Apr 29, 2009

Swine Flu & Hunger

Right now, while the media is bombarding us with "news" about the swine flu, more than 500 million people are living in absolute poverty and more than 15 million children die of hunger every year. The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the population is underfed and another third is starving.

Even in the United States, 46 percent of African-American children and 49 percent of Latino children are considered chronically hungry.

You can do something about it. You can help a family through Heifer International or you can lend as little as $25 to someone in the third world through Kiva.org. You can also donate to a food bank or feed the homeless in your community. Talk about it, blog about it. Do whatever you can, because every bit helps.

Just a quick reminder: The swine flu may or may not become a pandemic in the near future, but hunger is already one and the way it spreads is by the rest of us doing nothing.


100 World's Influentials List Hacked!

Some days ago, there was a buzz going around when the Time.com poll for the "100 Most Influential People" ended up with Moot being on position number one. It was surprising, of course. I personally find it odd but didn't give the list a second look. Today, a friend of mine sent me a link with the definitive proof that the poll was hacked.

Yes, even when Time.com says that their "technical team did detect and extinguish several attempts to hack the vote", apparently they didn't really extinguish them.

Take a look for yourself, here is the actual list with the capital letter of each "winner" in bold. You see anything weird?

Yes, it reads "Marble Cake Also The Game". Do you still think that is a coincidence? If that is the case, here is a very technical article on how the hack was possible.

If you think the list is photoshopped, check out the original results as published on Time.com (they are the same, I checked already, duh!).

You have to give some credit to the guys behind the attack. They probably have too much time in their hands, yes, but at the same time they actually achieved their goal.

It seems to me that big media needs still needs to learn a thing or two about the online world. Now let's see if Time.com acknowledges their incompetence... I mean, that would be the least they can do (and the right thing to do!)

PS: Another friend just wrote to me saying "I don't think they will admit the hacking because they probably think that it will make them look bad." Personally I think that it is the other way, that trying to deny what happened is much worse! What do YOU think?

(Thanks, Dani for the link!)


Apr 28, 2009

Buildings As Unusual Advertising

Two interesting examples of companies using their own buildings to get some attention: the first one from Japan, the second one from Argentina.

In the Japanese case, it is in fact a mix of advertising and information. The whole building is an electronics shop and the cell phone covering the building is more than just a gigantic billboard, it also indicates what type of products you can find in each floor. If you look closely, you will see that the numbers do not go from 0 to 9 and that "Windows" products are available in floor #7 while CPUs are on the first floor.

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Source: Kirainet

This second case is pure advertising but at the same time -as a whole- is more subtle than the Japanese: I personally know people that walk down that street almost daily and have never noticed this "ad" for Topper, a well known brand of sports gear.

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This building is on a main street in Buenos Aires (Santa Fe Avenue) and now the brand owns the building that appears on the left -with their logo at the top- but they used to be where the ad is, and my guess is that they still own part of the place.

If you click on the picture to enlarge you will see that the "ad" encompasses some cool small details: the woman and the kids on the balcony are part of the whole scene and near to the top of the building -like carved in the stone- it reads "Todo está en juego" what translates as "Everything is in play".

Companies using their buildings as advertising may not be nothing new but I really like the well thought details in these two cases!


Apr 27, 2009

Public Intervention: Who Am I?

"In Your Own Image" is the latest project of Bert Rodríguez, a conceptual artist based in Miami. Let me put something straight: even when Rodriguez has participated twice of Art Basel in Miami and was also part of the Whitney Biennial, most of the time his work is not exactly what I consider art. Simply put, he is one of those artists so "out there" that some of his projects seem to me more like a mockery of the art scene but not really art.

Nevertheless, this is not the case. This last project took place in Paris, where Rodriguez distributed in shops, cafes, and bars a postage paid card of himself without his hair. On the opposite side of the postcard were the instructions inviting the public, to "complete" the image by adding elements (hairstyle, clothing, accessories, make-up) using any drawing tools they desire.

The results are now on display at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami, until June 14th. The exhibition includes 134 of the postcards returned to the artist. Here some highlights.

1. As an Saint - It may look like a pretty simple doodle but what makes this intervention different is the signature. Whoever did this one, signed as the First Lady of France, Carla Bruni Sarkozy.

