Joshua Hoffine – Master of Horror

October 29, 2009 at 11:03 pm (photography, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Joshua-Hoffine

When you close your eyes at night, what nightmares come creeping in? In the case of photographer Joshua Hoffine I think we can tell this very easily. That is because he painstakingly creates beautifully staged photographs of all manner of horrors with a little help from his friends and family. I encourage you to check out his website and blog showing the behind the scenes work that goes into each shot.

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Going Postal – There’s a (Lame) App For That

October 27, 2009 at 9:30 pm (technology, Video Game) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

You ever thought about going postal, but didn’t because of the whole moral, ethical, and legal ramifications of it? Apparently there’s an app for that, and congratulations, you’re fairly sane. The Firepower iphone app, created by Magnificent Library (makers of Shotgun Infinity and iVomit), lets you shoot anyone, or anything for that matter, with a gatling gun – Dr Richard Gatling has never been prouder, I’m sure.

The gun barrel, cross hairs, and firing mechanism all appear on screen and as you fire blood sprays from your target. They’re toting the app as a form of augmented reality, but since it does not really interact with anything I think it’s stretching the term. I do, however, like Wired Magazine’s definition: Augmented Stupidity. I think this app would engage me for 5 minutes – tops. The best, or worst …yeah lets go with lamest; part of this whole application is the YouTube video put up by the developer. One would think that if you invested the time to develop the graphics and code for said app that you would at least make an attempt at an interesting video to market such genius. No? Wrong again! As you can see from the video above the promotional material is a little rough. If you need more intellectual stimulus, check out this video of the developer’s 3-year-old learning to count his ammo while playing Shotgun Infinity.

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Levis – Go Forth

October 25, 2009 at 11:33 pm (advertising, Branding, commercials, TV advertising, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Have you seen the TV commercials for the Levi’s Go Forth Campaign? I really enjoy these commercials. The first one that I saw caught my attention and never let go. I didn’t know what I was watching, but the documentary style and simple voiceover combined with provocative images was enough to engage me long enough to forego the TiVo fast forwarding ritual for a full 62 seconds.

The original ad was shot in black and white and opens with a neon sign half-submerged in water and flickering. It simply states “AMERICA”. Fireworks go off as the voiceover begins. The recording is actually what is thought to be 36 seconds of Walt Whitman reading lines from his poem “America” taken from a wax cylinder recording. The campaign was created by Wieden + Kennedy out of Portland, Oregon.

The only thing better than the first commercial is the second. – This commercial features “O’ Pioneers”, once again by Walt Whitman. The whole ad campaign is intriguing. It really pushes the envelope without being in your face. By paying attention to the ads you’ll see they address social taboos in a subtle ways – interracial relationships, sexuality, homosexuality, free spirited youthfulness, etc.

These commercials are deep; yet say nothing about Levi’s until the end, and literally nothing more than a web address about the Go Forth Campaign. In fact the only actual tie in with the campaign, or competition rather, is that the voiceover recordings are on wax cylinders. You see, the Levi’s Go Forth Campaign is actually a multi-player online treasure hunt – didn’t see that one coming, did ya?

The website describes the last will and testament of Grayson Ozias IV (G.O. the 4th), a friend of Nathan Strauss (Nephew of Levi Strauss). Grayson disappeared into the American Wilderness where he buried a small fortune. Levi’s found the fortune, reburied it, and has placed clues recorded by G.O. on the website so America can find it.

This is an interesting concept that we have seen from a few companies over the years. Instead of some random give-away, they make competitors work for their prize. Volvo did a similar competition in conjunction with Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and Wired Magazine recently did a version that was more like a national hide-and-seek contest. The development and production of these contests is quite interesting as they are really defined as the game progresses. Each stage has a set goal – do x, y, z and be rewarded by the acquisition of the next clue. Many times the game is actually set so no single person would be able to pull the resources and knowledge necessary to complete the tasks, so a group must do the grunt work.

I have to give props to both Levi’s and Wieden + Kennedy for developing such a clever campaign and not throwing it our face. The commercials challenge our views on political and social values, while the contest is well defined and cleverly narrated. Best of all Levi’s has pledged to match the $100,000 prize for the Go Forth Campaign with a gift to America’s chosen charity. So I say go forth o’ pioneers and discover a new world of your own.

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Transforming Halloween

October 22, 2009 at 11:28 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Halloween is a fun time of the year – especially the costumes! Here’s a few examples of Transformers costumes I came across. Even though I gave the second movie a well deserved harsh review, these costumes are cooler than most.

This more homemade version has an cool way to close the hood:

And this one is just fun – sometimes kids rock:

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Social Media in Advertising – Know When to Hold, Know When to Fold.

