Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

30 December 2010


Brought to you by Austin Walsh Photography. And, because I can't say it better, here's Jetpacks' tidy take:

Dolls with messed up eyes are the stuff of nightmares, but obsessed old men from the suburbs of KC who believe in Santa Claus are the stuff of Disney. And it's nice to see a studio/collective/agency just telling a story instead of putting antlers on the office dog and acting cute.

I guess I'm into this because for me a great story has both the dark and the beautiful mixed in. That's the kind of stuff that captivates you as a kid, long before your head's all washed out with industrial sized Fight Club-looking soap. Isn't that basically the business we're in? To captivate, to make that inner kid feel at ease poking his head out again?

Well, maybe not for nose clippers or Chia pets.

29 December 2010


I give you The Evolution of the Levi's Trucker Jacket, part of its Ready to Work campaign.

A slow starter but pretty, especially if you're into that self-effacing folksy indie aesthetic that was cool back when it meant all those things, and is occasionally still cool when it still does/passes for it.

Not that I mind in this case. The ambiance and the Levi's brand leaves the lingering burnt-cherrywood smell of American mythology. We're a young country but on a quest for legends to remember where we come from; what better look and feel? (And what better medium than Levi's?)

This is a Community Management Scenario Map.

See full size +/or courtesy-of.

Most of this should be common sense, but it helps to have a visual to cut through all the ambiguity. Best, perhaps, if used alongside the Air Force flow chart for blogging engagement...?

24 December 2010

A Whirled Christmas Story + a Premature Toast

I've become a big fan of Whirled since yonder days of Every Cigarette Smoked in Mad Men. Their holiday greeting is light fare but it will still make you crack the wee-est of wee little smiles.

Today is Christmas Eve. It's around this time that I get sentimental for things past and anxious about what happens after the 31st. I measure my life in these links to a new year.

Whatever you celebrate, I think our thoughts are moving in the same general direction: toward trepidation and hope, an eagerness to not waste time or people. They're hand in hand, drifting toward the ether.

Here's to this strange and wonderful period of exponentially-improving technology and the memes that bookmark our mastery of them. Here's to us and what we'll make.

AdVerve Episode 59: Psychedelic Curation Station

Play the show now.

Guillaume Decugis (@gdecugis) of joins us to talk about the curation age, what makes the HuffPo model “special,” protecting journalists while serving users’ desire to share, and Silicon Valley versus the French tech scene. (Email us for a invite: advervepodcast [at] gmail [dot] com.)

That’s a lot to cover in 30 25 minutes. Hold onto your hats, cowpokes.


22 December 2010

Beancast 2010 Wrap + 2 Agency Holiday 'Cards' for the Road

'Tis the season for year-end wraps and agency holiday greetings. Though my hands are currently tied eating my weight through California, I wanted to pop in to point you in the direction of some cool it-shay.

Luckie & Co needs help deciding where to donate $6K. Help 'em out by casting your vote for puppies, children or creatives. Luckie's done a solid job of demonstrating its talent for sparking engagement and real American enthusiasm for old-school brands like Little Debbie; this effort feels no less authentic and in-right-place-hearted.

If you're a holiday hater, no worries, there's room for you too. Celebrate the 12 days of grouchmas with Traction, who's fueling your fire with an explosions-laced video every day for 12 days. Expect copious helpings of a creepy The King-reminiscent Santa figure who effortlessly gives us childhood trauma:

For an exhaustive wrap-up of 2010, listen to No More Rockstars, The Beancast's two-hour year end special. It features Ken Wheaton (his blog is the excellence!), John Wall, Bill Green, and me. This show is a tribute to Bob's organisation, tenacity and tireless effort to keep opinionated people on-track. Plus there's an unmissable awkward joke or two. (Three? Four...?)

Eggnog at the ready. AdVerve listeners out there, never fear: our holiday special's coming to town next week. Miss it at your peril.

15 December 2010

Google Zeitgeist’s 2010 in Review

At the end of every year, Google Zeitgeist releases an intuitive report about how the world searched over its course. The lists are impressive data sheets of golden calves ("world cup," "chatroulette," "swine flu," "slum dog millionaire") dearly departed: a tribute to how quickly time moves, and we with it.

This year they gave that information an extra touch: a video illustration that manages to promote the existence of Zeitgeist, serve Google's Search On manifesto, and strike the nostalgia key pitch-perfectly. (A thin tightrope, artfully walked.) We give you the world's collectively shared 2010, neatly packaged in less than three minutes:

The video's remained within the top five of the Viral Video Charts for the last handful of days. It also got a tributory tweet from @ericschmidt hisself - that can't hurt. But more importantly, it left us with the sense of having witnessed and shared an important blip in time with millions of others. Was 2010 really that epic? Are all years like that?

Brought to you by Whirled, the mashup madmen behind Rockmelt's demo vid, Every Cigarette Smoked in Mad Men and - curiously - this random zombie speeding ticket effort. Damn, those people give us rainbow face.

Trapped in Meeting Hell? BUZZWORD BINGO TIIIME!

One agency that never half-asses its holiday card is Modea (see last year's Santa iPhone). It doesn't just look to be cool, it shoots for contagion.

As a tongue-in-cheek way of steeling itself - and your precious ears - against the ubiquity of buzzwords (the audio variant of HFCS), it's developed Buzzword Bingo, an app that lets you, uh, play the hand you're dealt if you're being forced to listen. In the unlikely instance that you don't score "synergy" at the next marketing meeting, just go for the low-hanging fruit: "strategy," "brand," "leverage," "buzz." There's no way you can't win.