2. As a Devil - Of course someone saw the devilish side of the artist and this intervention required just a red marker.

3. As a pop-star - One of the most elaborated interventions: whoever work on this one saw a pop-star in the making.

I truly love this idea. On the one hand it works on the real world with a concept pretty pretty popular on the online world: it is almost like an "open source" art, where anybody can add their vision to the basic being offered. A personal intervention without any guidelines.

On the other hand, the whole thing reminded me of a very popular song from Divididos, "Que ves cuando me ves" title that can be translated as "What do you see when you see me?". If there is something that during my teenage years helped me to be myself and to not cave into peer pressure was the knowledge (or the belief) that no matter how I am, people will see me in very different ways just because we see things from our own point of view and from our own experience. So I decided early on to be "myself", meaning by that to follow my own instincts and to make my own determinations, for good or for bad.

In a slightly different way this art project works under the same idea: a big chunk of "who we are" -according to others-, is in fact in the eye of the beholder. We can be saints or devils and in fact chances are we are, at least for someone out there.

More about Bert Rodriguez previous work.


Apr 24, 2009

It's Friday, Be Cynical!

No, I am not on vacations my dear weirdos...

It just happens that some days ago I was having an interesting and heated discussion about the difference between being "mean", "evil", "wrong" or just "cynical".

Then, some days later, I run across "WrongCards" a website with very nice designed postcards that -depending on your point of view- can be seen as cynical, wrong or totally evil. Nevertheless, if you have some twisted sense of humor, they are a blast.

You can send them for free to friends and foes and there are postcards for any ocassion. Check some examples...

"Positive Thinking"


Power (or the lack of)

Finally, one of my favorites. It is not the best, but it is a good example of how "wrong" could be "right". If my husband would send me this one while I am traveling, I wouldn't find it wrong but terrible right!

Missing You

Let's face it, in some extreme examples, we may all agree with something or someone being evil or mean, but in hundreds of cases we may not agree simply because at some levels those definitions are very subjective. Being myself the type that tends to give answers 'tongue in cheek' I have experienced first hand how different we may appreciate irony or cynicism.

Some people hate irony. Some because they don't get it, some because they want to avoid offense at any cost even if to do so they have to lie. On my side, I have been compared more than once to Dr. House, and I take that as a compliment. I think is related to the fact that I tend to prioritize truth over almost anything (of course, there are some exceptions) and that I hardly take offense if you are just telling me things as they are.

Take the postcard at the beginning of this post. If any of my coworkers would leave that one on my desk I would laugh out loud but would never be offended. It is the truth after all!

The postcards from "Wrong Cards" are free and I bet that you will laugh or you will find them offensive but you will probably stay there for a while browsing the whole collection !

On the other hand if you really want to have a card, a real one, to get rid of annoying people you should check Gramkin Paper Studio "Courtesy Cards"

These ones are for sell at Etsy and I believe they are an oximoron... using these cards are a very polite way of being unpolite!


Apr 22, 2009

Earth Day & Food

As a way of celebrating Earth Day, here is a campaign from Germany that reminds us about some of the problems that come with globalization. Great art direction morphs different means of transportation into the products they are carrying.

Banana Boat
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Pineapple Airlines
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Truck Nut

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The client is "Friends of the Earth" and the tagline is "Think global. Eat local". The ad agency was McCann Erickson BCA (Frankfurt, Germany).

Disclaimer: the "names" of the ads are just my own interpretation...

If you are interested in being part of Earth Day, you still have time. A good number of events are scheduled for this weekend, to see the complete list go to Earth911.com



Apr 17, 2009

It's Friday, Dance With Me!

It's Friday again and I wasn't able to to write a new posting until yesterday...(sigh) Oh well, such is life; so much work, so little time! On the bright side "it's Friday" and here you have a guerrilla marketing action very uplifting to watch...

Pretty similar to what T-Mobile has recently done in London but closer to my heart just because of the song, this was a promotional stunt that took place at the entry hall of the Central Station in Antwerpen, Belgium. The promotion was for "Searching for Maria" a TV program in some way similar to American Idol but where the search is limited to find the main star for one specific show.

The coreography included 200 dancers and as you will see a good number of them were kids:

In this case the search is of course for the main character of "The Sound of Music".

According to my friend Marc who was kind enough to translate the information (originally in Dutch) for me, this program is very popular in Holland and Belgium and last year was aboout finding the main star for the opera "Evita".

