Feb 27, 2009

It's Friday, Entertain Your Pets!

Anyone that ever worked in advertising knows that pets and kids are good attention grabbers and that -more often than not- they are used instead of a good idea.

This is not the case. This is a good idea that uses the "cuteness factor" of rabbits, hamsters and puppies -among others animals-, to make a point about the cool screen of the new Samsung's cellphone. Check it out:

I have to say that even when my favorite animals in the world are dogs, I am totally in love with the chick dance floor.

You may not go so far to entertain your pets; but hey, it's Friday, time to relax and enjoy time with your family..., no matter what 'breed' they are!


Feb 25, 2009

Nothing Like Money...

Few things seem to catch people's attention like money does and this promotional ad from Egypt just proved it.

The product, Waffar.com ("Waffar" translates as "Save") is a promotions portal and to remind clients and consumers of the benefits of using the website, the agency inserted a real Egyptian note -one pound- in 2000 copies of a magazine. Those copies were sent to all suscribers of the magazineas well as to over 100 target companies.

A very simple text underneath the money suggested that more money could be saved by logging on to the portal. This is how it looked....

The results? Waffar's call center was flooded with calls from new clients wanting to post their promotions on the site and some people even called to thank Waffar for the pound. In less than a month, visits to their site increased by 26% and brand awareness rose by 18%.

If you think about it, the investment was just 2000 pounds more than what the original investment in just an ad would have been but the "sample" attached surely made a difference.

Agency: Marcom; Creative Directors: Karim A. Yusuf, Omar El Abd.


Feb 24, 2009

Monster Idea

I seldom use the snail mail to send anything -except maybe one of those cards to renew subscriptions-, so I really don't use stamps at all but I would buy these ones in a heartbeat just to have them. In fact I know that at least a couple of my friends would love to have them too.

They are the work of Adam McCauley and he won a gold award for “Monster Stamps” at the Society of Illustrator’s annual exhibit.

Of course my favorites by far are Dracula and the witch (Romania and Salem respectively) but the whole group is awesome and the idea alone is one of those that makes you wonder "How come no one had this idea before?"

Check them out...

The mix between sci-fi, comic, vintage design and "monsters by city" it's just perfect and the real name of this work is "The Monsterologist Endpaper Stamps".

If you want to see other work by the same artist, just visit his site. I personally love his "Other Vaders" series but you can spend a good chunk of time browsing all his work and finding your own favorites.



Feb 23, 2009

Get a "Computer Tan" at Work

Interesting campaign from the UK, that actually fooled thousands into believe they could get a tan using their computers.

An infomercial (see below) "presented" a new technology that suppousedly harnesses the rays of a computer screen to give office workers a tan while they type. More than 200,000 people visited the ComputerTan website (30000 in just 24 hours) to register their interest. However, ComputerTan was in fact a ruse by the UK skin cancer charity Skcin to raise awareness of skin cancer in the UK.

Users who registered for a PC tanning session through the fake ComputerTan website and expected to be bathed in heated rays were in fact confronted by an alarming collection of facts about skin cancer, including illustrations and photographs of the disease.

The campaign was masterminded by the advertising agency McCann Erickson and of course the idea behind it was to make British people more aware of the damage that tanning and sunbathing may be doing to their bodies.

The co-founder of Skcin, Richard Clifford, said the campaign was a humorous way to raise awareness of a very serious issue: “More people die of skin cancer in the UK every year than in Australia,” he said (what seems pretty odd considering how more many sunny days you can get in Australia!).

Skcin is a UK-based charity founded by the family and friends of Karen Clifford, who died of skin cancer in 2005 and it offers help and advice on skincare and tanning via its website.

Considering the time I spend in front of the computer, if this product was for real I would be beyond black already...


Creativity from the Ordinary Man

Have you ever been to "The Best of Craiglist"?

Really, whenever you want to read really unusual ads, that is the place to go. I am not talking about "weird" ads related to kinky sex (those may be good too but that is another story). I am talking about little gems of creativity that are written by ordinary men and women with very distinctive and different goals.

In that section you can read a guy's search "For the jewish girl that passed out in my bed" (apparently they were both too drunk and he wrote down the wrong phone number, or the story of the guy that only wants to tell a girl that when she called at 1:30 am in the morning to dump him, she dialed the wrong number.

But you can also find there some totally futile searches, like the guy that wants a time machine to be able to send a warning note to himself to avoid getting a girl pregnant and receiving -in exchange- three STDs from her.

