Monday, December 13, 2010

The B10

Awhile ago, I posted about the Big Ten's logo issue with adding a few more teams. Their old logo reflected the 11th edition with a nice, subtle 11 within the logo. Well, the new logo was unveiled and unfortunately, it's not nearly as sweet as the old logo's negative space 11.

Old logo
Apparently foreseeing that the number of teams in the Big Ten conference will continue to change over the years, the organization has simply reverted to a B10 reference within the logo. See the I in Big is really a one? And then the G is formed to look like a 0? It took me awhile to figure it out. I saw the 1 right away, but didn't catch the 0 until I saw the B10/BIG logo with the B in black. It doesn't really have the same purpose or point as the 11 did in the old logo, but oh well. It could've been worse.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


At least that's what the F.D.A. wants to make sure you realize every time you pick up a pack of cigarettes. They just released some of the new warning labels for cigarette packs and they are quite the jump up from the old Surgeon General's warning.

But will they work?

This article in the New York Times references that research shows this type of communication does work to deter smoking. They remind me of the warnings I remember seeing on cigarette packs in Europe. That was years ago and apparently they've gotten even more graphic since I was reading (and I'll admit, laughing at) the warnings on those labels. Europe, and other countries in general, tend to have much more shocking PSAs than we do.

That being said, those strong warnings in Europe don't seem to be doing anything to help the problem. The U.S. is decidedly less smoke friendly than Europe—at least from my experience. I have a hard time believing that teenagers drawn to smoking won't just make fun of these. I hope they don't, I hope it hits home, but I'm really not sure that it will.

What do you think?

Friday, October 29, 2010

The (Twitter) Empowered Consumer

I just got the upgrade to Adobe CS5 yesterday. Yep, it was a pretty sweet day—until Photoshop CS5 started crashing my computer regularly. I couldn't do anything. I had to constantly restart my entire computer and with a few deadlines looming, my patience with the program got really short, really fast.

After talking with IT, it looked like all I needed was some upgrades, so I managed to work around it yesterday afternoon to hit my end of day deadlines and planned to update first thing this morning. IT graciously updated my computer early this morning before I even got in. Unfortunately, it didn't do a thing.

By crash number four of the morning, I was royally ticked.

What did I do? Well I tweeted my frustration of course. My computer was restarting—again—so I pulled out my iPhone and let Adobe have it—hash tagging everything I could. I wanted anyone considering the upgrade to know this was a very bad potential issue. That and I knew Adobe would here it—if they were social media smart.

Well darned if a guy from Adobe hadn't responded by the time my Firefox was up and running again. Good job Adobe. He also managed to steer me, and IT, to some links that eventually fixed the problem. It still took some sweat and some cursing before it managed to work quite right, but throughout I was able to communicate with someone from Adobe. He even offered to get someone in touch to work through the problem when things were not looking good.

The customer service component of Twitter is quite the phenomenon. Seriously, if you aren't on Twitter, you really should be—just for this aspect if nothing else. And if you're a brand that's not monitoring tweets like mine, you really should be—it can quickly escalate. Just ask Motrin.

The best part about Twitter-style customer service is the timing, the lightening speed that you get in contact with someone—no phone menus involved. The first time I experienced it was at a local restaurant that had built its business with Twitter—they sponsor local Tweet Ups, etc. I'll admit, I originally went there since I'd heard so much about it on Twitter. Well, it was my first time there and my dessert really sucked—it was a giant cookie and it was completely overcooked and dry. I'm not the type to outright tell my waitress that the dessert sucked, but I did tweet about it. The response was immediate—like within a few minutes. Unfortunately I didn't check my phone until I was on the way home, but I was able to express my annoyance and clearly have it heard and got an apology and a sincere effort to keep me as a customer. It made me much more likely to return.

What's the moral? Twitter is fast becoming the best way for customers to interact with their brands. It brings the brands to a somewhat personal level—even if you're just tweeting back and forth with the brand name. They have a personality and if it's done right, it really can make you feel like a valued customer, no matter how ticked you are.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Gap's Brand Boomerang

Original Logo
New Logo
A little over a week ago the Gap suddenly announced a new logo. A very generic logo that boiled down their iconic brand to typeset Helvetica and a blue box. I wasn't a particular fan—my immediate reaction was why? Why do this to your simple, yet effective blue box? A simple Helvetica typeset only improves a logo if it was hideous or too busy to begin with—and that was simply not the case here. All it does is make it extremely generic.

I intended to post about it immediately, though a busy schedule both in and out of work prevented me from really having time to collect my thoughts about it. As luck would have it consumers on Twitter and Facebook ranted plenty for me and shockingly, the Gap did an about face last Tuesday, announcing that they were ditching their new logo in favor of the old one. Thank goodness.

Of course, that was after they ran a crowd sourcing campaign to design their new logo. Crowd sourcing is a cool idea, but maybe not the right approach for your core brand identity—you get a lot of crappy logos. Check out Brand New's post on it, they highlight some of the pieces. And if you scroll down, they'll give you a taste of exactly how generic that new Gap logo really was—by applying the same treatment to a number of other iconic brands. It made me laugh.

Kudos to Gap for swallowing their pride and relenting that what was probably months of hard work was misguided and hated by their target audience (assuming the whole thing was not a big publicity stunt as some have suggested). It really is an interesting study on the power of social media in today's consumer market. Everywhere from brands to politics, one false move can create an enormous wave of bad publicity and anger from the people you're trying to please.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Does This Guerilla Marketing Campaign Help or Hurt?

Guerilla marketing is a tricky, but coveted thing in the world of advertising. It can be a highly effective tool, but it in this particular case I'm not so sure. In the grand tradition of shock value PSAs in foreign countries, Canada has this latest one attempting to keep people from speeding.

I first saw this via a friend's facebook post asking a similar question, and if you go by the comments on the Boing Boing post, most people think this campaign will actually have the opposite effect. Speculation ranged from The Boy Who Cried Wolf to possible accidents occurring from someone trying to avoid the girl in the street.

What do you think? Would it cause you to slow down?

