United Puts on the Breaks

July 13, 2009 at 7:06 pm (economy, News) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

SOMDave Carroll of the eclectic Canadian Pop-Folk music group Sons of Maxwell was traveling with the group in the Spring of 2008 to perform in Nebraska when he witnessed United Airlines baggage handlers throwing his Taylor Guitar. The result of this action was $1200 in damage to his guitar, which, though now fixed, is still not the same as it was. After over a year of dealing with United his claims for compensation were denied several times.

So what, that stuff happens everyday…. well here’s where it gets interesting:

Mr. Carroll informed the last United representative to deny his claim that he would be writing three songs about his experience with the company, which will be made into music videos. The first of these is already online with song number 2 already written and video preproduction in the works.

His goal was to have over 1 million views during the course of a year. Less than one week later he has 2,600,126 views and 21,177 people rating it in average of 5 stars. He has also been covered by CNN and other news outlets across the country, even getting a personal video response from Bob Taylor at Taylor Guitars – Carroll has reportedly been given two guitars from Taylor [unconfirmed].

CNN reported that United will use the video as “A unique learning opportunity,” and will somehow integrate it into their training program. I guess an important lesson for companies to learn is that the consumer is no longer helpless to retaliate. It will be interesting to see if any of these videos affect United’s bottom line. Even if they do not, I can’t wait to see the next two videos.


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Holy Frozen Gray Matter!

July 11, 2009 at 1:37 am (advertising, Branding, economy, free, marketing, News, package design) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

09-07-09_sluOutside it’s hotter than being on the business end of a blowtorch. What better way to cool off than sucking down a free Slurpee®?

On July 11, or 7/11, 7-Eleven stores nationwide will be celebrating the chains 82nd birthday by giving away 5 million free 7.11 ounce Slurpee® drinks. As an added bonus “The retailer has added something new to its annual tradition of giving away cups of its iconic frozen drink – live music. As an extra birthday bonus, this year’s colorful “Happy Birthday!” cups feature a Slurpee Nation rewards code worth 2 rewards points, enough to enter the 7-Eleven Day instant win game online at www.slurpee.com. Upon entering, all players will receive a code to buy reduced-price Live Nation concert tickets for some of the hottest acts on tour this summer.”

7 Eleven, Inc. is largest chain in the convenience retailing industry. Based in Dallas, Texas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses approximately 7,800 7-Eleven® stores in North America sales of more than $53.7 billion. So it’s nice they give back once in a while.

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Chick-fil-A – Let Your Teats Hang Out

July 10, 2009 at 5:54 pm (advertising, Branding, economy, Florida, free, marketing, News, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Pictures pulled from Facebook

Pictures pulled from Facebook

Today is the day of one of my favorite food-related festivities, Chick-fil-A’s Annual Dress Like a Cow Day. The promotion awards those who dress up like a cow with a free meal. For anyone lacking the proper regalia for such an event, Chick-fil-A has created a Costume Kit available through their website. To help promote this event the company set up a Facebook Group, which is nearing 1 million fans, and a micro-site.

Chick-fil-A got its start in 1946 as Dwarf Grill in Hapeville, Georgia. It’s creator Truett Cathy is credited with inventing the boneless chicken sandwich; the first Chick-fil-A was opened in Atlanta, Georgia in 1967. The still privately owned company has locations in 38 states and annual sales reach more than $2.9 billion; making it the second-largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain, and one of the largest privately-held restaurant chains, in the US.

If you’re hungry for some chicken, or want a free meal, don a cow costume and head to your local Chick-fil-A…and don’t forget the camera!

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Sawgrass Mills Mall – There She Blows

July 10, 2009 at 12:11 pm (advertising, Branding, Design, economy, Environmental Graphic Design, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, marketing, South Florida) (, , , , , , , )

hurricaneWhat happens when you combine tourists with 78 mile per hour winds in a space the size of a telephone booth? If visions of them changing into Superman, or skirts blowing like Marilyn in the Seven Year Itch come dancing through your head…sorry no such luck.

It is entertaining to see that people actually pay $2 to stand in a small booth and have air shot at them while watching a screen about hurricanes. On a hot day it might be nice to feel a blast of air for a minute or two while walking in the open air portion of Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise, Florida, but I can’t justify it, especially when there’s stores that have real air conditioning just a few steps away.

The booths claim to be a “franchise-alternative business opportunity” and are licensed by a guy in the Tampa area. They also offer advertising space on the small LCD screen inside the unit. One irony is that a good feeder band from a real hurricane could topple the whole thing.

To me this appears to be a knockoff of the Gulf Coast Hurricane exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Florida. The exhibit puts a small group of museum goers into a wind tunnel, cranks the winds up to 74 mph, and teaches people how to “Get Smart, Get Ready.”

