Thursday, October 29, 2009

in any language

This explanation through anamation leaps over the barrier of language that's message may reach around the world. It's a creative move for getting around that challenge and a short and sweet way to explain the problem and desired action of the viewer to spread the word.

Monday, October 26, 2009

swine flu

Went home to Virginia last weekend and discovered that my family's next door neighbor has swine flu, THE swine flu. This invariably led me to question the safety of the air I was breathing, the fragility of my mortality and why it's called the swine flu if it doesn't come from pigs.

Learned that it is named such because it resembles a flu that pigs get. Learned that dogs can get the flu. And ultimately, realized that if I am meant to die of swine flu, it's going to happen no matter how much Purell I squirt on my hands.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

asylum 626 is the product

I was recently chatting with a friend of mine who is a digital strategist at AKQA, about how brands need to stop thinking about their websites as print ads that live on the web and more as products with a function. If people hate ads and ignore then, then why would you ever model your $50k+ website after them? So many brands create websites that are completely narcissistic and games that provide little entertainment for the bored. The advergame where you drive the car around has been done, let's please move on.

Goodby, Silverstien & Partners has done it again with client Doritos. They have managed to make a web production which I am too scared to even open in my web browser, Asylum 626. (Here's a post I wrote about last year's fright, Hotel 626.)

It's a clear example of a brand thinking of their web-presence as a product itself, not just a 'web ad.' It's entertainment that is interactive and original and it doesn't shove a product down your throat. In doing this, Doritos is attributing their brand with a higher value, one that reaches beyond 'a yummy snack' or 'a cheap snack.' Doritos is associating itself with scary web productions. It's creating a new tradition, something you will look for each year around Halloween.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"bitches on a budget" - cheap tips for big spenders

This recession has created a lot of guilt around spending money on things we want but don't necessarily need. I just discovered the sassy, say-it-like-it-is blog by author, fashion buyer and marketer Rosalyn Hoffman. Hoffman disagrees with the notion that living on a budget means abandoning the fabulous life. Her new book, which will be released December 29th, is designed to help the affluent woman who finds herself now on to a budget “learn to live a truly fabulous life on a shoe string,” as blog says. 

Bitches on a Budget, and it’s accompanying blog, illustrate how the values of the elite have shifted and ways for them to find compromise between their new budgets and their old ways. Her tips range from the best honey to how to get a stain out of a carpet (which involves paper towels and a stack of heavy books).

This leads me to a research idea for brands who play in the luxury space - have a group of customers read the book and give it a review. Ask them what tips they found most useful, which ones they passed along or actually tried themselves? How does the book resonate with their lives today and where does it veer away from how they budget and what they value?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

trend: rallying for good design

Just saw on a blog that some British designer decided he didn't like Facebook's layout and created his own design. What really struck me was the call-out for support in the article: "If you feel this is a step in the right direction, you can lend your support to the cause via a Facebook group here." Facebook was not asking for their help nor anyone's input on changes to their design. But we, as users, feel a divine right to have input over the design of a website we use so frequently.

I've seen this elsewhere too, people rallying to fight for good design. The demand for design is really less of an aesthetic thing and more for an easy-to-use user interface. People don't want to deal with visual clutter. (I'll bet you could study this by showing that sites with cleaner design get more return hits and a lower bounce rate.) They want their eyes to be able to understand instantly the purpose of a website and how their eyes should navigate around the page.

It's almost like the way people fight against clutter in their closet. You keep things organized because you get a pang of anger when you open a closet that you need to find something in. It's not that your closet needs to be art - there's a door covering it anyways, but it's gotta be quick to scan through and find the piece you need.

By designer Barton Smith:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

wired magazine: vanish contest

How difficult is it to disappear in a digital age? In Wired Magazine’s recent contest, Vanished, writer Evan Ratcliff took on the challenge of living under the radar for a month. The chase became a game of Where’s Waldo? meets The Bourne Ultimatum as people hunted Evan down, sharing clues and working together through social media to discover his whereabouts.

Ratcliff provided hunters with some basics about himself such as a few photos, his hometown and the fact that he has a gluten allergy. Ratcliff even provided his IP addresses (which show the general location from which a computer has accessed the Web), bank account transactions and emails to be published by his editor. According the rules, the first person to take a picture of Ratcliff and say the code word “Fluke” won the $5,000 prize.

Evan created a new Twitter account under alias name, James Gatsby (one of his favorite fictional characters) and made allegedly made anonymous comments to confuse hunters. He complicated his digital trail through his knowledge of how to manipulate and hide digital data in order to stay hidden.

In the last week of the contest, Wired enticed Evan into public spaces by offering prize money for the completion of challenges discoverable only by completing that morning’s New York Times crossword puzzle. After 25 days on the run, his IP address informed the only gluten-free pizza place in New Orleans, Naked Pizza, that Evan had been accessing their Web site. Knowing that Evan’s challenge that day was to attend a book reading, the team caught Evan walking in to a local bookstore and won the prize.

When asked by ABC News what he learned from doing this experiment, Ratcliff replied that in our digital age “fantasies about disappearing are just that, they are fantasies.”

Read all about it in Wired's December issue.

Monday, October 5, 2009

trend: praise for thrift in clothing

Since the accusations of Sarah Palin being a hypocrite - speaking as an average American mom and then spending $150k on one outfit - the clothing on celebs has been a hot issue. Mrs. Obama was praised for getting her outfit at J. Crew and spending like an 'average American' woman, not a high-rolling star.

Apparently this kind of commentary has traveled across the pond. Just saw on, a post about the Conservative Party leader's wife, Samantha Cameron. She was photographed wearing a pair of shoes that cost 29 English pounds. The post goes on and on about how pragmatic this shoe choice is and how she pulled together more than one outfit by wearing these shoes.
Gotta love how a show of thrift can be applauded.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

this program is smarter than i am

Testing out a Firefox add-on called Zemanta. It's funded by VC group Union Square Ventures who funds Twitter, MeetUp, foursquare (the newest addition) and many others. As I type, Zemanta, shown on the right hand side of my screen, recommends links to pictures, articles, websites of companies I am writing about, potential tags and other stuff that it thinks could apply to my content. By simply clicking on their suggestions, the two companies named above were automatically hyperlinked for me.

What's truly amazing to me is the concept of programs that learn, this program however is essentially teaching me. It has the power to direct my writing to new directions depending upon the stories that it serves up. This is a simple add-on writing tool. Who knows where programs that teach could pop-up next.

Question: Would you consider all of the mobile city-guides programs that teach?
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