The game is free for iPad users. An iPhone variant is in the works for those of you who want to score some under-the-table action. Nice way to get Modea's culture and name in the hands of plenty of phones - particularly those of creatives in competing digital service agencies. (Like this one.)

To its happy holiday message, Modea also wishes you a buzzword-free year. That ain't gonna happen, but it's a very pretty hope.

13 December 2010

Wrappin' Le Web 2010.

It's over and I'm still in recovery. Here's where I can direct you for the good stuff: my wrapup for can be found here, but note that it's super French tech-centric. (No worries though, at least it's in English.)

What else...?

AdVerve Episode 58: How (Not...?) to Get Ravished at Tech Conferences.

Aka, tech conference date rape. We had other things on our minds what with the wrapping of LeWeb 2010, but as often happens one big topic dominated the score: those whose hands traverse the endless expanse of your inert spinal cord after a watered-down cocktail or two. What to do? Do you out them? Or do you play it cool, like Sam L. Jackson?

Second big topic: we WikiLeak all over the place on why Julian Assange is both hero and villain.

That, and myriad little else, in another superfast 30-minute show. (Are you liking this BTW? WE GOTTA KNOW.)

BP vs the Internet: Anatomy of a PR War (ENG/FR)

A few months ago I went to work at distilling how, over the course of the oil spill, BP tried and failed to control the story of what was happening on-site. Funny thing was, it was on all the right media; it just had no idea how best to use them.

Here's what I put together. It's a walk through on how BP used Twitter, YouTube and crowdsourcing ... and how users used them to hijack the story and do what BP couldn't: engage, express emotion, try cleaning up that mess. There are also examples of how other companies in a tight spot handled their situations with more grace.

The presentation in English:

Et en français :

Feel free to use 'em and share, with appropriate credits, as you like.

If You're Gonna Copy...

...It might as well be from your own archives. (Again. And again. And again.)

Saves on a lawsuit or two, yeah? (And a creative! Or three or four!)

Thanks Atif for passing this ovah.

12 December 2010

The Juxtaposition is the Message.

My friend Bertrand, who runs the blog VOTW ("vision of the world" - his, that is), sent me this picture of a book stand at a Border's in New York.

I can't make out whether this is a blow for W. or for the Star Wars franchise. But I suppose it merits taking into account that where we are in US politics is in part a result of the various states of WTF thrown at us over the course of the Bush, Jr. administration. We're all half-awake, kids like Skywalker, going, "Did the Force help us through that? Is it still with us? Was it ever...?"

Reflection to be continued, hopefully with scrolling text and epic background music.

A Flash of Light ... a Marketing Opportunity.

Prepare for the colonisation of the land behind your eyes. :P

I still a little wiped from Le Web, but I wanted to pop out of my coma for a sec to post this BMW execution in Germany. (Among other things, like eat and pee.)

The brand used flash projector technology to reproduce what happens when you look up at the sun, or see a flash of light: when you close your eyes, you see the contours of that light slowly fade away.

In a recent cinema ad, a really intense racer, all high off his follow-your-dream juice, asked people to close their eyes following a flash of light at the end - and when they did, what they saw were the sharp contours of BMW.

How it was done (and the ad itself):

Sly work that quite literally gets under the skin. Who says you can't bewitch an audience while ravishing it of one more safe place ... all at the same time?

Find similar executions on the page I built for advances in projector technology in advertising. (Recommendations welcome, too.)

02 December 2010

Dentsu London, BERG's 3D Light Painting iPad App

Dentsu London has been experimenting with design consultancy BERG in lightplay and filmmaking. The first collabo film they've put together, "Making Future Magic," demonstrates the curious and amazing characteristics of an iPad application they've just produced.

Dubbed Penki (Japanese for paint), the app enables you to use your iPad to create 3D light paintings, revealed in long-exposure photographs. But this is neither here nor there. Seriously. Watch the film, and if you're precocious but technically undereducated like us, you'll be like, "Why are Sony and Panasonic making me deal with 3D glasses...?"

A book of stills from the film is also available over at Blurb. Support creative innovation by snapping up a copy and parking that bad-boy on your hip asymmetrical coffee table. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO.

01 December 2010

AIDS is Still Out There! Get Tested.

Today is World AIDS Day, and in days past we've seen plen'y of lead-ups prepping us for the advertising melodrama that comes with. (There's also a great spirit of joining-together-in-solidarity, but in advertising you see mostly melodrama.)

Case in point, this piece for AIDES by TBWA\Paris.

Among other celebratory/supportive activities, you can add an AIDS Day Help! Picbadge to your Facebook profile picture (which we did). You can also give props to This Prick, which is using ironic paper/digital "litter" to remind us of the dangers of this invisible killer.

Hats off to cleverness that scathes! Those naughties.

And on the topic of invisible killers comes our favourite execution du jour. It's for Canada's One Life to Live and it feels very art house cinema-meets-Degrassi. The idea follows that not ensuring you're protected, and getting regularly tested, is like permitting yourself to be attacked unawares by an invisible tormentor.

Thass some stylish messaging right there. Happy World AIDS Day, guys. Support a sufferer near you, and for Chrissakes, pick your balls up and get tested already if you haven't been since changing unprotected partners. Don't be gross and lame.

30 November 2010

AdVerve Episode 56: Get Whirled with Joe Sabia

Pi-tastic Joe.

Play the show now.