**UPDATE: Apparently the decal was removed after one week**

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Promise of HTML5

I'm not a developer. I learned some HTML and CSS back in school in the days of HTML tables and Flash was the only way to break out of that. Oh, how long ago that was. Now we have CSS3 and @fontface and the web's design capabilities keep growing. I try to keep up on the latest developments since they are really quite exciting, but without getting your hands dirty it's hard to always understand the details and implications of new advancements in web capabilities until you actually see them in use. For awhile now, however, I've been hearing over and over again about how HTML5 is going to change the face of web, and if you listen to Steve Jobs, make Flash a dinosaur. People go back and forth on that argument, but regardless, HTML5 will change web design significantly and I've just seen the first real example pointing that direction.

A friend posted this music video on his blog saying it was the coolest music video of all time, so I clicked of course. To my disappointment, it only runs on Google Chrome, which I had not yet installed (in protest to Google for waiting months to release a Mac version after the initial PC-only release).  So I went, downloaded Chrome and in that download time, promptly forgot about it until this morning when I noticed the Google Chrome icon sitting there in my dock. So I finally clicked through to the site and watched the video. It's quite cool—and well worth the extra steps of downloading Chrome. I suggest you go watch it here (sorry, it's just too unique to embed in this blog).

Have you watched it? I love two aspects of this video. One is the customization and coordination with Google Earth—not totally unexpected since you have to enter the address, but still, the animation being incorporated into the custom Google Earth imagery is awesome. Second, the choreographed windows opening and closing as the video plays is a really dynamic way to present. Plus the animation is Can you imagine the possibilities with online presentations in the future?

The animation is built in HTML5 too, not Flash, using HTML5 Canvas 3D, it interacts with you mouse and the music. Ridiculous. You can read about the behind the scenes here, but this makes me very excited for the future of web design.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pepsi's Successful CSR Program

Earlier this year, Pepsi announced a $20 million corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign, in lieu of its traditional Super Bowl sponsorship, called the Pepsi Refresh Project.

The program essentially gives monthly grants to different organizations or ideas that are chosen via online voting by the general public. It's like a social responsibility idea generation site funded by a major soft drink company. Anyone can submit an idea and anyone can vote. Pretty cool. There are a four different monetary categories that an idea can compete in from $5,000 to $250,000 and Pepsi awards the top winners in each category—how many top ideas depends on the monetary amount (i.e. many more $5,000 idea projects are funded than $250,000 projects).

So far the level of engagement is huge! It's a challenge just to get your idea in the running (they only accept so many ideas per month for voting) and then the voting competition is fierce. It's great to see so much engagement between a company, it's consumers and a wide variety of charities and community projects.

Okay, I'm gushing a little, but I'm a fan of CSR programs. Some people write them off as merely green washing large corporations to make them feel friendlier, and sure, most companies aren't going to participate in such a program unless they see some sort of ROI, but even so, don't you like seeing corporate money going to good causes? I do.

Shameless Plug
So I've never done this on the blog before, but I am going to give a shameless plug for a cause competing in the Pepsi Refresh Project this month. I know some of the people involved with the Global Genes Project, which is working with the Children's Rare Disease Network for their Pepsi Refresh idea. Essentially, the Global Genes Project aspires to serve as an awareness and funding platform for rare diseases. Rare diseases suffer in these areas simply because they're each so rare, but if you add up all of the rare diseases and the number of people affected by them, you start to get more significant numbers. Therefore the Global Genes Project is a way for many smaller rare disease charities to work together toward mutual goals. Pretty cool idea honestly and it's up for the $250,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant to help jump start it (the Global Genes initiative is only about a year old). If you're so inclined, please check out where they'll show you three different ways you can vote in the Pepsi Refresh Project for the idea. It's currently around #23 and only the top two ideas get the grant. You get up to 10 votes per day, so you can vote for other ideas too. Check it out!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Should Brands Really Be Politicking?

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court made a wildly unpopular decision to eliminate the limitations for corporate entities' campaign contributions. Essentially, any corporation or union can give as much money as they like to any candidate this election season—and we're starting to see some of the consequences. We will inevitably go through a long, annoying season of terrible, often misleading tv, radio, online ads and robo calls.

Bad advertising aside, the new law change seems to have brought about more controversial corporate donations. Perhaps it's just more scrutiny on those donations, but brands beware—consumers are watching who you're giving political money to and they may not always agree with you.

Take the recent news with Target. About a week or so ago, gay rights groups and other liberals learned that Target had given $150,000 to the conservative Republican, anti-gay candidate and they got upset. Very upset. Boycotts were organized, flash mobs popped up and the controversy has made it into the top national news. Oops. It's an interesting move on Target's part since they target pretty young (which often translates into liberal), trendy consumers. Perhaps they thought no one would notice? Best Buy also gave to the candidate, and while not feeling the heat quite as much as Target, they're not being spared either.

Similarly, I heard a story on NPR last night discussing how News Corp. (owner of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, among others) had donated $1 million to the GOP, but not a dime to the Democrats. This is a little different since the owner of News Corp., Rupert Murdoch, is already widely known for his strong conservatives views and some of his news outlets and well known for their already conservative bend. On the flip side, they are news organizations that are supposed to be unbiased, right?

In the NPR story, GE (which owns NBC, CNBC and MSNBC) was given as an example of a company that did political giving right. It gave exactly the same amount to both parties for the hotly contested governor's race in Wisconsin. On the flip side, Comcast gave money to both parties, but it gave more to the Democrats.

So should brands really be dipping their pocketbooks into politics? I don't think so. If you're a brand and want to support the political system, or even a specific candidate, you're going to have to give to both parties or risk alienating customers. In today's very polarized political climate I think a lot a people will stay more loyal to their politics than their brands. What do you think?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Old Spice, W+K and the Invention of Real Time Advertising

If you haven't heard about the Old Spice campaign from the brilliant minds at Wieden + Kennedy, you must have unplugged yourself from the internet or boycotted all social media outlets. The hilarious, real time social media campaign has taken the internet by storm, confounding industry creatives with the speed and quantity of responses.