Some others though, try to help you get what you want (and what they want) by offering i.e. not just a car but a small guide on "How To Justify Buying My Car to a Significant Other". There are open letters to African scammers and a "job offer" that includes non-paid training for lice removal.

Still, my favorites by far, are the rants. Intelligent and eloquent people that are totally fed up with a particular situation can get very creative when they decide that enough is enough. From the "Eleven Things I Hate About Working at a Liquor Store" to "Pregnancy Doesn't Make You Divine..." you will surely have fun with these postings and you can learn a thing or two in the process. Make sure you make some time for "Severly Obese Smoker Woman Looking for Love" too.

If you are in need of a break or if you want samples of creative writing, check the Best of Craiglist. You will not be dissapointed.


Feb 20, 2009

It's Friday, Get Personal

Funny ad from my native country, Argentina. The company is Telecom and the product name is "Personal" (cellular plan).

Titled "Personal Puppet" it features a cute way for tough guys to express themselves without showing their emotions...

Agency: Santo - Buenos Aires

Back to Friday: it's time to relax and... you know, find your own way to get "personal"!


Feb 19, 2009


From Chile, a good campaign for a classic product. What I find interesting is that these ads do not need translation. I am not including the title of each piece, I think you can figure it out the same way I hope you had figured out the title of this posting already.

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The agency behind the campaign is JWT and even if some people find the elephant in slices a bit gross, "no animals were harmed in the making of this ad".


Feb 18, 2009

Good Idea, Great Execution

For me is a mantra: a good idea with a poor execution ends up being a bad idea. A simple good idea with a great execution becomes a great idea. You can see that in advertising everyday and this is just one more example.

This French campaign for Alka Setzer -that won in Cannes in 2007- wouldn't be so delightful if it wasn't for the wonderful illustration. To start with, it is not easy to convey "upset stomach" or "acid indigestion" in black and white... and the images inside each stomach are just the cherry on top.

The concept behind it is "Dissolve your problems" and these are my two favorites:

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I know, these ads are nothing new but I just want to have them in my blog. In fact I would love to print them in a big size, frame them and use them to decorate my office!

You can see the whole campaign here.


On Education, Creativity, and too Many Rules

Is there hope for the US? I would love to think so but in my humble opinion the odds are not favorable for this country. I am not talking about the financial crisis, I am talking about the ethics crisis, the crisis in education and the lack of good creative thinking.

I have been in this country for more than 6 years now but I am still amazed by the amount of rules that are applied here and there without any common sense, for not talking about the amount of rules, regulations and judicial cases that simply put do not make sense at all.

So I felt almost relieved when I found this amazing talk by Barry Schwartz at TED. He makes a passionate call for “practical wisdom” as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world. Check it out, it is worth every minute.

As you can see he makes several valid points about how -among other things- kids are educated in this country. Education as anything else needs rules but it also needs common sense and now and here -more than ever- needs to foster creativity. But how can anyone foster creativity in an environment that is more worried with rules and regulations than with common sense?

Advertising is a good example of how rules, regulations and the love to take things to court can cut the wings of creativity. A good example but not the only one, you can find examples everywhere.

High IQ and a great level of education will not be enough for the US in the coming years. Not that we actually have such a great level of education but even if it is attained, education as it is understand today will not make it or break it in the near future.

Just the numbers that you can see at the beginning of this post (from the latest version of "Did you know?") make it pretty clear to me that even if the US fixes the education problem soon it will not be enough. India or China will still have more people with high IQs and a great education than the US.

What is needed is a complete shift in the way that America thinks. The only hope is actually in going back to common sense on one hand and to creativity on the other, but it seems to me that except for a small number of "intellectuals" the average American still believes that there is nothing wrong with too many rules (and trials) constraining creativity.

Bush administration took this country into what I call the "Bananaland direction". No ethics were needed, you could get what you wanted by being the friend of the right people. With eight years of lies, greed and propaganda being the example set by the government and the big companies there is a need of change but not just in the White House. We, the people, we need to start thinking differently, out of the box of rules and into the world of common sense and we need to get back to praise hard work. If we do not do so, I am pretty sure we are doomed, with or without financial crisis.

On the bright hand though, creativity tends to flourish during hard times. There is nothing like having extreme needs to boost creativity. Nevertheless we still have one problem: creativity can be used for the common good or for evil. If ethics are not there, we can get more "creative" people like Madoff. The type of creativity that we do not want or need, the one that is born from greed and from the search of "easy ways".

