Monday, December 27, 2010

Everyone has a story

The pink-haired lady on the train, the 15 year old skateboarding in the park, the line-cook in the cafeteria, the old man paying for his lottery ticket, you....me. We all have stories - some that we chose to write, some that were written for us. Some that we share, some that we cling to desperately. Some that are easy to tell, and some that we ink on our bodies to speak for us because we can't find the words. And all of them define us.

I don't talk about my stories often. There's never seems to be the right time, right place, right reason. And to be quite honest, I'm not certain I've made sense of it all myself and sharing it seems premature.

But I've found different outlets over the years. Writing, photography, music.. the things that connect me to the feelings that I can't quite voice. And this year, I found tattoo art.

There is nothing quite as personal or meaningful as a tattoo. A tattoo will stare you in the face every single day, reminding you of something or the other. It will be your mascot, your icon, your emblem for the rest of your life. It's permanence demands committment.

I made that commitment earlier this year. I had been planning it for a couple of years, and after a really bad day I decided it was now or never. My tattoo is simple - my last name in a cursive font on my left side, parallel to my heart. It stands for a lot of things - things that I still won't write about in this public manner - but most of all it stands for every single second, every minute, every event, every person that has brought me to today and to the person I have become.

A proud and infallibly strong Bhatia.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holy Strategically Sound Execution, Batman!

This needs no explanation...

Friday Music Find! The Boxer Rebellion

I'll admit it - I discovered this band through the movie 'Going The Distance' (yes, it's a chick flick about a long distance relationship, but trust me, the chemistry between Justin Long and Drew Barrymore, not to mention the ingenious addition of Charlie Day make this movie a real winner) and I'm obsessed. How could you not be?

 

 

A Google Docs Wonder!

This is probably the best thing you will see all day, maybe all week. I'm dumbstruck by Google's ability to use their products in completely inconceivable ways!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Moleskine Stop-motion

 

 

MINI PLANNERS from Moleskine ® on Vimeo.

 

This isn't my favorite, but I still dig stop-motion. It's fascinating.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pepsi FIFA Commercial

Simple. Funny. Beautiful. Local. Inspired.

Pepsi's done it all with this one, unforgettable, spot.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Geek and Proud.

Me: Social Media geek. Dog geek. Bagel geek. Fitness geek.

I revel in my geekdom.



How about you?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

NBC's Community Using Twitter to Debut

NBC’s Community will debut a “Twittersode” just prior to the comedy’s Sept. 23 return.

Over the course of 80 tweets (starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT Thursday), the characters will communicate back and forth in what’s described as a “prequel” scene to their return to Greendale Community College as sophomores. They’ll make arrangements for their first meet-up of the year, as well as preparations for their first class, Anthropology 101 (taught by guest star Betty White). You can watch the Twittersode unfold on www.NBC.COM/CommunityTwittersode, or, of course, in your Twitter feed, if you follow the individual characters. (Here’s that excuse you’ve been needing to check out @AnniesB00bs. Full list of the characters’ official Twitter accounts below.)

http://twitter.com/annieedisonGCC
http://twitter.com/jeffwingeratlaw
http://twitter.com/abedstweets
http://twitter.com/troytbone09
http://twitter.com/brittafeed
http://twitter.com/shirley_GCC
http://twitter.com/hawthornewipes
http://twitter.com/alexosbourneGCC
http://twitter.com/greendaledean
http://twitter.com/senorchang_gcc
http://twitter.com/oldwhitemansays
http://twitter.com/anniesB00Bs

Now that creative!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stop-motion: The making of Dot

It never ceases to amaze me the things you can do with technology these days. Yes, I'm impressed by the film, but I'm way more impressed by the implications this CellScope can have for public health professionals. It gives me hope for the world.

The 'World's Smallest Stop-Motion Film' was made using a 9mm resin character for Dot, Nokia N8's 12 megapixel camera and a CellScope. The people behind the film, UK studio Aardman, (yes, the same guys who made Wallace and Gromit!) discuss how it was made here:


The Making Of Nokia 'Dot' from Sumo Science on Vimeo.

Watch the entire film here:

Friday, September 10, 2010

How To Start A Movement

Lessons on How To Start A Movement from Derek Sivers:
  • "A leader needs the guts to stand out and be ridiculed."
  • What the leader does must be easy to follow.
  • The first follower plays a crucial role - an "underestimated form of leadership."
  • The first follower is what "transforms a lone nut into a leader."
  • The leader must embrace the first follower as an equal.
  • A movement must be public.
  • New followers emulate the follower, not the leader.
  • Eventually, the perceived "risk" of joining the movement shifts - the tipping point - where joining is less "risky" than not joining.
  • "Leadership" is overglorified. The real power of the movement is in the followers.