Joe Sabia of SF-based Whirled (@getwhirled), of Rockmelt demo vid, zombie speeding and Mad Men cigarette fame, joins us for some good clean all-natural fun. What's the difference between Vimeo and YouTube? Why plug a manifesto? What makes Tumblr so awesome?

We get to the heart of what makes something catch an audience's eye, why mediocrity might not be so bad ... and why the internet may be the best thing that ever happened to really boring people.

Also, Joe busts out the Morse Code chops. It's a riot in dots and dashes.

LEGO. AR. OASIS. Dragons!

O'er at Intel Labs, Seattle, LEGO got together with OASIS to see how the play experience could be augmented with (ta-da!) augmented reality.

While it isn't clear how likely it is that we'll all have AR tables installed at home in the near future, I like the idea that environment can be used to respond to play in a way that fuels the imagination. Sure, the mind can make a house burst into flames all on its own. But it's so much funner to be able to see it.

26 November 2010


Me: "Where did you put the drill? I want to put those new hooks in."

Him: "It's too late now for the drill. You'll wake the neighbours."

Me. "It's 5 PM on a Friday. Who am I going to wake?"

Him: "Can't you see I'm working?! YOU CAN'T HAVE THE DRILL."

23 November 2010

Google Search Stories, Gone French. (And an Astronaut Segue.)

It's poetic that Google's Search Stories campaign, which swept us off our feet with "Parisian Love" during this year's Super Bowl, now has a true French variant.

The Une Histoire campaign is outfitted with its own Search Stories, written in French but armed with more universal triggers: hopes, dreams, trajectories that start small but blossom into dramatic life changes. You know the plot well. My favourite is "Rêve d'Enfant" ("Childhood dream," above).

I totally wanted to be an astronaut, but not for any noble purpose. It was mostly to have a reason to go to space camp. And while we're off-topic, check out these "holiday snapshots" by astronaut Soichi (@astro_soichi). They're magic!

Back on-topic. Une Histoire was produced in partnership with France-based ETO. As with the English campaign, you have the option of creating your own search story, which media pub Influencia actually went and took the time to do:

UPDATE: "Une Histoire" debuted as a broadcast campaign on French network TF1 on November 28 for a reported 300,000 euros. In maintaining a bit of the Super Bowl spirit it rode for its US debut, the ad appeared just before the screening of Bienvenue Chez Les Ch'tis, a film that scored record box office returns in France.

Google Germany's 3D Streetview Stop Motion

Google Germany punts its Streetview feature with this adorable video that weds 3D to stop-motion. It brings to mind how Streetview succeeds in knitting photographs together, often providing full 360° views of a given area.

The effort is framed as though it's taking place in an old-school traveling scrapbook - the kind you fill up for road trips. A nice nod back to tactile memorabilia.

Work by agency Kolle Rebbe, with production by Sehsucht Berlin.

Props to Fubiz for the vid.

Tim Burton's Cadavre Exquis

Alongside the Toronto International Film Festival, Tim Burton's inviting users to play a game of Tweet-based Cadavre Exquis. As Len Kendall (photo credit) says here, "it's dark and stylish" - typical of Burton's work. (Consider the Willy Wonka remake with that slightly traumatising, but decidedly Dahlish, dentist dad interlude.)

Cadavre Exquis, French for "Exquisite Cadaver," is a parlor game where a person starts a story and others continue the thread until it arrives at a conclusion. You may remember that Rhea Scott did something similar with filmmakers in '08 to promote her production firm, Little Minx.

Burton's story revolves around Stainboy and his investigation of a mysterious and slightly animorphic goo. If you're clever and slightly insane (our favourite kind), make like the director and dig into the deep, unexpected places where tales twist perversely. One such mind is plenty, but paired with the contributions of a few thousand...? We can't wait to see what gets dug out.

Help spin the yarn at Note that Tweets must contain the hashtag #burtonstory.

The effort is a promotion for the Tim Burton exhibition which originally appeared in New York's MoMA. It'll be opening at the Toronto International Film Festival building, downtown in the aforementioned city, this Friday. Don't miss it! No guarantee that your 140 characters of fame are going to be incorporated in a Stainboy movie, though.

AdVerve Episode 55: Tryptophan! Santabration! ...and Airport Frisks.

That yearly bacchanalia of peace on earth and goodwill to men.

Play the show now.

We get you in the holiday spirit with the curious origins of Thanksgiving and some pre-Christmas foreplay. Also, Bill manages to squeeze in a full-sized rant about the new TSA body scans while I try desperately to reel the conversation back to tinseltown and the roots of the Christmas stocking. (Not what you learned in school! But probably even less true.)

We sorta do never quite do get around to making that “thankful” list. (Although Santa knows we tried.)

Also in the confession booth: the worst Christmas presents we ever got. Email us yours!

18 November 2010

Google Goggles + Advertisers: Opportunity Rising

Google Goggles is one of those hyper-useful services that seems so deceptively simple, we've wondered for years why it didn't exist: why can't you photograph something and run that image in a search engine?

Well, huzzah! Now you can. And from your mobile phone, no less.

Observing that a number of people were apparently using Goggles to snap photos of ads, Google Mobile's engineering team decided to put five super-powerful advertisers together and get them to try incorporating its capabilities into their marketing. The advertisers represented nearly all major industries: T-Mobile, Diageo, Buick, Disney and Delta Airlines.
This video is basically the result of that experiment:

For the time being, advertisers' ideas are simple enough: when a user photographs your ad via Goggles, sponsors can drive them directly to their brand/campaign site to continue the "experience" the person's allegedly having, face-to-face with billboard, or punt them stuff.

