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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IKEA Happy Inside

September 14, 2010 at 9:20 am (advertising, Branding, commercials, marketing, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

What happens when you release 100 cats into an IKEA for a night?

The final cut:

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The 60 Days of Christmas

November 3, 2009 at 12:27 am (advertising, Branding, economy, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, marketing, South Florida) (, , , , , , )

 

Snowball

Is it just me or does Christmas keep getting earlier every year? No, not the actual day, – that’s hasn’t changed much in roughly 1500 years – but the commercialization of Christmas starts earlier every year. Yesterday I noticed a JCPenny decked from mall entrance to parking entrance in winter holiday décor, and a Target that already had their Christmas salutations flying – THE DAY AFTER HALLOWEEN!

Remember when Christmas would not even be thought of until the day after Thanksgiving? Now it’s like our fine pilgrim friends never existed. No more turkey decorations, or pilgrim hats. No cornucopias filled with a bounty of veggies and gourds that no one really eats. For the first time a Hallmark Holiday has actually trumped a Hallmark Holiday. What will we see next year, kids dressed as Santa, elves, and Chanukah Harry for Halloween?

Today I actually saw a tent selling Christmas trees. For those of you in states where the temperature drops below 50˚ F for more than two days a year it might not be that uncommon, but for us in South Florida where at 11 pm in early November it’s still nearly 80˚ with 70%+ humidity. I don’t care if you call them evergreens, those trees aren’t gonna last 2 months.

I miss the days when Christmas was just fun. Now it’s more burden than anything else. I understand that businesses are trying to promote early savings on gift buying in this new economy, but c’mon, with every passing year the holiday season becomes less fun and more like a chore. Marketers, advertisers, and promoters of holiday cheer; I implore you, please give the holiday season its soul back.

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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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AmEx – Turn That Frown Upside Down!

October 4, 2009 at 11:17 pm (advertising, commercials, Design, marketing, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I think this new spot from American Express is both clever and fun – I mean, who doesn’t like anthropomorphosised products? I know when I look around I see faces on many different products, and it looks like I’m not the only one. American Express took this idea and added a story around it. I like the frowning shower curtain and how the hanger is swinging in the “…they can be stolen” shot, as if the item was just taken. Toward the end of the commercial there are two shots are nearly perfect – one is a smiling chair (0:33), the other is filmed on a boat (0:45). Not all the images are clearly faces, at about 48 seconds in to the commercial there is an image of a baggage claim, which is a little too obscure, it took a few viewings to determine where the face was hiding. The music, an excerpt from Suite for Cello No.1 in G Major by Johann Sebastian Bach, was perfect as it can conveys both a somber tone and happy tone equally.

This ad has stirred a little controversy since it came out last month. Many praise it for the simplicity of the imagery, beautiful tonalities of the music (excerpt from Suite for Cello No.1 in G Major by Johann Sebastian Bach?), and simple message, but some are crying foul. The photographic duo of brothers Francois and Jean Robert have produced 3 books – Face to Face (1996), Faces (2000), and Find a Face (2004) – which show everyday objects appearing as faces. There are individuals who are claiming that this ad is a blatant plagiarism of the Robert’s photographic genius; the brothers are not a part of these accusations at this time. Below are images from both the commercial and the works of the Robert brothers – remarkably similar I must admit.

Whether you look at this spot as a beautifully simple expression of everyday objects set to a story, or as an offensive piece of derivative commercialization, you have to admit that the use of such pedestrian objects in a creative way is well done. I enjoyed the commercial; it has entertained me, and even if it is not an intentional piracy of Francois and Jean Robert’s work it has at least introduced me to it, and for that I am grateful.

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How Does Social Media Affect You?

August 20, 2009 at 10:27 pm (advertising, Branding, economy, marketing, networking, social media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

What is social media, how do people use it, why do they use it, and how does that effect you as a designer, advertiser, marketer, etc? Watch and learn:

Thanks @saribrooke for the link!

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AARP Joins the Fight with Canes a Swing’n

August 18, 2009 at 2:21 pm (advertising, commercials, economy, marketing, News, print media, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Amidst the debate of national healthcare reform, one television commercial really stands out. Regardless of your opinions on this controversial topic, this commercial has the perfect metaphor for AARP’s message; an ambulance running lights and sirens, getting cut-off at every turn – brilliant. I didn’t even listen to the words the first few times I saw the commercial, I watched the imagery and instantly got it. Maybe I connect with the spot because of my brief stint as a state certified Emergency Medical Technician and 8 years as a part-time health and safety educator, or maybe the symbolism is just that strong. Either way I though it was well done.

In the past few days this commercial has stirred more controversy than most advertisements ever will, here’s some comments:

From AARP.org on August 17th & 18th:
“My first impression was laughter.  I thought all of those cars were rich ambulance-chasing trial lawyers fighting to get a new client.”

“The AARP commercial looks pretty good – it takes on the myths and facts.  Take a look.

I love the comments about the use of American cars in the commercial (some people reallllllly have too much time on their hands to look for conspiracy theories.  They’re probably disappointed that black helicopters aren’t featured as well.)”

