Tuesday, December 27, 2011

#IamLevis Global Casting Call on Instagrm

Interesting idea, but short-sighted to limit it to iPhone users? Excited to see Instagram gain popularity.

Spending time with you is like...


Feel Good by Kleenex - YouTube

Not-your-average-facebook-stunt. Love that Kleenex is building their brand equity purely through actions, not words. Not contrived, overreaching, or intrusive (though I wonder if their method of obtaining addresses is entirely kosher), and delivered on their message more than.... well, a message.

Tanjore - The web is what you make of it - YouTube

From Google India, a great stop-motion angle on their 'The web is what you make of it' campaign.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

[ARTICLE]: Why I Left India (Again)

A car and two bullock carts make their way through traffic in Mumbai.Arko Datta/ReutersA car and two bullock carts make their way through traffic in Mumbai.

The Hindi movie on my “return to India” flight on Dec. 13th, 2006 was “Swades” (literally: “My country,” a story about a patriotic NASA engineer who returns to India to help improve his homeland).

The idea that you can fix India’s problems by adding more people to it — even smart people — is highly suspect. No, I wasn’t going back to fix things; I was leaving the U.S. to go back to Shri Thomas Friedman’s India: an India that offered global companies, continental food, international schools and domestic help; an India that offered freedom from outsourcing and George W. Bush.

I was excited about moving to India and I thought I had the right expectations—after being away for eleven years (I grew up in Mumbai), I was prepared for India to feel less like home and more like the  flight’s “Indian vegetarian meal”: visually familiar but viscerally alien.

Our move was a success by any metric. My wife and I are software professionals, and our careers flourished at an Indian rate of growth (R.I.P., “Hindu rate of growth”). Our daughter attended a preschool in Bangalore whose quality matched any in the Bay Area. Our three-bedroom flat in Defence Colony, Indiranagar, was so comfortable and so American-friendly that my friends called it the Green Zone.

And yet, two years and nine months after our move to India, on one of our regular evening jogs along our impossibly leafy street, my wife and I found ourselves discussing not whether we should return to the U.S., but when.

A month later, we were back in California.

Anyone who’s written about India has at some point claimed that there are two or at most three Indias, whether “airplane India” or “scooter India” or “bullock cart India.” Maybe they stop at three because it is difficult for the reader to imagine more.

Early on, all the metaphors rang true. I’d see bullock-cart India beg from scooter India while scooter India was getting honked at by airplane India.

But then the metaphors started to fade and the daily grind set in. I stopped noticing India’s newness, oldness and juxtapositioned-ness. Within weeks, I had joined the honking swarm driving in Bangalore. I knew a guy who could repair anything from my daughter’s talking Barney to our Bose Wave radio. I could sweet-talk an auto-rickshaw driver into not fleecing me (even though I was Kannada-challenged). Everything felt familiar, normal, unremarkable, as it should be; I was in India.

That’s when it started going wrong.

Three months after our return, after a friend told me that his two children were sick with amoebiasis — he thought they got it from their maid — my wife and I designated a separate set of dinnerware for our maids. It’s more hygienic.

Within six months, I’d brusquely refused my driver an emergency loan of 500 rupees ($10) to attend his grandmother’s funeral. I’d learned my lesson after our previous driver scammed me into paying for his son’s broken leg (as it turned out, he had no son). It only encourages them to ask for more; besides, they’re all liars.

Near the first anniversary of our return, I had my first road-rage incident: I verbally abused a hawker who was blocking the road. I’m not going to let bullock-cart India make my daughter late for her school admission test.

The hawker glared but scampered away, the road cleared, and, as I walked back to my car, I saw something new and disturbing in my driver’s eyes: respect. I don’t know how my daughter felt because I couldn’t look her in the eye.

Was this even a real problem? Make your peace; it is how it is.At the end of a long phone call to my mother in Pune, she said, “Don’t think so much. Just work hard and you can get whatever you want.”

But I never doubted what I could get; I hated what I was becoming.

