May 31, 2008

Food for Thought

A provocative talk from psychologist Barry Schwartz, author of "The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less" explaining his view over a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice.

This is a speech that can easily be misunderstood as a rant on how "old times were better", but believe me is not about that. Is about how the mind works, what makes us happy and how too many choices can hurt us too. It is worth watching.

Why I found it so interesting? Well, as someone that has been living in the US for some time now but that was not born and raised here, I find myself once and again looking at this culture as an anthropologist or a sociologist would do, I just can't help it.

Of course there are many things to praise about the USA, but on the dark side, what I have noticed is that there are too many choices but too little personal responsibility over the choices we made; too much comfort but too little happiness; too much tolerance but too little respect, and a society that seems to have (still) a steady flux of resources but a steady decline in creativity and critical thinking.

I am generalizing of course. But the level of depression and unhappiness is real and the offer of goods seems to increase by the second but the level of happiness or personal satisfaction doesn't seem to raise at all. I am not arguing we should take the route of the "Brave New World", not at all.That was a world of no real choices and no real happiness.

I am arguing in favor or critical thinking. I believe that the mind, -like almost anything else-, needs time and energy to be able to think, to take a step back and think. If it is too busy making decisions all the time and wondering about the 'what if' (the decision was wrong) it has less time and energy to elaborate critical thinking. To step back. To breathe.

I do not agree with Mr. Schwartz on all levels but I do believe that he raises very good points. From my point of view, this overabundance of choices is one of the reasons creativity, education and critical thinking are not in the raise on this part of the world. But is like the egg and the hen. Which one comes first?

Because critical thinking is also the way to avoid being unhappy by our choices. If you start your decision making process by thinking "Do I need this?" and "Why do I need it?" the number of choices decreases immediately and chances are you will make more counscious choices, what implies less unhappiness over them and more personal responsability.

Critical thinking allows you to manage yourself pretty well without feeling overwhelmed, no matter how many choices are out there. Still, I do agree with him that on some things we may have too many choices.

What is the magic number? I don't know either. I know is not one, and I don't think is two either. The presidential elections are a good example: why just two choices? Wouldn't three real options made everything more interesting and less black and white? (pun intended).

What do you think about the choices you have available?

Source: TED


May 30, 2008

It's Friday, See a Winner!

This ad -an oldie by advertising standards-, is from Brazil and won several prizes worldwide. It is one of the best ads I have seen: intelligent, simple, cheap, and not the typical "comparative ad"... It doesn't attack the competitors, in fact they are praising them!

Creativity at its best, from Master Comunicação.



May 29, 2008

Play Your House!

I have a soft spot for anything Italian. Considering that my granparents on my father's side were from there, maybe there is something like the call of the blood.., who knows?

Anyway, I like italians and I like them more when it comes to design.

Today I was visiting the site of "Lago" -not a newcomer when it comes to furniture design-, looking at their pictures of the Milan Salon whenI came across the unusual campaign they have started with their trucks, the ones they use to move their furniture. I am not 100% sure why the message is in English instead of Italian, but I guess they want to make sure that people from other countries in Europe can understand it too. Take a look to its side:

Ad Lago Truck

And this is the "polite" rear of the same truck...

Lago Truck Back

I bet you have seen some of their most known furniture somewhere else, but just in case you have not, here you can see one of their amazing bookshelves (my favorite). All their design goes perfectly well with their slogan of "Play with your house"....

funny bookshelves

Check out their site to see more really fun furniture!


The $100 Laptop Gets a Redesign

According to One Laptop per Child designer Yves Behar a top-to-bottom redesign is coming for the of the XO laptop (also known as the $100 laptop).

He writes: "With the XO (1.0), we pushed the boundaries of what a laptop could be by lowering the cost dramatically, being green (no heavy metals, lowest energy consumption ever), and a human-driven unique design approach.

Now, with XOXO (2.0), we are challenging what a truly collaborative and creative computing experience could be ... a true departure from the traditional keyboard and screen layout, a new way to interface and play with data, information and communication"

The new design is planned for the early 2010 and makes the XOXO "a book, a tablet, a board...and yes, a laptop too if that is what you need."

The idea behind this redesign is to keep it green and white, but thin, simple, and un-interrupted by buttons, speaker holes, input devices, visible connectors or a keyboard, giving it an un-interrupted screen one could interface with from any direction. This would also allow it to become a something just like a book, or a seamless large visual tablet where children could read or even play board games sitting across from each other (or computer games).

Here some pictures of what they have in mind:

Source: Ted Blog


The Terrorist Coffee Seller

This post could have also been titled "Ignorance gets its way thanks to politically correctness" but I guess that sounds too intellectual. So, I am going for the one that you can see at the top, just making fun of the ignorance that surrounds us... (sigh).

According to the Boston Herald, "Dunkin’ Donuts said today it stopped running an online advertisement featuring Rachael Ray after complaints that a fringed black-and-white scarf that the celebrity chef wore in the ad offers symbolic support for Muslim extremism and terrorism.

The coffee and baked goods chain said the ad that began appearing online May 7 was pulled over the past weekend because "the possibility of misperception detracted from its original intention to promote our iced coffee."

In the spot, Ray wears the scarf around her neck and holds an iced coffee while standing in front of trees with pink blossoms. Critics, including conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, complained that the scarf looked similar to the black-and-white checkered kaffiyeh, the traditional Palestinian scarf. Critics who fueled online complaints about the ad in blogs say such scarves have come to symbolize Muslim extremism and terrorism. (...)

A statement issued by Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin’ Brands Inc., however, said the scarf had a paisley design, and was selected by a stylist for the advertising shoot. 'Absolutely no symbolism was intended,' the company said.

