Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

31 May 2011

AdVerve Episode 73: World O' Wheaton

The long wait is over, sweethearts.

Play the show now.

Alongside special guest Ken Wheaton (@kenwheaton), we cover stuff from book publishing and promoting, to the rise and further decline of American airline service, to whether advertising will protect us from the maniacal ambitions of Donald Trump. (I try broaching the topic of The Royal Wedding, but ultimately fail to make it stick.)

There's also a smidge more Southern Comfort for those of you riding Bill’s ongoing fascination with his new homeland.

28 May 2011

Renault ZE: An Electric Life, One We're Ready For

However much you may advocate the adoption of the electric vehicle, it's still difficult to face skeptics whose arguments often boil down to "we're not ready for that." That statement is usually supported by a number of vague "facts" that betray how little we actually know about electric cars: the little mileage you get, how they're too slow to drive on freeways, how it only makes sense if you have a house with a garage so you can plug it in...

(Actually, this last is a problem, but what if we all make like Manitoba and start changing our communities as a function of where we're headed? A plug on every street, sir!)

I like this ad because it distills all the cloudiness surrounding the electric transport quandary into one reasonable message: We've already switched to electricity for many things; why not for travel?

The ad preps you for this message by depicting everyday scenarios in which electric gadgets -- blow dryers, vending machines, credit card readers -- possess combustible engines, with all their fickleness and the pollution that comes along. The people in the ad simply live with it, the same way we live with car pollution.

That they never complain, never so much as wrinkle their noses, is part of the ad's charm: it enables you to laugh at the grace with which all that exhaust is dealt, to see the situation with clearer eyes, to accept that we've also been a bit silly about this, because it's what our society has collectively decided to accept, in the same way the ad's fictional society accepts combustible engine computers and toy dogs.

All this builds elegantly in your mind as the piece progresses. The narrator only raises her voice to drive the tagline and brand home. But the crazy thing is, you feel convinced.

UPDATE: Jeff Kwiatek sent over this variation on the ad for the Nissan Leaf, which launched on the same day:

The two companies are basically one (Renault holds something like 43% of Nissan, and the latter holds something like 15% of the former, so it's all one big mutual neck-sucking fest). It isn't unusual for companies of global scale to have a kind of "share with pride" policy on the inside, which doesn't exactly thrill their myriad agencies, but it does save them money: a good idea on one side of the world gets generously replicated elsewhere, or for a "different" brand.

I have to say though, the Leaf variant lacks the finesse of Renault ZE's "The Electric Life." Even its name fell a few points on the je-ne-sais-quoi scale: "Gas Powered Everything"? Would a little less obviousness have killed us?

(Maybe. Consider.)

21 May 2011

Government Tips for Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse

As America regains composure following another failed Rapture, Asst. Surgeon General Ali Khan arrives at an epiphany: the only way to get enough people to listen to reason is to wrap it in a big beaming package of insane.

I give you the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Safety Guidelines for a Zombie Apocalypse.

"So what do you need to do before zombies…or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen?", Khan begins after giving a weirdly detailed explanation of the significance of zombies. "First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house."

He describes in bullets what such a kit should contain, then asks you to assess disasters that could occur in your area ("Besides a zombie apocalypse, this may include floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes"), identify possible evacuation routes, and set up two accessible meeting places for family members if connectivity wanes.

20 May 2011

What Is It About Maids, Anyway?

Egged on by New York-based blogga disruptah So Particular, French media publication Influencia front-paged the Bud Light ad (circa 2009) above, teasing readers with the titillating header, "DSK: American experts reconstruct the scene."

Word has it that the piece has resulted in the highest number of hits in the magazine's history. Not bad, even if you are riding the coattails of two cross-Atlantic scandals (behold hither and thither).

It's scandal sandwich!

19 May 2011

NO BRANDCUFFS! Startups That Don't Do Jack.

...and to make this a bad French tech startup scenario, just replace the two guys talking nonsense with two academics.* And turn the shades into hipster prescription eyewear.**

Via @JeffKwiatek.

16 May 2011

Milk: A Love Story (+ a Lesson in Semantic Strategy)

I like this because it speaks to our compulsion to personify the non-human and wrap stories around them, seeking meaning and a means to connect where oftentimes there isn't any.

Obviously this is an ad, so there is clearly a message that's constructed and conveyed, and you are meant to sympathise with the cartons of milk. (Something new to discuss in therapy!) Still, as the video progresses you can literally feel your brain trying to catch the cues: here you're supposed to see a face, there a flirtation, here a kiss.

This work you do of completing that web of meaning in your mind is sometimes just enough to justify a bond.

The ending is easy to guess well before, but I like how it concludes by leaving the viewer with a sense of agency over the tale instead of giving you the flat, too-easy "...and this is why you should...!"

By Catsnake for Friends of the Earth, UK. The website could be more engaging, especially now that I'm all emotionally invested in two empty estranged cartons. FOE, you could've turned that call to action into more than a mere flirtation with agency. You could have directed the (now primed) energies of those who want to change the story and save the world.

(Consider the Rainbow Warrior.)

12 May 2011

Nécomimi: For Those Who Ever Questioned the Utility of Playboy Bunny Headbands.