If you're unfamiliar with the campaign, here's the gist. Old Spice has a character called Isaiah Mustafa (from their TV spots) who has nice abs (and knows it), sits around in a towel all day charming ladies (and gents) in that cheesy, suave ladies man kind of way. What W+K did was make this character instantly accessible by having 30 to 60 second videos of him posted to YouTube that actually answered questions and comments from consumers that were posted on Twitter and Facebook (and even Yahoo! Questions)—in real time.

It's a campaign that's taken social media advertising to an entirely new level. Instead of using Twitter and Facebook to mostly respond to crises or user comments and complaints, or even to sometimes run a contest or game, it's actually letting users interact with a brand's character via video. Everyone in the industry marveled at the mere ability to turn around cleverly written videos so quickly. W+K isn't revealing all their secrets behind the productions, but W+K's global interactive creative director, Iain Tait, sheds a little light on their process in this Fast Company post. They were able to produce nearly 100 custom spots in a day based on their plan and strategy for a quick turn around. There's been much speculation as to how they wrote so quickly. I'm guessing some of the situations he acts out were already pre-written with props that went with them and just tweaked to be customized, but some of the responses and definitely written on the fly—like the response to taming wild whales. At any rate it feels like customized, real time responses like the Burger King Subservient Chicken campaign did years ago. It's just revamped and on a new level and actually responding in real time, to some extent anyway, where the Subservient Chicken was more or less very cleverly written code and video. Like the Subservient Chicken campaign did years ago, it's also blown the current standards of internet interaction with your customers out of the water and given agency creatives everywhere a brilliant social media campaign to aspire to. Bravo!

Sadly, the responses have ended after two days of custom replies—Mr. Mustafa has to sleep sometime you know—but is this the new social media advertising of the future? Would a stunt like this ever work quite as well again?

The spots range from responses to the likes of Demi Moore and Alyssa Milano and @biz (the founder of Twitter) to a marriage proposal (she said yes). If you haven't seen the videos check out the YouTube channel or some of the ones I've selected below. They'll give you a good laugh.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why, Y?

If you haven't already heard, the YMCA has officially embraced its nickname The Y (note the web address though). Maybe it's just me, but I don't love that idea as much as I think I should. It becomes less personable when it's the real name and not a generally accepted nickname. They could have just made it an official nickname or slogan or something and kept the official name. I mean future generations eventually won't know what the song YMCA is referring to! (kidding)

The naming aside, the Y also updated their logo. Interestingly enough, their new logo actually has YMCA in it (as well as a tacked on 'the') where the old logo was just a Y, which is partly how it got its nickname. So now that YMCA is no longer the official name, it's suddenly important enough to include in the logo? It's a little odd, don't you think?

Parts of the new logo are okay. Parts of it are not. As Brand New stated in their review,
The evolution is clear: From a hard-angled, tough-looking logo to a round-edged, soft-looking logo that plays well with the rest of the identities of the twenty-first century in pretty much all capacities. It is bubblier, it is lowercase, it has gradients, and it comes in various flavors. Unfortunately, all of the changes feel a tad gratuitous in the final execution.
In other words, it has a genericized early 21st century look to it. Notice the soft pillow gradients that were rather needlessly applied? They complement the rounded corners so well. (gag) Nothing against rounded corners, but that combo appears in 90% of all web icons and is far too generic and over-used to actually be used in a logo. Yuck. I do like the logo better when it's presented in one color. Then it just a modification of the shape, which works much better I think. 

Even without the cliche pillow gradients, the color choices are very questionable. We have lots of options. It kind of reminds me of the 2012 London Olympics logo in that way—although the designers of this logo clearly didn't remember all the bad press the London logo got for it's 80's neon color schemes. They may vary, but they're all pretty bright, and very trendy, colors. Not the best idea for long term branding. I suppose they're trying to make the logo young and hip, but 5-10 years from now those colors will be anything but hip. The 2012 logo can kind of get away with it simply because it's meant to be trendy to the times and after the Olympics it'll be outdated anyway—a keepsake to the time and place of the event. But that's not the the same for a brand, so the trendiness reflects poor long term judgment. Especially for a brand that's been as iconic as the original Y logo. Yes, it needed some updating—it screamed retro 60's, but still, those new colors are quite the leap.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Map to the power of Quest?

When was the last time you used MapQuest? Anyone? I think the last time I ventured to that site was through a link on an out of date website. Any other time, I'm all about Google Maps. That's not to say Google Maps is perfect, it's not. Google has led me to the complete wrong location a couple of times, but in the past few years, regardless of Google Maps' mistakes it has swept the internet mapping market. I want to say the shift began when Google introduced Street View and continued as Google Maps was automatically included on iPhones and Blackberrys. Then came walking and biking directions, the ability to shift your route, automatically giving you alternate routes and times and the live traffic feed.

Well, MapQuest has finally revamped, a couple of years late, but they're trying nonetheless. They have a new logo and a revdesigned website. First off, the new logo is definitely an improvement. I like it, thought as mentioned in Brand New's review, I originally saw M to the Q, which I really liked, until the video showed me the little MQ creature thing. Now that's all I see and I kind of liked the other direction better. Oh well. The logo itself seems to be molded around being a good icon, like an iPhone or iPad icon, which is a little different, but smart approach. The new logo overall is secondary to how the MQ functions as an icon and all in all, much improved.

The new MapQuest website is also much improved, though the real question is if it can recapture some of Google Maps market share. The revamping makes me want to give it a shot again, but unless it proves to be significantly more accurate than Google Maps, a switch back is doubtful. While they've finally incorporated some of the perks of Google Maps, like traffic and street view (though Google's is on a larger scale). They've also copied a few other features like customizable printed maps. While MapQuest is touting some of it's features that Google doesn't have, like saving your own maps, they're relatively small things I don't see a huge amount of use for. The little icon buttons that show ATMs and Gas Stations are nice though—I can definitely see the use for that if I needed something like that on the go, however, I see that mostly useful for a phone app and other popular applications, like Siri, already have that covered. The biggest lack in the new design, is if they were going to copy so much of Google's features, they really should have worked in the walking, public transporation and biking directions that Google has. Honestly, I think those are one of Google's best features.