That's big already. (Bypass those narsty QR codes completely!)

But think bigger. Faced with a movie poster, a resto ad or a saucy pair of shoes, you can immediately drive users to useful data: the closest retail store. Showtimes. A reservation maker.

The question now is adoption, and for Google, that might not be an obstacle. An NPD Group survey found that between July and September, a whopping 44% of new smartphone users in the United States purchased an Android phone. So if the next generation of Google smartphones come stock with Goggles, running invisibly in the background and integrated in your photo features (Search/Use as Background Image/Send to Contact), this is going to explode.

Explode, we say! And all the better for the advertisers and the Foursquare/Yelp/Gowalla junkies, because this presents the perfect marriage of search, geolocation and the deliciously instant gratification of a user's curiosity.

Hip-Hop Tango: Tough, Beautiful ... Like the VW Polo?!

To personify the Polo's "Tough. Beautiful." slogan, Volkswagen UK enlisted the aid of DDB UK, whose creative mind-melding produced "Last Tango in Compton":

World-class Argentinean tango dancers Gasper Godoy and Manuella Rossi developed the hard, fast routine against an unforgiving, equally passionate hip-hop track laced with jazz tones. No reassuring bandonéons in sight. But they make it work.

The making-of is just as interesting. Tango champion Godoy admits he's never danced to either jazz or hip-hop in his life. We admire him rising to the occasion.

While we're grateful the DDB team didn't try shimmying the car into the footwork (consider that weird "Tango at the Tower" thing Ford Fiesta did with Cake Group in '08), we took a little bit of issue with the abrupt end transition to the shot of the Polo. It struck us as random and stapled-on, even with the tagline tying it all together.

But this is entertainment. And for some, particularly those with an affinity for gritty streets that breed passion, rage, danger and beauty, that might be plenty.

Learn more about the dancers and the music (Roc C's Don't Stop) at the (rather nahce) Volkswagen Polo Facebook page.

The Most Captivating Thing You'll See All Day.

"Philips is bad ... very bad."

Dude's VHS collection will definitely kick your dad's VHS collection's ass, but there is so much more to this than those somber black relics of entertainment past. Focus on the musical transitions. These are gems the likes of which you don't hear often.

A million thanks to @Wisey and @KingofBullshit, to whom I now owe my life and anything of value that I may do with it. This was myrrh, and your efforts brought it to me with great patience and care.

16 November 2010

What Makes a True Geek?

The yardstick's all over the place, but there's a weird above-and-beyond passion that unites the respondents in this video. You see it in how most of their faces light up and recount with pride the moment they switched majors to physics or learned Elfish or decided to shape their online identities around an inexplicable love of JSON.

Hug yourself, Geek. Your curiosity outweighs fear of judgment, and your wonder is a mushroom cloud. It wasn't an easy road, was it? ...but you had to, didn't you?*

Oh, also, you can turn your own responses in at Dice's Facebook if you want to.

Via the inimitable Publigeekaire.


*I am totally making out with myself right now.

'A Life on Facebook' Sweeps 3.65M Views in a Week

Longtime CG artist Maxime Luère recently struck gold when he recently uploaded his second YouTube video of all-time: "A Life on Facebook."

On the creator: Remember that Lacoste Future video from '08, where the tennis player had that mask thing on his face and digital ads in his shoes? That was Luère's doing. You can see more of what he's done, and his specialities, on his website.

On the video: Set to a toe-tappity beat that builds, the film depicts the story of a coed-cum-man, told from the narrative frame of Facebook. He finds love, burns it, razes rather publicly through a pile of girls, lifts a glass to his lips fairly often, and finally finds love again. (On Facebook, of course.) But that's only half the yarn.

Its resonance to users raises interesting conversations about where Facebook is going and its place in our lives. "Very cool," said reader Atif Chaudhry of the video (on my Facebook wall, no less!). "BUT will we really be using 'this' facebook in 5, 10, 15, 25 years from now? We'll all have moved on to something better..or facebook will evolve to suit [our] needs better..."

In our minds, this is just an expression of the phases of life on Facebook today: that forming couple, your drunk coed neighbours, a young bachelor fooling around, that chick who's constantly posting pictures of her pregnant stomach. There's our parents, and those new parents who are so into their babies that they flood your feed with his colic, gas or compulsive thumb-sucking. There's the wanderlusters who do their best to turn every historic piece of scenery into a backdrop for their own enviable selfhood.

It's everybody's story, told on one of the most relatable narrative devices today. And it's okay if that device is ephemeral; that doesn't make it any less pertinent to the culture, much of which is sustained by the data-vomit and voyeuristic lurking that happens in that endless sea of violet blue pages. (Luère makes that very banality look deliciously rock-'n-roll, even epic. That's the talent of the storyteller.)

Since its appearance last week, "A Life on Facebook" has garnered 3.2 million views on YouTube and another 450,000 on vimeo (plus 3005 vimeo Likes). The wise Luère concluded it with a clever little signature inviting users to Like him on his own Facebook page, and as of this writing he's now the beloved of about 11,588 people.

That's a lot of visibility from a guy who's operated mostly under the radar.

15 November 2010

Monoprix Wages War Against Junk Design

Ever wish your store-brand tomato purée had more oomph? France's Monoprix is answering the call with pop art-inspired packaging for its proprietary food items.

Before and after:

Dreamt to life by Design Havas City in response to Monoprix's refusal (inability?) to compete pricewise with stores like E. Leclerc, the packaging does away with generic food images and instead features contrasting colour bars buttressing words describing the contents, accompanied with a single pithy line.

