Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

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

A Glassful Lasts a Moment. A Frameful Lasts Forever.

Remember "Lemonade," the film that recounted the layoff stories and firings of ex agency rank-and-filers -- including that of its director, Erik Proulx?*

Now Proulx is working on a sequel, dubbed "Lemonade Detroit." Its stories draw from the ultimate open wound: a city that used to be the powerhouse of US industry, reduced to despondency, hollowed-out factories and abandoned concrete.

Of interest is how Proulx plans to fund production of this project. In a style reminiscent of The Million Dollar Homepage, he's offering to sell you a frame of the film for $1 apiece.

"At 24 frames per, that’s $24 a second, and $1440 a minute," notes fellow adslave/casual mathematician Make the Logo Bigger.

Buy your slice of on-screen lemon heaven right here. Technically, it'd make you a producer. And all producers' names - yes, even the one-frame wonders - get an IMDB credit out of the deal. Somethin' for the ol' résumé.

Naturally, you'll also be helping a fine director advance his career. That juice isn't tasting so sour now, is it?


*Don't remember? That's cool. Here's help: the stories were depressing in their familiarity, that resounding echo of people saying they didn't see the axefall coming. But it was also a ray of hope in a really unhappy climate. The tagline sums it up nicely: It's not a pink slip, it's a blank page.

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.

13 October 2010

Today's Struggle: Staying Apace with Technology

One of my biggest agendas is to make sure that inner city kids become more acclimated with technology. I think that that's gonna be the real issue: the real issue is, can we as a species keep up with the technology? The technology is getting better - not by the year, but by the moment! [...] I think that that is the new struggle, is for us to keep up with the technology that exists.

- Pharrell Williams at MIDEM

When Email Can Screw You! - @AdLawGuy Talks Shop

Not always, honey bunny.

In case you missed it, @adlawguy's advice from last week's AdVerve e-newsy was "Don't Put It In Writing." It cites the one time in your creative career you should think twice before leaving a paper trail behind. The situation isn't as rare as you'd think, and it's good to keep in mind, especially in these creatively derivative times. :P (Former guest Joe La Pompe can talk to you all about that subject.)

A snippety-snip:

While most lawyers will rightly tell you to put everything in writing, there is one area in which you definitely want to think twice about leaving a paper trail.

When I get an email that says “We want to do a take-off on Star Wars, can we do it?”

My immediate response is "Not anymore."

11 October 2010

Hey, a Mobile-Optimised Agency Site!

I'll warn you in advance by admitting I'm not a developer (a fact that makes me very sad). So if at any point in this article you find I'm talking out of my ass, please correct me, and harshly.

Last month Nick Jones of Narrow Design (@narrowd) and McKinney (@mckinney) published screenshots of how the sites of major ad agencies - you know, the ones that claim to "get" digital - render on an iPhone. Most of them don't at all, or do with limited information, because most of them are heavily reliant on Flash. The list spread like anthrax in the agency social media sphere.

I like Flash and I get that Steve Jobs has a beef with Adobe or whatever. But in an environment where technology evolves faster than you can spin and say "hey presto," your digital front lines should be as lean and agnostic as possible: you don't know where that next client is coming from, or who's going to suddenly want to hit up your site in the middle of a conference from their handy-dandy first-gen iPad.

Could We All Be Gulliver...?

Animalcolm's Malcolm Sutherland directed "Umbra" (above), a hand-drawn animated piece neatly described thus:
An explorer adventures into an unknown world, yet it seems that he has been there before.
I like it because it is beautiful, slightly existential and infused with wonderful music that massages your brain. (That part's brought to you by Ben Grossman and Alison Melville.)

Via Tintin Américain, where you can find all kinds of cool stuff, mostly music although he occasionally veers into RANDOM DRIVE-BY AWESOMENESS territory. Also, I have almost all his playlists.

08 October 2010

Moleskine Pac-Man!

Moleskine celebrates Pac-Man's 30th anniversary with a special Pac-Man notebook and this cute little promotional video (which conveniently also plugs the hidden pocket's secret wares).

It's stuff like this that keeps a notebook company (of all things!) relevant to the heartbeats of twenty- and thirty-somethings, particularly the self-referential geeks who grew up with that first suite of joystick games (noble precursors of Xbox and Wii!), feed on retro throwbacks like dogs on catsteak, and pride themselves on maintaining vestiges of a simpler time. (At least in show. If the notebook is among our favourite manifestations of this tendency, it's due in part to Moleskine's simple product, clever spinoff decisions, gentle encouragement of budding fan communities, and consistent message.)*

What is it about Pac-Man that makes other companies - Google, Moleskine - want to take a piece of it and call it their own?

I'm not complaining, I love this stuff. It's just funny, that's all.



*Actually, I have no idea whether thirty-somethings swallow Moleskines the way twenty-somethings do. I can really only speak with confidence for my generation - not just because I'm part of it, but also because for my uni thesis I conducted a complex and lengthy study on brand loyalty among Echo Boomers of all income classes. Basically I discovered girls are more brand-promiscuous than boys, everything we think makes us profoundly unique is what defines us as a group (including our supposedly eclectic interest in both underground hip-hop and our parents' 8-tracks), and everyone buys Nike.

07 October 2010

AdVerve Episode 49: Immediacracy

Play the show now.

Everyone has access to any story – or do they? People want it right now more than they want it right — maybe.