Dunkin’ spokeswoman Michelle King said the ad appeared on the chain’s Web site, as well as other commercial sites. Malkin, in a posting following up on last week’s column, said of Dunkin’s decision to pull the ad, 'It’s refreshing to see an American company show sensitivity to the concerns of Americans opposed to Islamic jihad and its apologists.'(...)"

I am so appalled by the fact that the company pulled out the ad, that I really don't know where to start with. A couple of days ago I was talking about politically correctness and this is (in some way) another example of how people can interpret something as they see fit, not taking in consideration the context. And how at the end of the day, politically correctness can lead to some kind of censorship.

For God's sake, does anyone that uses a beret is a follower of the Che Guevara or is giving symbolic support to any guerilla movement? Should everyone stop smoking cigars because it can be interpreted as the symbol of Castro?

Now, we have to be "politically correct" with our accessories too? Yes, the keffiyeh can be a symbol of solidarity with the Palestianan movement, but has also been used (and it is still being used) by militars from ALL countries, including the US when in the Middle East, due to its practicality in the desert. And it is a piece of cloth.... that in some contexts may mean solidarity with the palestinians, but in a coffee ad you can bet all your money there was no subliminal message. They are available in almost any country in the world, and millions use it because they simply like it. Can the ignorants from Fox stop seeing ghosts where they are none? Can someone read to them the story of the keffiyeh?

When I was in Israel and Egypt I bought one, as I was surprised on how light they are and delighted to see how many uses they have considering the size. Does that make me a terrorist? (sigh) Isn't Dunkin Donuts by itself an American symbol powerful enough to counterbalance ANY symbolism there?

I would love to see this happen the other way around. If the arab world would be the one "offended" because such an American symbol as Dunkin Donuts is using in their ad a piece of cloth that is so dear to their culture, our ignorant bullies would be claiming that we have the right to use it, that is basic freedom of speech, just a piece of cloth, and would be gloating showing the ad once and again.

One way or the other, I am not buying from Dunkin Donuts anytime soon. I know my boycott means nothing to them, but I just can't stand those that allow ignorants to get their way!


The Year of Creativity

Under the credo of "Be the change that you want to see in the world", the italian agency AdmCom launched a new site that aims to "stimulate something we all have in common: creativity. It is a starting point from which to explore the amazing potential of small changes and the infinite opportunities they offer.

YOC is an invitation to be more curious and more imaginative. It is a catalyst that promotes real and virtual opportunities for us all to discuss and compare our own creativity. It is a space in which the endless personalities inside us can express themselves, as only those who are inwardly creative can also be creative with the world at large.

The first initiative in the YOC project is “Be the Change”, an entertaining and ironic way of expressing our multiple identities through a set of highly original, personalized business cards."

Creativity and business card, what a fatal combination for me! And fatal it was, yes, as I spent a good hour browsing their cards that are not REAL business cards like the ones I featured before considering these ones have 'professions' like Bookworm's best friend; Break Philosopher; Cake Carver; Happy Hour Pirate, and many, many other unusual ones.

You can customize them (not the nicest font to do so, but...) and save them or make unusual cards for friends. I wasn't really able to go through the whole list, that has some usability problems -once you click to see a card, you have to start all over- but I managed to see enough to fall inlove with the idea and to get some of them to share with you...

I would call this the "easy way" problem solver, considering the results....

Sometimes I should carry this one...

I bet any designer wants this one!

I love the use of a very well known logo for this one...

And we all know SOMEONE that should carry this one!

But there are soooo many more cards there to see, that the best you can do is to go to the "Year of Creativity" website and take a look. I am sure you will find one that fits you perfectly and one for any friend and foe that you have! Me, personally, I will keep an eye on the site, as the business cards seem to be just the starting point of their project.

Now, if you want to see REAL business cards that are extremely creative, remember that I have some posted, here and here.


May 27, 2008

Bloody (Good) Idea

A great idea from the German agency Bliss. They needed to generate some buzz for the upcoming movie "Shutter" -as a teaser-, before release date.

The movie -a remake by 20th Century Fox- is about a young, newly married couple that discovers disturbing, ghostly images in all the photographs that they develop after a mysterious accident.

The agency, that specializes in "out of home advertising", came up with a pretty interesting idea. To keep the theme and still not reveal too much about the movie, they produced branded single-use cameras with pre-exposed films. Later, a promotion team distributed these cameras in bars and pubs. The visitors had the chance to make photos of their friends.

Afterwards they sent the developed pictures to the original photographers. The photos include a real ghost (because the film already have a picture on it) and at the bottom a small banner with a tease about the movie and the release date.

Here you can see a collage prepared by the agency with some of the pictures that include "the ghost":

Perfect idea considering the theme of the movie and very "interactive" outside the web. As you can see the brand of the cameras was also "Shutter". Creepy maybe, but very appropriate!

You can see more of Bliss' work in their blog.

Via Ninja Marketing


In the Name of God

Church Ad SingaporeI simply can't help it, but I always think about churches like the "advertising agency/PR managers/communications' strategists/sales force" for God (if s/he exists and if s/he would need of such services, but that is another story). You may like or not this point of view but they are in fact talking to a massive audience in the name of God.

As it happens with any other 'product', you have good agencies and bad ones. In a world so full of different beliefs, you can tell that some churches work more than others on their communications' skills.

The greatest ad for God -and his public relations manager a.k.a. priest- that I have seen so far came from Australia (if you haven't seen it yet, check it out, is priceless!).

But there is much more out there; is a big world and the big guy has his followers everywhere. The picture at the top is from Singapore and while it may not be the greatest ad, I have to admit it is cute.

