29 July 2009
28 July 2009
As for the aesthetic, Michelle Phan explains nicely why Tim Burton makes the perfect match for Alice. She also finds a fly way to tie it back to that makeup thing she does on YouTube.
Advertisers are creaming themselves over cosmetics how-tos right now because girls like me tank hours watching them and totally forget that the water on the stove's been boiling for oh, half an hour. These videos also present juicy opportunities to name-drop products and put them in users' hands.
I totally didn't mean to make this post a plug for Michelle Phan and vanity tutorials. But since we went there, here's a slightly vapid video review of ELF Cosmetics, a company the vlogger -- who is not Michelle Phan -- incidentally found through Twitter.
Marketers note: compelled by ELF's Twitter outreach, the girl admits this is the first time she's bought cosmetics online. I smell golden opps for impulse buys!
Meh. Let's move on to this picture of Michelle Phan experimenting with Alice-inspired makeup. She kinda drifted into Lady Gaga territory though.
27 July 2009
Jeremy Danté drew my attention to this ad for Viktor & Rolf's fragrance Eau Mega. But I'm only posting it because it's an excuse to showcase an older piece for V&R's first perfume, Flowerbomb:
The Flowerbomb ad ran through 2008, mostly on the back of women's fashion mags. Something about it compels you to stare, and I suspect it has to do with the colours and textures brought together: that cat-eyed woman with her head wrapped in a gauzy flower-shaped veil, the blushing hue trapped in an angular perfume bottle, V&R's wax seal coupled with a ribbon whose little nibs you can almost feel under your fingers, laced around a porcelain frame...
Then there's that arresting choice of pink, submissive against hard black logo work. It's only by slight changes in shade that you even know where it begins and ends.
Eau Mega's got enough of the same nuances to maintain fidelity to the foundation set by Flowerbomb: flowing gauze, wind-swept gamine, interesting use of soft versus hard texture (you almost feel the cold coiny metal of the V&R seal!) and shadowy contrast that forces yielding yellow into hard angular frames -- brought to stunning relief by that soft kiss of blue.
This under-the-radar attention to detail culminates in a simplicity that draws long gazes and invites curiosity: a recipe, I'm sure, for Viktor & Rolf's intended clientèle.
Did the BeanCast last night with the distinguished Greg Verdino of Crayon and industry-weathered George Parker of bad-ass ad industry blog AdScam/The Horror!.
The title of the episode is Ducks Gone Wild, inspired by a tangent GP had about rubber ducks, Paris Hilton and blow jobs, followed by an anecdote from me about how ducks gang-rape.
Apart from all that, we talked about Amazon buying Zappos, Wal-Mart's bully complex, Twitter's free publicity, Target's magic touch and the Plaid Nation tour.
It's some salty shit. Click herey-here to heary-hear.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of David Ogilvy's death, (m)adman George Parker wrote this cockles-warming bit about his two experiences meeting him, and reflected on what the man stands for in the context of the industry.
I like this part:
He glared, snapped his red braces, (Well, I made that last bit up, 'cos it sounds like the kind of thing he would do) banged the table and shouted "Never forget, advertising is about selling".The legend of Ogilvy resonates because he possessed no misconceptions, no shame, about advertising's end goal: selling.
Then he was escorted out of the room by the minders.
Not to say there isn't art to persuasion. Ogilvy built on that foundation with another oft-quoted anecdote: "The consumer isn't stupid, she's your wife."
Philosophy in application: Ogilvy on Advertising is a book he had published expressly to shill his agency. Despite the motivation -- or rather, because of it -- it contains some marvelously good stuff that remains applicable today. It's also beautifully written.
I know this guy, a fellow expat, called Kito. (You may remember him as the man responsible for the Dirty Knife Allegory.) We talk a lot via Gchat because we're the only two somewhat-close friends from the Bay Area that happens to be sharing a time zone.