On a sidenote, I actually did this exact presentation about six months ago (before I saw the TED video) but now I feel like it'd be plagiarism if I posted my own. Ah well.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Google Real Time Search is Real-ly Here!

Excuse the corny blog title, but it's finally here!

Google first introduced us to real-time search last December, bringing users the most relevant and freshest content on the web from a plethora of sources - editorial as well as user generated - integrated right into typical search results.

Today's roll-out gives real-time information it's own home as well as a powerful set of tools to navigate and manage these results, including:
  • Live results which updates as the user types text into the search bar. 
  • Search results simply by pressing a single letter key. Results are based on Google's best guess at what you will end up typing, as predicted by Google Suggest.
  • Geographic refinements to find local updates and news, or within a specified region.
  • Conversations view, to easily follow a discussion on the real-time web. Tweets are organized from oldest to newest and indent to quickly see how the conversation developed.
  • Updates content to Google Alerts, making it easy to stay informed about a topic of choice. Users can create an alert specifically for “updates” to get an email the moment that topic appears on Twitter or other short-form services.
This is pretty f'ing cool. I did a realtime search for 'Google Instant' and here's what I got:


Some initial thoughts:
  • Google is pitching the primary benefit of Google Instant to be faster searches, but I think it seems most useful in facilitating more precise, refined searches and consequently, saving time.
  • Procrastination just got a whole lot easier. Google Instant is similar to StumbleUpon - it can lead me to something that I wasn't looking for, but might be interesting anyway.
  • Search marketing just got a whole lot more complicated. 
  • The system has a glitch - adding a space at the end of a search can throw Instant off it's game. For example, a search for "tacos" brings up local business results and a map. Add a space and now Google thinks you're looking for tacos al pastor, with no local results
  • Filtering results by time of day could have some intriguing applications for monitoring brand sentinment and/or brand receptivity over an average day
  • Google instant is PG-13. Even with Safesearch turned off, typing in explicit terms returns no results.(I believe this can be turned off)
  • Above all else, Google Instant is surprisingly satisfying. Search can be insanely frustrating, with infinite word combination possibilities, and Instant is clearing some of those nuisances away.
It's too soon to understand what impact Instant will have until I've experimented with it more, but on a personal level, I'm diggin' it. Will it help me do my job as an advertiser better? I guess I can't say just yet.

Google Realtime Search can be accessed at it's own address, www.google.com/realtime.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Uniqlo Tweets Down Prices

This is a pretty nifty way to encourage engagement and participation from their consumers. Uniqlo is taking the two things that all consumers love - discounts and power - and combining it in this unique (pun intended) sale. Nicely done.

The Future of Screen Technology

It's not flying cars and robot servants, but I think I'd be very happy with this future, and I can think of a few hundred dozen people who would agree.

I don't want to 'engage' with a sausage.

via Get Shouty



Clever.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What Makes Your Day?

I've been obsessed with Positive Psychology for the last year or so - both the theoretical side as well as putting it into practice. The most simplistic way to explain this branch of psychology is to call it the psychology of happiness - it focuses wholely on understanding what makes people happy, and ways to amplify that happiness.

Anyway, a founding tenet of this branch of psychology is figuring out ways "to make normal life more fulfilling." In my experience, this often means making a concerted effort to appreciate the little, everyday things and being consciously grateful for them.

The video below, entitled 'What makes your day' is a perfect example of this - it captures some pieces of happiness from different people in different places (and I  especially love the closing line - "That wets my whistle nicely").


WHAT MAKES YOUR DAY? from Napatsawan Chirayukool on Vimeo.

It got me thinking about some of the things that have been making me happy lately.
  1. Someone complimenting my dog
  2. Raisin nut bran cereal in the morning
  3. Getting a good night's sleep
  4. Knowing that I have a laid-back weekend
  5. Having goals
  6. Mastering a new recipe
  7. Dog beach
  8. The beginning of fall
  9. Having more time to read
  10. Talking to a stranger
There's a sliver of my happiness. What's on your list?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Music Finds! Joshua Radin - Under A Street Light

The first (and probably last) time I saw Joshua Radin in concert, I sang along so aggressively that he had to stop mid-song to ask me, politely, to shut the hell up. Fair 'nuff I guess, people weren't paying to see some drunk girl singing tunelessly (and I'm being kind to myself).

Aaaaaanyway, needless to say that I'm extremely well acquainted with all his music, almost to the point of boredom, so I'm psyched to see he's come out with something new. Here you have it folks:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Laughing baby is making my morning

This kid is going to have the ladies wrapped around his little finger, I can see it already.