The one that really caught my eye this time though, is originally from the UK. It is one of those cases where the final execution is extremely poor, but the idea has that playful tweak that makes you look twice.

Check it out (and click to enlarge if you need to):

church sign UK
You can say it appeals to both the believer and the atheist, but what I find interesting is how they know that the first time you would read "nowhere" and not the other way around...

This for the creative ones. But if you want to see more real church signs including some of the bad -oh, so bad!- real signs, I recommend you pay a visit to that is where I find these ones. They have a neat collection of real signs that people have seen here and there (most include the exact location and some are really hilarious). They also have a way for you to generate your own fake church sign if you have in mind a better call that you haven't seen yet materialized.

Last but not least, if you liked this last sign that makes you read again, here is another one, much better executed; this one is a campaign done by a real advertising agency for a product that is more on the 'sinner' side of the world...


May 26, 2008

Creativity is Politically Incorrect

Those that know me, know that I don't like the notion of "Politically Correct"(PC), at all. Not only because I am not politically correct, but also because I believe that there is something wrong with the concept. And it is not just "something" really, but several things that -from my point of view- make the whole concept unacceptable.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for being "correct"... just not POLITICALLY correct. I guess you can see the difference. But if an example is needed, I find more correct to call black people 'black' that "Afroamericans". First of all, we ALL have our roots in Africa. Secondly, some of the black people living in the US have their family coming originally from the Caribbean or Brazil, to name just a couple. Of course, you can argue that their ancestors came from Africa, but that takes ut to the very first point. And last but not least, how do you call the blacks living in France or Jamaica? Blacks, right?

So, even when they are not technically black (but dark skinned) black is still more correct than "afroamericans".

My second issue with the concept of PC, is that it doesn't help creativity. Why?

Easy. Creativity needs freedom of the mind. And especially when it comes to words, PC is a form of censorship. To make things worst in some way perpetuates what is trying to accomplish. Using my previous example, if you "read" something bad in the words 'black people', is either because the "sender" of the message is using those words with a tone that implies something bad or because you are giving to those words an underlying meaning that in fact is not there. Because black is still more correct than afroamericans and should not imply anything more than dark skinned people.

I can write endlessly about this issue, because it is core to education, communications and creativity. But I will stop here for now and let you enjoy (or not!) a polemic spoof ad that has been called funny and tasteless and racist... you be the judge:

Me? I find it slightly funny and while I do understand the reasons a brand wouldn't want to have this type of communication, the ad simply takes portions of reality (a harsh reality but reality nevertheless) and plays with it to show off the main characteristic of the product.

Not a commercial I would approve -as it is now- to be aired, but a good example on how creativity starts its process. If an intern would present this idea to me, I would probably considered it a good starting point for a similar commercial playing on a James Bond type of character, instead of using a suicide bomber. What do you think?


Not So Ugly Anymore?

During the long weekend -as some of you may have noticed already- I spent a good part of my time working on a facelift for UglyDoggy.

Here are some things I learned when changing templates in Blogger:

1. The process is quick and almost painless, but you want to have a copy of your old template as well as a copy of all your widgets as some of them may dissapear with the change.

2. For some strange reason, Google Analytics is NOT transferred with the rest of the code. So if you don't want to lose information (like it happened to me during this whole weekend), make sure you copy it back into your new template.

3. In my case, I chose one of the "Minima strech" templates. The main reason being that you have more space for your main writing but -if needed- you can also tweak the template to have two side columns relatively easy (check the "how to" at Hackosphere).

Hope you like the new doggy, ugly and all!


May 23, 2008

It's Friday, Bluff!

Friday before a long weekend Memorial Day. Maybe a poker table with friends is in your plans? If that is the case, you may like this campaign from "Live Poker Magazine". Each piece includes one picture and a VERY short copy that says it all: "Become the king of bluff"

Here some of their ads (click to enlarge):

Poker Game




How well you can bluff?


In France, eBay "C'est Vous!"

An amazing idea from the agency BETC EuroRSCG for eBay France. Their dilemma: how do you advertise something that sells almost anything?

So eBay France -better said, their agency- came up with this idea: they bought ten 30" spots and they listed the spots on eBay, so their own users can bid to have the chance to advertise the product that they were selling on TV.

Here is more about the idea:

The money "paid" by these sellers (now buyers of the spot time) was donated to a charity and of course the agency was still involved in the production of the ads. At the end of the day the campaign was about selling the winner's products but also about selling eBay. So all the ads have a common design full of white and the same closure.

Below, one of those ads (in French, sorry!). What they are selling is her "princess dress" but making the point that for her was her "magical dress" that protected her against any attack. Finally, one day she found someone that could protect her forever, so she does not need the dress anymore and now the dress is available on eBay.

As you can see, a simple, nice ad, with a startegy that by including real people, reinforces the concept "eBay it's you!"


May 22, 2008

Incomprehensible Ad

This ad is not new at all and probably is not out there anymore. I can't remember where I saw it but at least I was able to capture a snapshot of it. I saved the image some months ago but then I forgot I had it -until yesterday-, when cleaning my files I re-discovered it.

For me is just an incomprehensible ad...maybe I am getting old, but take a look:

Can somebody tell me how a cocktail party online works? Do I grab a glass of Baileys on the rocks, sit in front of my desk and login? Where is the party? And who serves the cocktails?

Compare to this, "virtual sex" has suddenly become so easy to understand!


May 21, 2008

Need Help?

"Everyone needs a little help from time to time"; that's the slogan for Help Remedies, a new line of acetaminophen pills and adhesive bandages. Their packaging is white, clean, attractive and fun.