In January, when I arrived in Paris, I went through this three-day stint where I was scared shitless of doing simple things like going to the grocery store or reciprocating streetside Bonjours. On one of those days I was sitting in a cyber café, hungry as hell, talking to Kito, and I asked how he felt about his language situation.
At that point, he'd been working in Germany about six months.
"It's not where I hoped it would be," he said. "Today on the bus I saw these kids speaking German. And I hated them."
The thought of him sitting on a bus, gnashing his teeth at the sight of prattling children, stuck with me. I wondered whether I'd ever have a moment like that: when the sight of kids speaking French in ways I can't would fill me with insufferable envy.
It happened yesterday. I was sitting in a park in Montmartre, struggling with a French novel, when a shriek made me raise my eyes to the playground.
There's this kid all crumpled up on the jungle gym, crying about god-knows-what. His brother runs over to get the sitch, and the little weeper expounds on his grievances with a fluency and an eloquence I can't begin to muster.
The green-eyed angst rose inside me, thick and heady.
It's not just the want that eats you; it's the irrational desire to defend yourself to someone, to stand up and shout, "I am that competent -- charming, even! Far away from here, in a country I left, PEOPLE DON'T STRUGGLE TO TALK TO ME. I can call telephone companies, navigate discussion from the weather to work, soothe sobbing children, and make subtle jokes -- all with grace and ease."
Then I had the dilemma that an expat is always vaguely aware is coming, but tries to avoid with the optimism of fresh perspective, months before falling facedown into it: could I live with myself if I returned to a place where I'm less happy -- just because small-talk doesn't present a struggle?
Or am I equal to the challenge of staying in a country where, however much I integrate, however much I learn, I will never be a native?
24 July 2009
This ad was put together by McCann-Erickson for Israel mobile phone co. Cellcom. (Off-topic, it was more than likely inspired by this utopic World Cup 2018 piece from '07.)
Here's a response on behalf of the Palestinians, which plays on McCann's ironic (in this case) agency motto, "The truth well told" (via the folks at INfluencia):
Scathing -- but still perky! -- and I suppose slightly more tender than the comments left on the original Cellcom video.
Dimi Reider has more thoughts and discussion on his blizzy-blog.
22 July 2009
Twitcam.com is a nifty little service that lets you broadcast yourself live (and uncensored!) on Twitter.
Log in with an existing Twitter ID, then hit "Broadcast Live" and grant the app access to your camera. When you're ready to share your face with The World at Large, hit "Broadcast & Tweet." This'll provide your Twitter feed with a link to your live video, accompanied by any message you send along with it.
The cool thing is, once users click on the link they can chat on the right-hand side of your livestream, enabling you to respond in real-time to whatever they're saying. (This can be both a good and bad thing,* I guess.)
When done, stop recording. The video lives on that link forever and can be embedded elsewhere on Internets.
Best of bests, it's ad-supported -- or, well, it will be once parent company Livestream drums up some hot-n-heavy sponsorship love. Meantime, it's free for anybody to use.
*Chelsi: "oh great, this is just what we need: spammerz broadcasting pr0n. @SilkySwallow takes her talents to the big screen!" Hey, now. Don't hate; congratulate.
There's a reason why "SciFi" is written the way it is, and I'm 99% sure I don't have to explain it, but I'm going to anyway: it's short for "science fiction," a genre that produces either fond or repelled chills, depending on who you're discussing it with.
I dig sci fi. As a kid, the Sci Fi Channel was one of my stand-bys. Which is at least one reason why NBC Universal's decision to rebrand the network as "SyFy" is so offensive: there's no way even Geek Me, who can deal with a lot of unreasonable backstory, is going to get behind that. It's a cheap evolution that prioritizes sound over meaning; a step backward, not forward.
The company paid one Michael Hinman $250,000 for the SyFy Portal website, using a shell company to keep the price reasonable, though I can't imagine why in fucking all-hell you'd spend even a handful of dollars to change a logical -- albeit stale -- brand name into a cheap phonetic soundbite.