The video makes me laugh everytime I watch it. Pure, unadulterated joy is contagious.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Media & The Importance of Content/Experience

Now is the time, if they haven't already, for marketers to start experimenting with mobile and social to find what works best for their organizations. They must remember however, that whatever they do to experiment should be a relevant, positive user experience, because if they can't provide that then its better to provide no experience at all.
Source: Flowtown
Let's break it down. Here's what we know already:

  1. The mobile-social-digital trifecta is the new black, and all brands want to be wearing it, so to speak.
  2. The consumers are all over these new media platforms, which offer up the ability to connect with them more often, more deeply and more consistently.
  3. Marketing gurus are taking the position that these are, or will soon become, the cornerstone of any great, integrated, marketing plan.
  4. There is the belief that these platforms offer early adopter brands the chance to make their mark, either by proving themselves to be progressive, or possibly gaining consumer loyalty
  5. The platforms are so new, and so complex, that they require specialty , dedicated marketing technology companies, which in turn are springing up everywhere, and claiming themselves to be the "experts" in these new media

Essentially, the general reigning wisdom is, either get on board, or get left behind. Naturally, this has led to brands and marketers alike scrambling to understand, utilize, and "own" these platforms.(see here for a insightful post on who "owns" mobile). But in the manic rush to jump on the bandwagon, two of the most critical pieces are often overlooked or compromised - content and experience.

When placing ads on social media, mobile or digital, brands need to be aware that these media are not the same as other traditional forms of media. This in turn is going to impact not only consumer expectation, but also content delivery on behalf of the brands. How?

1) These media are more personal:
For the consumer who is never far from his phone, and who uses social networks to connect with friends and family, these spaces are sacred and private. He will will be more sensitive to the content that he receives here, and is more likely to feel that your presence is an intrusion. For him, personalization and relevance are high priorities on these platforms, and he expects his brands to stay cognizant of that fact. Branded content should not detract or distract from his interaction with these media. Rather, if his brands truly 'get it' they will use these platforms to either build the media experience, or the brand experience.

2) These media are more dynamic:
Consumers know that technology has reached new levels of sophistication, and accordingly, they're demanding bigger and better experiences from their brands. They know that these platforms offer the opportunities for innovative and interactive content, for brands to build experiences and to layer messages, to give the consumer something new, exciting, creative, and engaging. Basically, they know that brands have the option of doing some pretty cool shit, and the boring static banner ad or the annoying floating ad just isn't going to fly anymore. For our tech-savvy consumers, these platforms should be used to their full potential, or not at all.

3) These media are more influential:
Bad creative or bad placement, the consequences of making a mistake on these platforms are going to be far beyond those of a bad TV commercial. Why? Because these are the platforms connecting the consumer to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of other people. If he has a bad experience here, he's well positioned to started talking about it immediately, and have a lot of people hear him. Brands that fail with him here will not escape unscathed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On Language and Emotion

I've had a journal for as long as I can remember. Many of my first memories involve using words - loving words, fighting words, funny words, misspoken words (suspenders were 'septembers', human was 'yuman', hippopotamus was 'hittopotamus'), old words, new words, small words, big words. There were words spoken and words written. I remember the satisfaction of learning a new word - a big beautiful word that would roll around my mouth and brain and off my tongue. 

As a writer, language took on new meaning to me. It was, and always will be a playful thing, but it became my outlet and my solace. I found joy in writing the perfect sentence... you know, the one that has all the right words to capture exactly what you mean. Writing became my sole means of expression, and words rescued me from the relentless knot of thoughts in my head.Writing is what first introduced me to the power, beauty, and intricacy of language.

As an advertiser, I'm rediscovering language in a whole new light.I'll admit that when I started working here, I was insanely frustrated by the lengthy and intense debates that ensued over a single word. Round-and-round we'd go, trying to find the right synonym, exploring new words, pulling our dictionaries and thesauruses, trying to find the word that would fit perfectly in that little blank.I didn't understand it. It seemed so unimportant - I mean, who would notice if we used x word instead of y. I sure as hell wouldn't.

But now I get it. These are the tools of our trade. With the right word, the right image and the right sound, we can create the experience that we want for our consumers.We can craft an emotion, a situation, an identity and even a whole new reality if we just use the right elements, in the right combination. It's an artform in it's own right.

To this point, I want to share a video that I found recently. It was created by directors Will Hoffman and Daniel Mercadante, to promote a Radiolab documentary entitled 'Words'. This short film captures not only how many meanings a word can have, but also, the riveting power of these three elements - words, images, and sound. Simple imagery is amplified by a lilting score, a word is visually created and ultimately, an emotion is evoked. This is exactly what a great writer, and a great advertiser, should look to do through their work. 


WORDS from Everynone on Vimeo.

For more videos, visit the site: http://everynone.com/

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The World Is Not Alright

There's no denying that I'm a pessimist through and through, but anyone with a ear to the ground knows that there's a lot of shit wrong in the world today. I'm not talking about Russian radioactive fires, or floods killing hundreds in Pakistan, but about the sheer stupidity of humans. Take a look at a tiny microcosm of what's crossed my desk in the last 24 hours alone.

