Branding + Marketing + Design // Victoria, BC



Are you Awesome too?

award-trophies-trophy2-788650Have you ever had the fortune to work on a major project where the budget is “whatever it takes to get it right” and expectations are high? And while you are on said job, you find the winning idea super fast? Fast, as in the first idea you put to paper fast?

At the agency we use a brainstorming exercise: Dirt/Rock/Diamonds (see full entry here). It is a great way to dig deep and find the hidden gem of an idea. But what happens when you are tripping over the diamonds and you don’t even have your work boots on yet?

The initial reaction is to keep going. But you keep going back to that first idea. You check the brief, everything fits, it resonates with everybody who sees it. This is the piece-de-resistance. Now begins the debate. Do you stop, and have every job thereafter to be expected to be done so quickly? Or do you keep digging knowing that you will find jewels, but not with the same luster? When do you trust your gut and call it a day. It’s a fine line.

Does that make me awesome? I guess so. Am I okay with that? For now. Because I know that a big piece of humble pie could be coming on the next job. Not all jobs will be as smooth, there will be many sleepless nights to come. Creativity is a finicky thing. It’s not a 9-5 deal (although my pay cheque says it is). You can’t turn it off, perhaps is why great ideas can come anytime, anywhere to help make that major project run smoothly.

Now give me a high-five and let’s go onto the next one.

CGI is so passé II

The phenom of the “Got Talent” shows has created another YouTube superstar like the UK’s Susan Boyle. The latest success story is from the Ukraine spin-off version. 24 year old Kseniya Simonova (who ended up winning the show) creates an amazing sand animation on stage. She tells the story of people’s suffering during the German invasion of WWII.

This is another example that kick-ass creativity doesn’t need to done with the latest CGI. All you need is a lightbox and a pile of sand. Throw in Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters performed by a Finnish cello, and you got quite a scenario.

It is a bit long, but the constant changes in the story line really draw you in. Check it out!

Warning! Magazines Photoshop their pictures!!

skinslidersFrench politicians are teaming up with eating disorder experts to putting together a bill that would require magazine spread, ads and packaging designs to have warnings for airbrushed photos. While not as graphic and in your face as cigarette warnings, the penalties are hefty enough; $16,000 or 50% of the ad campaign cost. Certainly nothing to take idly. The warning could be as something as simple as “Retouched photograph aimed at changing a person’s physical appearance.”

Their goal is to combat anorexia and obesity by showcasing that not everybody looks as good as they do when airbrushed by the pros. That seems pretty obvious to me. Give me a few hours with a re-toucher to get rid of my; baggy eyes, chop off the love handles, slim up my chin, nose, head and body, and a magician for the rest, and I can be on the cover of GQ or Esquire. No problem.

And so the debate begins. Will this warning help? Cigarette warnings are harsh and abrasive, but there are still a lot of smokers… Will it help with anorexia, or will it help the magazines sleep because they are now legally covered and will be harder to sue? Is adding the warning to photos going too far? Will it have impact? Am I getting too old and senile that I forget the difficulties of being young and wanting to be like the movie stars??

I hate artists

Picture 1Maybe that is a little harsh. I am jealous of artists. I am a pixel-pusher that can draw really good stick figures, but that is about it. So when I came across a fantastic painter—Francoise Nielly living in Paris—my jealousy boiled over.

She creates some spectacular portraits using a painting knife, cake-frosting thick paint, and vibrant, bold colours that defy realism. There is a video (link here) of her creating one of her images with quick, confident strokes. The crazy part is that she uses Black & White photos as reference, interpreting light and colour in her head. Check out her portfolio, truly fantastic. Maybe I can get some tips if I stare at it long enough.

WWF lays a Smackdown on DDB Brasil

ElbowDropThey say that any publicity—no matter how bad—is good publicity. Sometimes it is so bad that it gives you a swift kick and a black eye for all the world to see. Social media allows these firecrackers and quickly turns them into full-blown bonfires.

A few months ago a print ad done by DDB Brasil on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) that has created gratuitous uproar around the world. The ad in question shows downtown NY with the twin towers about to be struck by airplanes, but the message is that Mother Natures’ tsunami in ’05 was 100 times worse.