Also, cherry-on-cakin' it here, what poverty-ridden mind came up with "Imagine greater"? I get that now we're all trying to be minimalist chic with our slogans, but somebody needed a thicker thesaurus. (Or greater imagination. Heh. See what I did there?)
21 July 2009
These two ads round out Modernista!'s "Go with the Flow" campaign for Palm Pre. I reviewed the debut spot on Adrants. In it, actress Tamara Hope sits on a rock, manipulating the features on her phone while an armada of monks respond in unison to her every toggle.
I wasn't keen on this spot, but I was willing to roll with it. Problem is, things worsened thereafter. In the ads above, the actress feels less and less like a person; more and more like ... I don't know, an android? A minion for the Oasis Project?
Shit really hits the fan with the juggling spot, where it doesn't even vibe like she's trying to be relatable anymore. Hope's as scary as possible, short of her head spinning 360 degrees. As a result, would-be Palm Pre users are reacting in reciprocally psychotic ways.
I heard about the slow progression of Palm Pre's campaign into the weeds from three sources, each of which seemed shaken as hell. When you're living abroad and divided from your dearest by a nine-hour time difference, that's a lot of people reaching out just to freak about an ad.
Why the strong sentiments? It's not just that the work seems Zoloft-enhanced; it's also because:
a) A perfectly good phone, one we were excited about (because look how cool!), is being ruined.
b) Sprint already had a good campaign that everybody liked, Sprint Now, featuring the Palm Pre. Nobody understands why Palm didn't just ride that wave. The work was relevant and witty, investing Palm Pre with a crisp persona without inviting comparisons to Apple's iPhone.
Check out the difference:
Modernista! and Palm, are you paying attention? Change tack before this coffin's sealed shut.
With help from its loyal and faithful servant, Promotions Co-ordinator Rick Komar.
I have this secret fear that letters like this still exist because some small but sufficient percentage of the populace actually goes, "HEY, I WON THE INTERNET LOTTERY!" and fills out the little form in earnest, waiting with bated breath for CLAIMS AGENT Thomas Ward to call.
But I hope this sentiment is irrational, like that clown thing, and I'm totally wrong.
19 July 2009
17 July 2009
Interactive artist Zachary Lieberman worked with Toyota to develop a typeface called iQ, made entirely by chalking car tires and having cars sketch out each letter.
Neat to watch the process from drawing board to execution. And while the font itself feels rudimentary (think "Script" circa the early '90s), I guess in this case it's the story that counts. You can download the typeface here if they ever put it up.
Office 2010: The Movie. Coming to an office near you.
Props to Microsoft for knowing how to laugh at itself, and for making Clippy seem like a stand-up dude, but all the throwback stuff that makes this camptastic "trailer" good also reminds me how every version of Office is more of the same. It's depressing.
Who the fuck uses Wingdings?
16 July 2009
I know Legs is all about that left-of-center puppet hype, but in the case of these Ugly Betty vignettes for Diet Coke, you gotta wonder: did it watch the show even once?
15 mini-spots depict a girl ("Eleanor") wreaking explosive havoc in a high-fashion boutique, which is actually pretty close to the Ugly Betty premise, but it's all done out of a sense of tinny puppet malice; less because she's chunky, awkward and constantly courting apology with sad little eyes.
I can't, for example, imagine Ugly Betty blowing a hole through a hat just to prove to a chic shop-keeper that it is, in fact, a scarf. She'd more like grovel and call her boss, who'd rescue her by effecting his indiscriminate libido.
Created in tandem with Mother London and marionette-makers Puppet Heap, the spots are currently running in the UK, which I guess suits because British humour's off the chains anyway. I'm posting three, but you can see all 15 here if you like.
From Legs: "Our inspiration was Bjork meets Rambo with ultra-glam couture accessories." An apt description for this series, and a lesson on managing retail egos: if I came into Hermès toting explosives and spraypaint, I'd probably get faster help. Or, well, a nice set of conjoined silver wristlets.
