Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Nike Makes Being a Soccer Superstar Look Cool (as if they needed help)

How often does a spot come along that makes you feel cool just by watching it? Nike delivers again with "Write the Future" produced and aired in anticipation of the World Cup. I watched the commercial a couple of weeks ago, and marveled at the fact that the three minute spot still feels packed. The sheer visual and narrative scope takes the viewer on a roller-coaster, time-traveling spree through the eyes of the starting lineup of the international soccer scene: Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba, Wayne Rooney, Fabio Cannavaro, Franck Ribery, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Patrice Evra, Gerard Pique, Ronaldinho, Landon Donovan, Tim Howard and Thiago Silva all make appearances (and Homer Simpson, Kobe Bryant and Roger Federer show up for momentary cameos). I think it would have been more entertaining if the commercial had explored the hypothetical consequences if Ronaldo's World Cup performance had gone sour. I'm not in the habit of denigrating talented people, but the sheer obnoxiousness of this photo...

warrants some exploration of an alternate reality in which Christiano Ronaldo isn't perpetually the object of idolatry. Anyway, in addition to being a whirlwind visual feast, "Write the Future" really brings home the fact that soccer is an international phenomenon in which the U.S. does not participate. The commercial rests on the premise that the actions of soccer players have a huge effect on reality. Sadly, in North America this isn't the case. And Nike makes being a part of the international soccer community look so enjoyable that I want to rush down to my YMCA this very moment and organize an amateur soccer team in the hopes of drumming up more grassroots support for the sport that the rest of the world is obsessed with. Come one, U.S.A. Let's try something new in 2010.

Friday, June 18, 2010

BP Cares (What You Think, Maybe)

Shaming BP seems to be all that the general public can do at the moment while we wait for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to be resolved.The above is a pointed spoof of BP efforts (and attitude!) repositioned as a coffee spill. Particular highlights include "the public" staged with a doughnut, and spoofs of Kevin Costner's and the hair booms efforts.

As a marketer, one of the most interesting aspects of this crisis to me has been BP's disastrous public response to this catastrophe. May I suggest putting a muzzle on Tony Hayward and hiring someone with a gentle Southern twang to break the news of the inevitable future failures on the part of the company to contain the spill.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Linchpin Meetup!

Are you indispensable? If not, do you want to be? (Some people don't.) If the answer to those two questions is yes, then I hope you'll join myself and other like-minded folks at the Dallas-area (or wherever you live!) Linchpin Meetup, inspired by Seth Godin's book Linchpin on June 14, 2010. A linchpin by Godin's definition is a person without whom a company/organization/team/family/situation will eventually fall apart. By maintaining a pithy daily blog that manages to be both uncompromising and inspiring, Godin has created a community of current and future linchpins, and the Linchpin Meetup website describes the event as "a completely non-commercial chance to find and connect with other members of Seth's tribe, an opportunity to talk, challenge, and inspire your fellow travelers". Not sure what that means in particular, but I'm looking forward to it. So...
  1. Check out Seth and the Meetup site
  2. Get interested
  3. Find your local Linchpin Meetup
  4. Go

Monday, May 3, 2010

Good Old Days

I noticed the above vintage photograph on The Sartorialist and was instantly impressed with the subject and composition. Not only is a great example of varying styles of historical outerwear, but there is a great deal of interesting detail (the water on the road and the advertisement to the left) as well as good foreground, midground and background representation. The result is chic and visually stimulating.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Big Red, For Better or Worse

My House episodes on Hulu are periodically interrupted by a Verizon Wireless commercial that seems to have the theme of "better with Big Red" (you can view the commercial at AdFreak here). Initially, I placed the spot at approximately the level of Diesel's "Be Stupid" campaign and couldn't imagine who the commercial appealed to. Not only is the jingle a ferocious ear-worm, the commercial seemed to send a message that is, um, pathetic. The kids are stuck on the phone at the campsite rather than participating in what is going on around them, the porter makes his "boring job much better" and you can "download stupid stuff much better" with Big Red (and Verizon is now Big Red? Seriously?). I find advertising that implies--or asserts!--that its audience/consumers are idiots incomprehensible. I reason that if users of a certain product or service are idiots by the company's own admission, then it's better to self-select out of that group. The Verizon users in the spot do seem like people I'd rather avoid, on the level of people who text during dinner parties or who are on their phones in museums. I was ready to mute my computer during the commercial's Hulu interruptions and condemn Verizon to ad purgatory.

Luckily, I decided to do a bit of research to determine if the "Better with Big Red" spot was truly as bad as it appears. Imagine my surprise when I discovered what has probably been obvious to my older readers from the beginning: the commercial is a parody of a classic Big Red gum commercial! Further, "Big Red" is apparently a nickname given to Verizon by its customers, rather than manufactured by the company itself. Sigh of relief! Now I can finally bear to give Verizon credit for the single thing I liked in the commercial: the "YouTube on a horse" moment, which seems to be a reference to the famous Old Spice commercial which is rapidly gaining the status of classic in its own right. If this isn't a reference to Old Spice, ignorance is bliss.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hardcore Adorable

I usually hate Crocs. They may be comfortable to wear, but they're painful to look at. Kudos to new agency Cramer-Krasselt, then, for making a commercial that not only holds my attention for a few seconds, but also highlights the competitive strength of Crocs (comfort, or--as the voiceover says--"the loyal, loving, good-for-you technology"), makes me squirm at the cuteness and showcases a pair of Crocs on the model that I can't instantly dismiss as too embarrassing to even wear to the laundromat.
In this feel-good spot, a tired wearer of high heels is greeted when she gets home from work by two tiny animated Crocs shoes who rush to massage her feet as she sits down after a long day at work. Bonus points for the shot of the Crocs trampling the dog toys to reach the door. Minus point for the bad Photoshop job on the landing page of the Crocs website, but overall a win for the company. Not least because although the subject matter of this spot ostensibly appeals squarely to women, it was brought to my attention by a guy friend who found it memorable enough to mention it.