Enjoy your weekend! ♫ ♫ Doe, a deer, a female deer, Ray, a drop of golden sun, Me..., a name I call myself... ♫ ♫


Apr 16, 2009

Right Now Vs. 30 Years Ago

I love the new Sprint campaign "Right Now" for several reasons. On the one hand it feeds my belief that numbers are cool: not always useful, not always being understood (or analyzed) in the right way, but always good to have, even if it is just for fun, like in this case.

On the other hand I love the fact that for each day the commercial airs with the line "26% of you have no idea what Twitter is" is helping to change that number what makes more clear how quickly the "right now" is changing around us.

For those outside US that may have not seen the commercial, here it is. "Welcome to the now network":

But what I really, really like about this commercial is to imagine how strange it would sound if -thanks to a time machine- we could air it back in time, let's say during the 70's. NOTHING in it would make sense. There was no cellular networks, no email, span was food, the only popular tube was the one underground London and of course 100% would know what twitter is..."to rapidly utter chirping noises".

Think about it. What has clearly defined the last 30 or 40 years is how quickly the present -our right now- is changing right now!


Apr 10, 2009

It's Friday, Mix-n-Match!

Today, April 10th, Esquire Magazine will be on the stands with a pretty unusual cover, a mix-and-match with the faces of President Obama, George Clooney and Justin Timberland. As you can see in the video you can get pretty interesting faces playing with it.

What I find more interesting though is the advertising on the inside cover. It is for the upcoming History Channel TV show "Life After People" and they really managed to have an ad in the mix-n-match that makes sense, not an easy task. Pictures of the ad coming soon...

Meanwhile play with the faces and let me know if there is a mix that you prefer over the originals!

PS: at Esquire you can find the video with better resolution. Sadly, the embedded function does not seem to be working.


Apr 7, 2009

Googleopoly, (E)Bill Gates and Apple Illustrated

In a time where everyone is talking about the newspapers industry "being hurt" by the online media, few seem to look into what newspapers are doing, or better said, NOT doing to change that situation. Being one of those things making the news or the information more visual.

That doesn't mean that good independent information and deep analysis of the news should not be the central part of any newspaper, but in a society that is becoming more and more visual, appealing to eye-catching images seems like something to be done. And if those images can also deliver the information, much better. Take this work from Norberto (a.k.a. el Norbi) Baruch B., a graphic designer (and academic) that after working some years in advertising went to work for some of the most important Argentinian newspapers.

He is working now for another big newspaper "Crítica de la Argentina" and his approach to things -from Google to Apple; from the DNA to Bill Gates-, is a perfect example on how to present information in a visual manner that simply catches the eye. Let's start with his version of Googleopoly....

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While the idea isn't totally new (there was one attempt from Box.net) his execution is just flawless. The inclusion of Larry Page with tail cot as the Monopoly Guy and the way the illustration really resembles a Monopoly table makes the image immediately attractive. If you add to that the fact that each section shows a company bought by Google with the date and the investment, you have at a glance the information they were trying to showcase: the grow and power of Google. Here, a detailed view:

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One that made me laugh out loud was this visual analysis of Bill Gates. From the title already we know its a look to both sides of the man (the businessman and the charitable) but if you don't speak Spanish, here is the catch: "vil" can be translated as "evil" of "vile" but it sounds almost like Bill. So the title "Vil, Bill Gates" was the perfect wording for an image that informs about the guy showing both sides of his story.

There is more from "el Norbi", much more. His take on the story of the DNA's research "a la Da Vinci" is also a great work of art as it is the illustration for a special issue about Guantanamo. Last but not least here is the mandala used to illustrate Apple's development from the first Mac to the iPhone and I found his Dark Vader in 3D almost hilarious!

There is more, much more, from "el Norbi". The good news is that he is also online with his blog about "visual journalism" and even if most of the site is in Spanish, there are good readings in English too, as his interview to Adam McCauley (the one that created the "Monster Stamps", remember?).

Even if you don't speak Spanish, you should check the site: you will find good visual material that you will not see anywhere else!


Apr 5, 2009

Inventing Kin: Interview & Premiere

A couple of days ago I wrote about an upcoming short movie called "Inventing Kin". I just got the news that the movie will have a premiere in Coral Gables this Thursday at 8 pm at the Bill Cosford Cinema, (Memorial Building, University of Miami). The entrance is free on first come, first serve basis.