For example, for a long horseshoe-shaped package of sausage, the label reads, "High-quality dry sausage: the sausage that does a demi-turn."

AdVerve Episode 54: Monster Media

Play the show now.
(Or right-click link to open in new window with controllable player.)

Culture journo Carolina Miranda (@cmonstah), the magnificent brains behind, WNYC's Gallerina and the Perfect City documentary, joins us for some high-meets-low culture fun and games. She chats us up about the scariest road in Peru, what she looks for in a would-be tourist attraction, the changing face of compensation and expectations for writers in the tech age, and journalism’s no-fly zone... if it even has one anymore.

Plenty of twists, turns and giggles along the way. Miss it at your inner wanderluster's peril.

14 November 2010

Holographic Pop Star

Crypton Future Media creation Hatsune Miku is the perfect entertainer: 100% synthetic, tireless, unpaid and a show-stopper. She's also mostly crowdsourced (see link).

Honey's trying to break into the English-speaking market. Help a hologram out by Liking her Facebook page.

12 November 2010

A Rockmelt Review Update, to Be Just.

After 48 hours or so of hardcore use, today I decided that I hate Rockmelt.

Used as your primary browser it gets insanely slow and data-heavy and the lag is insufferable.

And because you can't organically update Twitter/Facebook from the right-hand pane, having them ever on the periphery doesn't actually stop you from having to go to those pages. All it really does is make you a compulsive newsfeed update-checker, which is something you thankfully forget about doing from time to time when you're not constantly gazing at those icons.

Back on Chrome again. Will I return to Rockmelt someday, to visit? Probably, but that I'm saying "probably" probably means no. I'll keep it on the dock awhile though, just in case.

This concludes my review.

UPDATE, 13 Nov: A few commenters actually pointed out to me how I can update my Facebook and Twitter statuses from Rockmelt.

It's on the left!

There's also some kind of "smart" RSS suggestions feature that passes you fresh sites based on your interests (StumbleUpon-esque?). I haven't yet figured out how that works though.

Thanks, guys. Maybe I'll give this another go (but that laggage, man... find a way to work it out!).

10 November 2010

A Short, Rather Incomplete Rockmelt Review

...per Len Kendall's request. :P

Let's kick off with what Rockmelt is: a Chromium-based web browser developed by Tim Howes and Eric Vishria, although you'll likely hear less about them than about its hefty backer: Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. It launched two days ago and is currently still in invite-only beta.

This demo does a good job of illustrating the experience:

How Rockmelt is Shared

This is one of the first things I noticed: primary dissemination of Rockmelt is happening via Facebook. My first couple of invites came through Facebook messages, and I was like, "....the hell is this?"

There is good reason for that: it's intimately integrated with Facebook, in the sense that you can log into Rockmelt via Facebook Connect (which has the advantage of automatically populating available friends on your left-hand pane), share with great efficacy, and - this is crucial - disseminate Rockmelt invites through it as well.

Here's a feature I thought was interesting:

Post-download, you're allotted three Rockmelt invitations to offer to others. They are replenished every time somebody uses one. When you want to pass Rockmelt along, you're given a list of Facebook friends that you can share it with - but priority space is given to friends that have already requested Rockmelt access (with the most recent at the top). This ensures you're not passing an invite to someone who already has the browser, or to somebody who doesn't care.

Stuff I Like About Rockmelt

I've been using the browser less than 24 hours, so this is a drive-by review at best. As things stand, I dig the following:
  • Available Facebook friends on the left-hand pane. You can toggle this to see only friends you've favourited - meaning, huzzah, I ONLY SEE THOSE OF YOU I LIKE. (This doesn't mean I am hidden from those I don't want to see, it only means I see less of what - er, who - I don't care about at any given time.)

  • The speed. It is easily Chrome-caliber fast. The developers explain why in this TechCrunch vid.
  • Dedicated window for Facebook chat. It feels/sounds a lot like iChat. Above your discussion, you also see the livestream of the friend you're currently chatting with. Unexpectedly handy way of keeping things in context, especially when dude goes, "So have you looked at my vacation pictures yet?" Uh ...... yes.
  • Worth noting: when friends try to chat me, Facebook tells them I'm using a remote service. To send the message along, they must confirm a change in their settings (that they are willing to be visible to remote services that access Facebook chat). It isn't yet clear if that means that, in this case, the friend would just be visible to me or to all remote chat users. Settings can be changed back in Facebook's immense archives of privacy rigmarole. (Thanks Atif for walking through this with me yesterday.)
  • Being able to browse social networks, favourite blogs, profiles, Tweets, and even search without leaving my current tab. (Anything you wish to open while toggling thepane options will automatically open in a separate tab, so you never lose your place.)

  • Clean interface that does more or less what you expect. With so much material coming at you, it'd be easy to suffer from data overload. Thankfully, diversions and other tools are off to the side, which isn't distracting. And when I do decide to play with them, I don't lose track of where I am.
  • Easy delete. If I hate something I've saved, I just drag it out of the pane and - poof! - gone forever. Just like with the Mac dock.
  • Intuitive sharing feature. Easy to post links of what you're looking at on Facebook or Twitter; the Share button feels totally natural beside the URL address line.

