i'm with the brand

“One size fits all” fits no one


Sorry for the prolonged absence, folks–busy times! Here’s some food for thought from John Winsor of Victors & Spoils (thanks, Blair!) about rethinking our modes of customer interaction to make them more relevant, welcoming, and illuminating. Key takeaway? Make it make sense. Force-fitting customers (and audiences) into a mold or dismissing them altogether is not the way.

I like my gateaux like I like my Van Gogh: on display
April 2, 2010, 10:06 am
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , , , ,


Coolhunter brings us mouthwatering images of La Pâtisserie des Rêves, a Parisian bakery which displays their tantalizing wares in gallery form throughout the store. So it’s not really a bakery per se–it’s a pastry boutique, and the presentation suggests true artistry.

The best ideas are those that solve business, branding, and audience problems simultaneously, and this execution would definitely qualify: from a branding perspective, the unique presentation is a differentiator amongst the myriad bakeries dotting Paris; from a business perspective, it moves traffic more efficiently through the store and speeds transactions, relieving congestion at the counter where throngs of customers would normally mob the bakery case; and from an audience perspective, it allows patrons to unhurriedly peruse the merchandise in a playful atmosphere that elevates the various trifles from mundane commodities to little works of art, infusing pastry purchase with a sense of occasion.

It’s cool when businesses seize fresh ideas by conceiving of themselves as another type of business, a business in some other industry or category. For example, in some ways, Mini is a car company that behaves like a toy company; Virgin Air is an airline company that behaves like an entertainment company–obviously in part because the larger Virgin brand informs how they approach their airline business, but still.

This particular instance isn’t anything drastic or revolutionary, but it’s an example of how we can revitalize ourselves and learn from other disparate industries, businesses, and brands by retooling the way we think of our own, and by being open to the idea that our “best practices” may not really be the best practices.

This is me after Veckatimest: or, Grizzly Bieber girl
April 1, 2010, 10:35 am
Filed under: Music | Tags:

omg chamber pop

Sometimes I have to take self-imposed hiatuses from listening to certain things, usually because they’re so unfathomably good that they make my heart hurt, and I recognize it’s unhealthy to only listen to one thing over and over for months at a time, especially when it puts you into some absurd aesthetic-emotional funk you struggle vainly to articulate. (See also: Radiohead.)

Most recently, this applied to Grizzly Bear’s 2009 release, Veckatimest, which I feel certain is going to go down in history as a modern classic. It’s exquisite, painstakingly crafted, and to be honest, near-impossible to do justice. (Seriously. “Ready, Able” is devastating. Ed Droste’s voice is so liltingly moving it’s unfair–like a thin, fine fabric whipped taut by some plane-parallel wind, buzzing subtly with some near-imperceptible tremor. I. Can’t. Deal.)

So what happens when I finally listen to Veckatimest last week, after a couple months of a no-Grizz diet? This, basically:

I, wish, (sob sob) Grizzly Bear, (aaaaah) was in (hic) my (hic) faaaaamilyyyyy.

Branding meets pop culture for the 4th annual Peeps Diorama Contest


Just in time for Easter, Peeps is presenting its 4th annual diorama contest winners. This year’s winner, entitled “Eep,”  modeled after last year’s Disney hit, Up!, and chosen from over a thousand entries, is exquisite–and the overall quality of entries has definitely gone up over the years.

Ever-imaginative, these dioramas use the famous sugary animals (the bunnies are the most popular, but the chicks and bears make an appearance, too) to revamp culturally relevant events, icons, and ephemera–and you might be surprised how many, like this year’s winner, choose to depict some other branded entity. Here’s a couple of my favorites below, but definitely check out their other 35 top entries here.


sterling coopeep

It won’t be hard to keep pretending this Yeasayer remix is worth your time (yikes)
March 29, 2010, 3:02 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags:

madder red

In fact, no pretending involved. I promise this isn’t the All-Yeasayer-All-The-Time network, but this remix kills it. One of my favorite Odd Blood tracks, “Madder Red,” gets the Dr Rosen Rosen treatment: an actual, drastic re-imagining that casts the song in a totally new light–more ominous than apologetic. Not your run-of-the-mill “slap some arbitrary electrobeatz behind the track and be done with it” approach at all. Run, don’t walk–download it free at Stereogum.