Just in time for the premiere, I interviewed the director and writer of the film, Fro Rojas. Born and raised in Miami, Fro studied at the Miami International University of Art & Design. He works in advertising and has previously directed two other short films that received awards in different competitions. He also has directed Carolina Herrera (fashion icon) and Fanny Lu (singer) for the SONY SER campaign, that targets breast cancer awareness.

He moved to L.A. where he worked for 4 years at FOX SPORTS as a producer/editor but his mother got gravely ill from cancer and passed away in 2004 at the age of 48, so at the age of 24 he came back to Miami to raise his 14 year old sister. Here, the interview:

How the idea of making this film came to you? Where you involved in the script in this movie too? Does the idea evolved with time or did you have the idea "all at once"?

The idea came to me from a couple of different inspirations. I've done back to back comedies and wanted to do something a little bit more serious. I wanted to challenge myself and make something with heart.

I based some stuff on my mother's passing 4 years ago. I went through a lot when my mom passed away and I wanted to bring that emotion to the screen. I wrote the story and then my screenwriter Andy Negrin wrote the screen play.

I was decided to pay an homage to my mom with a story that was more along the lines of a drama because she used to tell me: "your films are comedic and great, but challenge yourself to do some drama, some love". So I did with this latest film. It's a way of saying 'Thank you' to my mom for all her inspiration. Andy also lost his grandfather around that time and we both used a lot of what we went through to write this story.

We work off of each other really well. He writes the screen play and we go back and forth brainstorming ideas. I think we pretty much had the idea all at once. Some things changed here and there, of course, but nothing major.

What other movies have you done (short or otherwise)?

I've done numerous short films and music videos. The last short film "PENCIL FIGHTING: the life and times of team balderdash" was well received by film festivals and by the local media as well. We won 4 BEST SHORT FILM awards and we won BEST MOVIE SHOT ON LOCATION by the Miami New Times.

Is the movie scheduled to show in theaters? Or are you looking forward for someone to distribute it?

It's a short film and it will show mainly at film festivals. We will have a local film premiere with all the actors, crew & local media attending. The goal is for the right people to see the film at the different film festivals and hopefully be given the opportunity by a studio to make the short into a feature.

It seems than "inventions" are very important in this film? Can you tell me a little more about it? Are those inventions in the movie useful or funny ones or....?

I have always been fascinated by silly things, like...who sat there and invented a yo-yo? There is a world out there of inventors who invent the silliest things that we never realize or appreciate. So the idea came to me that I wanted this girls family to have a legacy of useless inventions. Her grandfather invents the funny nose and glasses and her dad the plastic party kazoo. In the story she's trying to add to the family legacy, all while inventing some sort of connection with her distant father. Hence the INVENTING KIN title.

Tell me more about the cast and the team

The cast and crew were an AMAZING bunch. We usually do a casting and bring in actors to audition. But for this film I actually set out to look for people I specifically wanted. I had several girls in mind for the main Kin role but Nikki Borges (the lead actress) came in and did a phenomenal job. She was the first person we casted.

We had worked before with Marc Macaulay on our last film and he is a brilliant actor and it's always such a pleasure to work with him. So we knew he'd be PERFECT for the father role. Then I met Melvin Lima on a set of a music video I was directing and I really liked his look in general. So we brought him in to test with Nikki and they hit it off great so we knew we had found our guy. Finally, George Smith came highly recommended from one of the executive producers and we met him and loved him. So we had our cast ready to go.

The crew had so many pieces but main ones are Andy Negrin, Sherman Johnson (DP), Debbie Margolis, Maritza Dequesada, Paula Jimenez, and JC Nunez (all producers), Ayleen Perez (Art Direction) and Donna Lisa (wardrobe). There are numerous other people who really made this film possible. The team was great, we all worked hard but always enjoyed ourselves. We love creating stories.

Do you want to be a movie maker fulltime? What do you like more, writing the script or directing?

Making movies for the rest of our lives..., I think it's EVERYONES goal! It's definitely my goal. I really enjoy making our stories come to life on the screen. I LOVE directing and I have to confess that I don't enjoy writing scripts so much. I feel like all the characters end up talking like me in the end. But I do enjoy writing the stories or ideas that kick-starts the process off.