Stuff I Do Not Like About Rockmelt

  • Can't toggle searches. It's like going back to the Yahoo days. If you run a search from the hyper-convenient right-hand pane, you get one basic stream of results, with no ability to see just images, or just news, or just blogs or videos. It seems crazy that you can't automatically expand this page to fill a tab (bringing you directly to Google) or that toggle options can't just be added to the top of search results.
  • I can't Tweet? There must be something I'm missing here. I can share, reply and retweet from inside the browser pane, but I can't self-produce a Tweet?!
  • Come to think of it, I can't update my Facebook status from here either. Small potatoes but irritating. Why go to the trouble of saving us from having to leave our pages to peruse our socnets if we can't update them from those same tools? Boooo.
  • Adding separate Twitter accounts isn't super intuitive. In fact, it doesn't work at all when I hit the "Add new Twitter account" button. And at the same time, I don't know if I necessarily want to fill my entire right pane up with Twitter accounts and sites I frequent. And I don't think it scrolls. There has to be an easier way to manage this, but for now it doesn't look like I'll be divorcing Tweetdeck anytime soon.
But this is all basic stuff that I'm sure will get sorted over the course of the test-drive. It also merits saying that I don't know if I care enough about all these features to leave Chrome. I'm giving it a full 48-hour test run; and if I can't go back to the way things were, I guess then I'll know for sure.

(There haven't been any rendering problems so far, and easy imports from other browsers mean I can fool around with Rockmelt without the irritation of having lost all my history and details. Naaaahce.)

Mass Adoption?

In his original Tweet to me, Len hit it right on the head when he said experience teaches that browser gadgets don't score mass adoption. This is true, and there are still others who are simply not into the idea of downloading one more extra goddamn thing, especially when our current browser options do the job fine.

If Rockmelt sorts out the issues I mentioned above, and fast enough, it's got a fair shot at adding one more wedge to the handful of browsers we actively use. It has funding, serious coverage, and its clever way of disseminating invites builds desire while psychologically prepping the user for a social browser experience.

If it is true that the vast majority of Facebook users log in over 7 times a day, and if compulsive Tweeters are hitting their socmedia-smack just as much, then it's fair to say it'd be cool if we didn't have to keep a tab open for Facebook, and some extra desktop client open for Twitter, all the time. If we can keep that stuff ever-present on the periphery of our overall internet experience, it'd make life a lot easier. And that sharing feature? Seriously. Priceless.

I'd say keep an eye on it, especially once your non-tech or media friends start talking about it. I doubt it'll take a long time; a social browser provides sufficiently non-geeky, addiction-enabling incentives that there are plenty of reasons for Rockmelt to go mainstream.

That's all for now. Hope it helps (...Len). If you have any thoughts to add, by all means, LEAVE A COMMENT, MAN!

There's an update to this review. Take a looky-loo.

06 November 2010

Post Enfatico, Dell Tamely Invites You on a 'Rendezvous'

Perhaps still smarting from the shrapnel of Enfatico, Dell turned to Mother London for its new Streak tablet. And "Rendezvous" is what Mother produced.

It's warm, just trendy enough, and inoffensive. Impressive handling by Mother of a socially traumatised and still-rattled brand.

"We wanted to show that our technology enables something important—relationships—and forge an emotional connection with viewers," explained Liz Matthews, Dell's global consumer brand director.

There remains the question of who'd buy one of these when everybody's swinging from Apple's nuts right now. The answer, at least according to Boston Consulting Group, is possibly a lot of people, actually: 49% of respondents from a May 2010 survey plan to scoop up a tablet in the next three years.

People want something multi-purpose (meaning Kindle's singularity may be a turnoff) but also blanch at the price tag of your standard iPad (which starts at $499). Dell's Streak is currently going for $299.99 - not a bad compromise, especially if you want to differentiate yourself without looking like a Luddite.

After Hours, Will You Pass the Social Media Sobriety Test?

Boulder-based Webroot is an antivirus and internet security firm, meaning it is in one of the most neglectable industries in the four corners of the Internet, especially if you're a Mac user. :P

So it's come up with a way to get attention: the Social Media Sobriety Test, a Firefox plugin that does for your networks what Gmail Goggles did for the victims of your triumphant 2 AM whiskey-fueled emails.

Once downloaded, the Sobriety Test asks you to set a period of time in which you'd like to be protected (for example, after 11 PM every Thursday). You can customise what sites you'd like to be blocked from during this highly probable intoxication period, including Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Tumblr, some custom URLs and web-based email accounts like Gmail or Hotmail. If you try to access them, you'll be made to pass a randomly-generated online sobriety test.

Basically, it's a condom that prevents your uninhibited stupidity from bearing fruit in the one place it will most likely be immortalised for all time. Although I really hope this auto-update option is, uh, optional:

Awkward. UPDATE: the press guy says it's totally optional. Whew.

The tagline ties it all nicely back to pithy ol' Webroot: Protecting you from all possible threats. Even yourself. Work by TDA Advertising & Design, Boulder.

03 November 2010

Sita Sings the Blues: The Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told

In 2009, artist Nina Paley kindly her labour of love (one year in the world, five years in the making), Sita Sings the Blues, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License, which basically gives people the freedom to mash up or otherwise play with the content/likenesses as long as they provide appropriate attribution.

My friend Amanda reco'd the video to me recently and I just fell in love with it. To start with, it's a creative piece of work that showcases Paley's versatility as an artist. Plot-wise, it recounts the epic Ramayana in a pithy, freestyle narrative that brings to mind both Mystery Science Theater 3000 (the shadow commentators) and Drunk History (the heroes do what the narrators say, even if the narrators themselves aren't always sure what happened).