But the best part is the copy inside the packaging. Maybe because I am very clumsy or maybe because I always enjoy a good copy, I simply fell in love with it. Once you open the bandages' pack you will find this 'welcome':

"Hello. I am sorry that you cut yourself. It could be an isolated incident, or maybe you are a very clumsy person. Don't worry. The clumsy are much more lovable than the graceful. The graceful are always busy ballet dancing, and doing incredible feats on the trapeze. The clumsy are always busy being coddled, rubbed, and cared for.

So if you are not too busy having attractive persons ravish you with affection, take a minute to care for your injury. Wash it, and lay one of our pretty bandages on top. I a matter of moments you will be able to return to your clumsy affairs."

Let's face it, if you just cut yourself and that made you feel clumsy, reading this will make you feel good again instantly, bandage or not.

Their site, Help I Need Help, explains why their products are really different, but also features a "Help, I Am Bored" section, that is worth playing with. (I know I can use their "Help. I forgot someone's name" almost daily!)


Indiana Jones and the (real) Last Crusade

Caring for the planet may be our last crusade. At the end of the day if Mother Earth goes haywire on us, there may be not "us" anymore.

Harrison Ford, the man that was in so many different movie crusades, battling against Darth Vader, the Nazis and so, so, many "evil ones" seems to understand this problem pretty well. So he put himself -this time for real- in harm's way to help raise awareness of the effect of deforestation on global warming.

The torment this time? Waxing! Take a look:

According to an article in The Guardian, Peter Seligmann, chief executive of Washington-based Conservation International, said Ford was game to do the 30-second campaign ad. "I didn't have to talk him into anything," Seligmann said yesterday as he launched the campaign. "I was there when he filmed it. It really hurt. There's nothing about the expression on his face that was fake."

The actor, whose latest film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, had its world premiere at Cannes on Sunday, is also director of Conservation International.

Some may think is not such a torture. Those are the ones that have never tried it. Waxing can be excruciating experience...(if you don't believe me, ask this girl!)

Thanks Mau for sending me the video!


May 20, 2008

Lame Boss!

I always have mixed feelings about open "creativity competitions" when it comes to advertising. On one hand is a way to expand possibilities: more people involved means more ideas and that is never a bad thing.

BUT (yes, there is always a but) there are aspects to these competitions that I really don't like. I don't like that most of the time companies go live with them without giving the competitors a basic brief so the participants are in fact shooting in the dark (what translates in a LOT of garbage to go through)..., but most of the time what I really hate is the fact that the companies behind the contest are just being cheap.

Hugo Boss is now one of those cases and the worst one I have seen so far! They have a competition online that is about creating a billboard with a slogan for them.

The prize? "The winning slogan will appear on a billboard in New York City as part of a HUGO Fragrances advertisement. The Sponsor may also choose to use the winning slogan in additional future advertising. There will be no compensation of any kind given for Sponsor's use of winning slogan on a billboard or in future advertising." Can you believe it?

As one of the submissions says....,

I don't see how such a lame prize can give them anything good. It is not what you would expect from Hugo Boss or Procter and Gamble. Basically, your prize is the fact that you can say "I wrote that". That's it and they can use your slogan anywhere else they want. No money, no trip to NYC to be able to be there when the billboard goes up, not EVEN a bottle of their new fragrance!

I am pretty sure they could do better. Is that minute of fame -just the possibility to claim "I wrote that"- enough? I don't believe so.

And my guess is that the girl from California that submitted the "Go Spray Yourself" sentence wasn't really trying to participate in the contest but sending a message to the brand... What do you think?

If you are nevertheless interested in the contest, here is the link.


The Web Is Us

Great video from Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the Kansas State University.

A view on 'digital text' and also an introduction to their research on "the impact of digital technology on human interaction and human interaction on digital technology". Funny and at the same time educational, is a gem that explains a lot in just a few minutes. Take a look:

He says is "Web 2.0 in just under 5 minutes", I think it says much more than that. If you want to read more about their work, you can visit their site, Their video "A Vision of Students Today" is another must see (if you haven't seen it yet!).


A Change is Coming

This image below is there just to share my thoughts... Ugly Doggy needs a redesign! I know it will not be soon and for sure not as soon as I would like it (yesterday?). Hopefully I would use some of my summertime to work on the so needed "change" (no pun intended), but I shouldn't promise anything --not even to myself.

Don't worry I am not planning to go "graffiti", in fact I will probably go the other way around, as white and as clean as possible. Just theory so far, anyway.(UPDATE: theory became reality sooner than I expected...thanks to the long weekend for Memorial Day!)

So why the graffiti? Because yesterday I trip over "The Graffiti Creator" a site that allows to do just that -create a graffiti- and believe me, playing with it may become addictive.

You need to really play with it to understand all the possibilites and have in mind that from font to font the possibilities change and with them some of the rules. But is fun, easy for non-designers, and you can work each word separately or all of them at the same time, and the combinations are really endless! Just don't blame me if you find yourself playing with it for hours, uhm?


May 19, 2008

The Art of Combining

I am a big fan of things that have more than one function. Mostly because they normally give you more room (they take less space with their "all in one" approach), but also because they are the more basic expression of creativity.

What is creativity if not the ability to combine things in a way that no one has done before?

Now, extremely pragmatists tend to combine in a rough way just "adding" instead of combining and then, even if the combination is good IN THEORY, it may not be desirable because of the final look. So, something to have in mind is that creativity is not just about combining two elements but about combining them in a harmonious way.

This is a good example. Called the "Antigravity Chandelier" is a beautiful piece of furniture that as you can see works looks as a chandelier but is at the same time a coat stand.

I am not really sure if I would like to hang a coat from it, just because you want the lights to be seen (I assume those are cold lights anyway) but as you can see in the picture you can hang other things, like umbrellas or caps and have a really unique piece for that.