Overall, the website, logo and icon are nicely designed, but in terms of functionality, it's hard not to feel like MapQuest is trying desperately to play catch up to Google Maps. What do you think?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Volvo's Strategy Eclipses Last Twilight Contest

So Volvo running another contest to win a Volvo surrounding this summer's release of latest Twilight movie, Eclipse. They ran a similar contest last year with a series of puzzles, released systematically over time, that you needed to complete in order to win the Volvo. It was a fun idea and Volvo definitely made the puzzles sufficiently challenging. (Of course the internet gave you the answers to the earlier puzzles eventually.) You had to complete all of the earlier puzzles in order to have access to the final puzzle. The final puzzle was then a timed competition. The first person in each country (or continent, I don't remember which) won a new Volvo. The only problem was this high intensity Flash puzzle had technical issues like crazy (even when the server wasn't overwhelmed) and there wasn't nearly enough bandwidth for everyone trying to compete when the final puzzle went live. I don't think that 'first to complete' tactic worked well and cyberspace was filled with car-winning hopefuls verbalizing their annoyance with staring at a loading sign while someone else won the car.

Volvo is running a similar contest this year, though it seems they've changed up the logistics a bit (hopefully). So far, there is only one puzzle which you need to complete to be eligible to compete in the final puzzle for the car. However, instead of having a puzzle with a clear answer and a message telling you that you passed, this puzzle could have many different options. Essentially it's a maze through Forks and you need to find the shortest route from the maze start to the Cullen's house.Obviously the first step is to find the Cullen's house in the maze, but after that, you need to make sure that you have the shortest route. You submit your entry when you reach the Cullen's house, but they don't tell you if you got it right. Nope. I'm guessing due to the amount of cyber-cheating going on that they won't confirm correct answers until after the puzzle has closed. I'm sure that won't stop answer sharing, but it'll probably curb it, or produce a number of incorrect answers being circulated. We'll see.

Hopefully, Volvo also learned the 'first to finish' thing doesn't often work all that well on the web. We'll see when the next step occurs.

If you want to give the maze a shot, check out It's a fun little game, but quite the challenge if you really want to find the shortest route.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Steer Clear of Guerilla Marketing at the World Cup

Unless you're an official sponsor, guerilla marketing tactics are not welcome at the World Cup. Take note of Dutch beer maker, Bavaria, and their run-ins with FIFA over "ambush marketing" tactics at the World Cup. The crime? 36 women at the Dutch-Netherlands match wearing orange mini dresses. No logos, just a color (see how important color is for a brand?). They apparently got in trouble 4 years ago at the Germany-hosted World Cup as well, when a group of men in orange lederhosen with the name Bavaria on them, were forced to remove the costumes and watch the game in their underwear.

Apparently Bavaria claims it was not a marketing stunt they were trying to pull, though they are legally and financially backing the two orange mini dress clad women who were arrested for the stunt.

It's a little sad that fun guerilla marketing can't happen at the World Cup, though when you realize that each half has no advertising, it makes sense that FIFA would be so protective of their sponsors. Does anyone know if this has ever been an issue at the Olympics?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Big

Let me preface this post with the fact that sports and general sports knowledge is not my strong suit, but when my very sports knowledgeable boss mentioned this to me, I decided it needed a post.

This is probably not news to you (although it was to me) that the Big Ten is not, in fact, ten teams. It is actually a group of eleven teams—mind blowing, I know. The Big Ten didn't want to lose equity in it's name when they became eleven teams, but also (probably) thought it was inappropriate to suggest that there were only ten teams, so a designer simply fixed the logo to show an eleven in the negative space. Pretty cool.

Here's the rub though (and where my sports knowledge is lacking). For some reason or another (someone can comment and fill me in on the details), the Big Ten is going to be adding even more teams. Maybe up to twelve—or maybe significantly more than that. They still have the problem of the Big Ten name containing all the equity, but soon they won't have anywhere close to ten teams. So what do you do about the logo? That chic little negative space trick isn't going to work anymore, but they can't keep the logo as is either. Now it's kind of expected that they reference the true number of teams in the conference. What's a designer to do? Check out this blog for some ideas.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Moulin Rouge Embraces the Windmill

The Moulin Rouge, Paris's famous cabaret, has a new identity and I must say I'm a fan. If you're familar with the Moulin Rouge, you know its visually distinctive feature is the giant red windmill that's stood since the cabaret's inception in 1889. The name actually means 'Red Mill' in french so it seems wholly appropriate for the logo to reflect that.
The difference between the old and new logos is pretty drastic. The old one has a kind of haphazard feel to it and the lipstick marks seems to play up the cabaret's can-can and striptease origins, whereas the new logo has a much more sophisticated look to it. The new logo plays up the windmill landmark but gives the overall feel of a higher end establishment. Both fit since the Moulin Rouge is a large tourist attraction and at around 100€ a ticket with dress code rules, it needs that classier outward appearance. I actually went to the Moulin Rouge a few years ago and saw the show. It's really mostly dance numbers with elaborate costumes and staging and sometimes the dancers are topless. It's still a classy show, so the new logo feels more appropriate.

What do you think?

via (Brand New)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bill Cosby Teams Up With Jell-O, Again

Who doesn't remember those 80's commercials Bill Cosby did for Jell-O pudding?

Apparently Cosby worked with Jell-O from 1974 through the 1999 but it's still been over ten years since then. The duo is teaming up again for a new Jell-O campaign next month. They will be kicking off a 22-city tour looking for the best giggle in the country. Just the reminder of the old Cosby-Jell-O commercials made me smile. The only drawback to this reunion is that Cosby is going to be behind the camera only, producing apparently, and I'd love to see him in front of the camera as well.

All of LOST in 140 Characters or Less

If you've ever watched Lost or even heard about Lost, you know it's a twisted, complicated show that's captured millions of viewers—and it's ending on Sunday. The Atlantic is running a fun little competition asking people to tweet a summary of the whole show within Twitter's infamous 140 character limit. That's a bit of a challenge. I think it'd be difficult to summarize a single episode in that little space. The prize is simply a year subscription to The Atlantic magazine, but the real draw is the challenge of it.