1) Guy marinades his cat because it was being 'mean' to him:
"A cat named Navarro was rescued Sunday in upstate New York after being found in the trunk of his owner's car, marinating in "a mixture of oil, crushed red peppers, chili pepper and salt," Gawker reports. Gary Korkuc's car was searched after police pulled him over for ignoring a stop sign, and he told them he no longer wanted the cat since it was "possessive, greedy and wasteful." So Korkuc, apparently, was going to eat it."
Who in their right mind would think of EATING their cat because it was "mean"?? Although, I guess since this guy also claimed that this neutered male cat got pregnant, he probably doesn't possess a 'right mind'

I wonder if there will ever be a time when this I can start eating people if they're mean. Takes care of the population problem, and the meanness problem at the same time. Two birds, one stone.


Source: Buffalo News

2) Wycleff Jean running for Haitian presidency:

Yes. We're talking about this guy:



Pray tell, what qualifies the ex-member of the Fugees to run for the President of ANY country, let alone one that has very recently been devastated by natural disaster. Come on Haiti, you don't need the additional problems.

Next thing you know, this guy's going to be running for  U.S. president:



Source: Raw Story

3) Lady goes batshit because for McNuggets:

This is so ridiculous, it borders on unbelievable. And we wonder why Americans are obese...


Source: AOL news 

4) ABC's Bachelor pad:

Didn't find love the first time? Being shot down publicly on national TV once isn't enough for you? Can't find peace without a rose ceremony every week? Then this is the show for you!

Yep, ABC is bringing back all the losers and loser-ettes for another round of embarassment, hooking up, roses and... yes, everyone's favourite dork, Chris Harrison.

Watch the idiots castmates reunite every Monday night in the Bachelor's old time slot. We have all the usual suspects - Jesse, the guitar playing hick who was looking for some free PR, Craig M, the guy who needs to duck to get his hair into the room, and dear old Weatherman, the wimpy looking kid who looks like he's never been with a woman.





5) and finally, China. (Can they do anything right?)

"Food safety officials in China are investigating reports that tainted milk powder has caused baby girls to show signs of breast development."

Enough said. I would draw a funny picture, but babies with boobs is too far.


But to end on a happy note, I present, HIP HOP GRANNY breakin' it down.




Thursday, August 12, 2010

In Review: The Canon PowerShot SD1400

I recently upgraded to a Canon PowerShot SD1400 and I gotta tell ya, it was TOTALLY worth it! Here's why:


1) Size: This sleek little camera is 3.63 x 2.21 x 0.70 in (W x H x D) and comfortably fits in the pocket of even my skinniest skinny jeans. I no longer have to worry about looking like I have a mutant tumor in my thigh or butt, which is always a major major plus.
 






2) Image quality: I own a dSLR as part of my photography arsenal, but lets face it, there's no way that I'm going to tote that clunker around every day without turning into this guy ---------------------------------------->
Anway, with this baby, I can take fantastic pictures on the fly, and it's always around when the urge to start clicking hits.


3) Features: I am head over heels about the neat features on this camera! Hands down, my favourite one is the 'Color Accent' feature, which, with a little menu maneuvering, lets me do what would otherwise require a certain $700 program.

Here's some of the pictures I took while messing around with the camera this weekend:











I've always been a huge fan of Canon cameras (my dSLR is a Canon too), and as usual, this camera delivers on quality and performance. I wish I had more technical knowledge so I could give you a better review, but I'll leave that to the smart folks out there. Besides, lets be honest, 80% of the time this is going to be the camera I take to the bars and try not to drop into my open-bar-beer cup. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Post-it Humor FTW!

This commercial literally made me laugh out loud.



My favourite bit:

Not to get too deep, but I have three observations here:
  1. There's a lot to be said for a brand that doesn't take itself too seriously. You make me laugh, you win big.
  2. Small changes can make a huge difference. 'Just kidding' vs. 'Disclaimer' took me from 'I'm not paying attention' to 'I nearly fell off the treadmill.
  3. Language in advertising is an oft looked over issue that can take a good ad to great.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

FYI: Blog Changes

To my three dear followers:

Just wanted to let you know that I've changed my blog URL, so you can now find me at www.fromthetinydesk.blogspot.com. You know... just in case you want to update your readers, bookmarks, etc.

Now don't everybody do it at once, you might crash my blog!

Urbanathlon Uh Oh's

I've never run a 5K race.