The designer behind this idea, is Jun Tase from Japan, and at his site you can see more stuff that was designed to have multiple functions, from a chair that can be transformed into a table, to a magazine rack that is also a stool and can even play as a table too!

In an ironic twist, if you read the name and last name of the designer as one word (Juntase) in Spanish that would mean: "attach, combine, unite"...that is exactly what he does!


May 18, 2008

Is This a Green Idea?

An Australian government funded initiative, the VEIL solar-shade is a future possibility for the integration of solar-energy harvesting technologies into a form that is pragmatic (providing shade & energy), evocative and educational.

The idea is very simple: instead of having simple canopies outside the school to protect the kids from the heat of the sun, with one small tweak they can be used for collecting sun’s energy at the same time. Adding solar cells on top and handles on the base that can rotate the canopy to get the most efficient orientation in relation to the sun, these canopies can provide at the same time shade and energy.

Here you can see how these canopies look on a school yard:

According to Buro North, the group behind this redesign, "current Australian school curriculums utilize information around consumption and energy as an educational device, and we have designed this interactive concept to explore the visual connection between energy collection and consumption".

A nice, green idea.

BTW, have you noticed how the meaning of "green idea" has changed in the last years? Not so many years ago, "green idea" meant an incomplete idea, a concept in development, not finished yet. Nowadays -most of the time-, is used to indicate that is an eco-friendly one.

What takes us to another thing to have in mind when brainstorming ideas related to writing (copywriting, jokes, movies): language is always changing -as we do-, and there is a huge potential in their history and evolution to play with them. In fact, while today we trademark slogans, those were in the beginning a slighty different type of "communication".


May 16, 2008

It's Friday, See Something Different

Friday, time to relax. Time to see something different..., and this is REALLY different: it's an animation done painting walls on the streets of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Baden (Switzerland).

I have no idea how much work a movie like this may entail, but it seems like a lot of work and painting! Nevertheless, the result is awesome.

The artist known as Blu is from Bologne, Italy and in his site you can see more of his work, in walls all around the world.

Thanks Dani, for sending the video!


Thinking in Reverse

When it comes to advertising you can say that what any ad needs to have to be a good ad are two basic things: to be memorable because of the story (or the aesthetics, or the music or a mix of everything) but ALSO they need to convey a message that relates to the brand's positioning and heps you remember the brand and/or the product offered.

How many times we can remember an ad but we can't remember not only the brand behind it, but not even the product or service that was offered?
Those are NOT good ads, even if a part of them is memorable.

Even if this "formula" sounds pretty easy to achieve in reality it is not, because ads target people and as we all know what can be memorable for one person in a good way it may not be memorable at all for someone else. So it is way more complex than it sounds. So, learning techniques that can boost your creativity is a good move for anyone that wants to excel in the advertising field. Today, I will talk about one that I personally call "thinking on reverse" or "the world upside down".

Let's see first a pretty decent, funny ad from Germany that uses that concept (the product is in IT service and the slogan at the end means "Fast, Detailed, Competent"):

What really makes this ad memorable?

The simple fact that the bad driver and sloppy catcher is a guy and the excellent driver and good thrower is a woman, that in this case represent the company's service.

We all know that there are female good drivers and crappy male drivers, but the general prejudice is that women can't park. So, just by inverting the roles, by "thinking in reverse" the ad becomes memorable. And because she is the solution you will for sure remember -at least- what the service is about.

Sounds too easy? Here is another tip: most of the time, really good ideas look "easy" when they have been carefully implemented. That takes us to another topic, the steps in between a good idea and a good implementation, and how the "delivery" part can help or ruin a decent idea. But I will tackle that issue in a future posting.

Meanwhile if you have more good examples of this technique being used successfully, I would love to hear about them!

Thanks to Guadalupe for sending the ad!


May 15, 2008

The Apple Chair

They were probably not conceived as Apple-Mac chairs, but there is something in the design that makes them SO Apple, maybe a bit "retro", but from the Mac family nevertheless.

Named the "Rabbits #2" they have been designed by Takeshi Miyakawa, an architect born in Tokyo, that moved to the US in 1989 and who established his own design studio in NYC in 2001.

Here, the chairs:

Chairs is not the only thing his studio designs, of course, and I believe that his Fractal 23 storage "box", is a very interesting piece, practical and beautiful at the same time.

You can check more of his work, by visiting his site.

If you know about other well designed products that are not from Apple but they look like they could be in the Mac family, please share that info with us!


May 13, 2008

Boobs "Manipulation"

I am SO glad that someone FINALLY is doing the ad I have in my head for years, showing some of the many ways and 'tactics' that we -women-, we use daily to get a bra in place. I have been telling my husband (for years now) that someone should show how many ways we have to get the bra in place in a commercial.

Is a science, yes, but not an exact one. Depending on the woman's shape, her boobs' shape and the type of bra, I believe there are at least 20 really different ways to get the bra on. As a girl myself, I noticed pretty early in life that we all have our way of dealing with it, that may be similar to some other girl's way but never identical. For some of us, not me in this particular case, it can also be one of those "monkish" things (as in the TV show Monk, you know obsessive compulsive).... I have known girls that HAVE to go with the right arm first, for example, while some others HAVE to go with both arms at the same time.

The commercial I had in my mind was a bit different to this one, with "less talk and more show", but this one is a very good one too and I really want to thanks Playtex for having the guts to do something like this, and with "real girls" too! Take a look:

The other commercial that would be cool, not sure if applicable for Playtex (maybe for a beer?) would be showing the other point of view: a summary of guy's techniques to get the bra out. Believe, after a couple of years studying Engineering outnumbered by guys, I have also heard a good number of techniques to get it out... Of course, those also depend on the girls' shape, the guy's ability, and how smooth or not they are trying to be!