Want to participate? Tag your tweet with #Lost140 or you can comment on their website. Here are a few of my favorites:

 David Lynch is finally given full writing, editing and directing control of Gilligan's Island. #Lost140 (@jpallan)

Disproportionate number of good-looking people on same plane. Crash. More good-looking people show up. Things go badly. Wonder why. #Lost140  (@VickyPaige)

Good vs. Evil, for all the magnets. #lost140 (@evanhr)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Adobe vs. Apple

If you have an iPhone or iPad, or you're just up on your tech news, you know that they infamously don't support Flash. iPhone users have been hounding Apple since the iPhone debuted to support the program so they could browse Flash based sites on their mobile phones and the iPad's debut just magnified the issue. For the longest time, consumers just assumed it was software issue that Apple would no doubt eventually overcome. They waited and waited in vain. Steve Jobs came out last month with an open letter as to why the iPhone and iPad do not, and never will, support Flash. He's makes a couple of good points and mostly blames Adobe for not adapting. Jobs asserts that HTML 5 will have enough functionality like Flash to appease most of his iPhone and iPad users.
Well Adobe didn't take that very well. Earlier this week they launched a campaign that scolds Apple their exclusion. It's an interesting little rift between two companies who, at least in my little design world, go hand-in-hand in making my job easier. I'm not such a fan of Jobs dismissing the idea of ever supporting Flash. Even if HTML 5 reduces the need for Flash, it will be awhile before the functionality and usefulness of Flash goes away completely. What do you think?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Creative Job Hunting

Closer to the beginning of the recession, we blogged about a local guy putting up a billboard off of a busy freeway advertising how he needs a job. It was bold and unique enough to get a decent amount of PR from the local news and radio stations.

Alec Brownstein, a copywriter in New York, completely outdid that idea. He used Google advertising to target some of the best creative directors in the city. Check it out:

(via Direct Daily)

Friday, May 7, 2010

United and Contintenal Airlines: Name vs. Logo

On Monday, United and Continental Airlines merged. You probably read about it in the news and maybe you even saw the 'new' logo. The way they've handled the naming and visual aspects of the new company is a little too simple. Essentially they kept the name United, but with the Continental logo. A fair trade off? A good way to merge two companies with brand equity and keep a bit of both? Maybe from a PR standpoint, but not from a brand perspective.

The new logo itself feels wrong. It's enough that the ditched the better of the two logos (and the one still using its original Saul Bass design), but just swapping out the name Continental for United without any other visual change makes the logo feel more like a gag design than a new, merged company logo. I get that both Continental and United are major airline brands and want to keep that equity through the merger, this wasn't quite the way to do it. As much as I'm not a fan of the new MillerCoors logo, at least it had the right idea. I'd rather have a United Contintental Airlines with a new logo that this weird little mash up. Brand New makes an interesting point about how this logo doesn't work mostly because it has brand equity.
What’s funny is that if this were a new airline, and we didn’t have the accumulated associations of both brands we would just say it’s boring and move on, but it’s impossible to see the new logo and not feel that there is something inherently wrong with this equation. In all likelihood we will see a new logo in the next year or two, unless they have started painting planes—in which case we are screwed.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fully Acknowledging the Scam Ad

I've written before about the annoying, yet common practice among ad agencies of running ads just for the sake of making them award show eligible. If you're in the business, you've seen it done. Perhaps the agency even footed the bill, because winning those awards give the agencies and the creatives something to brag about. 

10 advertising was looking for a Creative Director and figured some of the best creative directors are those chosen to judge awards shows. So how do you get them to know you're looking? Better yet, how do you get them interested in working for you? By showing how creative your agency can be. That's exactly what 10 advertising did when they created a tiny little ad that ran in the cheapest magazine just so they could enter it in the CCB awards and get their message out to all the judges. Which, just in case they missed the point, is fully explained in their award show entry (below).

Clever, very clever.

(via Direct Daily)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Real Cost of Drinking and Driving

Ogilvy Brazil has a great new PSA guerilla campaign reminding bar goers of the real cost of drinking and driving by adding those costs to their bar tab. They actually did this in a bar in Brazil. Check out the video below:

(via Direct Daily)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Applebee's Jumps On Calorie Bandwagon

In light of the new national law requiring restaurant chains with 20 or more locations to post the calorie content of their food, Applebee's has an interesting new marketing angle for their menu—the under 550 Calorie menu. While this not a new law for California and New York, or even a new direction for Applebee's, I like what they're doing and they're the first ones I've seen advertising a calorie specific menu.

Applebee's had (and maybe still has) a Weight Watcher's menu that also provided healthier choices, but if you weren't in Weight Watcher's it meant little. You basically assumed you were getting something healthier that what was on the rest of the menu. A calorie specific menu, however, is something everyone can relate to whether you're dieting or not. The menu items look pretty good too, even if the commercials don't.

I'm sure more marketing campaigns like this one will start appearing as we get closer to when the law goes into affect, but Applebee's is a full year ahead of the game. Unfortunately, as much as I like the marketing idea for a calorie specific menu, the actual campaign and creative leaves much to be desired. I expect chain restaurant commercials to have that all-too-familar uber-friendly, cheesy vibe the concepts behind these two commercials were just lame.

Regardless of the mediocre creative, I think Applebee's is on to something.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Nestle Crunch gets creative with fun hotline promo

Nestle has done something quite refreshing: It's made the always-dreaded automated caller system highly enjoyable.

To promote its Crunch candy bar, Nestle's developed some fun options on its 1-800 hotline menu. But they're not explicitly sharing the secret of calling this phone number as in the recent US Cellular commercials--it's only been passed virally through Facebook. I hadn't heard of the fun until a Facebook friend of mine posted this yesterday:

"TAKE A MINUTE AND DO THIS! Call the Nestle Hot line at 1-800 295-0051. When asked if you want to continue in English or Spanish, wait quietly for about 10
seconds and you will smile. Keep going and press 4. Then press 7. Don't give
away the surprise. Whoever thought of this at Nestle... deserves a raise and a
pocket full of sunshine!! Totally worth it!!!!! Enjoy"

It also seems that it's not new. This article about it was written back in November.