Good things do not come easy. If you are not sure, ask your grandparents. They can probably tell you good stories of a time -not so far away- when common sense and hard work ruled, a time when creativity for the common good was also the engine driving the country. Bailout or not what we really need is to go back to those basics.


Feb 17, 2009

It's a Pattern, People!

Most of my readers (being all very well informed people) they probably already know about the outrage caused by Facebook's new "terms of service". Those readers that have been following me for a while also know that this queen of online networking have been avoiding Facebook like the plague.

I just want to point out that this is not "a mistake". It is clear that Facebook is controlled by not very ethical people that are willing to do whatever it takes to make money. Problem is, you, your pictures and your content are involved in that.

Let me say it again. It's not a mistake. It's a pattern. So think about it. I know that Facebook can make your life easy to stay in touch with friends and acquaintances, but it can also go against you in more ways that you can imagine. And the guys at the top of the company seem to be trying -once and again- to use you, no matter what.

As I said before, as a marketer of course I would like my company to be out there. Me, as a person, no thanks! I would rather be a bit busier to keep in touch with friends and foes that allow a company to blatantly use my material and on the other hand, I am not sure it really helps you to have more free time for productive things.

Inform yourself. Here is a very interesting comparison of "terms of service" that includes MySpace, YouTube, Linkedin and Facebook among others.

Friends, I love you all but I will not be in Facebook until it changes management. The worst evil empire of mass communications will be better than these guys!


Feb 16, 2009

A Twitter Surprise!

Yesterday I worked until it was already today and ended up going to bed around 5 am so today I checked my email kind of late in the evening. Between work, friends and spam (that I want to read, I can explain it another day) I receive around 1K to 2K emails daily. But today a surprise was waiting for me in my inbox. Check it out:

UD by Ron
Aaron, a Twitter friend and graphic artist with whom I share the love for good designs, a particular shade of blue and the thrill of finding amazing art websites, sent me this direct message through Twitter: "Thought you might enjoy this. I was just bored" and the image that you can see above this lines.

I love the idea of the light behind the logo and of course, that shade of blue. I may try it at some point whenever I find the time and the energy to redesign UglyDoggy.

Meanwhile, I just want to show off my unexpected present and say publicly "Thanks, Ron!" and thanks Twitter for being the medium that allows surprises like this one...


Feb 14, 2009

Happy Ballantine's Day!

I am not really into Valentine's Day. I can't help it but feel that it's a "commercial day" another way to spike consumption. Being myself a real romantic (the old fashion way) I think love should be celebrated everyday with small gestures; lucky me my hubby thinks the same way.

Now, for some reason -maybe because I am not a native English speaker-, each time I hear Valentine's Day I think "Ballantine's Day"... and before you ask, no, I am not a drinker at all!

I am pretty sure that is because of this homophonic trait that I tend to check first the whiskey's website to see if they have a Valentine's Day campaign. They usually don't but I find that their actual ad is pretty romantic even if it wasn't conceived for this date. Check it out yourself:

Beautiful images, romantic in some way (is like spreading love through music) and -like they say about the whiskey- it makes an impression. Happy Valentine's/Ballantine's Day!


Feb 12, 2009

It's Friday the 13th! Or is it Tuesday?

This is a true story. When I was living in Argentina, one day I was talking with a German guy (in English) and he was trying to "show off" some of his Spanish. At least twice during the conversation -talking about his weekend- he said "Martes" (Tuesday) instead of "Viernes" (Friday).

The third time he said so, I asked him from where he got the idea that Martes was Friday. The unexpected answer was: "From the movies"

Funny enough, it makes sense. Friday the 13th, the unlucky day for Anglos and for that reason the name of so many terror movies was translated as "Martes 13" (Tuesday 13) in many Spanish speaking countries because in the Hispanic world -and in the Greek too- the day to dread is that one, Tuesday the 13th. So the guy saw some movie posters for Friday 13 translated as Martes 13 and he assumed Viernes (Friday) = Martes (Tuesday), as you can see in the poster at the top.

Later, while traveling around Europe I learnt that in Italy the "bad luck day" is also Friday but... the 17th! What helped me understand why in Argentina both numbers are considered "bad luck", we inherited the 13 from our Spanish ancestors and the 17 from our Italian ancestors. But why the differences in weekdays and numbers?