October 21, 2009 at 11:41 pm (advertising, commercials, marketing, social media, TV advertising, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Is your company cool? Is it cool enough to try to work social media lexicon into it’s advertising. Apparently two companies thought they were. I’m sorry to report they were wrong.

The first advertisement in question is part one of the multiple-part Twix Get The Girl series. In this delightful ad we have two people conversing at what appears to be a party of some sort – I don’t know if it’s a college party in a big room, or if a bunch of people broke into the local ZGallerie and decided to throw a party. Our “hero” character, who bears a resemblance to Bluto from Animal House, is listening to a cute, way-out-of-his-league, girl rant on about some political issue that, in his current state of inebriation, he obviously doesn’t care about. As soon as he stumbles upon a nearly cohesive response to her banter the inevitable “…I know, right? You want to go to my apartment?” comment slips out. Then the announcer comes on in a “meanwhile, at the hall of justice” moment and our hero discretely sucks down an apparently sobering Twix in order to shoot back with some half-witted comment about “blogging about our ideals, but…” And of course our female friend “loves blogging.” as if it were an activity one would perform at a regular social gathering. In this context it sounds more like she would be saying “oh, bowling, I love bowling” or “oh, pie I love pie!” instead of an online publishing tool.

The next commercial is even more awkward in its attempted use of pop-culture name-dropping. Bud Light’s The Breakup is a great commercial. It puts a couple driving in a car with the girl breaking up with boy. The first pass she’s too nice with the comment “we’ll just be together a lot less, like separate” as a means of breaking up. On the second go round when he asks, “are you breaking up with me” she shoves him out of the moving car. This commercial is great! Fantastic, move on, cut to the product shot – sold. But wait there’s more! As our recently discarded guy pulls himself upright he yells, “I’ll Facebook you.” Really. Really! If this couple were dating would they not already be connected, if not “in a relationship with” each other on Facebook. Even in the context of a Facebook Message this does not make since to me. If they broke up in such a violent manner I think she would unfriend him, thus making him unable to “Facebook her.”

Both of these ads had potential until they started trying to be cool. It reminds me of Dr. Evil in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery when he tries to do the Macarena to show Scott that he’s “Hip” (minute 6:50). One of the best commercials for dropping the fashionable lingo of today’s youth was the Palm Pre Now Network ad series (especially the first one). Why was it so good – because it was relevant and didn’t try to be anything that it was not. It had up-to-date topics, and was ahead of the curve by citing “26% of you viewing this have no idea what [twitter] means.

Here’s some advice to our advertising execs out there: Don’t drop in some awkward attempt at connect to a demographic that you don’t understand. If you want to appeal to a new demographic do your research, hire some competent consultants, and don’t just throw around buzzwords to make yourself feel better. It just makes you look distant and out of touch.

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College Prepares for Zombie Attack

October 19, 2009 at 11:23 pm (Florida, News) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Is your emergency plan of zombie attack up to date? Rest assured if you are in the Gainesville, Florida area that the University of Florida has you covered in the event of an undead uprising. In fact they have reportedly developed a procedure to help you identify and detail how you “dispatched” a member of the living dead also known as “zombiesm” or Zombie Behavior Spectrum Disorder (ZBSD)

The document leads us through the stages of ZBSD:

Part 1 of this exercise will be to identify characteristics of a zombie outbreak that might precede official notification. These might include:

  1. Disappearance of isolated citizens, initially in relatively remote areas;
  2. Increasing numbers of gruesome unexplained deaths and disappearances, especially at night;
  3. Identification of difficult to kill, flesh-eating perpetrators;
  4. Recognition that the numbers of perpetrators is rapidly increasing and that those previously identified as victims have reappeared as perpetrators;
  5. Increasing isolation of survivors;
  6. Breakdown of peace-keeping and medical services;
  7. Documentation of lots of strange moaning.

Part 2 of the exercise will be a discussion of how the overall impact of a zombie outbreak will affect use of and support for the course management system and will address such issues as:

  1. In general, zombified users will be inarticulate and unable to clearly describe technology problems and use cases;
  2. Some support staff may be infected and unable to effectively and efficiently carry out their support responsibilities;
  3. The rapid breakdown of civil society and declining numbers of uninfected users may have adverse budget impacts resulting in a reduction in staffing levels;
  4. The spread of ZBSD to institutional administration may complicate policy making;
  5. Conversely, the spread of ZBSD to institutional administration may simplify and streamline policy making resulting in dramatic improvements in administrative responsiveness and service delivery;
  6. Additional security measures will need to be implemented at service delivery points (i.e. the Hub and SSRB).