Lastly, I need clarification. Is the singular of Crocs "Croc"?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

You're Doing It Wrong

This Tetra Pak ad was funny, until they actually tried to sell the product. It is good in theory, but a bit of a stretch from the viewer's perspective.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cool: My Dreams of a Star Wars/Adidas Crossover Have Come True

Post title and video ripped from AgencySpy. I'm a big fan of this surreal spot: not only does it pique the imagination rather than beating you over the head with the product, it also integrates reality and the fantastical world of Star Wars so skillfully it is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Beckham and TIE fighters are featured together in the same fifty-nine seconds! Snoop Dogg/breakdancing/baseball versus the Death Star and lightsabers! Anyway, I watched this twice in row, and shamelessly reverted to a breathless fangirl at the moment when Darth Vader emerges from the mist accompanied by the strains of a remixed Imperial March. WATCH IT.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Live Unpackaged

I have just discovered a simple, ingenious gem that appeals to my love of design as well as my interest in independent businesses and my support of sustainability: the grocery store Unpackaged. Located in London, the store’s name alludes to its mission to reduce waste by offering a wide variety of foods (from fresh bread and produce to bulk grains to refillable wines), all sans packaging. Aside from the intellectually and emotionally satisfying concept, the store itself is also visually satisfying with beautiful design and arrangement. The store’s website is here, or you can check out the nice description and photo collection at WeHeart.

Photo courtesy of the Unpackaged site.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Consumer-Friendly Design

A friend and I were recently discussing the generally bad design of airplane interiors. It is incomprehensible to me that more airlines historically and currently do not make an effort to improve the atmosphere of the area in which their customers will spend so much time. I wonder how much positive customer response would be generated by an airline that made a sincere effort not to subject their consumers to what amounts to a temporary imprisonment in a grimy, cramped can. While that question will have to wait, a different area of the airline user-interface has roused the ire of designers. The cluttered, confusing American Airlines website prompted experience builder Dustin Curtis to write an open letter the company that included a sample redesign of his own making and the recommendation that the AA design team be fired. He has since qualified the latter statement after receiving an actual response from a member of the AA UX team. Although the response agrees with Curtis' fundamental argument (that the AA website is in need of a more customer-friendly design), it also enumerates the reasons why it looks the way it does and why it is supremely difficult to improve. The underlying reasons amount to bureaucracy and stymieing corporate culture, which is are more depressing than the visible result, if that's possible. AA apparently considers quite a few things to be more imporatant than consumer satisfaction. I suggest they rearrange their priorities.

P.S. Curtis' effort has inspired another designer to embark on a boarding-pass-improving adventure. You can follow the saga here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snack Attack Samurai

Doritos - Snack Attack Samurai

Doritos Are Crazy (Good)

Sooo, Doritos is doing the "Crash the Superbowl" deal again (six top contestants can be viewed here) and my money is on "Snack Attack Samurai" (see above) to make it to the top three. It reminds me of the 2007 finalist "Mouse Trap" which I thought was hilarious and combined surreal humor with one of the best payoffs I've seen in a commercial in a long time.
So best of luck to "Snack Attack Samurai", I hope to see you at the big game.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Modern vs. Medieval Methods

I have often wondered why--with all the technological resources available to us in the modern age--the annual quota of extraordinarily beautiful things produced seems to have remained constant since the medieval period. Of course, this sweeping statement must be qualified by the fact that the assessment of whether something qualifies as "extraordinarily beautiful" is made by me and therefor subject to my biases and aesthetic preferences. However, I do think my point is still somewhat valid: people are producing more (just consider the number of books published or the number of songs recorded, despite the discriminating efforts of "gatekeepers" such as publishers and record labels) but I consider the vast majority of it to be mediocre filler. I am also of the opinion that the output of the really superlative has not surpassed the level of the Middle Ages, and is in fact less than that of the Classical/Hellenistic periods in ancient Greece, for example. Why is this? What in the modern creative process is responsible for the fundamental change in quality when compared to antiquity? In what ways in particular were societies engineered differently so that so many of best creatives achieved prominence and produced work that has been honored and preserved (although I am sure that then, as now, great work goes uncelebrated)? How can we utilize technology so that instead of further enabling the indiscriminate filler mentioned above, it supports and improves the efforts of the most finely-tuned creative visionaries?
Anyway, these are some thoughts that occurred to me upon discovering the project Guédelon: Chantier Médiéval. Guédelon is a medieval castle in the process of being constructed in Burgundy, France using medieval methods and materials. The construction began in 1997 in an abandoned quarry and is anticipated to take 25 years to complete. A team of 50 people including quarrymen, stonemasons, woodcutters, carpenters, blacksmiths, tile makers, basket makers, rope makers, carters and their horses work on the project regularly, assisted by enthusiastic tourists during the summer season. The entire project sort of beggars belief, but I would love to be involved in a thing like this... and think how exciting it will be if they decide to furnish it historically accurately! Imagine the bevy of weavers, potters, armorers, carpenters, glassblowers and painters who will descend on Burgundy to complete the final stage of the project.
For more info check out their link (and thanks to Good's slow issue for the tip).

Image from Wikipedia Commons.