May 12, 2008

Regal Cinema vs. The Marines

This post could have also been entitled "A Cinema That Wants to Lose Advertisers" but is too long, I like the other one better.

You may think this is just "early Monday bitching", but believe me, my experience with the Regal Cinema @ the Sawgrass Mall is worth bitching and more.

It all started when we went to see "Ironman". We spent our $18 in tickets plus another $19 between two overpriced combos -but no one was complaining (yet)-, as we were just happy of finally getting to see the movie.

We arrived a bit early and the screen was showing those trivia questions about Hollywood stars.... without sound. Because is something meant to read I didn't care too much at first. But then the commercials kicked, and still no sound.

I am an advertising addict, so, after a couple of minutes like that, I went to the entrance and I announced to the only guy there that "in theater # 16 we are without sound". The guy told me he would take care of it and I went back to my seat...

Two or three minutes later (it may not sound like too much, but in advertising time that is a century) we were still WITHOUT SOUND. A commercial from AT&T with Scorsese was on and I was dying to hear that dialog, as he was talking to a baby boy in bed that had a cell in his hand. It "looked" like a funny commercial but you know without sound I have no clue what all that talking was about.

So I got up from my seat and AGAIN went to the guy at the entrance this time with my face of "If I have to come here again, you will be in trouble". He instantly knew what my face mean and stopped me in my tracks with a "I know, there is no sound, but the sound kicks in when the movie starts, that is how it works", what was exactly what happened.

I just couldn't believe it. It simply means that the money that Lexus, The Marines, AT&T, A&E and TNT among other advertisers are paying to have their ads at the movies, was a complete waste of money, as you could see the ads but not HEAR them.

Normally I am not on the corporate side. But as I see it this is corporation against corporation (cinema vs advertisers, a.k.a. clients) and as something unacceptable for both advertisers and public. If a company pays money to get their ads before the movies, their ads should be available to the public, and in its entirety, sound included. So I promised to myself I will do anything within my power to let advertisers know how their money can pay image but apparently is not enough to pay for sound.

The movie? It was pretty good if you are into comics... and the only thing I will disclose for those who haven't seen it yet is STAY UNTIL THE END... the real, real, real end of the titles. After those are gone, you will get a preview you may like to see.


May 11, 2008

The "Moving" Age

Today watching the Dunkin Donuts commercial (see below) that always make me laugh -doesn't really make me drink their coffee but reeeaally makes me laugh-, a sudden revelation came to my mind:

"You can tell a guy's age by his attitude towards a friend's moving".

As I see it, this is how it goes:

- Between 17 and 20 something: the guys got together to help the one moving, is half moving, half party, and normally ends with a lots of beer and a couple of pizzas.

- After the middle 20's until the advanced 30's, as the commercial states, a good friend, "reluctantly -very reluctantly- helps his friend move".

- Around the 40's, if he is asked to help, he will probably recommend his friend a couple of guys he knows from somewhere that are not so expensive and can be "a great help". He gladly will give his friend the phone number to get in touch with this moving guys.

Once he arrives to his 50's no one really asks him for help to move -except maybe his son or daughter and they are not really asking for physical labor-, maybe for some bucks to pay the beers and pizza that he will order for his friends, those in the early 20's that will actually help them to move.... and so the cycle goes on.

If you don't know which is the commercial I am talking about, this is it:

If you think my "age scale based on moving attitudes" is wrong or have something to add to it, please let me know! Suggestions are always welcome!


May 9, 2008

It's Friday, Have Some Fun

Enjoy this video from Circo Ripopolo, a comic duo from Belgium (I think!) playing with balloons AND your browser.

(just click on the image to launch
and do not resize your browser!)



TBWP - An Interview

Just yesterday, after finding out about it through a friend, I blogged about why I liked the idea behind "The Big Word Project".

Finding myself having some troubles with a word I wanted to buy, I contacted them and I got a pretty quick response.
We started exchanging emails back and forward and as I am always interested in how ideas are born, I ended up asking the guys (Lee and Paddy, the ones in the picture) if they would agree to an interview via email.
They agreed to answer my questions... and (insert here music of Law and Order) this is their story:

Was this born out of boredom, the need to make some bucks or....?
- Lee: Paddy and I both studied the same under grad course and we've been thinking of different projects for years but we never got round to implementing them. We incorporated TBWP into our course so that we would have the time. I guess you could say it partly down to University research and partly high student debts :-)

How you came up with the idea? Was it deliberately (where you searching for something like this) or just appeared brainstorming about something else?
- Paddy: We always knew that we needed a mass collaboration project where thousands of people contribute a small amount of money/effort to make it work. One day we just thought, why not sell the words of the dictionary?!

Is it in any way connected to your Master?
- Lee: Yeah, we thought of the idea and then thought we could incorporate it as part of our Masters as a mini-project (that grew into a big-project). I was researching web applications and Paddy viral marketing so it fitted in nicely.
- Paddy: We have been able to gain so much knowledge from this project and also obtain a whole wealth of contacts to avail of in future projects. Our project management skills have been vastly improved which has really helped us to structure and carry out other Masters projects.

I noticed that some words are going to sites that are under construction or parked. You are not filtering at all the content or do you have some type of filter (i.e. porno) but you still allow parked sites just because they pay?
- Paddy: We go through all the websites submitted to The Big Word Project and flag any ones that contain obscene/ offensive/ adult content. We offer them the chance to change their link or a full refund. So far the website hasn't seen that many pornographic sites submitted. Yeah, we allow parked sites, a lot of people see a word that would be perfect for their site but their site is still in production so parked site's are fine.