This is how it goes for Tuesday the 13th: Martes is a name that derives from Marte, the god of war. It is considered the planet that rules violence, destruction and blood. The 13 on the other hand, has its roots in several different beliefs: the 13 apostles of the last supper; the cabala talks about 13 evil spirits and according to a Scandinavian legend during a dinner among the gods at the Valhalla, it was Loki -the evil spirit- the number 13. Last but not least in some versions of the Tarot the # 13represents death. It is also the chapter 13 in the Apocalypses the one about the Antichrist.

So what about Friday the 13th? The story with the 13 is pretty similar. The last supper, or a Norse myth, that implies that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.

The Friday though, is another story. According to Wikipedia: "Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century's The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s. It has also been suggested that Friday was the day that Jesus was crucified."

On the other hand, another theory by author Charles Panati, one of the leading authorities on the subject of "Origins" maintains that the actual origin of the superstition, appears also to be a tale in Norse mythology. "Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil - a gathering of thirteen - and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as 'Witches' Sabbath."

Last but not least, another theory about the origin of the superstition traces the event to the arrest of the legendary Knights Templar. According to one expert when the Knights Templar became extraordinarily powerful and wealthy King Philip threatened by that power and eager to acquire their wealth, secretly ordered the mass arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307.

I guess that because of the Last Supper and the Nordic and Scandinavian myths that both Anglos and Hispanics tend to consider "bad luck" to have 13 people at a table.

And what about Italy's Venerdi (Friday) 17? This one seems to share with the previous one the roots on Friday as a black day in part for the Templar's massacre and in part because it was the day Jesus was crucified. The 17 though, seems to have two theories. One goes back to Ancient Rome: seventeen was XVII, its anagram was VIXI what was pronounced as "vissi" that means "lived" but in the sense of "lived but now is dead". The other explanation goes back to the Bible, from the idea that the "universal flood" started on a 17.

As you can see, there is no reason to believe in any of these superstitions (or are you going to fear Friday 13th, Friday 17th and Tuesday 13th from now on?). I am sure that with more research we could find more days and more numbers in different cultures. In fact, if you know of some other dates in other cultures, please let us know.

From my point of view, who cares if it is the 13th? It's Friday, a day to enjoy!


Darwin @ Home

Can't help myself but to make another posting on Darwin's birthday. This time I just want to share the picture of a very cute statue that we have at home.

We are always making jokes about what the monkey may be wondering about. I believe he is thinking "Is evolution so hard to understand?"


On Darwin's Day

I was thinking in what to write to commemorate Darwin's birthday when a friend's email with this article from 1955 appeared in my inbox. It is a "Good Wife's Guide" from the magazine Good Housekeeping.

Click on the image to enlarge and read (the highlights are mine)

"You have no right to question him" as well as "remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours" just left me speechless. I also find it funny the contradiction between "his boring day..." and some paragraphs later "what he might have gone through the day".

There is just one thing I can say after reading it (even if it sounds like an oxymoron): "Thanks God for evolution!"

PS: For the purists out there, I know that Darwin's evolution theory has nothing to do with this type of evolution, but I believe they 'connect' in some way.

Thanks Brig for the email, it really made me laugh!


Feb 11, 2009

Pangram Illustrated

Love this work from Dutch (?) artist Erosie. Graphic designers will probably recognize what this is about at first glance...

For all the others that may have not idea what this is about let's start by explaining what a pangram is. A pangram (from the Greek: pan gramma, "every letter"), is a sentence using every letter of the alphabet at least once.

Pangrams are used to display typefaces and the pangram portrayed here "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" is one of the most popular ones because it was utilized by Western Union to test Telex/TWX data communication equipment and is now used by a number of computer programs (most notably the font viewer built into Microsoft Windows) to display computer fonts. The other thing that makes this one popular is that is relatively short and "makes sense" as a sentence.

Because of this use as some kind of "font test", designers, copywriters and creative directors tend to know this phrase by heart. To see it in a comic style, graffitti-like illustration just made me laugh.


Feb 10, 2009

Advertising Ice Age

Ads come and go. Of course we remember some "classics" but most ads have a short life.

Nevertheless the ad featured here may be the one with the shortest lifespan ever, because it has been printed on the snow.

It's the brainchild of British media agency Curb that specializes in low-impact advertising: their services include clean advertising service (portrayed here before); sand sculptures of all sizes; patterns and logos burnt into wood using magnifying glasses and they even offer a ‘logrow’ service to cut logos as big as 30m wide into turf.

What I find interesting about the "snow tagging campaign" -created for the sports channel brand Extreme- is the story behind it: this wasn’t a planned campaign, at least not by Extreme.