Don't get me wrong, I've run a 5K in a gym, but I've never actually participated in a race. Believe me, I want to and I've even gone  so far as to sign up for a race... only to decide that it was in my best interest to go out drinking instead of going to the race. (Hey, the charity still got my money, so I'm not a bad person). You can chalk it up to the the crowds and all those people watching me and my competitive nature and the high likelihood that I will humiliate myself and just plain nerves. Not to mention, the hangover.

Despite this, in a moment of what I can only describe as insanity, I signed up to do the Men's Health Urbanathlon - an event that consists not ONLY of a 5k run, but also a bunch of ridiculous obstacles, like this one:


Alright, fine, I'm crazy but I've paid the fee and I'm going to do it, right? I mean, who cares that I haven't been working out regularly and can't remember the last time I ran 3 miles, this should be a breeze.

That was before I checked out their Facebook page and saw this:



THAT'S my competition? Are you kidding me?? Even at the peak of my fitness (which I am about 4 months of grilled chicken breasts and steamed broccoli away from) I looked nothing like that woman!! (is 'woman accurate? my mind keeps screaming she-man.)

Ah well, looks like I'm back in training... *dusts off old Foreman grill*

**Stay tuned for the trials and tribulations of training to be the next she-man.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Music Finds!

I think I'm going to make my musical finds a regular feature of this blog, more for myself than anything else.(Hey, it is my blog after all!)

This week isn't a discovery as much as it is rediscovery. It's an acoustic concert series called 'NPR Tiny Desk Concerts' which are 'intimate video performances, recorded live at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen in the NPR Music office.' It typically features indie-rock artists of the small-time variety and is a must-see for anyone who enjoys acoustic music, jammin', and friggin' fantastic music from some passionate, lesser-known greats (there's more hyphenated words in that sentence than I've used in the past year!).

Check out their YouTube channel as well as two of my favourite performances (below)

Phoenix:

(He makes it look so easy)


The Magnetic Zeroes:
(The lead singer is so into the music, its hard not to get into it too)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blending social media with traditional media

Social media has been heralded as the greatest thing since sliced bread and everyone wants a piece of the action. Consumers and brands alike jumped on the bandwagon, determined to be a part of the 'social media revolution'. Twitter and Facebook grew at dizzying rates, and buzzwords like 'tweet, friending, status updates, stalking' became part of our everyday conversations. People began brainstorming on how to leverage these platform for their personal gain. and brands began talking about a social media strategy.

But now, with a few years under our belts, we know this: you don't need a social media strategy.

According to Eric Weaver at DDB, what we need instead, is a blended approach - one that seamlessly integrates social media with traditional media. Social media is not an afterthought, nor a platform of it's own; rather it supports and supplements traditional media messages (look at the presentation below to see how DDB did this with 'Salty'). When thinking social media, brands are best served to think of this medium as one of influence, engagement and activation. You should be using it "to get your customers to interact with the content, to share it with their friends, and to get off their asses and and DO something."

View more presentations from Eric Weaver.

And Old Spice is doing exactly that.

This entire week, the dashing and debonair Isaiah Mustafa (the Man you want your man to smell like) is responding to YouTube comments, Tweets, Yahoo! Answers, Reddit questions, and blog posts about him and his brand new Old Spice commercial. He responds to everyone from Ellen Degeneres and Perez Hilton to anonymous Internet users, all with the same pompous, outrageous, and hilarious tone from the commercials.

And to top it all off, Old Spice is a promoted trending tweet today.

Bravo Old Spice. You're making sure that you're the brand we wish our brands were like.

Some Isaiah vids from today:




Saturday, July 10, 2010

Branded love from the Ad Warrior

There are three main reasons why I started writing this blog. 

1) I love writing. Plain and simple. I love writing, and I don't always have something creative to write about. So I'm channeling my passion for writing into this blog, and also keeping on top of all my other passions - advertising, fitness, the interwebz - two birds, one stone.

2) To have an opinion. Stupid, ill-informed, and possibly poorly written, but mine, nonetheless. I have it, and I'm going to put it out there. Take it, leave it, or argue with me about it, the choice is yours. I'm open to it all.

3) To keep a record. A record of all the interesting, insightful, funny, fantastical, though-provoking, and something ridiculous things that I come across, online and in real-life. Also, to record some of my own photography and writing, however amateurish they are. 

And that third point brings me to the article below. Written over at 'Ad Warrior', this is hands down one of the best posts I've read, both in terms of writing, as well as content. He's hit the nail squarely on the head with this one and I'll admit, it's one of those posts that made me go 'Damn, I wish I had written that!' It's also one of those posts that I know I'll want to revisit many times in my career to ground myself, and for that reason, I want to repost it here so that I can recall it at any time.

But that's enough from me. Read on to see what I'm talking about.

"The Apple iPhone and the elusive image of branded love. 