Are the words pre-approved (you have a list and what is not there can't be use) and therefore finite? Or ANYTHING that is in a dictionary can go there?

- Lee: Not at all, anything that's a real word can be used. We're using the Oxford English Dictionary as reference. We have about 180,000 words on the site but we're missing loads so feel free to suggest more. We're not including places or names (unless the name is in the dictionary).

Have you been surprised for the response so far? Have you ever make any assumptions at the beginning of how large could be the demand for words and therefore how much money can be made?
- Paddy: We have been amazed at the response so far! The site really took off after 3 days when John Gruber mentioned us and has grown since then. We've been blogged about more than 250 times (that we know about) and we're continuing to sell words everyday. We just passed the 4,000 mark so we're really pleased! If we sell all the words that are currently in our list we could potentially make around $1.5Million. Who knows, we may get there yet!
- Lee: That would be nice :-)

I guess that if you are approving the sites, you have seen so far around 4000 sites. Anyone that caught your eye?
- Lee: Oh yeah, there's loads of interesting sites out there that we've come across. Visit our blog to see what interesting sites we come across. Everything from racoons to foot fetish sites are among the words. Some words that link to 'big' sites include 'skins', 'treacle', 'movie' and 'brick'.

So this is the idea in their own words. If you still haven't visit The Big Word Project, check it out... and let me know if you can avoid the temptation of clicking on every word, just to see what website is behind it!


May 8, 2008

Ex Boyfriend's Jewelry

"You don't want it.
He can't have it back."
That's the slogan for, a relatively new site where girls (and I guess boys too, why not?) can sell those mementos that they really don't want anymore around them.

OF COURSE, the more appealing part of the site comes with the description of the jewelty: things like "Got rid of the guy, now the ring's gotta go!" or "Never take back a cheater.. even if he's willing to bribe yo with jewelry" takes the whole experience of looking at rings and necklaces to the next level!

The site looks a bit amateur, but I guess you have to start somewhere. The idea behind it is a very original one and they even have a category -that made me smile- called "Gifts That Should Have Been Jewelry"... Plus, the fact that most of the jewelry is being sold at a fixed price but including a "or best offer" option, doesn't hurt at all!

Check them out! -Exboyfriendjewelry-


The Art of Being Patient

You may recall the classic Honda ad made with parts that took more than 600 hundrend takes to get done. For me, that amount of patience is something I can't even start to comprehend.

Today I got this video via email with another awesome "domino" effect this time mixing pool and dominoes. I have no clue how much time that setup may have taken, nor how many times you have to try and failed until getting it right, but it just amazing that someone would take so much time and energies to get this right, specially considering that the whole thing is gone in less than 2 minutes. Another example of extreme patience, that at least for me, is almost painful to consider.

Take a look:

Now, this "domino effect" remind me instantly about the relatively new Guinness ad, that was filmed in my country, Argentina, more specifically in the north, in the little town of Iruya, Salta.

Some sources said that 10 million dollars was the final toll for this ad, some others put it at 15 million euros. One or the other, they all agree that it is so far the most expensive commercial ever done.

The cast is made up of locals from the village and surrounding area (the population of the town has to be around 1000 people, top) none of whom had ever appeared in front of a camera before. 24 hours of footage was captured. And the car toppling sequence was successfully shot in just one take. Some other numbers related to this commercial are...

6,000 dominoes; 10,000 books; 400 tires; 75 mirrors; 50 fridges; 45 wardrobes and 6 cars among many, many other things.

I must confess, personally, that I don't really like that they used BOOKS to build the pint of beer, but I guess that is because I love books way more than I love beer...

According to witness that happened to be there, the most spectacular part of it was the party that the whole town had after the commercial was done!

Talking about patience, if you can go through 9 minutes of a 'making of', this one is worth the time...

Just for a laugh, two small details: first, the fact that Guinness is not so popular in Argentina, specially outside Buenos Aires and last but not least the fact that when the director was giving orders you can see a small poster for Schneider behind him... that is another brand of beer!

Thanks to Rob's mom for the domino & pool video!


Beautiful, Useful, Skillful

Some days ago I came across some of the most beautiful and ingenious speakers I have ever seen (the ones that you can see flanking this words).

I am not sure I would have them in my house -for space reasons-, but if I were a musician or a big time music aficionado, I would want to have them SO badly!

They can certainly add a special touch to any room or studio.

I don't really remember how I came across Philippe Guillerm's website but I simple fall in love with his sculptures, most of them portraying violins in different "attitudes" like the "Siesta" one that you can see below....


But not only from sculptures lives the artist, so he does furniture on demand plus this line of "functional art" that transforms speakers into beautiful guitars, cellos or mandolins.

Originally from France but living in Maine, USA, Philippe's work has been exhibited in galleries in Europe, South America, the Pacific Islands, Canada and the USA.

His site is not as beautiful as his art (you almost want to contact him and tell him to please please please improve his site look and feel for the sake of his art, but it is still worth a look, just to see the speakers and the inspired violins.


May 7, 2008

The Big Word Project

Very interesting (marketing) idea from two techies from Northern Ireland.

Well, let me re-phrase that, they are in fact two students that graduated with 1st Class Honours in Interactive Multimedia Design in 2007 and have decided to continue studying.

So they are now pursuing their Masters in Multi-Disciplinary Design in the University of Belfast and I guess because they were bored and needed money or just for one of those reasons, they came up with The Big Word Project.

The idea is that you can "redefine" words using your site to do so, and at a very small cost.

How? You just go to their site, you search for a word that "represents" your site and if it is not taken you can buy it at 1$ per letter and from then on, that word will take people to your site.