The story goes like this: Curb realized they could do a smart burst of branding for Extreme if it would snow. So they prepared the stamps ahead of time and called Extreme when it started snowing. The brand, clearly not the typical slow-moving burocratic type, gave an immediate go-ahead and apparently is happy with the outcome.

Household names have already used the agency services: the Adidas logo was part of the grass and Volkswagen commissioned a sand sculpture and Barack Obama’s face was etched into wood. Here some other examples of their work:

Nike in wood

VW in sand

More snow for Extreme



Feb 8, 2009

God Redux

Let's make this clear: I am not a church-going persona. Not at all. I was raised as a catholic but somewhere around my teen years I decided religion is not for me, in any shape or form.

Nevertheless I acknowledge the simple fact that churches, convents and monasteries can be amazing places due to their architecture or their history, so from time to time, -specially when I am traveling- I set my foot in one of those places just to be wowed by their looks.

Some churches are recognized worldwide like the Duomo di Milan or La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, but there are hundreds (if not thousands) of churches that are not so known and are still one of a kind. For example, the one at the left is in Buenos Aires, Argentina -to be exactly in Olivos- and the sight of its walls totally covered by a climbing plant is simply incredible.

But what about the not-sacred-anymore churches? Those that -as a tango lyrics goes- "have been, but are not anymore". I am talking about churches that have been converted -no pun intended- into something else.

So today I just want to share with you some of those wonderful transformations.

First, my favorite: the Boekhandel Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht -a bookstore inside a former Dominican church-, by Dutch architects Merkx+Girod. Their work won the Lensvelt Architect Interior Prize in 2007...

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I personally like the idea that with the transformation the old church became a place to "worship knowledge" through many books, instead of being a place of worship that mainly uses just one very, very, very old book...

The main focal point of the place though, that is their coffee shop/reading room attracted (of course!) some controversy. You can see by yourself why:

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click to enlarge You can see a few more pictures of this bookstore here.

Three other interesting "conversions" are in Glasgow, Milan and Peru.

The first is Oran Mor, now a cultural centre and meeting place in the heart of Glasgow's West End. Inside are two bars, two restaurants, a nightclub and stunning private event space available for hire in this converted church, formerly Kelvinside Parish Church.

From outside:
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A close up of the ceiling:

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The one in Milan, now known as "Il Gatopardo Cafe" it's a Disco-Bar that has also been used as a photo set. Here is why:

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Last but not least in Cuzco, Peru, you can sleep in what used to be a monastery -built in 1592- that is now one of the best hotels in Latin America. Known as "Hotel Monasterio" (duh!) is an impressive place that is also the ideal spot to stay when visiting Cusco and the ancient ruins at Machu Picchu.

Check it out:

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Obviously, these are not the only examples out there. In Cartagena (Colombia) you can find a monastery and a convent converted into luxury hotels (Sofitel Santa Clara and Charleston Santa Teresa) and I wrote before about the small convent in Buenos Aires that became a designed Bed & Breakfast in Bs As.

If you are interested in the matter, you may want to take a look at "Eglises Reconverties" (Converted Churches), a book that portrays churches that have been restored to become something else, a bookstore, a school or a hotel. Some of the pictures posted here are from that book but the ones from Cuzco are from my friend's Otavio trip to Peru (you can see more of his amazing pictures of Peru at his flickr photostream)

I am sure there are some more interesting conversions out there. Someone told me that a church is now a disco somewhere in Colorado and I heard about a church that was remodeled to become a cinema somewhere in Europe. If you know about other interesting transformations of churches, please let me know!


Feb 5, 2009

An Unusual Riot

Last year during my trip to Buenos Aires, one of my friends -knowing my love for street art-, took me to an unusual corner of the city, totally covered by a comic style graffitti.

What makes it so special is not only the size -it takes the whole corner- but the scene that represents: Noah's Ark after a riot and under the animals' control!

What can I say? I simply loved the idea. Below you can see sveral shots of the corner. Sadly it was at night and it started raining so the pictures are not great, just decent enough...

1. The whole corner
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2. A bit more in detail
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3. The sign painted over the window reads "Ark taken" and yes, that is Noah tied down...
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4. Around the corner
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I am not sure who lives in that corner (maybe the artist?) but even the number of the house is part of the graffitti.

On the website that appears as a signature (danograff.com.ar) you can see other work from the same artist. Strangely enough the Ark's riot is not featured there.

Thanks Grace for taking me there!