I struggled, I regressed, I improved, I tried learning from others — except so many seemed (to me, not to them) worse off: an offensive Sardar joke here (even the kids laughed), a not-so-subtle inquiry about my caste (I’m still furious with myself for answering), tips on how to keep our maid “in her place” — it just didn’t stop. Et tu, airplane India?

And so it goes.

In any breakup, there is this moment when a person who was a part of you just an instant ago becomes a surrealistically familiar stranger. After that moment, inertia and denial can only delay the inevitable.

On my last night in Bangalore I drank an egregious amount of my favorite takeout Chinese hot-and-sour vegetable soup, and I cried; I knew this second goodbye was final. When I first left India in 1996, I left for the U.S. When I left India in 2009, I left India.

Why do I feel better in the U.S.? Maybe it’s not because I’m at home here, but because I’m an alien. Perhaps three thousand years of history have made us Indians a little too familiar with one another for our own good. We’ve perfected Malcolm Gladwell’s “blink” — the reflexive, addictive and tragically accurate placement of other Indians into bullock carts, scooters, airplanes and who knows what else. These issues exist in all countries, but in India, I could see the bigotry in high fidelity and hear the stereotypes in surround-sound — partly because it is worse in India, mostly because I am Indian.

India’s wealth and lifestyle disparity is still impossibly great; I probably spent more on pizza than on my maid. She knew this too, because she was often the one who handed the pizza delivery guy his money. Everyone in India has to deal with this, but I coped in the worst possible way: by dehumanizing her and other people like her, ever so slightly, ever so subtly — chronic amoebiasis of the soul.

Though my return to India failed, I came back feeling more optimistic than ever about India’s long-term success. India is regaining her leadership position — the position she held ever since humans were civilized, a position she lost only because of a few uncivilized humans (at least give us back our Koh-i-noor!). I know India will rule the future. It’s just that I’ve realized — I’ve resigned myself to the fact — that I won’t be a part of that future.

I’m glad I went back to India, and I’m glad to be back in the U.S. Life has come full circle but the center has shifted. I didn’t go to India to find home, but I did find it; I now know where I belong. As Laozi might have said, sometimes the journey of a single step starts with a thousand miles in the opposite direction.

(There was no Hindi movie on the flight back to the U.S. Or maybe I didn’t check.)
Sumedh Mungee lives in the United States.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

We Wear the Mask - Dunbar

  Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

              We Wear the Mask

    WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
    It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
    This debt we pay to human guile;
    With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
    And mouth with myriad subtleties.

    Why should the world be over-wise,
    In counting all our tears and sighs?
    Nay, let them only see us, while
            We wear the mask.

    We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
    To thee from tortured souls arise.
    We sing, but oh the clay is vile
    Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
    But let the world dream otherwise,
            We wear the mask!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Little Miss Sunshine

Whale Fall: Poetic Paper-Cutout Animation about the Afterlife of a Whale, Inspired by Radiolab | Brain Pickings

17 OCTOBER, 2011

Whale Fall: Poetic Paper-Cutout Animation about the Afterlife of a Whale, Inspired by Radiolab


75 years of existential generosity, or what the ocean floor can teach us about existence, ego and impermanence.

If you aren’t listening to WNYC’s fantastic Radiolab, you’re missing out on some of the finest science journalism and curiosity-curation of our time. (The folks at the MacArthur Foundation seem to concur, having just awarded Radiolab producer Jad Abumrad () the wildly prestigious “genius” grant.) In an homage to a fascinating recent Radiolab episode about loops, which features an almost-aside about how when a whale dies, its body can sustain an entire microcosm of an ecosystem for up to seven years in a poetic death-life loop, director-animator duo Sharon Shattuk and Flora Lichtman, better known as Sweet Fern Productions, collaborated with Radiolab’s own Lynn Levy on Whale Fall — an equally poetic and absolutely stunning paper-cutout stop-motion animation about the afterlife of a whale.

More than a mere feat of visual storytelling or a nod to nature’s meticulously orchestrated interdependences, the film is also a lyrical reflection on impermanence and our existence as nodes in something larger, richer, and more complex than our individual lives and egos.