I'd recommend calling, perhaps a few times. Follow the instructions above, or take your own adventure. Just don't be surprised if you get a busy signal--seems it's pretty popular lately. You can also shortcut and hear the fun here:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Shamrock Shake In the Chicago River

This post from Direct Daily on Leo Burnett's Sharock Shake installation for McDonald's spilling into the Chicago River. Mostly I'm reposting it since I love Shamrock Shakes and the photo made me smile, but it's also a clever little installation to play off of Chicago's annual dying the river green for St. Patrick's Day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Typography Tip #4: Learn About Leading

Leading is a key component to good typography. Whether you know what it is or not, you use it every time you set type. If you live in the world of Microsoft Word, you know it as single spacing vs double spacing. In the land of typography beyond that of Microsoft Word, there are significantly more options.

The word leading comes from the old school typesetting days when type characters were individually set by hand and those lines of characters were separated by slabs of lead of varying thicknesses. Like font size, leading is measured in points.

In Typography Tip #3, I discussed using smaller type to achieve a better typographic look. Well that concept goes hand in hand with properly using leading. A smaller point size doesn't help you much if you don't give it room to breathe. In my first post, introducing this series, I discussed how poorly set type can actually tire your eyes and poor leading is often the culprit.

A lot of understanding leading is really training your eyes to see when type feels too close together or too airy. As mentioned in a comment on Typography Tip #3, 10 point type with 14 point leading is a great place to start when setting body copy. Another thing to keep in mind is that san serif fonts (like Helvetica) typically need more leading than serif fonts (like Times New Roman). Check out the examples below to see how much leading can affect good typography.

So start playing around with different leading and point sizes and see what happens!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blatant Logo Rip Off

I read this article Yahoo! this morning and simply thought, "Wow, who could be so stupid?" Essentially, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Oregon, Marc Delphine, was using a logo donated by apparently some designer associated with whoever designed his website. Well, that's nice and all except that it's a blatant rip off of the Columbus Blue Jackets NHL team. Oops.

(The logo on the right is the Columbus Blue Jackets logo and the one on the left is the Marc Delphine logo.)

Essentially the designer just took the logo and flipped it. Really? Did the designer really think that was going to pass trademark infringement? Even a non-designer should know better! It's pretty common knowledge that you can't just take a trademarked logo and adopt it for your own purposes. The designer even went to the extent to tell the senate candidate that the logo's shape evoked the D from his last name. Right... Or you just stole what was a C for Columbus and flipped it.

Shame on you unnamed designer. And shame on you Marc Delphine. While I can't totally blame him since he simply used a logo someone donated and thought it was such a nice gesture, he really should have done a trademark search before using it.

Apparently, the Blue Jackets were alerted to the infringement via Twitter. Oh the small world social media creates.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Typography Tip #3: Use A Smaller Point Size

Back when you were typing papers in high school you were told to write in double spaced 12 pt. Times New Roman type. Yuck. Okay, the double spacing make some sense in school since it gives the teacher ample space to write notes, but you never see it in the real world. Luckily, most people leave double spacing when they leave school, but unfortunately the same cannot be said for point size when setting type.

12 point type is not the average type size you see day to day. To be honest, it varies a bit since each font. For example, san serif fonts, like Arial, tend to be larger than serif fonts, like Times New Roman. 10 point type is a good rule of thumb for body copy size for most fonts. Of course this varies a bit based on what, and where, you're writing. It's a little hard to tell in the sample above since this is the web and typography for the web is a whole different ballgame, but it gives you and idea. You can also make the font larger for design and aesthetic reasons, but if you're just writing something standard in Word, try defaulting to 10 point rather than 12 point. It makes a big difference.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Eat A Chiquita

Chiquita bananas are playing up their branded and recognizable blue and yellow stickers in a fun new campaign. instead of just blue Chiquita stickers, the new campaign has a whole slew of fun little blue and yellow faces.
One their Eat a Chiquita website, you can design your own sitcker face, watch videos and play games—oh and learn about bananas. It's a fun little site and a great campaign, all based off of those blue and yellow banana stickers that hold so much brand equity all by themselves. Brilliant.

(via Be Inspired Daily)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

SuperBowl Ad Controversy

There's a big controversy brewing over a SuperBowl ad to be aired this Sunday, and no, it's not the latest censored ad from GoDaddy. This ad is controversial not just because of it's controversial subject matter, but because it's breaking a long standing SuperBowl rule.

I never knew this before, but apparently CBS had long standing rule that advocacy ads were not accepted as advertising during the SuperBowl. The reason being that the SuperBowl is a fun, family friendly event and let's not spoil it by bringing up sensitive, heated issues. Honestly, I think that's a great stance. I don't want to be watching political or controversial stuff in the middle of SuperBowl party, do you? This year however, CBS approved an advocacy ad on one of America's most controversial issues: abortion.

A pro-life ad featuring football star Tim Tebow was approved by CBS to air during the SuperBowl. Not surprisingly, this made a media splash, with advocacy groups on the other side calling foul. The ad—paid for by Focus On The Family, a conservative Christian group—features Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mother. The speculation is that the ad tells the story of his mother's decision to have him despite doctors' encouragement to have an abortion due to health reasons. (Though the truth to that story is now getting questioned as well.) I have not seen the ad and as far as I know there isn't a leaked version anywhere on the web.

Focus On The Family says that the ad itself is not controversial. The theme is 'Celebrate Family. Celebrate Life.' Of course it's a bit hard to judge before seeing the ad, but either way, the press surrounding this controversy and it's sponsorship by a pro-life organization has made it controversial regardless. It boils down to CBS looking biased about abortion if they air the ad without offering the other side an option to air their opinion as well.

