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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Team Coco

June 29, 2010 at 11:52 pm (TV advertising, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

Tonight I watched the Team Coco Presents The Conan Writers Live on TBS. – yes, this was live Monday night; if you hadn’t noticed I’m a few days behind in the television-viewing universe. I think this special was a genius move by TBS, who is bringing Conan O’Brien’s show to their station in November. As I understand it, Conan is not allowed to make a TV appearance until his new show starts. By having the writers do the show it not only allowed for O’Brien to promote his new show, but gave his viewership a sneak peek under the hood of how the whole thing works. The timing is well positioned to help keep him relevant to his television fan base during his hiatus from onscreen, it comes after his The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour, and promotes the teamcoco.com website.

As for the show itself, Coco’s mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of his onstage persona were evident in the stand-up of his senior writers. It makes one wonder if Conan took on some of the writer’s personalities over the years, or if the writers acquired some of Conan’s quarks – maybe these oddities were born through the camaraderie of the writing room, who knows. It was a little weird, but kind of nice to see a part of the old show on TV, if only for a fleeting minute here and there. Most of the show was a run of the mill stand-up act – a masturbation story, a few porn references, some vaudeville style sketches sprinkled in, etc.

Though Conan’s style made a few appearances through that hour it was no substitute for his comedic delivery and onstage energy. I look forward to his return, which as of right now is 131 days: 23 hours: 37 min: 20 seconds away.

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HGTV Design Star

June 28, 2010 at 11:54 pm (Art, Design, TV advertising, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

I don’t really enjoy most reality tv/contest driven cross over shows, but HGTVs Design Star is one of the few, which keeps me engaged. I think it’s partially because my real-world design driven job is like being on that show everyday with limited budgets and even more limited time. This new season, however, has taken a little getting used to.

First of all, where is Clive?! The past several seasons we have watched a host lead us through the designs and tell contests “your show has been canceled.” In our house we have affectionately called the act of redubing an onscreen conversation “Cliving” – especially to interject the sponsor’s name.  This season it seems as though Vern has taken over this role (Cliving included) – I do have to admit it does give a fresh, more organic flow to series, Vern always has the best one liners.

While we’re talking about judges, this year’s line-up makes more sense than previous seasons. I was always confused about why Cynthia Rowley, predominately a fashion designer, and Martha McCully, executive editor of InStyle Magazine, were there – I get that it falls under their respective umbrellas, but it was a bit of a stretch. Candice and Genevieve make perfect sense. Candice is one of the most talented (and few) Interior Designers on the network, and Genevieve is a talented decorator.

So after 3 episodes here’s my rundown: Nina and Courtland will be in the final 3 unless they really screw up; the third slot is still up for grabs. Courtland has a good design sense and almost seems like he’s the big brother of the show. Nina is over-confident and too cocky. She thinks she is more talented than she is, but her confidence gets her farther than most and if she learns that design is as much about restraint and knowing your weaknesses (sorry you’re NO David Bromstad, leave the painting to someone else) then she can harness her strengths even better.

The overall talent base isn’t as strong as some past seasons, but it will be interesting to see how this one plays out. There are some talented designers on the show, and some who seem to have been carried too much by the teams they’ve worked with in the past. It will be fun to see what is revealed in this season.

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Your Future in All 3 Dimensions

October 6, 2009 at 11:39 pm (Design, technology, Uncategorized, Video Game) (, , , , , , , , , , )

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A brave new frontier is making its way from science fiction to science fact – 3-D TV, interactive holograms, and even altering reality as we see it.

Wired magazine produced a piece today about 3-D technology that explores the pros and cons of past, present, and future 3-D viewers. The article divides the technologies down by viewing mechanism – Color Filter Glasses, Shutter Glasses, Polarized Glasses, and No Glasses. No glasses?!? That’s right, the article mentions that LG, Sharp, and Phillips are all looking, or have looked, at creating a 3-D viewing experience in your home. This concept is by no means new to the television viewing audience. Home Improvement had an episode back in May of 1997 with portions of Tool Time, the show within the show, in 3-D. Most recently During SB 43 a trailer ran for Dreamworks Monsters vs Aliens and an ad for Sobe Lifewater. The week of the big game NBC’s show, Chuck, became the first TV show episode to be entirely done in 3-D. While we praise them for trying the effect was less three dimensional and more nauseating due to the color filter glasses, among other things.

There are some other technologies out that can give a more holographic effect rather than 3-D.  Adaptations of the pepper’s ghost effect are being seen more frequently like Musion Eyeliner 3D, which has been used at the Grammy Awards. Holographic effects have even entered the realm of a truer three-dimensional walk around display, think of Darth Sidious’ hologram in Star Wars, or Tony Stark trying on parts of the Iron Man suit in 3-D real-time space. Two technologies making this kind of action happen are Cheoptics360 by viZoo and an “Interactive 360˚ Light Field Display” developed by The Graphics Lab at USC back in 2007. This last technology has been developed further since 2007 and can now provide real-time teleconference capabilities, though the result reminds me of the  home videos Chief Anderton watches in Minority Report.

Yes, kids, the world around us is becoming more interactive. Before you know it television won’t just be High Definition, it will be Three Dimension High Definition. Designers will be able to show their designs as actual 3-D objects, and through augmented reality we will be able to bring our new found 3-Dimensionalisation into the real world. Who knows, all we need is an omni-directional treadmill and maybe one day holodecks will be a reality.

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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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The Jay Leno Show – Out of The Box & Already Dated

September 15, 2009 at 10:20 am (News) (, , , , , , , , , )

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Congratulations to Jay Leno for spending his retirement in primetime. We’ve been looking forward to his return for three months, and the commercials promoting it have been driving us crazy. So, how did the first show go?

The intro had an interesting concept behind it – showing images of Jay over the years – but I did not feel the execution was done well. It already seems dated, like a Saturday Night Live intro from the 90s, and the voice over was rather anticlimactic.

His new set is also designed with a flair of 1990 but materials from 2009. The design is too literal in regards to a living room design, and the chair set up reminds me of the Montel Williams Show, among others. The stage is huge! There are at least four zones – Primetime Band area, desk, interview area, and performing space. The set is so large that it seems disconnected during studio pans and jib shots. I do like the band shell area, it allows for a lot of flexibility by the performers in regards to space planning and décor.

The show itself will improve over time, this first episode seemed a little forced. The oddest thing happened during the interview with Seinfeld when a TV monitor dropped from the ceiling so Oprah could talk. Both Jay and Jerry looked in the direction of the screen as if it were there, but due to camera shake and other rendering glitches we find that the TV monitor is actually keyed in. That’s right, they spend a lot of money on Jay’s set, but someone thought that a digital representation of a TV monitor was a better decision than really putting out the money for it. Later in the show Kanye West made an appearance and apologized for his actions during the Video Music Awards when he grabbed the mic from Taylor Swift and announced that Beyonce should have won. While Jay was talking to him he looked like a little kid in a principal’s office, especially when Jay asked if his mother would be disappointed if she were still living.

Overall I enjoyed the show and know that they will continue to tweak it as the show progresses -the first show is always the roughest. I wish Jay and the cast and crew luck. A lot of shows were cancelled to make way for this one, so I hope the show develops into a really strong and entertaining piece of television history.

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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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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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