I think this kiosk concept could be sound if it were repurposed as a traveling exhibit in connection with hurricane preparedness seminars. We see this concept with fire department smoke houses, and other safety based presentations.

I do enjoy sitting on one of the benches around this kiosk and watching tourists, usually kids, pay their money and get blasted with air. It’s like you’re really there, just with out the rain, debris, fear that your vehicle will be in one piece afterward, etc…

The funny thing about hurricanes is, as Ron White said, “Now, lemme explain somethin’ to ya: It isn’t *that* the wind is blowin’. It’s *what* the wind is blowin’. If you get hit by a *Volvo*, it don’t matter how many sit-ups you did that mornin’.”

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Money gets Illustrated

July 3, 2009 at 11:03 am (Art, economy, Graphic Design, Illustration, News, print media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Money MagazineDo the right thing in a recession
In a tough economy you may face some hard decisions when it comes to money and your relationships with family and friends. Our ethics experts weigh in on how to handle some particularly thorny dilemmas.”

This is not the title and intro of an article you would expect to have interesting, or even good, illustrations associated with it. Surprisingly enough the staff at Money Magazine have arranged for this and many other articles to have strong graphics and illustrations complementing their reports.

Toronto based illustrator Kagan McLeod created the illustrations for the “Do the right thing in a recession” article. I really enjoyed this set of graphics. Our protagonist remains the same identifiable character throughout the article. He is groomed and dressed in the same uniform – gray shirt and bluish-gray pants in various states of dress – throughout the article, while the antagonist(s) for each sub-article are displayed in monotone gradations.

The graphics are easy to digest as simple visuals, and they complement each storyline well. The content of the article is good, too. I look forward to the editors of Money Magazine continuing with the strong graphics, after all, illustrators need work, too.

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Airline Stunt Grounded

June 29, 2009 at 5:07 pm (advertising, Branding, economy, marketing, News) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )


Remember when you think outside the box, there might be new dangers to consider.

Wizz Air, a Hungarian based airline decided to celebrate their 5th anniversary by releasing 1,000 balloons, each with a coupon attached, from the center of Budapest. The coupons were worth 10,000 forints or $49.45.

Here’s a quote from Reuters:
“Someone popped one of the balloons, hoping to get the gift coupon that was attached to it,” Wizz Air communications director Natasa Kazmer said. “As if on cue, the entire crowd attacked the net…The idea was that the balloons would spread far and wide, so we did not place a limit on how many vouchers they could use for a single purchase.”

The voucher-laden balloons were contained by a net and were planned to be release after a press conference by Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi outlining the airline’s long-term vision. By the time the press arrived and Varadi completed his speech nearly all the vouchers were gone.

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Billy Mays – King of Clean

June 28, 2009 at 2:07 pm (advertising, Branding, economy, Florida, News, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Billy Mays

Billy Mays was known for such infomercials as OxiClean, OrangeGlo, and Hercules Hooks. He started his career as a pitchman on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, and was thought by some to be one of the last remaining true Pitchmen in America.

His personal branding of blue shirt, khakis, and jet-black beard were unmistakable when combined with that booming voice that yelled at us across the airways nearly everyday. He was telling us that we couldn’t live without some exciting new product in our lives – sometimes we may have given in to this pitch.

Earlier this year the Discovery Channel began airing Pitchmen starring Mays and Anthony Sullivan to showcase how direct response marketing works on their side of the business. It was a good show. Being a designer I work with inventors trying to springboard their products out of their head and onto the shelves. The show displayed how hard and expensive this process can be.

Mays was found dead this morning. Though his overly excited attitude may have kept us up on some late nights; he will be missed. He was one of the best-known sales and marketing people in the nation, and I thank him for getting the face of homegrown inventors in front of the public.

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The New Normal

June 20, 2009 at 1:08 pm (Design, economy, unemployment) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )


Last night we watched part one of the New Normal, a 20/20 special on ABC. One of the stories, Workers Learn New Skills, showed how cotton farmers in Mississippi are now planting corn and beans, and how a former car plant, MasTech, in Manistee County, Michigan has been retooled to produce wind turbine generators (you can have one for around $8K).

What does this have to do with design? Well, as designers we are noticing a trend where we have to adapt, too. Many web companies are no longer looking for that extremely specialized graphics guru who can turn a design over the programmers to figure out how to make it work. They want someone who can design it to look beautiful, and program it to work.

Just like the auto manufacturer who took the welding, machining, and assembling process for cars and repurposed their skills for a new product, I have transformed a bulk of my skill sets to other industries. Where the majority of my design work was in exhibit, set, and environmental graphic design, now the greater part is in logos, branding, and illustration. In addition to just design, I have also transitioned into a Manufacturer’s Representative position at a signage company.

The Plant Manager of MasTech is challenging us to “think the same way.” It’s time to retool and repurpose our skills for the new economy. So go look at previously unthought-of avenues for your skills – I wish you luck.

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