My original hunch (and hope) was CBS saw the ad and didn't think it was advocating pro-life so they approved it. But apparently, after push back from women's rights groups, CBS declared they're now accepting controversial ads—well except from the gay dating site that tried to buy a spot this year. To me, that kind backpedaling seems like a sorry attempt to keep the spot, and thus the $3 million dollar price tag, in the programming without having to accept any opposing opinions. When they rejected other controversial ads—particularly ones that would appeal to their liberal audience, like the gay dating site—CBS comes across as a conservative biased station.

Were they desperate for advertisers to pay the hefty price tag in this recession? Otherwise I can't imagine why they wouldn't dump that ad and fill it with something else. Is it really worth all the bad PR they're getting?

So to CBS, I'd prefer you didn't air the commercial during the SuperBowl, but if you are, at least air everyone else's advocacy ads too.That's my stance anyway. What do you think?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Typography Tip #2: Properly Using Dashes

There are three types of dashes used in type. Yep, three. Most people, unless you are a writer or work in a publishing industry, are unaware of anything beyond the standard hyphen and unfortunately I frequently see hyphens placed where they shouldn't be. It's a big enough problem that our agency proofreader has a Word document he sends to people when he gets enough of their writing that doesn't use dashes properly. Since he spelled things out to nicely, I'm plagerizing a bit of it in this post. Here's the rundown on the different kind of dashes and how to use them:
There are three categories of dashes: hyphens (-), en dashes (–) and em dashes (—). What's with the weird names? Well, en and em refer to the letters 'n' and 'm' respectively. In a given font, much of the distinction of width is based on the width of the 'm' since it is the widest letter in the alphabet. Therefore an em dash is the same width as the letter 'm' for a specific font. The same goes for an en dash, which is usually about half the width of an em dash (since the letter 'n' is generally half the width of the letter 'm'.)

That said, here are the guidelines for when to use these different dashes:
Hyphen (-)
Hyphens separate compound adjectives or hyphenated words
Examples: small-business owners or Pre-Raphaelite
En Dash (–)
En dashes substitute for the word “to” when writing dates
Example: January 15 – 17, 2010 
Note that there is a space on either side of the en dash.
Em Dash (—)
Em dashes separate the start of a sentence from the text when listing bullet points
  • Visual Communicators—Art Directors, Graphic Designers, etc.    
Em dashes also help when a list of items separated by commas contains additional commas that would make it difficult for the reader to understand:
(… the key Great Lakes states—Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, with the longest coastline of all, Ohio and Pennsylvania—have all agreed …).
Note that there is no space on either side of an em dash.
Okay, that's great, but all you see on your keyboard is a hyphen key right? Well you need to know a few commands to make en and em dashes happen and unfortunately it varies based on the program, but no worries, we have the short cuts listed below.

How to type en and em dashes:
PCs—for Microsoft Word (and most other PC word processing programs)
En dash
Typing a word followed by a space, two hyphens, another space and then a word will result in an en dash: word – word.
Em dash
Typing a word followed by two hyphens and then another word with no spaces either side of the hyphens yields an em dash: word—word.
Macs—for Adobe Creative Suite programs and anything within Mac OS
En dash
Key command: Alt/Option + - (hyphen)
Em dash
Key command: Shift + Alt/Option + - (hyphen)

**Please also note that a hyphen is not the same as the minus symbol. There is a separate glyph to use for this so that it matches the plus sign. (Thanks for the tip, Suzanne!)

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Taco Bell Diet?

While it seems a bit like an oxymoron to me, it is, in fact Taco Bell's new ad campaign. I remember seeing one of the ads a few weeks ago and thinking the fast food company was almost making fun of itself and by parading a woman, Christine Dougherty, around as this Subway's Jared-like success case in losing weight on the Taco Bell diet. There's nothing wrong with this, it's awesome that Christine lost the weight, and I can understand why Taco Bell would want to showcase her the way Subway showcased Jared, but it doesn't quite fit.

Initially your intuition and the years of learning that fast food is pretty much bad for you. Yes, Taco Bell has healthier menu options, like all the fast food chains do now, but still, how much healthier are they really? In this article from one of my favorite recipe websites, where the recipes from Cooking Light are housed, they discuss the healthfulness of the items on Taco Bell's Fresco menu and sum up that a consistent diet from them will probably leave you lacking calcium and fiber. Plus all of these items are high in sodium like much processed food, and while that's not necessarily going to keep you from slimming down, it may push your blood pressure up.

My bigger issue with spot is it's tone though. Whether Taco Bell's Fresco menu or not doesn't make a shred of difference in when the creative's bad. The commercial doesn't even seem to take itself seriously. It has a cheesy, goofy, infomercial style which I'm sure was intentional, they even have an infomercial for it. It makes it a little hard to tell if Taco Bell is really pushing this as a diet. Of course they have disclaimers like crazy about how Christine's story is not typical, but the treatment in the ad seems to walk that fine line where most people laugh it off as stupid, while a few gullible others think this might actually work. The issue I see here is Taco Bell has managed to partially lump it's brand in with the questionable diet pill companies of the world. Maybe that's a bit of a stretch, but I see this ad targeting the same kind of customers, especially when they're even marketing it as a Drive-thru diet—no exercise necessary. Sound familiar?

What do you think?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Typography Tip #1: Don't Double Space After A Period

This is one of my biggest pet peeves and any professional designer is going to tell you it's a very common typography mistake. The history of double spacing vs. single spacing after a period, however, is rather long and complicated. Just take a look at this Wikipedia article that will tell you all about the English style vs. the French style and the various spacing changes with punctuation over time. It's long and kind of confusing, but the end result is that the modern typesetting rules for the U.S. are to single space after a period.

But why did we all learn to double space after a period then? Well, originally I was taught in typography that it's a holdover from the typewriter era when every character had the same amount of space in what we call a monospaced font (like Courier). It was thought that two spaces after a period helped the reader differentiate where one sentence ended and another began since there was already so much space around all the letters and in the spaces between words. That's partially true, but a larger space (an em space*, not necessarily a double space) after a period was apparently an accepted style of typography way before the typewriter was around, though those professional typesetters used all different kinds of spaces around all types of punctuation that no one (except apparently the French) still use today.