Phase 3 of the exercise will cover important operational topics such as:

  • Proper hygiene during an outbreak;
  • Most effective hiding places and refuges should you encounter zombies at home;
  • How to properly process and route inarticulate zombie-calls to avoid being accused of failing to adequately support infected UF faculty, staff, and students;
  • Situational work practices such as covering windows, barricading doors, and distinguishing between zombie moans and other moaning encountered in the workplace;
  • Dispelling myths. For example, contrary to Lawrence (2007), garlic will not stop true zombies, only vampires; and zombies do come out during the day, though they are most active a night because they typically do not like sunlight;
  • Policies and procedures for dispatching an infected co-worker

My favorite part of the document is the “Infected Co-Worker Dispatch Form”, which includes:

“This is to verify that at the time and place indicated above I was required to kill (last name) (first name), UFID # (if known) because he / she was displaying the following…

Based on these symptoms I killed (name of dispatched zombie) using a…”

Many of these symptoms seem to be part of the standard college experience:

“Documentation of lots of strange moaning, users will be inarticulate and unable to clearly describe technology problems and use cases, some support staff may be […] unable to effectively and efficiently carry out their support responsibilities.”

Maybe I attended school with zombies without even realizing it! Though highly unlikely that this is an actual UF policy, it’s nice to see that someone is preparing for any emergency.

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Social Media Never Tasted So Good

October 18, 2009 at 2:13 pm (Florida, Fort Lauderdale, marketing, networking, social event, Social Events & Networking, social media, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Twineup2

Last night’s Himmarshee Twineup Take 2 at Himmarshee’s Side Bar in Downtown Ft. Lauderdale was a “pairing-and-pouring adventure!” The event featured three wine flights paired with passed appetizers, and was sponsored by Matthew Horbund, @mmwine, and Jan Idelman, @janIdelman.

If you’re looking for a classy alternative to the normal tweetup setting, this is an idea for you – wine, food, friends. There were prizes given away sponsored by PokenGirl and Pickchur, and along with the price of the tasting everyone received a coupon for $20 off of a $60 food or wine purchase at the venue.

To start the evening we had a 2008 Murphy-Goode Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma County. This light, crisp wine paired well with the petit crab cakes with pickled habenero tartart and island spiced shrimp and yucca croquettes with drunken mango salsa.

The second flight was an Australian born 2005 Hope Shiraz. This Shiraz was more fruity and less peppery than most tend be. The pairing for this was amazing! It was a duck confit & sweet potato empanada with vanilla-shiraz macerated cherries.

The final tasting was a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, Tahuantinsuyu from Mendoza, Argentina – one of my favorite regions, especially for Malbec! This was paired with mushroom & cambazola toasts with oil cured campari tomatoes.

The evening had a mix of good food, good wine, and good conversations – what more could you ask for? It was nice to meet @PamRockSoFl @enzobalc, @stacykinney, @SisterMary, and thanks to @mmWine and @jidelman for hosting the event! If you missed this twineup, information on the November one will be posted at A Good Time With Wine.

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Aliens vs. Halloween

October 17, 2009 at 5:44 pm (News) (, , , , , , , , , )

Illegal Alien Costume

Halloween. It’s a time for fun, candy, costumes, and an excuse to party (as if we needed one). For kids, costumes usually concentrate around their heroes from tv, books, movies, and music. As adults we tend to add in some sexiness or humor, especially humor with its roots in politics and pop culture. This week Target and BuySeasons, Inc were asked by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles to pull one of their costumes off the shelf because of its political humor.

The costume in question consists of an alien head, green card, and prison style jump suit with “illegal alien” emblazoned across the chest. The Coalition calls this “distasteful, mean-spirited, and ignorant of social stigmas and current debate on immigration reform.” A report by Minneapolis based Star Tribune cites other immigrant groups up in arms over the issue.

What I don’t understand is why one group would feel that this costume is directly targeting them. The costume has an alien mask, though the mask is not green it does not  depict a specific race. There is nothing on the costume or props that suggest a specific ethnicity is being harassed by it. It is not saying “all aliens” or “legal aliens” – just illegal aliens. “Illegal Alien” is a blanket term. In fact according to the 2007 statistics, between 2005 and 2006 the number of illegal aliens from Mexico diminished from 7M to 6.5M while the number from India rose 125%.  Between 2005 and 2006 China, India, and the Philippines were all ranked in the top six countries for illegal immigrants, not to mention the nearly 75,000 undocumented Canadians.

So what do you think? Is this costume directly offensive to a certain culture, or merely a satirical embodiment of a political issue? In a pole on the AOL website out of 186,945 people this offends 9% of them while an overwhelming 91% of voters find this costume inoffensive – 91%! That’s nearly a third higher than Obama’s approval rating in January 2009.

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Cool Beans – A Tale of the Coffee Tasting Tweetup

October 15, 2009 at 12:05 am (Florida, Fort Lauderdale, networking, social event, Social Events & Networking, social media, South Florida, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Caffe_Rustica

Are you tired of attending tweetups for the masses? Here’s a new spin on the twitter universe – a coffee tasting tweetup. Think of a wine and cheese paring party, but with coffee and cookies. And what overworked designer, developer, geek, or business maven doesn’t like a good cup of coffee? The best part of an event like this is that there is a smaller turnout than many other social media events allowing for more chances to meet and converse with new people.