All this is quietly interwoven with the tale of Nina's divorce and eventual discovery of the Ramayana. It's not distracting and it fits right in. Also - and this is my favourite part - Sita's woes are given voice with the musical contribution of '20s-era jazz singer Annett Hanshaw. What more, I say, what more can you ask for?*

If you want, hold a Sita screening or donate to Nina. Don't be shy about it; we need beauty like this in the world.


*A glowing review from Ebert? No worries, that's covered.

It's Scrabble ... on 'Shrooms.

This Ogilvy & Mather/Paris ad for the launch of Scrabble Délire brings to mind a tenement-based Alice in Wonderland, sprinkled with the spirit of the voyeuristic dinner parties Diesel threw for its Five on Fifth opening.

Scrabble Délire is basically an unhinged version of ordinary Scrabble: at the draw of a card you can write words in reverse, use proper nouns or place a word anywhere you want on the board.

The ad's objective was to manifest the havoc that can ensue when words take on lives and motivations of their own, disconnected from the rigidity and form of the original Scrabble game.

Mainly I'm pleased it doesn't fall too far from grace: the ending ties back nicely to the purpose. And to be honest, the freewheeling noirish mayhem of it is so un-Mattel-like that it's refreshing, very nearly shocking. (Well, maybe not in France, where this beautiful piece of work came out for Scrabble Classic last year.)

Big ups to Le Publigeekaire bringing it to my attention. If you can read in French and you're not reading that guy, by gad, what are you thinking...?

28 October 2010

Andy Grammer's 'Choose Your Own Adventure' Music Video

In the last few years, advertising has turned a few tricks on the "choose your own adventure" concept. There was Twix's little hook-up story of 2008. Notably, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO's "Choose a Different Ending" effort about knife crime for the Metropolitan Police won a Grand Prix for Good at the most recent Cannes Lions.

But this is probably among the more interesting takes on the genre in terms of production quality. In partnership with Vevo, which claims to be precipitating the evolution of music, musician Andy Grammer released the following video for single "Keep Your Head Up."

If you have trouble watching it, that's because Vevo is currently only available for streaming in the United States and Canada. But what it offers is a series of simple choices that enable the user to decide what happens next within a fixed amount of time - two separate ideas that have to be taught to the user in a matter of seconds, well-executed in this case. This enables the outcome to flow in time with the music.

The transitions from one moment to the next, whatever your choice, are seamless. (To maintain this harmony, the options are limited - what colour shirt, dancing waiter or not, etc. - and repercussions play out in seconds, with little deviation from very basic shenanigans.) While the music may not be your thing, the work is intuitive and clean clean and will hopefully stimulate other ideas in this vein.

This is Grammer's debut music video, leaving anticipatory curiosity about how he'll top this next time. But in terms of how tough this two-day feat was (as a first, no less), Grammer says the keys were timing, solid planning and patience.

“Because the choices are so different, I had to keep doing each scene over in different ways," he said. "It was, ‘Put on this shirt. Now put on this shirt. Now we need the big guy to jump out of the cake. And now the stripper.’ It was a mad dash.”

27 October 2010

Fresh Outta the Inbox: Telepathy

That's some pretty gratuitous use of bold following a less-than-thrilling subject line. Also, persona development? Did we need another one of those?*

26 October 2010

Mad Men, Meet Mr. Men.

Warm cuddly courtesy of The Poke, which even wrote a fine little Mad Men tale in true Mr. Men style. (How much more excellent it would be if it were embeddable!)

25 October 2010

AdVerve Episode 51: Ignoranima

Play the show now.

No guest this week, so we springboard in 58 different direction as we often like to do. We kick off with Maureen Dowd's article on how Sarah Palin makes ignorance chic, fertilizing the warm podcasty earth for the blossoms of debate: portrayals of women in power, patriotism and American governments/companies, fameballing on the coat-tails of Steve Jobs and all those goddamn strikes that are always happening everywhere (but especially in France).

We also steamroll our rage tractors into The Social Network, the Zuckerberg factor, and if Aaron Sorkin is man-biased.

Take that venty venti latté to go, kids. It's wild in this here West.

22 October 2010

It's Like Capture the Flag ... But with Strangers!

This idea's so off the chains that it's terrifying how awesome it is. Jung von Matt's iPhone application-cum-living-game, Mini Getaway Stockholm, is gonna have at least a couple of die-hard people shooting up out of their office cubicles at work and making a run for it with no apparent explanation. Meanwhilst, all the cool kids in town will burst into spontaneous dash, like an improv mob of purse-snatchers or very-late-for-train-goers.

We've arrived at a time when it's strategically and technologically possible to do I Love Bees-caliber work on a more easily executable and less commitment-heavy scale. This is exciting!

Only wish I could play, though I'd probably just be good for about 2.6 days before saying screw it and letting my virtual Mini slide, ballerina-like, into the ownership of the nearest digital gamestalker.

Such is life. There will be other spoils of adverwar. Consider.

(Thanks @contagiousmag for being a share bear.)

21 October 2010

The Truth of Life

I often feel like Anna Karina in this scene, particularly at conferences, where the goal is to network for some vague but promising outcome.

To find an opportunity and be able to pounce on it while clutching watery vodka at a homogenised two-hour mixer is indeed a talent, but I'm little interested in "advancing long-term corporate objectives."

I am looking for people willing to answer immense questions with no answers. The responses sound so sure, so right and somehow still so varied: you're apt to marvel at what we think about that we're never invited to say out loud. This is one of my favourite things to do (and probably the reason why no one ever wants to sit with me).

Last week at a couscous restaurant in Paris, a beautiful retired woman told me to believe in destiny, that life never truly becomes fixed or definitive, and that after 30 years of marriage there is usually no love left. Her husband left her for someone he loved when he was 20 years old, and she is happy.