For example when I found out about this site "creativity" and "innovation" were taken, so now "doggy" has been redefined and is not about dogs but about creativity because it points to my site.

Some may find this project similar to the "One million pixel project" -where another student was selling logo space in a home page at one dollar each pixel- but from a creative and business point of view, The Big Word Project is a much, much, MUCH better idea.


To start with there are more than 1 million letters when you add up all the words that can be taken. Second, is not a static page, each time you enter you can see different words and therefore be guided to different sites. Last but not least as the words are also available alphabetically is almost impossible to avoid browsing the list to see where this or that word points to. Is like a funny, addictive game, that lets you found new sites with a mix of logic and randomness.

Just so you know, I got Ugly AND Doggy and some words for some friends. If you want to get yours, visit their site right now, before is too late!


Flag Association

Another very well known creative mechanism is what in Spanish we call "free association". I understand that in English it's called "word association" and it is also used in psychology.

It consists in a ping-pong game between two people -could be therapist and pacient or just two creative minds trying to come up with an ad or improvements to a product, for example- where one shoots words or concepts and the other one should shoot back with the first word of idea that comes to his/her mind without really thinking.

This "game" can also be useful in focus groups , to understand how a brand is positioned in the consumer's mind. Basically you are trying to get to the surface the more "raw" thoughts, without the normal censorship that good manners, proper behavior and/or politically correctness imposes to our brains, or better said, to that small gap between brain and mouth. Is all about your unconscious and your own experiences surfacing.

At the same time, it can also get you in trouble. Like I may be in trouble after making public my own association when -spending the weekend in Islamorada- I saw this car/boat at the dock of a restaurant.

Check it out:

Baptized "Nautilimo" and with some not so comfortable seats (at least in appearance, I didn't try them, but you can see them below) it was a really odd thing to see at the dock....

What was my very first thought that could get me in trouble? That the flag on it was the wrong one...

Remember, I live in South Florida.... and as I said before this "free association" is based on your own experiences. So my very first thought was that something like that should have the Cuban flag instead of the American one. Or at least both of them. I know..., it may not be a politically correct thought. But believe me, it was the very first thing that crossed my mind and when you see in the news more or less often the improvised boats trying to cross from oppressed Cuba to free Cuba (a.k.a Miami) the connection has a logic.

My apologies in advance if someone takes offense, but as a very well known song from Spain states: "Nunca es triste la verdad, lo que no tiene es remedio" ("truth is never a sad thing but there is no cure for it").


May 5, 2008

In Pixieland: Tools for Creativity

This is not my spoiled UglyDoggy, but a friend's dog. The main reason she is the star of this story today is because she was caught at the scene crime and even when her face looks innocent, she is not.

See all those papers around her? Well, those were nice, neat piles product of some "let's get organized" work on my friend's side. Of course, it took Pixie (the dog) one minute to make a mess out of them!

But the story goes beyond this. When chatting with my friend about the fact that Soy (my dog) tends to do exact the same thing -to my utter frustration)- we started "talking dog" what means exchanging what we believe is their point of view on the matter. For example, when I ask if I can include this picture in my blog, the answer was:

"Sure, you can put her on UD -- but she wants it noted that the cats started it!"

That is Pixie's side of the story. Because she lives in Pixieland, her world, a parallel world to ours, a world we inhabit but we rarely think about...

An animal, a baby or even an object point of view is an excellent way to exercise creative thinking. Consider this for a minute: Does my dog think that I am an excellent hunter each time I come back from the supermarket with food? Does your cat thinks you are crazy because you are knitting instead of playing with the balls of yarn? How they look at us? Is it like the old saying, we are gods for our dogs and servants for our cats? How they perceive OUR world considering their world?

Trying to "get in their heads" and to see the world through their eyes, is a useful tool for anyone that wants to improve their creative skills, and it is a proven technique for creative writing either for advertising or for writing a novel.

In fact, two very good different campaigns right now (one in the radio and the other one on TV) play on the same resource. One is the campaign for Avis, where you can hear the thinking of the "jealous" household car. Here is one of their spots:

Try it out. And if you can find out what my dog thinks about me, your cat about you and/or what Pixie thinks about those piles she messed with, share that knowledge with us!

(Thanks Pixie for your permission to publish the picture and your argument about the cats was duly noted!)


May 1, 2008

Thonet - The Musical

One group I have always enjoyed while living in Buenos Aires is "Les Luthiers". You can call them a "musical group" but their art is a mix of parody, comedy and good music with clever lyrics plus -as the name implies- their own homemade musical instruments, that are normally made with very unusual things, like toilet parts, typewriters or cans.

Of course I am not the only one that likes what they do, they are pretty well known, not just in Argentina but in many, many, other countries. Last year the group celebrated 40 years on stage.
For such occassion there was an exhibit of their own instruments (like the one above) but also some other artists contributed for the show with their own creations as a tribute to Les Luthiers. That is how I came across the work of Pablo Reinoso -also Argentinian-, sculptor and designer.

A huge part of his work is around the Thonet chairs: he has made Thonets "to wear", sculptures deconstructing them and now he has also transform some of those chairs into musical instruments.

Check out some of his work:

"The Melting Thonet"

(that could be translated as "Thoneting")

And last but not least, one of the "musical instruments" he made as a tribute for the Les Luthiers' show... An object with a creepy name, but a great design: ladies and gentleman, with you, "The Electric Chair"!

I have some Thonet chairs in my house in Buenos Aires that I inherited from my grandma's house. I wonder if I could get them to become something like this. So far, we have been restoring them, and restoring them and restoring them, and they are not so comfortable to sit in to start with...(sigh) I rather have this electric chair!

If you want to see more of his work, visit Pablo's site.