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

eep

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.

masterpeeps

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

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

2080
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: , ,

badimal

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!



Young Me/Now Me: funny, adorable, poignant, delightful
March 24, 2010, 3:20 pm
Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , ,

ymnm

Love this. The ravages of time, amirite?? Seriously though, it’s kind of fascinating: Young Me/Now Me asks people to send in pictures of themselves when they were younger, as well as replicated versions of those same pictures, taken now.

The interpretation of how exactly that’s done is loose–some are restaged literally even if it’s absurd, while others are updated to carry through the spirit of the picture while making  it appropriate to its new context and circumstances. Some interpret the relationship between “young” and “now” in surprising ways. Many are really sweet and get you thinking about time and change and family and mortality and the great cycle of life.

You can have a lot of fun looking at baby pictures, even if they’re those of strangers.



Is Donkey Kong David next?: Kordian Lewandowski’s Nintendo Pieta
March 23, 2010, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Art & Design | Tags: , ,

Game Over is Polish artist Kordian Lewandowski’s irreverent, Nintendo-fied take on Michelangelo’s La Pieta. Princess Peach takes the place of Mary, and Mario that of Jesus in this pop culture appropriation and re-contextualization of a high-culture icon of the art canon. Here, (branded) digital interactivity is our Bible, our shared narrative, and our object of worship. The choice of material, polystyrene foam, also seems significant–it’s crass and fake and disposable like so many pop cultural artifacts, but ironically, it’s likely to endure for much longer than Michelangelo’s pious marble. 

Hit designboom for more angles and pictures of the sculpture in process. (There’s chainsaws; it’s exciting.) Also, there’s more digital-told-in-the-language-of-the-old (Botticelli does Skype) and vice-versa (the Creature from the Black Lagoon enters the mix) at Lewandowski’s site.



Sculptures that are people, people that are paintings
March 23, 2010, 10:51 am
Filed under: Art & Design | Tags: ,
timmy

Timmy (Alexa Meade)

Painter Alexa Meade masks human flesh in thick acrylic paint in a method that “pushes the boundaries of perception, compressing 3D space into a 2D plane, effectively blurring the lines between art and life, [skewing] the way that the core of the subject is perceived.” Meade’s paintings, in distorting space, texture, and the eye’s ability to distinguish real living forms, thus presents both a sensory and a cognitive challenge. 

sara

Sara (Alexa Meade)

Meade’s work reminds me of sculptors Duane Hanson, Jamie Salmon, and Ron Mueck, who, for contrast, achieve similar ends in technical negative: these photorealistic artists skew perception and subvert the real-unreal boundary between subject and environment with their life-sized (and in the case of Salmon and Mueck, sometimes massive) hyperreal sculptures.

In undermining the visual cues we take for granted as an indicator of the real, both approaches force an unsettling reevaluation of the nature–or even the possibility–of reality.

tourists 2

The Tourists II (Duane Hanson)

chris

Chris (Jamie Salmon)

in bed

In Bed (Ron Mueck)