That being said, single spacing after a period has become the accept style guide and should be how you're typing. Modern typographers and designers prefer single spacing because it offers a continuous flow for the reader's eye and a more aesthetic horizontal line of the text. I also believe it's easier to read. After being so used to single spacing, when I read something with double spacing it's jarring. Look at these next to paragraphs and decide for yourself. Which one looks better aesthetically and which one flows better for your eye.

Single spacing:
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. Or did the quick brown fox jump over the fence? The second sentence is more familiar. I'm not sure why. The first sentence is the traditional phrase that uses all the letters of the alphabet. Isn't that right?
Double spacing:
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.  Or did the quick brown fox jump over the fence?  The second sentence is more familiar.  I'm not sure why.  The first sentence is the traditional phrase that uses all the letters of the alphabet.  Isn't that right?
Like the first one better? I do. Many of you who still double space may like the second one better since you're used to it a bit more, but open a book or magazine nearby and look at the spacing. It'll match the first one. The typesetting standard in the U.S. is now for single spacing after periods, so if you write anything that will ever be published and touched by a professional, keep in mind they'll just do a find/change to get rid of all your double spacing, and be highly annoyed at you for it.

* An em space is the the width of the letter 'm' in a given font. You will learn more about this when I do a post on properly using dashes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Attention Special Interests: Leave the First Family Out Of Your Ads

Back in August, I blogged about  Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a thinly veiled vegan promoting activist group, referencing Sasha and Malia Obama in an ad campaign for healthier school lunches and plastered the ads all over the DC Metro. The White House, not surprisingly, was not pleased.

It seems PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is up to similar tricks but took it a step further by actually using Michelle Obama's photo in a recent anti-fur ad. The White House has said was never authorized. Um, why does PETA think they can use someone's image without permission? Especially someone like Michelle Obama, who is not only a celebrity, but someone who legally cannot endorse an special interest group like PETA. According to this Associated Press article,
PETA says that they will not take down the ads and maintains that Michelle Obama's past anti-fur declarations essentially give them license to use her image in a campaign.
Whoa, hold on there. How is that even remotely their excuse? Michelle Obama's public stand on fur isn't exactly a model release for an ad campaign. Or am I missing something?

Like I mentioned in my August post, ruffling the feathers of the White House is maybe not such a good idea and if PETA thinks Michelle Obama is as fabulous as they claim, why can't they show her and her position a little respect? Breaking the rules, false advertising and ticking off a popular political figure doesn't help your brand.

New in 2010: Typography Tips

One of the blogs New Years Resolutions is to bring a little more focus to design tips and more specifically typography tips. I'm a type nerd. I'll admit it. I doubt that most of the Creative Cooler's readers care quite as much about type as I do, but there are certain typography rules that everyone should know, designer or not.

If you choose to go into graphic design you will inevitably take a typography class. Most likely you will (and should) take many, but every designer remembers that first class because it's usually quite brutal. The thing about typography is that it's a kind of art form and those who understand it can quickly see and point out what's wrong, but until you reach that point you're usually scratching your head wondering what you did wrong, because it looks almost exactly the same as the one considered to be right. It takes awhile to reach that point and when you do, let me warn you, you will be forever plagued by the vast amount of bad typography that surrounds us daily.

The trouble is, many people set type these days and even plenty of designers never really learned how to treat typography well, let alone those who are simply setting type when they write something in Microsoft Word. There's leeway of course, like any art form, but there are also certain rules that pretty much every designer abides by, especially when it comes to setting something like body copy. Why? Because good typography actually helps you to read more easily. If a paragraph of copy is set poorly it slowly starts to strain your eyes and make you tired. I remember my typography professor telling us that getting tired while reading a textbook is mostly likely the fault of the typography and not the subject matter or writer. Textbooks are generally huge and packed with information. Printing a extra hundred pages to give the type enough space to breath is not usually an economical choice.

So if you've bothered to read this whole post on why everyone should learn the basics of typography, I hope you'll pay attention to future posts giving you said tips and take them to heart. I'm not the first blogger to post these tips and rules online, but since I still see so many people setting type poorly, the more people spreading the word the better.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Levi's And Whitman Pair Up For Campaign

A friend suggested that I blog about this commercial a few months ago, and I realize I'm a bit late in the game for commentary on this Walt Whitman Wieden + Kennedy Levi's campaign, but it's a really great commercial.

At first view, I noted the exceptional execution and artistry of the ad, completely aside from content. It's gritty, moving and a bit nostalgic. It becomes that much cooler when you learn that the voice recording is supposedly an actual recording of Walt Whitman reading his poem.

If you visit the commercial on YouTube, however, dozens of comments blast the spot as trying to be too deep for a spot that just sells jeans. If this were a commercial for a new denim brand like 7 for All Mankind I would agree, but this is Levi's. They have an iconic and historical significance to America. Did you know Levi Strauss and his partner, Jacob Davis, patented the use of copper rivets to strengthen stressed seams creating the rivet style that is an essential part of being jeans today? Traditionally, jeans were the working man's attire and eventually became a symbol of rebellion in the 1950s and then an American wardrobe staple. Levi's as a brand was a large part of that progression in American fashion history and culture, so I don't think the tone of this ad is out of place for the Levi's brand.

Actually, I think this new direction for W+K is much more fitting to Levi's than their last campaign, Live Unbuttoned. Slate offers the opinion that the shift in tone is due to the economic downturn and I'm sure that's party true, but I'd also like to think that maybe Levi's realized a generic pop ad, however upbeat it may be, doesn't help differentiate them much. Levi's has a lot more to draw on than many jeans companies and while its desirability in the fashion world may oscillate over the years, it's managed to hold strong long term.

What do you think?

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Creative Cooler Resolution

If you follow the Creative Cooler regularly, I'm sure you've noticed the recent lack of posts. Apologies on the slim amount of logo critiques and ad news lately, the holidays can really suck up one's time. However, my New Year's resolution for this year is to get my butt back into gear and get posting, so you will soon see some new content—starting tomorrow.

Thanks for sticking with us through 2009 and here's to a very creative 2010!