Photojournalist Debbi Morello adds a different perspective on those questions in what can be only called stream-of-consciousness media rant meets technology with a journalism chaser. Not since Esquire labeled The View’s Hot Topics “a mesmerizing ballet of passion and ignorance” has a show description been more apt.

CAUTION: JOURNOS WILL CRINGE. We also check off life during wartime via Deb’s compelling lens.

Niqabitches Battle Anti-Burqa Law ... in Hot Pants

Not all French protests come packin' a Molotov cocktail. To protest a law that permits police to fine burqa wearers on France's streets, which passed last month, two mystery girls who call themselves the Niqabitches found a different way to share their discontent.

Sporting niqabs, stilettos and short shorts, the girls - both students, one Muslim - approached the doors of the Ministry of Immigration and National Identity, hoping to run into someone important. In the video, a cop tells them to get lost; but another (female) cop thinks the get-ups are awesome. She asks them if she can take a photo - even though, soon enough, these same officers will be forced to fine actual niqab wearers.

"We were not looking to attack or degrade the image of Muslim fundamentalists – each to their own – but rather to question politicians who voted for this law that we consider clearly unconstitutional," they were quoted as saying.

The video was uploaded onto YouTube on October 2nd. It's since enjoyed 28,274 views. The vimeo upload, parked on the 'net September 17, has seen over 249,000.

Follow @niqabitch for developments. It's not clear whether they want to fling themselves further into the headlights of French politics, but the story's raising eyebrows and, at the very least, generating more constructive discussion about the topic. Just seeing the sardonic pleasure of those who encountered the Niqabitches on the street was heartening. It hits you then: the anti-burqa law may have passed, but there are plenty of French citizens who don't want this.

While discussion about the burqa ban seemed like a delicate - even suicidal - topic of conversation before, the subject of two girls in a niqab and hot pants takes the edge off and perhaps puts people at enough ease that they can say what they think without sounding like wooden puppets, measuring syllables. That ain't bad poison - although you don't have to look far to find raging debate, either. (The YouTube and vimeo comments are a treasure trove.)

Elsewhere in Paris, an incognito graffiti artist who calls herself Princess Hijab is defacing métro ads by painting hijabs onto models with an enormous black marker. For her part, she says the cause isn't religious; she just likes the way hijabs isolate and accentuate a person who seeks obscurity, not magnification, in the Western world.

Lest we forget, German lingerie firm Liaison Dangereuse also released an ad suggesting worldly, sexy women can be hidden under burqas, too.

06 October 2010

MIPCOM's Interview with Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss

Mad Men's Jon Hamm (Don Draper) and Elisabeth Moss (Peggy Olson) sat with MIPCOM's news team yesterday for an interview at the Hotel Martinez. (Off-topic: Do you think they just dress like that now, out of habit?)

The interview was conducted by Reed MIDEM's James Martin, community manager of the conference parent's social strategy. Together they discuss whether things have changed since the '60s, if Moss and Hamm consider their work the equivalent of art-house cinema, and what they think of all those anonymous Twitter users posing as Mad Men characters. (Remember AMC's little freak-out over that?)

On the red carpet this week, Moss and Hamm talked to reporters about the impact of Mad Men. Hamm says the show isn't really about advertising at all (though it's done a great job of generating interest in its speckled history); it's about the human condition - the pulp of all great drama.

Moss said that the outfits also make a significant impression. "We didn't invent them," she emphasised, suggesting that maybe, in this frenetic atmosphere of excess, people were primed for the class and restraint that once manifested in fashion. (To be sure, AMC's tried profiting from users eager to refashion an identity through the lens of that period.)

Just for posterity, Hamm let me record him telling me what respect he has for ad men, then and now. (The vid sucks, buuuuuut I guess that's why that's not my job. :P )

If inclined, take a looky-loo at my red carpet photos.

It's the Mobile Case Hemingway Would Have Used.

By gad, my darlings, it's Moleskine iPhone and iPad covers!

05 October 2010

Retro Stop Motion Post-It Rubik's Cube Thing

This is the magic magics, via @adlawguy and the almighty buzzfeed.

04 October 2010

Nikon's 'Who Are You?' Campaign for Facebook

Nikon's latest follows trends among camera brands to seize upon users' desires to snapshot pieces of themselves and integrate them into a bigger tapestry: a melange of amateur and pro photos that manifests universal themes.

FCUK's Youtique: Your YouTube E-Store!

French Connection United Kingdom's gunning for a little social media infamy. It was the first brand (at least, the first we knew of) to dive into ChatRoulette with a campaign targeted specifically to its drive-by lurkers.

Since then, and with help from agency Poke, it's launched Youtique. The latter aims to give you a YouTube-based retail store experience, complete with nurturing how-tos and an efficient path to check-out.

Mimicking either situational comedy or the intimacy of a personal shopping experience (or both?), minimalist how-tos, sometimes featuring stylist Louse Roe, teach users how to "sparkle at a wedding," "look irresistible the morning after," "look awesome in the office" and even "catch a bouquet elegantly." But it isn't all polish and perfect primrose points.

Here's an ironic piece on that most treacherous of social rituals, eating spaghetti in style:

"Buy" buttons appear around halfway through each piece, aiming to profit from an endorphin-charged impulse buy:

Clicking on either button takes you to an e-boutique page dedicated to whatever clothing was featured. Pick your size, make the purchase. It's that easy - maybe deceptively so, as it leaves us all wondering, "Why don't we see more of this?"