Join me in supporting Radiolab’s wonderful work, which continues to inspire and illuminate with equal parts passion and rigor.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

E.E. Cummings

“let it go-the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise-let it go it
was sworn to
let them go-the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers-you must let them go they
were born
to go
let all go-the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things-let all go
so comes love.”

-e.e. cummings

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Newspaper Map (via @veryshortlist)

"The Newspaper Map does exactly what it promises to do: It maps 10,000-plus newspapers all over the world and lets you browse through, and read, every one of them.

You can search by specific location, zoom in on any given area, filter the news outlets by language, or translate foreign papers into English. And if your news fixation’s accompanied by a history fetish, you’ll want to click the “Historial!” button, which links you to the archives of forgotten (but fascinating) papers like the Diario de la Marina (published in Havana from 1899 to 1959), Le Petit Journal (published in Paris from 1863 to 1940), and the Louisiana Capitolian (published in Baton Rouge for just a few years, starting in 1879)."



Visually thrilling and informationally satisfying - The Newspaper Map appeals to the Third Culture Kid in me. Makes world news and global perspective more accessible and well, much more fun!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

[QUOTE] On finding insights..


5 Suggestions For Creative Strategists (via @edwardboches)

Reprinted in entirety. As with most great wisdom, it brings the subconscious into the conscious.


Learn to dissect

Anyone can identify a great idea from the past. It could be a story, a film, an ad, a performance. The tendency sometimes is to replicate it.  After all if it worked once, why not again? But anything done, of course, is old. The trick is to take it apart and break it down. Why did it work? Was it a connection to culture? The way it portrayed a type of person? What it said about the user? It’s use of juxtaposition?  Need practice? Just look at the new VW spot, The Force and figure out why it is so well-liked. It’s not about the car. It’s about the kind of family who owns one,  how they raise their kids, and the joy of small creative moments.  All of those can be replicated without regurgitating the idea.

Master the art of stealing*

This may seem a contradiction, but it’s not.  The trick is to “steal” from somewhere else, outside the world in which you’re actually working. That, of course, means that you seek inspiration from lots of different places.  Museums, theatre, distant culture, science, literature. Can’t get all your ideas from watching YouTube videos, you know.  Here’s one of my all time favorites.  A doodle by Picasso that I discovered on the fourth floor in the Musée Picasso in Paris. Gave me an idea for how to use editorial commentary in new ways and apply it to advertising.  Turned into an ad campaign that successfully launched a new product and won hundreds of creative awards.

* It has recently been brought to my attention that some people may be interpreting this suggestion literally, as in take what you want with no regard for copyright laws or the rights of content creators and owners. That is not my intention at all. I use the word “steal” liberally as is inherent in the thought that “there is nothing new.” The example of “taking” a technique observed in a Picasso doodle and applying it to some other medium is a better example. Perhaps “borrowing,” or “building on” are better terms. Anyway, I hope this adds some clarity.

Find unexpected sources and look below the surface

Teachers are everywhere. Listen to Miles and you learn much of what you need to know about collaboration:  a leader has to keep everything focused on the ultimate goal; learn to get out of the way; surround himself with young talent; let other people shine.  From Atul Gawande, the brilliant surgeon, you can re-think how you get people to change behavior, overcome old habits, and cast aside the blind deferral we sometimes bestow on a single “creative director” who may not always have the right answer.

Seek collisions

I’m thrilled to see that Dave has this thought in his syllabus.  But nothing is more important to a strategist (or a creative thinker).  Ideo shows us how how valuable it is in design thinking and problem solving. It’s already become the driving force behind the best new apps and uses of technology thanks to APIs and what we can to with them. And many of our favorite creative ideas, from Nike’s Chalkbot to Sour’s interactive videos are about crashing things together.  Here’s a talk from Steven Johnson on the very topic.