Last week as I watched one news report after another showing hundreds of people lined up outside Apple stores across America, all of whom hoped – or perhaps it would be more accurate to say needed – to be among the first to get the new iPhone in their pink, sweaty hands, it occurred to me that this, at least from a corporate standpoint, is what love looks like. These people were willing to suffer for a product in a way that few people in the twenty-first century are willing to suffer for a cause. For a brand, it really doesn’t get any better.*

Very few brands will ever sniff the thin air that surrounds this mountaintop. Nonetheless, it’s important to know it exists because it reminds those of us who toil within advertising’s smoky factories of what what we’re supposed to be trying to achieve. As agencies focus more and more on the arcane sciences of data analysis, ROI measurement and predictive modeling, it’s easy for advertising to begin to feel like something that’s akin to strip-mining. Don’t let it. If you’re doing it right, it’s about love. It’s about generating passion for the brands you work on. It’s about tapping into visceral desire.

So how do you get there? How do you “ladder up” (an odious bit of corporate English) to a more emotional connection between the consumer and the brand? With apologies to the great American philosopher Frank Zappa, I have borrowed and altered slightly a few phrases from a song called “Packard Goose”** (it should be noted that the lyrics owe no small debt to a T.S. Eliot poem called “The Rock”–seriously) to remind us of our obligation to elevate the brand grist we are given and turn it into something that arouses passion:

Data is not information.


Information is not knowledge.


Knowledge is not wisdom.


Wisdom is not truth.


Truth is not beauty.


Beauty is not love.


Love is the only thing that matters.


When one ponders these words, it’s apparent that they’re a pretty good re-telling of the Apple story. The company has taken a bunch of ones and zeros and through a bit of sorcery transformed them into products that do extraordinary things – things for which people will leave their loved ones and the comfort of their overstuffed sofas to stand sweating with the faithful in the heat of summer. May the rest of us one day be so lucky.

* For causes, I grant you, it is a bit disheartening.
** You may find Mr. Zappa’s original lyrics here."

Source: Ad Warrior

Friday, July 9, 2010

Duck Face

Why haven't I seen this before today?!?!



After seeing this epic video, I went on facebook to look for my own shameful 'duck face' pictures and I'm glad to report that the most recent one (i.e. 'I'm trying to look sexy' not 'I'm making fun of dumb bitches') dates all the way back to freshman year. In my book, that means I have a clean slate. *phew*

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Huggies - "The Coolest You'll Look Pooping Your Pants"

This is freaking hilarious. Also, what's with the denim craze lately - jean leggings, jean diapers... what's next??



To be perfectly honest, I can't see any reason in the world to buy my kid jean diapers, except maybe the humor value. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chicago Issues A Throwdown to LeBron James



When you want NBA all-star LeBron James to play for your home team, you don't ask... you don't beg... you look him in the eye and you dare him to do it. 

Chicago, with the help of a couple of sports-loving ad guys at the city's Leo Burnett agency have done just that in a creative, bold, and hopefully successful four-day campaign featuring a fresh challenge each day.

On Monday, they sent to his house the classic red, white and black Air Jordans and asked if he could fill those shoes. Tuesday it was a case featuring seven empty ring boxes, representing one more championship than Jordan won here, and the question, "Can you fill these boxes?" Wednesday was a mock-up of a Chicago Tribune 10 years hence - still going strong, by the way - and the headline "Sweet Throne, Chicago: With Title No. 7, It's Officially King James' Court."

And finally, on Thursday, the agency ran a two page ad in the Akron Beacon Journal, James' hometown paper that read - "LeBron, the fans of Chicago have a question for you... can you cast a shadow this big?"

The image is of an outline that looks a lot like Michael Jordan's, in the iconic, ball-in-one-hand pose, spread out over the Chicago cityscape.

Let me just pause to say, Chicago, you da man!

Moving on... I have to say, I'm incredibly impressed by this campaign for a couple of reasons.
1) The insight - Instead of tip-toeing around it, these guys have grabbed the bull by the horns (pun intended), and addressed the real issue here - that James is bound to be living in the shadow of the superstar Jordan's legacy. No doubt that hordes of people will be waiting to see if he can fill those big shoes, and tons of MJ adorers will be hoping that he fails miserable. Frankly, who needs that kind of pressure?

2) The strategy - Instead of kowtowing to James and selling him on the product — the advantages and needs of suitor cities New York, Cleveland and Chicago — the campaign focuses instead on "the role the product could play in (James') life... They appeal directly to James' competitive spirit and challenge him to outdo even Jordan, who always loved a good challenge himself."

3) The risk - It's a ballsy move to be so direct with the guy, considering how much they stand to lose, but I firmly believe that with great work like this, there's great reward. Isn't that what great advertising is all about... or should be all about?


I got my fingers crossed on this one...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What happened to Hannah Montana?? (Or, Another One Bites The Dust)

Miley Cyrus is 17 years old.

