Puttin on the Ritz

June 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm (advertising, marketing, photography, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Image

I recently had the pleasure of staying at The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida. Within the pages of one of the magazines in the room was this ad for The Ritz-Carlton. I love the visual suggestion of a cityscape created out of vintage and retro style product placement. It’s a strong and very masculine visual instantly recognizable as a skyline before your eye is able to deconstruct the image into it’s various parts of bottles, clocks, paperweights, flashlights and all other manner of recognizable and non-descript elements. The imagery is so powerful I kept flipping to the page with the ad just to decipher more of what made up the various forms. This was my favorite ad in the series, but not the only one that included the clever use of forms. Check out more here.

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Things That Make You Go Hmmm

June 21, 2011 at 12:57 am (advertising, Branding, Design, marketing, South Florida, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Bethesda Heart Hospital

What’s the first thing you think of when you see this billboard? I thought – “huh, that’s weird. I wonder what they mean?” After all, definitions for a “foursome” range from the sexual to the game of golf, but I get the feeling this billboard is not some kinky reference or about leaving your golfing buddies alone and lifeless on the links. Thinking through the various definitions of a foursome and how it could relate to a hospital it finally dawned on me that it might relate to the anatomy of the heart. There are in fact four chambers and four valves within the heart – That’s it! Now I’m tired and my brain hurts; that was a lot of work to understand a witty billboard.

A lot of work it was, but I got it. More importantly, I remembered it. And I have a feeling that’s what BFW, the agency responsible for the campaign, wanted. I remembered not only the billboard, but also the location of the billboard just so I could stop and get a picture of it. It is no small feat to remember a single 14’ x 48’ billboard while on a 220 mile round trip drive filled with …billboards! So I guess that’s a testament to the marketing force behind the idea.

The agency reports on their blog that “The first day these two billboards appeared, they generated 474 hits on the hospital’s website (that’s huge in their market).  And, according to our client, they’ve continued to generate more buzz for the hospital than any other billboards in recent years.” I have to admit, it drove me to their website and I live 50 miles south of this billboard. Whoever designed the hospital’s logo go it right, too. The “B” reinforces the name, the heart is self-explanatory, and the style, font and color choice reinforce the healthcare aesthetic. So, I guess, job well done on all accounts. …Now where did I leave that SA Node?

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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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Crying Indian – Why Do We Remember?

July 26, 2009 at 1:29 pm (advertising, Branding, commercials, Education, marketing, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The other day myself and some other instructors were preparing for a presentation to kids covering First Aid for the Environment. Jokingly I said, “Why don’t we show the crying Indian ad.” That got me thinking; what makes this ad memorable?

The ad I was referring to was actually a Public Service Announcement  (PSA) that first aired more than 10 years before I was born; yet I remember it to this day. That is a testament to how long the ad ran, and how memorable it was. With its “People Start Pollution. People can stop it.” tagline, the PSA arguably kicked off the green movement (though Keep America Beautiful had been running PSAs since the early ‘60s).

Yes, this PSA is memorable, but what did it actually accomplish? According to the Ad Council “By the end of the campaign, Keep America Beautiful local teams had helped to reduce litter by as much as 88% in 300 communities, 38 states, and several countries.”

So what makes this and other ads so memorable and effective? Do we connect with it emotionally – responding to the Indian crying? Did it bring to the surface something we hadn’t thought of before – what litter does to the environment? Was it just provocative enough to get us thinking? I believe it was a combination of these factors, along with the simple clear message that it put in front of the viewer.

Ironically an Italian played the Indian, and there were a few more Keep America Beautiful PSAs of similar style and content made, but none as successful as the crying Indian in the canoe. Regardless, it remains one of the most memorable and impactful ads almost 40 years after it first aired.

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Air New Zealand Flies with Landing Gear Down

July 5, 2009 at 1:18 pm (advertising, Branding, commercials, marketing, News, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Flight_crewWhat better way to ease your mind about picking an airline, or safety aboard a 737-300 aircraft, other than a naked flight crew?

That’s right, Air New Zealand’s latest ad campaign features the airline’s staff and crew wearing only body paint, shoes, and the occasional hat. What’s the message behind this – that they have nothing to hide; in other words, they give you everything…upfront.

So beyond the fun spirit of nudity and double entendre what else makes this ad interesting? It was shot in 1 day at 10 to 15% the cost of a regular ad. They way they did this was by using actual employees of the airline to act as talent. Even the CEO stripped for the cause, he’s one of the baggage handlers.

In addition to the ad, the flight safety video, Bare Essentials,  is created in the same way. The videos already have over 2 Million views on YouTube – and that’s the naked truth.

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Beating the Message into People

July 2, 2009 at 10:02 am (advertising, Environmental Graphic Design, marketing, News, print media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

amnesty444236

Amnesty international is known for making alarming ads – the 2006 Swiss “It’s not happening here but it’s happening now” campaign ranks among my all time favorites. This time they’ve really pushed the envelope in regards to what a shocking ad is, how it’s made, and what it does. Their latest bus stop poster, introduced as a single display last month in Hamburg, Germany, uses an eye-tracking camera to gauge when it’s being looked at.

While the viewer is not looking directly at it, the poster features a couple that appears to be a nice, friendly, average couple posing for a picture. If a viewer is not looking directly at the poster the image changes to “a dude punchin’ a lady.” When the viewer turns to confirm their suspicions, the image changes back to the afore mentioned smiling picture of the couple. This change occurs after a slight pre-programmed delay allowing the viewer to see the beating for a split second.

The message “It happens when nobody is watching.”

The poster has been the cause for much controversy, but it has definitely raised awareness. It does not sound like there will be many more versions of this poster around, though there has been plenty of third-party publicity for the one incarnation.

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Extra Fishy Ad

June 24, 2009 at 11:52 pm (advertising, Branding, print media) (, , , , , , , , )

A special thanks to my friend, Dominique, who sent me more ads from AT&T in response to my last post. I especially like the Zimbabwe one with the cheetahs and the grass hands – the coral hands in the Jamaica ad are very nice, too.

All these ads display an almost instantly recognizable cultural feature from the destination, while keeping the graphic simple. They also reinforce the clear, concise, and memorable theme that Jorge Lázaro Díaz (www.careerjockey.org) discussed at freelance camp. The more I see from this campaign the more I like it.

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Fishy Ad

June 23, 2009 at 6:26 pm (advertising, Design, Graphic Design, print media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

AT&T ad What do decorative Koi fish and cell phones have in common?

On the surface not much, that’s what caught my eye about this ad for AT&T. The color language allows the Koi to pop from the background and be instantly recognized. The fish frame the phone nicely as if playfully moving it whilst floating in a blue-green pond. It is only on closer inspection that the viewer realizes that the Koi are in fact painted on a pair of hands and arms – a nice detail and tie-in to the phone’s use as a handheld product. The Japanese imagery with an American phone company help to sell the tagline “Best coverage worldwide.” It is simple yet impact full. I don’t use AT&T as my phone carrier, but their ad did get my attention – well done.

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