

people still read magazines?

Thought Gadgets reports on a cool new idea in the magazine publishing industry. (Yes, there's still enough people to call it an industry, I guess.)

MagHound is a service where you pay 9.95/month for seven publications that you can switch with other publications whenever you want. Tired of Vanity Fair? Switch it next month and get GQ. Switch and swap month in and month out.

I'm suspicious that they feature magazines that have been shuttered. Some for a while now. But we'll cut them a break for now, as it appears that the site is still under construction. (Magazine publishers: there are better ways to slow launch a site. Call us.)

(And doesn't Photoshop make Lindsay Lohan look hotolicious??)

your next presentation could be delivered on the golf course. literally.

Check out this grassy art at Wimbledon. Artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey projected black and white negatives onto the grass for 12 hours a day, in a dark room. They've manipulated the light sensitivity of grass to produce grass art. Or ads. Or stuff printed on grass.

So awesome! Hello country clubs? Landscape designers? Green architects? So many possibilities. Wondering if we climb up onto our roofs and project images into our lawn at night....hmmm.

vote john smith for president

The Chesapeake Bay is apparently getting all dirty and stinky. How do you raise awareness, and get people rallied around Chesapeake Bay pride? By finding a presidential candidate that supports the bay. Captain John Smith is that man.

And there's a campaign site, too. Really hoping that he chooses the Cap'n Crunch for his running mate. From Make the logo bigger.

mannequins in miami have bigger boobs

Steve Portigal went on an unscientific mission to Miami, and checked out the mannequins. He thinks that they reflect the popular regional body types.

He might be right - none of the stores by my house have mannequins with big boobs. I'm pretty sure. It's not like I'm staring or anything. At mannequins.

touch the box

Sharp has been running a unique promo on Facebook, and giving away loads and loads of prizes. Once you install the application on your Facebook page, you get a box. And you hold the box for a while. If it opens while in your possession, you get what's inside.

Some people have already won laptops, flat screens, and tickets to a Yankees game. (That last one seems more like work, than a prize - but that's just me.)

I like the website, where you can just type in random stuff and watch the box laugh at you. Things that I tried, which are apparently not in the box: Body parts, Angela Lansbury, a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Oh well.

crazychurch: we're giving it away

Churches need lots of stuff. Content for their sermons. Ads to promote their services. And websites, because people really dig the internet. A lot of churches don't have big ad budgets. Or content development budgets.

So CrazyChurch comes to the table. Ready to deliver loads and loads of free pre-packaged stuff for launch at your church. Free. Other non-profits could learn a thing or two from the wacked out dudes at CrazyChurch. Thanks Kevin!
Now your brand news diet is chockfull of tasty tales of Customer Experiences (CX). Served-fresh every morning for your daily recommended dose of marketing inspirations. Never sugar coated. May contain nuts. Archives | Look back at these past bites