Don't you love how those ears perk up when she gets all feeny?

When I came home from Switzerland yesterday, The Man was all in a state about NeuroWear, the people behind the technology above.

"Do you think it's real?" he wondered.

Why not. It was only last month that I mentioned mind control tech was the new frontier, and NeuroWear's Nécomimi thing, which is basically a mood ring, doesn't represent the most serious ways in which mind-interfacing technology has advanced (1, 2, 3). But it does represent how cheap the technology has become, how sensitive, and how important it'll be for the future: people are playing with it.

To wit: BCI (brain computer inferface) users can even make beats.

I wouldn't worry about everybody and your mom getting "Nécomimi" bunny ears, though. (I am holding out for a tail.) The money's on the gaming industry, and eMotiv is already conducting open experiments in that arena.


09 May 2011

Russian Roulette is Not the Same without a Gun...

Is there something you'd risk your digital life for? Russian Standard Vodka poses the question with Russian Facebook Roulette, a game where you really stand to lose your Facebook profile. In exchange for taking the risk alongside four other compulsive identity-gamblers, you could win a free trip to Russia for seven days. (Where you can play Russian roulette for real...?)

Dangerous work, and I like its taste; it bears a degree of risk that forces you to ask how important your FB identity has become. (And why?) It also serves the brand well by leveraging that "dancing on a razorblade" feeling we associate with Russian vodka (or Russian anything).

If it happens to catch, I don't imagine Facebook will let the game fly for very long, though. (Consider the fate of Burger King's Whopper Sacrifice.)

Shake Well for Love

The Zuck may spend his private time producing hook-up algos for Facebook users, but the socnet that's managed to weld all our social circles together (for better or worse) still lacks plenty in the matchmaking arena.

But who wants to use Facebook for love? How lame are you? ...It's a fine line, certainly, but one that can be exploited.

With that in mind, some friends of friends have produced ShakeCoeur, the iPhone/Android app that lets today's discriminating and time-constrained networker pick and choose would-be mates from friends, and friends of friends, via Facebook Connect.

The idea is deliciously simple: enter your stats (26/female/single). Specify your range (28-35/male/single). Then shake.

05 May 2011

Crash Course: Dark Matter, the Universe, What We Know (and Mostly Don't)

Some exciting things happened in the last few days. Scientists at CERN managed to trap antimatter for a record-breaking 17 minutes, availing new opportunities to study its properties. (If you have ever read the Golden Compass series by Philip Pullman, you are hopefully as excited as I am, even if antimatter doesn't turn out to be able to produce self-awareness, communicate via iChat, or invest certain items with "intentions.")

04 May 2011

Is a Wall Ever Just a Wall?

Usually not.

Aussie TV Welcomes Refurbished Virgin Blue

In 2009, Virgin Atlantic fêted its 25th anniversary with a sexy retro-style ad that followed red-clad flight attendants and a grinning movie star pilot through the airport, practically red carpet style, on opening day in London.

It was epic, like a fantasy you have when you're preadolescent and square.

The above is a spin on that for the freshly-rebranded Virgin Blue in Australia. Created by Clemenger BBDO Sydney, it includes a cameo from Hans Hulsbosch, who created the airline's new look, and was filmed in Sydney, Melbourne and Shanghai. The tone pops less, the electric downplayed; but you still feel the energy of that something building, laced with a very faint Australian-ness.

Hulsbosch explains: “The television commercial communicates that, for the first time, Australia’s airline industry has a genuine alternative. It has listened to what customers want today – and created the right kind of experience [...] a modern, dynamic service offering" expressed in a cinematic style.

Much ado, much ado. When's Virgin Galactic gonna start doing TVCs? And do you get stewardess uniforms on a space ship?

03 May 2011

Is Social Vending Anything Like a Happiness Machine...?

Pepsi's testing a touchscreen "social vending" machine that aspires to turn your thirsty impulse buy into a potential act of empowerment or goodwill.

Choose from three options: buy a drink, connect to the Pepsi Refresh Project or commit a "random act of refreshment" -- that is, gift a drink to somebody who deserves some carbonated sweetlove. Enter their name, mobile phone number and a personalised message; the machine will send that person an SMS with a code enabling them to redeem their beverage from any other "social vending" machine.

And not that I needed to invite the comparison, but hey, this reminds me a lot of Coca Cola's Happiness Machine, except infinitely more scalable, for obvious reasons: you don't need people living inside it, doling out six-foot subs and whatnot.

'We All Have 20 Minutes in Common'

A rep from French agency La Chose is using Facebook to share its latest work for news publication 20 Minutes. "On a tous 20 Minutes en commun," or "We all have 20 minutes in common," uses the tendency to lift newspapers to our faces to turn our own bodies into promotional frames. (Do people actually do this with iPads? Unlikely. But maybe they'd do it just for the pleasure of the effect, the way smokers occasionally enjoy lifting cigarette packets with rotting teeth to their mouths.)

The facial mosaic thing isn't original, but it does bring to mind the trend Alexandre Oudin kicked off of creating a mosaic photo effect on Facebook profile pages. If you dig that shit, here's a tutorial (and app) for producing the same.