14 July 2009
Here is a story about liberation.
In 2006 I had a fairly cushy office job that I contemplated leaving in pursuit of a bohemian dream. This day three years ago, 14 July 2006, I stepped into the elevator to head home for the night and found myself facing a super-giddy guy.
We probably shared the elevator a handful of times before. He asked how my day was and I said it was fine. I asked how his fared and he replied with haste, almost as if he'd been waiting to say it: "I resigned today."
"Oh yeah?" I said. "Was that your choice or were there problems?"
He toyed with his answer a few moments before replying. "They made me some offers," he said slowly. "They wanted to make it hard for me to leave. But it was time to go." He raised his eyes to mine. "Really, I was already gone."
"Then congratulations," I said. He gave me a long look and asked if I was happy, addressing me as if we'd had a long rapport. That's one of the luxuries of knowing you'll never see somebody again.
My responses were brief; I felt pressed by the knowledge we were running out of time, but wanted to be truthful. He listened with peculiar interest.
We exited Oakland's Central Building together and walked down the same block. At a corner near BART we said good-bye. "I'll see you," he said. "Actually, I guess I won't." He half-coughed, half-laughed, and walked off without looking back.
I waved. A week later I filed for vacation time; a month after, I left for Paris. It took another year to leave for good.
Image details: Prise de la Bastille by Jean-Pierre-Louis-Laurent Houel.
09 July 2009
08 July 2009
En route to Nebraska, musician Dave Carroll witnessed baggage caddies at United Airlines manhandle his $3500 guitar, resulting in some serious damage.
He pursued the usual channels of complaint, but United didn't cough up any compensation -- so Carrol decided to disseminate a YouTube music video of his experience. It's circulating internets as we speak. (Via et via.)
Fun fact from Ben Kunz of ThoughtGadgets: "The 'United Breaks Guitars' video has spawned 950 additional complaints/comments in 1 day since posting. Yikes."
Reason #4302984302843908 why brands need to closely monitor social media channels -- and, on top of that, pay attention to the customer service experiences clients get on the ground floor. Otherwise, you get a big taste of what social media "gurus" call "the cost of not participating."
06 July 2009
A practical choice for if you're gonna go rambling off into nature with little apparent intention of returning. And that's pretty much all I have to say about that.
Read more on the effort launched by the Homer of our time, Levi Strauss & Co.
01 July 2009
One of the most interesting people I met at Cannes last week was Hervé De Clerck, who runs Ad Forum and Act Responsible.
In this video he talks about how Ad Forum operates, and in great length about Act Responsible -- its humble roots out of the ashes of 9/11, and how it's pushing to do two interesting things:
o Encourage the advertising industry to contribute its talent to social and environmental causes
o Promote the work of those that do
"Every year we gather the work for social and environmental issues ... and every year, we put on an exhibition," he said. The exhibition was held with support from DraftFCB, on a sunny terrace alongside the Palais, where you could grab a coffee, check out the beach and stroll at leisure through a wide-open gallery of interactive and print-based cause work from around the world.
"People can come in and see the advertising industry gets involved [...] not only sells soap and beer and cars," De Clerck stated, which was especially compelling. Here's someone who understands advertising isn't just about punting Coca-Cola; it also teaches you what your society values, and how best to function in it.
That's a massive responsibility, and one that merits some consideration when you think about how you're framing a message for an audience of individuals, whose purchases and acts ultimately affect all of us.
De Clerck also talked about his personal designation as "Dream Leader." Asked what he'd say if he could make one statement that would move the industry in any direction he pleased, his response was simple enough but moving -- especially given how long he's been in the industry:
"Get close to the consumer. Listen to people, listen to people, listen to people."
This is no jaded ECD. This is somebody who sees our industry in the same way as groundfloor creatives, fresh out of school, still hoping to change man's legacy.