Does your bilingual and bicultural skills/knowledge play some role in your scripts?

This is a question that has come up several times. I don't think as of yet I've used my bicultural life as a main role in my films. I have several script ideas that are influenced by my culture, but have yet to use them. I do however love my bicultural up bringing because I do feel it opens another world to telling stories that some other directors might not have.

I think some people expect that if a movie is made by a Hispanic director they'll see a Hispanic story line. I want to change that perception or at least open people's eyes that we can tell any type of story.

Remember: if you are in the South Florida area, this Thursday you can attend for free the premiere of the movie. You can find more information about the premiere in Facebook or you can contact the director at froltd2003@yahoo.com


Apr 3, 2009

It´s Friday, Prepare to Fight!

I am all for games. A lot of 'brain games' are specifically designed to help creativity flourish but very silly games can help in that sense too because they allow us our brain to rest ("think nothing") and recharge and "connect" with our subconscious mind.

Tomorrow (April 4th) is "International Pillow Fight Day" and if there is a silly game that will disconnect our brain for a little while, this is it. From Amsterdam to Kuala Lampur, more than 70 cities around the world (including NYC and Moscow) have scheduled a place and time for an old-fashioned pillow fight.

I am sure it will be a lot of fun. You can check here if there is a fight scheduled in your city and if there is, think about it as an anger-management therapy for free, pick a pillow and join the craziness!

PS: the picture at the beginning of this post is from a pillow fight in Buenos Aires where massive pillow fights has been organized since 2006, just on a different day.

Check out this raw video of the first one, that gathered more than 3000 people and lasted for more than an hour:

And now enjoy this much artistic one of last year's pillow fight in NYC.


Apr 1, 2009

Say "Cheese"!

Good cheese makes me smile. The same happens with good marketing. Thanks to Ile de France my smile is even bigger now, because they managed to do a great mouth-to-mouth campaign and it involves cheese, one of my favorites things in the world.

Normally, when I talk with small/medium companies about the power of web 2.0 I try to give examples that are reachable for them. Medium companies can't compare to Dove or Procter & Gamble so they need examples of what can be done through blogs, Twitter, FaceBook or LinkedIn that doesn't involve millions and millions of dollars and three advertising agencies working for them. This campaign is an excellent example.

Ile de France do have great cheeses. They probably know that if you are a cheese lover and you try their products you will want more and probably become a fan of the brand. So they managed to do a sampling at home using a foodies website as the media to invite cheese lovers to participate.

TasteSpotting (the website I am talking about) is in some way what I call a "curated crowdsourcing" site, meaning that most of their content comes from users. They still pick and choose what they published but a large part of what they have comes from "food bloggers"

Now, TasteSpotting is in Twitter and they used that media to let their followers know that this opportunity to sign up for a sample of an Ile de France cheese was available. Common sense indicates that most of tastespotting's followers are also food lovers that enjoy talking about food, blogging about food and experimenting with food, so the target for the campaign was spot on.

I signed up and totally forgot about it, until last week I received my cheese (an unbelievable good goat cheese) with a letter from Ile de France announcing their upcoming recipe contest.

We simply loved the cheese and it will be in my shopping list from now on. But they have managed to get me involved with the brand way more than if I had tried a sample size at the supermarket: I was so impressed by the cheese that I went to their website (where I learned that this goat cheese received the Chef's Award for "Best Taste" last year as well as a couple of things on how to store it for better conservation), I signed up for their promos and -last but not least- here I am talking about their cheeses.

This is real, possible and affordable marketing through web 2.0. Ile de France is not in Tweeter but they managed to be in Twitter. They do not blog but they managed to successfully connect with bloggers and the right ones, those who can appreciate a good cheese. They didn't have to create a whole new site or spend tons of money but they will probably achieve a mouth-to-mouth buzz that is worth the investment.

Now I have to go. An excellent goat cheese is waiting for me in the kitchen; it wants to be paired with good prosciutto and I am already salivating with a big grin in my face.

PS: If you are creative in the kitchen, you may want to enter the their contest. Create a recipe with one of their cheeses and send it with a picture or a video to recipe@iledefrancecheese.com before April 29th, 2009. You can win from $500 in cash to $100 in cheeses.