i'm with the brand

Upside-down banner proves Fage yogurt is thicker than honey
February 28, 2010, 2:38 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , ,


I was searching for recipes on Epicurious when I saw this nice banner–by Ogilvy New York– that interacts subtly with its surroundings. To demonstrate the “ridiculously thick,” rich texture of Fage yogurt, they inverted the banner ad, text and all–and it’s the notoriously viscous honey that drips out of the side-by-side cup, not the yogurt. Making it a bit more interesting is the fact that Fage placed a fake banner below theirs, for the honey to drip onto–you can see it pooling at the edge of the first banner and then running down the model’s arm in the cutesily-named Beeberg & Co. sale banner. A nice use of animation not just to grab attention, but to prove their point.

Watch a video of the banner in action:


Ironic Radio by CIID forces us to reconsider how we interact with objects
February 24, 2010, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Art & Design | Tags: , ,

Thought this was pretty cool–in a project by the Copenhagen Institute of Interactive Design, a team created a radio that looks like an iron, which is interesting in and of itself. But what’s more interesting is the way this cognitively dissonant sort of object challenges our notion of what an object is and does, and how we interact with it. The radio’s controls are in the knobs and buttons of the iron–but also on the iron’s metal surface, usually a surface we instinctively are uneasy touching, even when an iron is off–meaning that to control the radio, we have to do the counterintuitive, we have to overcome the way we think about and interact with the object in its usual context and learn a new way to conceive of the object.

Read all about it at PSFK, and watch a demo below:

Ironic Radio from Dean McNamee on Vimeo.

A perfect day for banana faces: Chiquita redesigns label with 25 new face stickers
February 23, 2010, 6:10 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , , ,

A banana is a banana is a banana, right? Chiquita says no, and being perhaps the most recognizable brand in the space, thanks no doubt to its iconic blue-and-yellow stickers, it is in a position to do something about it. In a redesign aimed at making bananas playful, fun, and cool–and well, different–Chiquita designed 25 new attention-grabbing face stickers in the stalwart blue and yellow to turn instantly your average commoditized banana into an anthropomorphic potassium pod.

Recognizing that the little Chiquita sticker is the best branding asset at their disposal, the team sought to create bold and engaging personalities the bananas could take on through the stickers, and created a campaign around the notion “Don’t let another good banana go bad,” which in turn spawned an online hub that extends the brand experience through activities such as the Banana Boogie Battle game, in which fresh bananas do a dance-off against their spoiled and spotted counterparts, and “Banana Yo Face” in which users can create their own personalized sticker face from an assortment of features. It may not be getting people to voluntarily tattooo your brand name into their side (branding in the most literal sense–yuck), but the prospect of turning something as essentially mundane and functional as a product sticker into a brand artifact that entertains and in which people see value is pretty cool–when you think about it, it’s pretty absurd that someone would want to keep or share a brand sticker or a product tag, so if you’re actually connecting with audiences that way, more power to you.

View more images and read a great interview with DJ Neff of the design team here, in which Neff discusses how brand strengths, business insights, and audience behavior helped inform good design and effective branding. My favorite bit is in the brand equity section, which encapsulates the team’s media arts-savvy philosophy thusly: “When designing a brand for your product, make sure you know what party you are going to go to because what you wear speaks wonders about who you are.”

Start over, Warhol: Campbell’s undergoes neuromarketing-driven packaging overhaul

Maybe that’s a misleading title–it turns out Campbell’s, in a nod to their plum place in culture, is wisely choosing not to revamp their top 3 sellers, including the tomato soup can Warhol famously canonized. (Yikes–just saw the pun. I’m leaving it. Enjoy.)

But the top 3 are the only ones sticking with the old iconic design. Following two years of scientifically-based marketing research–neuromarketing–which measured audiences’ biometric responses to different packaging designs, Campbell’s has made major changes to its distinctive labels in an effort to cater to what audiences actually respond to emotionally, rather than what they think or say they respond to.

Measuring heart rate, skin moisture, eye-tracking, and other neurological and physical factors, Campbell’s is attempting to bridge the gap between audience feedback and sales by seeing what is really going on with audiences unconsciously. Revisions include a smaller logo placed at the bottom to avoid distracting from the product image, steam rising from the soup (no spoon!), a larger, more contemporary bowl, and color-coded soup categories at the top.

It’s no secret audience feedback doesn’t always translate into sales, so I’ve always found it a bit frustrating when every conflicting audience utterance is taken as the wisest of gospel. Where’s the grain of salt? Where’s the branding intuition? Being, as I am, a bit dubious of what people say they are/do/think/buy versus what they actually are/do/think/buy,  I like this approach to consumer behavior research. Sometimes it’s difficult to get at the real underlying truth in focus groups, surveys, etc. because the audiences don’t know it themselves or can’t articulate it–and sometimes, because they consciously or subconsciously just don’t want to admit it (or fancy themselves the sort of person they aren’t, or are influenced by external factors, or any number of confounding things). As such, it can be advantageous to observe the audience’s actual behavior and make your own educated inferences to aid in piecing together a more accurate audience story. Hopefully by leveraging more meaningful audience insights, this design makeover will have an impact not only on user experience, but also on sales–all by giving the customer what they actually need.