Is sincerity making a comeback?
March 25, 2010, 1:04 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags: ,

Yeasayer at LA's Natural History Museum (photo via Stereogum)

Conan famously left the air with his admonition against cynicism. We talked about Levi’s doe-eyed campaign here too. And as I was obsessively listening to Yeasayer in anticipation of their Feb 5th show at the Natural History Museum (nuts–just nuts), I started to really process their lyrics holistically and noticed they’re overwhelmingly charged with gobsmacked enthusiasm–and an unpretentious sincerity belied by the the arty band’s sardonic hair and absurd comment-if-you-dare onesie jumpsuits.

Boredom and mockery have become such knee-jerk reactions that I was sure I was misunderstanding their message–of course this simplistic positivity was some critique of the naïve, these life-affirming platitudes an elaborate in-joke at the expense of the banal. It had to be. But I don’t think it was. In fact, I’m fairly certain it wasn’t.

It’s been so unfashionable lately to be anything but ironic, that for a BROOKLYN BAND (oh dear!) and hipster darling that should, by all accounts, be kings of smug irony–a band that’s got all the visual and sonic semiotics to be just another blasé subverter–to have sentiments so effervescent feels kiiiind of like the ultimate subversion. A decidedly un-precious attack from deep within the heart of hipsterdom.

A hippie thread (alternately sunny and dark) runs through their debut, All Hour Cymbals–and robot jungle apocalypse Odd Blood exults as much as it broods, too. It’s disarming, the bald-faced joyfulness of “Ambling Alp.” It’s endearing, the humanity of “2080.” It’s refreshing, the vulnerability of “I Remember.” Don’t believe me? A sampling of lyrics:

Red Cave
I’m so blessed to have spent that time
With my family
And the friends I love
In my short life I have met
So many people I deeply care for

Ambling Alp
Now, the world can be an unfair place at times
But your lows will have their complement of highs
And if anyone should cheat you, take advantage of, or beat you
Raise your head and wear your wounds with pride
You must stick up for yourself, son
Never mind what anybody else done

It’s a new year, I’m glad to be here
It’s a fresh spring, so let’s sing

Yeah, yeah, we can all grab at the chance to be handsome farmers
Yeah you can have twenty-one sons and be blood when they marry my daughters
And the pain that we left at the station will stay in a jar behind us
We can pickle the pain into blue ribbon winners at county contests

I Remember
I remember making love on a Sunday
Bright golden hearts in a fresh cut grass in May
I remember making out on an airplane
Still afraid of flying, but with you I’d die today
I remember the smell of your skin forever
Love us being stupid together
You’re stuck in my mind
All the time

It’s sweet, the lack of self-consciousness—but thankfully, never too saccharine. As Drowned In Sound puts it, Yeasayer finds “the emotional sweet spot that lurks betwixt being dispatched without irony, but not being unbearably sincere.”

So I’m not necessarily saying that one earnest it-band and the winking façade of an irony-steeped culture collapses—it’s just a musing for now, not a full-formed conviction—but it seems more and more, across all facets of culture, that we might be reconsidering the tongue that’s been planted so firmly in cheek.

Get smart with the new bADimal vlog
March 24, 2010, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , ,


For his new project, bADimal, the astute Anthony Kondeati presents a new series of advertising trend, case study, and campaign analysis videos that cut through the noise to cull the larger insights we can draw from media arts successes and failures. These thoughtful videos, which go up each Wednesday, provide depth on branding topics and give systematic, holistic consideration to brands themselves, as in last week’s analysis of the Coke vs Pepsi authenticity brand-off.

This week’s video is on the branding implications of automated services. Have you ever felt like companies bury the information on how to talk to a real person? Guess what? They do. In calculated decisions made on the daily, companies often opt for automation of key customer care touchpoints at the expense of relationship-building. In these instances, automation or self-service is often a cost-cutting brushoff presented to customers in the guise of convenience, but we all know they can sometimes be anything but. Businesses must realize that not all branding goals can be measured in terms of traditional ROI metrics–if your aim is relationship-building, measure customer interaction, satisfaction, repeat business, and brand evangelism.

Anthony offers his thoughts, as well as some solutions that should work for customer, brand, and business alike:

Head over to the bADimal channel on Vimeo for the first two videos in the series, and tune in each Wednesday for more!