Observe human from different angles

This is the obvious one, so I don’t really need to talk about it.  But the one suggestion I will offer is this: it’s no longer only about relationships to brands and categories; it’s also about relationships to content, technology, media and most of all, community. So understand the latter as well as the former.  Then start with your customer and what she needs, not your brand and what it wants. Even when it comes to advertising.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

[VIDEO] Be Remarkable.

Reminds me of a Leonard Cohen line - "There's a crack in every thing. That's how the light gets in."


[VIDEO] Michael Wolff: The Muscles of Creativity

Creativity is like silly putty -  you can bend it, knead it, stretch it, and sometimes even break it, but it never stops yielding something new. You can't always put a name to what comes out of it, or even what goes into it, and no two people will ever use it the exact same way. In my world, the most creative moments have been when I've made a concerted effort towards leading a visual life: being actively observant, while forcibly shutting down my overactive left brain.

Here, Michael Wolff describes creativity as the output of three creative muslces: curiosity, appreciation and imagination. A visual life spawning ideas.



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

[VIDEO] Google Chrome: The web is what you make of it

This made me cry. If I wasn't so against it, it would have lasted awhile too.

[VIDEO] Adidas: Derrick Rose Youngest MVP

Even a blind man could have seen this coming. Good to see Adidas capitalizing. Can't wait to see more of these, simply because watching this young man play is a joy and he deserves every ounce of this honor.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunshine & The Blues

I'm starting a new project: Sunshine & The Blues.

The documentation of my self-therapy in the month that follows reconstructive surgery on my ACL. A project that will (ideally) force me off the couch, out of the house, and most importantly, out of my head while I try to recover physically and sustain myself emotionally. The plan is simple: find something new to do (preferably outdoors) for each of the 30 days in June and document it via photography. The perfect excuse to finally learn how to fully use my dSLR, blog more consistently, and give my inner melancholy creative the outlet it so deserves.

Check out the tab at the top of this page to get to the new blog (in June) or use this link here.

Anthropologie and Microfiction



Found this in my inbox today.

What a fantastic idea. Microfiction. For a non-artist like me, this is incredibly appealing. I can't wait to give it a try.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

[VIDEO] Nike Free Yourself

Why was this commercial running online on MTV's Teen Mom 2?

Definitely seemed out of place, though ironically, I fit into the target.

Monday, February 14, 2011

[VIDEO] Zach Wahls Speaks About Gay Family - extremely powerful

Zach Wahls, a 19-year-old University of Iowa student spoke about the strength of his family during a public forum on House Joint Resolution 6 in the Iowa House of Representatives. Wahls has two mothers, and came to oppose House Joint Resolution 6 which would end civil unions in Iowa. A powerful young man at the age of 19. The type of person you can't help but expect to go on and do great things. I, for one, was nowhere close to being the poised, eloquent, powerfully opinionated person you see in this video and makes me feel both immensely proud and woefully small at the same time.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

[VIDEO] It Gets Better

Following a string of suicides stemming from the bullying and harassment of LGBT youth in the USA, journalist/blogger Dan Savage launched the "It Gets Better" project last September. it's purpose is to give messages of hope and assurance to young people who are being tormented because of their sexual orientation that life can indeed "get better" as they transition to adulthood.

Draftfcb's (my employer) LGBT group created a videoas part of this initiative, featuring employees from the U.S. offices sharing their own stories and assurances. This video features many people I know professionally and personally, and I am in awe of their strength of character for opening old wounds to help others in their own struggles.

Super Bowl 2011 Roundup

Watching the Super Bowl last night was an exceptionally intense experience. No, not because the Steelers were on the verge of a come back, nor because I had to watch the Packers win the damn thing, but because I was actually trying to keep up with the brandbowl hashtag on Twitter. Suffice to say, when it was all over, I had to ask someone the final score because I was completely glued to my computer.

Overall, the advertising wasn't the 11-on-a-scale-of-10 that I was expecting (big surprise), but there were a few (and I mean, very very few) brands that rose to the occasion.