“WE WERE MASSIVELY OFFENDED by the commercial we saw tonight showing an ambulance being cut off by expensive cars at every turn. SHAME ON AARP for thinking that we are so gullible as to be influenced by such obvious tripe.”

I didn’t know the Dodge Caliber, the car most visible throughout the commercial, was considered an “expensive car”, but okay.

From YouTube on August 17th:

“This video is awsome it really shows how good the government has got at sponsoring propaganda!! 2 thumbs up!!”

“I hope AARP paid enough to make this commercial because I definitely think less of them after having seen it.”

Pretty strong opinions for a commercial sponsored by a non-governmental organization (and interest group). Whatever your feelings about the healthcare reform bill are, you have to admit that this is a strong commercial with unmistakable symbolism – people getting in the way of healthcare.

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Twitter Ho – Sponsored Tweets vs. Self-Branding in Social Media

August 13, 2009 at 11:26 pm (advertising, Branding, economy, marketing, networking, social media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

twitter_pimp_illustrationA recent tweet from @pbarbanes put forth the question “Have you heard of “sponsored tweets”? If so, any thoughts or feelings?” This simple question opened into a discussion among the South Florida tweeting community about how sponsorship affects social media.

Social media generates societal systems as overlapping and diverse as any other form of community. Social interaction is built on a few things, I believe trust and interesting dialogue rank among two of the highest. We follow, friend, connect, and link to who can provide us attention-grabbing worthwhile content from sources that we can trust, much like we engage in face-to-face conversation with people that interest and entertain us.

What happens when a relationship is based on a monetary transaction? To paraphrase a line from American Pimp, “pimp’n & ho’n is the world’s oldest profession.” So why not have prostitution in social networking, it’s part of every culture? Instead of waxing poetic about how sponsored tweets are like prostitutes, just read The Branding Professor’s posts about it…I pretty much feel the same way. In response to the subject of selling your avatar and username to the highest bidder @ctiedje had this to say, “Money corrupts. Influences opinions. As soon as paid ads take over a social media space – it begins to die. (i.e. MySpace)” I’ll even admit to trying to put ads on Facebook to sell my t-shirt designs. Turns out I would have had better ROI by putting $100 worth of singles into a cash cube and grabbing for them as they blew by.

The sponsored tweets discussion presents an interesting dichotomy between social media used exclusively for capital gain and social media as a corporate branding tool. Many of the people I follow and connect with, myself included, use social media for self-branding. However, intermixed with our self-branding message we try to add to the user experience with interesting links that may, or may not, directly relate to our brand. People follow us because they find us interesting, and enjoy our conversation, company, and content. Just as in real life, if followers don’t enjoy your online persona they will stop following you. For me nothing expedites this process faster than someone who only pimps their product, or someone else’s, while not adding credible information to the conversation – e.g. I recently unfollowed someone who would tweet twice a day “read our blog and follow us on twitter.” Now why would you put “follow us on twitter” on twitter? I already am following you on twitter, or at least was interested enough to look at your page – until I saw that you are adding nothing to the communal melting pot of quality information except for bot-like commands that order me to look at a blog you have supplied me no information about.

We’ll have to see how people react as sponsored tweets and advertising status updates gain a stronger foothold on our beloved social media sites. Will people stop following users due to them abusing our valuable time with more advertisements, or will they let them fade into the shuffle like billboards on the highway?

Just remember, my dear subsidized tweeters:

you don’t have to put on the red light
those days are over
you don’t have to sell you tweets to the night

you don’t have to sponsor that brand tonight
text the tweets for money
you don’t care if it’s wrong or if it’s right

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Creepy Commercials

August 1, 2009 at 3:45 pm (advertising, Branding, commercials, Design, marketing, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

What is with the creepy commercials recently?! The latest commercial to haunt our TV screens and disrupt our sleep is for the Palm Pre. These commercials center around a very pale, soft-spoken woman who shares stories that are completely unrelated to phones. They remind me of someone who just got totally baked and now wants to share an in-depth story about how something works.

The best description of this commercial’s unsettling nature was found in a blog post by Roberto Baldwin on Maclife.com: “The script isn’t soothing either. Bing, bing, bing, has officially replaced the Freddy Kruger nursery rhyme in my nightmares. If you’re goal was to frighten people, mission accomplished. I can’t even look at a Pre now without ending up in the fetal position under my desk mumbling about green lights and flow.”

Of course this series of commercials are not the first to put out the creepy vibe. Who can forget the King from Burger King. Created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B) in 2003 to put a new spin on the original King from the 1960’s and 70’s. Having worked on set with “The King,” I can tell you he’s just as scary in real life.

Another one of CP+B’s creepy cast of characters came with the resurrection of Orville Redenbacher. Ken Wheaton of Adage.com has a great post relating the CG Redenbacher to a “dead-eyed zombie.”

One of the most controversial beer ads came about in 2007. It shows a fembot who produces a Heineken mini keg from her torso. This ad has been named by some to be the creepiest beer commercial of all time, and by others as the sexiest – I’m going with creepy.

We’ve had vampires selling smart phones, disturbing royal effigies pimping burgers, resurrected the dead for the sake of popcorn, and created a robotic flapper to serve us beer. I can’t wait to see what new and exciting ways advertisers will think to scare us away from their products in the future!

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