Attention grabbing? Sure. Tasteless and insensitive? Most likely. But that is not the real problem. The REAL problem is that—according to WWF—the creative was never approved by them. Mr.Valente, president of DDB Brasil claims the creative was presented, approved, and ran Dec.08 in a local publication. Now it is a game of we said, they said in order to save their own reputations.

To add more mud to the mix, a complimenting commercial has surfaced. Originally denied by DDB that it was created by them, now rescinded, it has even been submitted to the OneShow and Cannes. Again, the creative was apparently not approved by the client.

The PR sides of both companies are working feverishly to fix the problem. Will the backlash towards DDB have any effect? Or will it quickly disappear in the short attention spanned news world? How did this come to this point? What happens now? Is your agency organized and responsible enough to let something like this happen? If not, give us a call.

Disney loves men in spandex

space-ghost-costumeMost of you have heard that Disney has started the purchase of Marvel for $4 billion bucks. It is good to see that the Happiest Place on Earth hasn’t been hurt too much from the gloom of the economy.

This is a pretty big deal. Obviously Disney is hoping to expand on the success of Marvels’ Spider-Man, Iron Man and X-men juggernaut product lines. Along with these big hitters, Disney gains access to 5,000+ Marvel characters. It will be interesting to see what they do with them in order to regain their investment. Perhaps Ant Man or Grasshopper will be the next summer blockbuster movie? Or will Asbestos Lady get her own clothing line along side Hannah Montana?

It will be interesting to see how these two big brands work together. Stock tip: Invest in spandex and lycra.

Pepsi and CBS hookup for putting Video ads into Magazines

Picture 2The Sept. 18 issue of Entertainment Weekly (LA and NY only) will preview the upcoming fall season on CBS. Ho-hum right? Well, not quite. In these two cities, there will be special editions that will have “paper-thin interactive video players” built into the article. It will have multiple videos that the reader can choose from. Pretty cool. <full AdAge article here>

The question is, do they get a good bang for their buck? This cannot be a cheap venture so what do the partnering parties get out of the deal? Besides the notoriety of trying something new and capturing buzz. Both brands benefit from having similar markets (25-39 male) but other than that how will they determine whether this is a successful campaign?

The Coles Notes on Twitter Stats

Picture 1Recently, a social media analytics company – Sysomos Inc. – analyzed over 11.5 million Twitter accounts and have come up with very detailed findings. I have collected the summarized version, but you can check out the full version of their findings here.

  • 72.5% of all users joining during the first five months of 2009
  • 85.3% of all Twitter users post less than one update/day
  • 21% of users have never posted a Tweet
  • 93.6% of users have less than 100 followers, while 92.4% follow less than 100 people
  • 5% of Twitter users account for 75% of all activity (see the report on analysis of top-5% users)
  • New York has the most Twitters users, followed by Los Angeles, Toronto, San Francisco and Boston; while Detroit was the fast-growing city over the first five months of 2009
  • More than 50% of all updates are published using tools, mobile and Web-based, other than TweetDeck is the most popular tool with 19.7% market share.
  • There are more women on Twitter (53%) than men (47%)
  • Of the people who identify themselves as marketers, 15% follow more than 2,000 people. This compares with 0.29% of overall Twitter users who follow more than 2,000 people.

These numbers make me feel better. At least I am not the only one that has problems reaching all 44 million + users. I guess I will slowly build up my empire one follower at a time.

Modest Mouse / Heath Ledger video

There is a bit of hoopla around Modest Mouse‘s latest music video, King Rat. It is beautifully illustrated, it tells a very graphic bizarre tale of whales hunting humans. The subject matter is dark and deep. Funny, as soon as something like whale hunting gets humanized it becomes something outrageous, and evil. Perhaps this should be done for every way we treat animals. This video brings to the forefront a violent practice that has been going on quietly (somewhat) for centuries into mainstream conversation. Will it spark more public outcry? Or will it just stay as a “cool video”.

Equally important to the success of this video is that the late Heath Ledger was the producer, apparently he is still a hot topic. It is also nice to see that the illustrators get some kudos at the end. Justly deserved.

Throw in that is a great song from a popular band and it is the cat’s meow. A truly epic video.

Deadline Video :: the Prequel Sequel

I had posted earlier on an amazing stop-motion video of an Art Student’s final project using post-it notes. (Story here)  It has become a large success on Youtube—2 million hits +. Now there is a “Making of Video” that has been posted. It is interesting to see how much planning went into the video.  Have a look. Good music too.