If you don’t follow what I’m saying, imagine this: you’re a social media newbie, maybe more introverted than some, and decide to go to a social media event. You stand in a corner doing your best wallflower impression and don’t know how to break the ice with people who are part of the “in crowd.” I mean you don’t want to linger like an awkward stalker outside of an ongoing conversation, and busting into someone’s chitchat that you don’t know can come off wrong or just seem rude. An event in a more intimate setting with a small group is a great way to expand your social circle and your comfort zone in unison. So why not hold smaller gatherings to help welcome newbies and make new friends

Tonight’s event was held at Caffe Rustica next to the Gateway Theater in Ft. Lauderdale. The coffee shop was like the Cheers bar, Wings café counter, and Central Perk from Friends all combined into a charming little spot with less drama and better coffee. If they didn’t know your name when you came in, they knew your twitter handle when you left.

We were a little late, so we had some catching up to do. The tasting had started with India Mneb it was like a strong tea, more refreshing than you get from your get-out-of-bed in the morning variety joe. Next up was Brazil Morenhina Formosa made with the Raisin Process – Jim the owner/barista is very knowledgeable in the art of beverage preparation and shared a little about the history, roasting style, and background of each brew. Third tasting was Guatemala Acatenenango Gesha a little stronger than the others, but still very good. The final flight was the strongest (and favorite of mine – the 3 cup-a-day drinker) Ethiopa Bonko made with a Wet Process. This coffee was much more robust than the others, some might say it’ll get you up in the morning and give you a shave, but I just think it was a good strong coffee.

Between flights and after all the rounds had been finished the small group of coffee lovers sat around discussing a variety of interesting topics from camera equipment to anecdotes of everyday life. My favorite conversation centered around Starbucks’ new instant coffee. The most insightful part of the discussion came when someone quipped that they didn’t know what Starbucks’ taste testing ads were supposed to prove. Are they raising the bar for instant coffee or lowering the standard by which we hold our $8 sugar infused creation of fast food-like coffee? If you think about it it’s either one or the other. It’s like up-selling your product while simultaneously devaluing it.

I’d like to thank @CaffeRustica for hosting the event and @MoreWillie for organizing it. It was nice to meet @DavideDiCillo, @ggadventures, and @stefaniwhylie, and apologies to those who I didn’t get your handle. I look forward to the next foray into the world of the caffeinated arts, whenever that may be.

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Amp Up Before You Score – There’s an App For That

October 13, 2009 at 7:01 pm (advertising, Branding, commercials, Design, marketing, News, technology, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Carbonated beverages are no stranger to outlandish and controversial behavior, however this might be new terrain for the non-alcoholic variety. Pepsi owned energy drink Amp has released an iphone app to give anyone in need of a female companion a competitive edge, it’s been nicknamed the iFornicate.

The app, Amp Up Before You Score, has been the topic of much controversy the last few days. In fact the twitter hashtag #pepsifail is a virtual cornucopia of comments ranging from support to disgust. My favorite blog post title so far is: Douchebaggery: There’s an App for That. Here are some tweets from both sides of the aisle:

“Can’t even believe how amazing the Amp App is… Now I know why I prefer Pepsi to Coke”

“Pepsi scores plenty of buzz by offending 50% of the population with new app. No such thing as bad press?”

“Interesting article abt #mobilemarketing gone wrong great app tho LOL! #Pepsifail apology does more harm than good”

Here’ a another fun tweet, and corresponding blog post, by @laureni “#Pepsi suffers memory lapse, forgets it’s not Burger King: [link]” The post points out that this kind of stunt would be expected by CP+B not R/GA, who designed the app.

So what would an app do that causes such controversy? I mean its not shaking babies. The app allows the user to determine which type of female he will be targeting that evening; he has 24 to choose from. After her denomination has been determined – sorority girl, twins, Out-Of-Your-League Girl, etc – you can find out what that person might be in to, what to talk about, how to approach her, pick-up lines, and whatnot. After you finish the evening you can add her name to a list and broadcast the details out through twitter or facebook.

This app oddly reminds me of last weeks episode of The Big Bang Theory where Howard and Raj decide to dress Goth and go to a Goth Club to pick up women. They even checked wikipedia for information – ahh, how art parallels life.

Although Amp apologized through its twitter page by saying “Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize if it’s in bad taste & appreciate your feedback.” many people feel this apology wasn’t enough. In the course of all this publicity, negative or otherwise, the app is remaining available for download – at least for now. I’m sure there will be more news on this in the following days, I here NPR has even picked it up.

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