Seventeen, and already she's reached a level of stardom that many Hollywood hopefuls can only dream of. She debuted on the now-infamous TV series Hannah Montana, and slowly but surely propelled her way into the spotlight and the hearts of screamy young adolescent girls everywhere.

In her early years, there was no doubt that she was a 'good girl' - she had a close knit family, and strong values to match. But the first crack in her image appeared in 2008 when she did a completely nude photo shoot for Vanity Fair. And as it always does, this downward spiral picked up pace, culminating in this raunchy new video ('Can't Be Tamed')  that includes lingerie as apparel and a faux kiss with a fellow dancer.

She could've gone down the path of Taylor Swift, but it looks like she's going to choose Britney Spears instead.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Giving credit where credit is due

Old Spice's 2010 campaign 'Smell Like a Man, Man' has hands-down produced some of the most clever and hilarious work I've ever seen. Testament to this fact is the viral nature of the ads - it racked up more than 2 million views on YouTube, received close to 10,000 five-star ratings on that site, and has been featured on numerous blogs. And most recently, it received the Grand Prix for film at this year's Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival


'The Man Your Man Could Smell Like'

Listen to your audience, not your gut

A lot of people in the ad/marketing industry tend to labor under a logical fallacy: our consumers are just regular people. I am just a regular person. Therefore I am the same as the consumer.

We assume that the people we are talking to are exactly like us; that they have the same emotions, thoughts, beliefs and experiences as us and consequently, will react to advertising exactly like us. Now, a new study by Xyte Technologies, is proving that this little piece of wishful thinking is pretty far off base.

Xyte applied behavior-based segmentation modeling to marketing, using factors such as learning styles and reliance on thinking versus feeling to classify people into four broad buckets: Mind, Body, Hand, and Word.

Here's what they found: people in the marketing industry tend to fall into the “Word” category – people who prefer to work with words and have a longer-term focus – yet Word people make up just 18.5% of the population. That means that the ads marketers create that appeal to them may not work as well with the rest of the population.

The study drives home a critical point - we are not our consumers.

The implication here is that, as marketers, we have to be more responsible (and more diligent!) about finding out who our consumers really are as people, not just as users of our product. We have to meet them wherever they are, listen to everything they're saying, and use their insights to feed our strategies. It is only by doing so that we will be fulfilling our duty as advertisers, achieving campaigns that truly hit the mark and producing results for our clients.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Is 'Happiness' a cop-out strategy?

Lately, I've noticed several advertising campaigns (for everything from cameras, to beverages, to cheese, to cars, to chewing gum) that appear to be built on a common strategic idea - 'using this product will make you happy.'

Now, I know that marketers are (or should be) constantly trying to tap into an actionable insights about their consumers - a deep, true and unique fact that will resonate with their consumer, and give them a solid reason to believe in the company, brand or product - so it's not really a surprise that happiness comes up over and over again. After all, it is common knowledge that all individuals are hugely motivated by the prospect of happiness, pleasure or personal well-being. (In fact, this 'pursuit of happiness' is deeply embedded in many cultures around the world, and in America, exists as one of the three 'unalienable rights' of man.)**

But with the ubiquity of this 'happiness' advertising, I've started to wonder whether marketers are digging deep enough or taking the easy way out - after all, it's pretty much common knowledge that all humans are motivated to be happy, or at the very least, to seek pleasure. And let's be honest, won't buying any new product give me at least a momentary spark of so-called 'happiness' - that's why they call it retail therapy. I gotta say, I'm not sold.

Some examples of 'happiness' advertising:









and here and here.



What next? Will my feminine hygiene products now make me happy too?

**This concept extends far beyond American shores, and exists is many forms and verbiages across the world. (See here for more details) Moreover, the 'happiness frenzy' is spreading like wildfire - in 2008 4,000 books were published on happiness, while a mere 50 books on the topic were released in 2000. The most popular class at Harvard University is about positive psychology, and at least 100 other universities offer similar courses. Happiness workshops for the post-collegiate set abound, and each day "life coaches" promising bliss to potential clients hang out their shingles.

Memories of South Africa

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Menu Transparency: Yay or Nay?

A little while ago, I was walking around Herald Square in New York City, when I felt the dreaded first signs of my blood sugar plummeting. First, I felt lightheaded and my heartrate started to pick up, then my palms and my forehead broke out in a light sweat, and finally my vision started to blur. I felt like I couldn't breathe. I headed in to the nearest grab-and-go place, trying to find something that would take the edge of quickly without ruining my healthy lifestyle.

Approximately 20 minutes later, I walked out emptyhanded, anxiety accompanying my already stressful symptoms, wondering HOW IN THE WORLD a turkey sandwich can have 890 calories?!? 490 in a muffin?? No way. That's not a light snack, that's enough calories for nearly two meals.