Band of Outsiders is killing it with this polaroid lookbook
February 17, 2010, 12:12 am
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , ,

LA-based clothier Band of Outsiders made its first appearance on this blog when the New York Times offered it up as the “sartorial soul mate” of mild-mannered indiekins Grizzly Bear. (I’m not sure I completely agree–the natty brand seems a bit too just-so for the breezy boys of GB…but I think we can tell that someone’s editor saw the Two Weeks video!) But I had been seeing these clothes around and they’re brilliant. Turns out, so is their branding. (Media arts–these guys get it.)

Founder Scott Sternberg  told Time magazine, “What Ralph Lauren does is brilliant. But it’s a fantasy of being a Wasp or rich. I address these cliches. It’s postmodern.” And he’s right: no oversized flags in country meadows here–just the sun and the surf and the concrete–and Sternberg’s self-aware, subverted classics.

For a youthful, slim-cut, tongue-in-cheek iteration of retro-chic, Band of Outsiders definitely knows what it is and what it’s doing. Their co-branded collaborations (Sperry Top-Sider, among them) and use of celebrity (Jason Schwartzman is wearing the hell out of that suit, and why not? He’s the BoO sensibility personified) are spot-on, and above all I love that their lookbook is a set of hazy sunbleached polaroids of the clothes out in the world. (Often it’s less the clothes themselves and more the out-in-the-world storytelling, the captured moments of humor and sunny grit and self-deprecation–a perfect choice then, polaroids, to capture the day-in-the-life spirit of the thoughtful adventurer.) Content and form work as one to bring the brand to life–and in a refreshing turn for an upscale fashion brand, to make it personal.

Everywhere a brand lives in the world is an opportunity to showcase what it’s about, and Band of Outsiders executes against this premise well. It’s omnipresent in their work: it’s a vibe, an aesthetic–class without fuss. A dapper, modern way of life for the young man about town.

(Also, for a little eCommerce nerdery, check out their beta store here. Kind of crazy, right? But very cool. Again, sort of re-contextualizing the familiar.)

Best Buy repurposes discarded electronics for 3D e-cycling billboard

Best Buy Billboard

I love a good 3D billboard, and this one’s pretty good. In a new billboard in Times Square, Best Buy demonstrates recycling as it promotes its free electronics recycling program. With a message composed of woebegone electronic castoffs, it cleverly draws attention and communicates its message instantly, both visually and verbally. See a closeup below, along with a couple of my other favorite 3D billboards (and one interactive!):

Billboard Closeup

Absolut Ikea

Absolut teamed up with IKEA to furnish an NYC studio, showcasing both the iconic Absolut bottle and affordable IKEA style in even the tightest of spaces


Before pedestrian complaints got it replaced by a less invasive one (proves the billboard's point!), Cingular made dropped calls literal and showed just what a nuisance they can be


In this eye-catching interactive billboard, The Economist demonstrated what a bright idea it is to read their publication--and how bright you'll be when you're well-informed--by placing a motion sensor under the bulb on their billboard so it would light up whenever someone walked under it

Tweet it into reality: Sony Ericsson’s hoppers and popcorn poppers
February 9, 2010, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , , , , ,


I saw both of these within a day of each other and was struck by the curious ways online activities can be brought to life, visualized, or given meaning in the physical world through interactivity. In this case, it’s how activity on Twitter being translated into something tangible and easy to digest (in one case, quite literally—yikes, guys.)

In the first, Sony Ericsson, as a part of a larger Spark Something campaign to promote their new Satio and Aino handsets, a Hopper Invasion campaign urged people to tweet what they’d like to use a hopper (a roly-poly, colorful character) for, and to use the #pumpt hashtag in their tweet. Corresponding to the use of the hashtag, deflated hopper balloons arranged on a physical grid in a “secret warehouse” were inflated in a visualization of hopper-oriented Twitter activity, all streamed on the campaign website—real-time visualized buzz. The best suggestions taken from Twitter will be brought to life in the real world, filmed, and posted online.

The campaign has further interwoven the physical and the digital by inviting audiences to create unique hopper personas, which have in turn taken part in a series of virtual flashmobs on pages all over the internet—an act the company touts as the world’s first online flashmob. In the next phase of the campaign, says Global Marketing Communications Manager Andrea Heinrich, “the concept [goes] one stage further allowing users to take the concept offline and create real life space hoppers which will be used in real life events.” Making the digital real, and vice-versa, is not a bad idea for a company that uses technology to connect people and ideas.


In Popcorn Tweets, essentially a social media virtual Flintstones car, Twitter enables “human-powered physical computing” to cook popcorn. In a device built by Dave Britt and Justin Goeres, a kernel of corn is placed on a heated surface every time the #popcorn tag is used on Twitter, producing popcorn as fast as people tweet it so.

It’s interesting to see online activity made real, but given the strengths and innate character of a networking medium like Twitter, there is an opportunity to see the online communities engendered by social media translated into real world communities as well. Although not necessary to a successful execution, it’d be cool to see the community aspect incorporated to a greater degree in each of these ideas in order to more comprehensively leverage the medium.