"Are you going to tell your daughters this?" I asked. They're both slightly older than me.

"Of course not." She laughed that cool, distant laugh of untouchable people in very old movies. "It's good to have delusions in youth. And if my husband had never left me, I would never have met my friend Boris." She motioned to the orderly, grinning man across the table. He used to be a professional water skier, and he let me look at all his ski licenses.

Two days ago in Switzerland, another woman told me that the best way to raise your children is not to make sacrifices for them. "Don't neglect them, certainly, but no one is grateful for a martyr, and it isn't right to be one," she said. She and her husband of twenty years raised the twin girls she had with her previous husband.

Asked whether she believes people can be "sure" they've met The One when they've met them, she nodded but doesn't believe there's stock to it. "I was sure of my first husband," she said. "I felt all the things I'd never felt before: the need to love and be loved, to have children. And the moment I was pregnant and we had to make decisions together, I realised I made a terrible mistake. Love takes maturity, and true friendship at its core. We weren't friends."

The current husband is a freelance director, and they travel together to work on projects. Her previous husband found someone else and had another set of twins: boys this time.

And last night over dinner, a thirty-three year-old man with youthful eyes and an azure blue tie leaned in and suggested we may be extraterrestrials, that what we perceive to be reality - this waking life outside our dreams - may not be objective reality at all. I laughed because he hasn't seen Inception yet.

We spent most of the night discussing God and serial killers.

18 October 2010

The Foosball Red Team Wins 56% of the Time...?

The cool thing about "This is Dare. Are you?" is that it's rare to find an agency recruitment video that doesn't feel like flagrant audiovisual masturbation. And rarer still for an agency recruitment video to make Vimeo's Staff Picks list. Or any list outside the ad blogosphere (if it even makes those), actually.

That's not even all the reasons why it's cool. If you're a potential client, you'll want your depth of interesting and curious information unearthed and treated this way: wittily presented and connected to the present. And if you're a creative, you might just want to leap into Dare's lap. (Of which 57% wear checked shirts and 54% occasionally wear Converse shoes, making the likelihood of encountering one thus-clad Dare-ployee higher than finding a penguin in South Africa.)

17 October 2010

AdVerve Episode 50: Evaporatively Cooling SocNets

Douglas Coupland, warning you about Street Map-infused dreams.

Play the show now.

Deb Wiseman (@wisey) of Media Monitors revisits us from Down Undah. We play 5 x 5 x 5 and explore such existential topicality as dystopic futurists spinning social media into a hell-bound handbasket, Australian do-overs (including this show, which we tried and failed to record two weeks ago), Gap's logo takeback, cyber bullying and out-of-closet suicides.

There's also a little bit of politicking and this whole evaporative cooling thing, deftly applied to Silicon Valley and then hippies.

15 October 2010

A Little Bit of Attitude, Sugar is so charming it hurts. I mean, this email was enough to make me feel smug about how the "Grown-Up Services" I've invested into increasingly share my humour and match my sensibility (without sacrificing the need for transparency and calm reassurance). Then I leaped facefirst into the website, where I saw the following maintenance message:

I saw that and I was like, GAH! That's just the cutest! (And doubly reassuring!) Check them out, all tightening screws and protecting my data with a little smack of chutzpah. It doesn't even matter that the site's down right now, I'm happy to dance around and wait.

We don't need corporate vanilla, that dull numbing attitude that protects you from legal rebuke and that nobody reads. What social media's taught us is that enterprises ought to be more human. And when you're human, it's okay to put the red shoes on under your workday trousers. It can even brighten days.

Be the Fred Astaire of unhappy situations!

14 October 2010

You'll Always Find Them in the Kitchen at Parties.

IKEA's in the entertainment business now. Last week, YouTube account thekitchenbyikea published "Jona Lewie Presents Man Like Me - You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties," a catchy, dangerously mod three-minute music video about two guys with crappy luck in love, with music (and a cameo) by English singer/songwriter Lewie.

The interesting thing about visiting an IKEA is its modular quality: each individual kitchen, bedroom and living room environment is meticulously put together, simulating a home setting. But in the end it's still just a showroom, crammed with people that take up strange roles while strolling its lanes: those of actors playing house, or voyeurs.

This is something that agency Mother London started playing with: the idea that the environment is familiar, but not at all real. In some ways, I think that's what its previous cats execution was all about.

This video plays with that modular quality, the exquisite surreal poorly disguised as a banal setting. Two guys go to a party. The theme is that they go to a lot of parties and are always hanging out in the kitchen. So the house they enter is a modular space filled with different kitchen environments. Cut open in front like a dollhouse, you can see the kitchens in full glory. Each also represents a different party, and the guys meander through, followed by a camera that doesn't neglect to pan over the full array of IKEA home setting products.

It's a great way to see a lot of items in a lot of different contexts at once, while playing with the strange modular ambiance of IKEA stores (which, curiously, forces you to walk through it in a determined path - much like the guys in this video.) Crucially, the work is also fun to watch. It's entertainment - the crux of any or most good viral work. (Though that's never guaranteed. The piece has a respectable, but hardly epic, 19,680 YouTube views as of this writing.)

Here's the 1:00 TV ad (10,852 views):

Same idea, outfitted with a nice closing tagline for the audience on the couch: "Kitchens for every party. Planned, delivered, installed." Clean and relevant.

Full YouTube stats on The Kitchen by IKEA:

Via Influencia.