And now, Mintel reports that, under the new health care bill, restaurants across the U.S. will be adopting this same format, posting nutritional information on all menus.And astoundingly enough, this action is garnering widespread support amongst the public - more than 60% of restaurant-goers think restaurants should post nutritional information on menus!

Don't get me wrong, I fully understand the rationale behind this (menu transparency = healthier food decisions = less obesity/less heart disease/lower cholesterol, etc) and there was a time when I wholeheartedly supported the idea. But older, and a tiny bit wiser, I will admit that is idea is simplistic to the point of being naive. Knowing calorie counts does not a healthy eater make.

There are many many factors that influence where and how people eat, and I don't believe that seeing these numbers will influence or rectify all of them. Here's a couple off the top of my head:
1) Obesity has shown to be linked to low income. This is because low income individuals don't have a lot of disposable income to buy food, and rely heavily on 'value' meals (lots of food for a little cash) from fast food places - the places that are inevitably serve high fat, high calorie, greasy, friend,artery clogging, unhealthy food. They simply don't have the money to trade up to places that offer healthier options.

2) Eating healthy is a matter of internal choice; if people aren't motivated to eat healthy, they aren't going to. It's as simple as that. When I was overweight and oblivious, I didn't think twice about eating two plates of pasta loaded with sauce, and then going back for pizza. And I doubt the numbers would have convinced me otherwise.

3) Which takes me to my third point - for calorie counts to be meaningful, a person has to know how many calories they should be eating. If I don't know that I should be eating 2200 calories a day to maintain my weight, I won't know the difference between eating a 400 calorie turkey sandwich for lunch or a 1000 calorie deep dish pizza. Without the context, the numbers become significantly less meaningful.

4) And finally, as a psychology major, and a recovering binge eater, I know that calorie counts can be stressful for people recovering from eating disordered behavior.Those numbers are triggers that can set off old bad habits and generally be detrimental to mental health. I'll admit, the prospect scares me.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Digital Content Done Right

I just finished reading Nimble, a Razorfish report that discusses how content needs to be modified when transferred from traditional to digital media. Essentially (as you might have already guessed), the report hammers home the point that in order to succeed, content needs to be free! Free, as in libre - it must have the freedom and liberty to go where and when people want it the most, to be mobile and social, and be able to adapt quickly to the new challenges and opportunities in today's media landscape.

Digital content has the ability to become truly nimble for one major reason: it is not confined by the same physical restrictions that are placed on traditional media. It does not have to be forcefit into a column space, or magazine page, or television time slot. Digital media's capacity to expand, grow, and be editable make it uniquely able to provide consumers with digital experiences that traditional media cannot carry.

For content to be free, it has to be flexible enough to function across all digital platforms without losing any aspect of the experience. The ability to reuse digital content increases its shelf life, and value to the brand. 

"Ironically, it's more structure that makes content nimble and sets it free."

Giving structure to digital content (through metadata) is what allows it to be broken down into its elements and recombined to reach across the web, create dynamic relationships, and exist smoothly across any number of devices, without losing it's ability to entertain, inform, or educate. However, digital content should not be structured according to how it will look on a newspaper page, but according to tags that express the meaning and function of each element in a content item.

The report highlights a fundamental errors that many publishers make with online content: they continue to treat it as if it is traditional published content. Very few editors are giving thought to how to structure content so that it is free to mix, mingle and connected throughout the web to create a rich, unique experience for the consumer. The report recommends that all publishers 'Become a content distributor' - developing content products for individual platforms and keeping the 'unique modes of interaction' and 'optimal types of experience' top of mind for each one. 

"In a highly connected world, content that's trapped in a silo is basically invisible. And invisible content might as well not exist."

Read the full report here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A font for a city.

Typography has been gaining popularity in the digital realm, with informational and visual websites such as Typographic and Typography Served springing up all over the web. Design firm Norwegian Ink has embarked on an absolutely fascinating, ambitious, project called CitID that invites artists and designers to submit a logo or typeface for “every city worldwide; big or small, rich or poor, famous or infamous, well-known or unheard-of.” So far, they've logged over one hundred cities, representing cities from all over the world.

I'm not artistic, but I am well traveled and it's interesting to to see how well my perception of these places matches up to the artists' representation.

New York:                                      
 

Chicago:




Kuala Lumpur:

Cape Town:

                   



London:


Singapore:




Johannesburg:


Bangkok:



There's no doubt in my mind that the creators of these pieces are incredibly artistic and talented graphic designers. Curiously enough, none of these images gave me that feeling of 'he/she hit the nail on the head.' My experiences and memories of each of these cities does not marry up with the visual representations that I saw on the website. I'm going to continue to follow the project as it grows and see whether this continues to be the pattern.