Let's start with the best:

Volkswagen: The Force

Bridgestone: Reply All

NFL: Best. Fans. Ever

CarMax: Kid in A Candy Store

Chevy Camaro: Voiceover

Motorola: Xoom

And now for the worst:

I'm not going to bother posting them all, but let's just go ahead and throw everything Bud Light did into the 'Worst' category. With the possible exception of the product placement spot, their work was cringe-worthy at best, and all-out disastrous (talking dogs, really?) at worst.

Bud Light: Dog Sitter

Chatter.com: Black Eyed Peas

Forget their poor choice of endorsement (further proven by the screamfest of a halftime show), these commercials failed to give me even an inkling of what chatter.com was for/about. A fellow brandbowler offered up this link by way of explanation: (via @donnyo)

Groupon: Tibet

The only thing Groupon achieved with this spot is, as @rohitbhargava put it, pay $3M to lose customers who previously loved them.

Chevy Cruze: Status Update

Designed with all your Facebook needs in mind. Because I'm so insecure that I need to check what my date is saying about me as I'm driving away.

Skechers: Kim Kardashian

This made me cringe visibly. You're so much prettier with your mouth shut, Kim.

GoDaddy: Joan Rivers

Why GoDaddy, Why? Save the money and your image, get out of the superbowl.

Hyundai Elantra: Deprogramming

This just made my head hurt, plain and simple.

And finally, the now infamous spot that rocketed to the top of the charts:

Chevy: Imported from Detroit

I understand why it got the reaction it did, I really do, but I can't say that it was strategically on-point for Chrysler. Yes, undoubtedly the creative is captivating and yes, the copy is extremely rousing, but what is it really selling me on? Maybe the recovering U.S. automaking industry, definitely the good people and the grand city of the Detroit, but Chrysler cars? I'm not convinced.

Friday, February 4, 2011

[PRESENTATON] Ideas Ideas Ideas

Clever, succint, visual and understandable sans voiceover. What more could you want in a presentation ala slideshare?


Friday Music Finds: Natasha Bedingfield - Weightless

Being angsty really never gets old, does it?


VW takes on Star Wars

A grin, a giggle, a bubble of warmth. The exact spectrum of emotion I experienced while watching this.


I remember vividly the day I watched my first Star Wars movie; lying belly down on the carpet, four feet from the television, noshing on popcorn and soda, trying to follow along. Reminds me that childhood is a shared human experience - maybe not in entirety, but in fractal pieces. In some way, I have relived part of my parent's lives just as my children will relive part of mine. While context will continue to evolve, content will live on.

Friday Music Finds: Susan Enan - Bring On The Wonder

Courtesy of Bones (2008):

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WTF Should I Do With My Life?

Let a website decide for me, of course.

I "hell no'd" getting married in favor of this. Right decision, methinks.

So Gay..

Finally, a banner ad done right. This unconvential ad is great because it's non-intrusive, yet eye-catching. It searches Twitter in real-time, and has options for different "words" that highlight how hatred is spread in cyber-space.





Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Adidas: Winning Is Easy

The story of a boy who overcomes physical abuse from an alcoholic father, growing up to be as aspiring Olympian in track and field. His interest in running is sparked by a chance discovery of an abandoned pair of adidas running shoes.

This emotionally charged piece exemplifies what I now consider to be Adidas' style. It's stunning, memorable, and inspiring for the everyday athlete.. much like another giant shoe retailer.

Spanair: Unexpected Luggage [video]

Nothing like a little humanity from a brand to bring a smile to your face. Too bad more brands don't just put people first - all people - just for the sake of it. No hidden agendas.



Oh, hey..

Spanair: Unexpected Luggage [video]

Nothing like a little humanity from a brand to bring a smile to your face. Too bad more brands don't just put people first - all people - just for the sake of it. No hidden agendas.



Feltrinelli Books: Reading Means Resisting

Feltrinelli is an Italian publisher; they’ve set their slogan to “Reading means resisting”. With this beautiful illustration they visualise the slogan perfectly, when you are reading one of the Feltrinelli books you can resist all the ‘noise’ from the outside, you will only read and nothing else. The packs of money and the Dollar signs are a nice variation in the whole. (via @CreativeCrmnls)