i'm with the brand

Complacent? FITC delivers a swift kick in the pants to agency dinosaurs-in-the-making
March 22, 2010, 1:22 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , , , ,

last ad agency on earth

Urging true creativity over cut-and-paste, FITC, which puts on design and technology events, is encouraging old-school agencies to become nimbler and more inventive with their digital work–before it’s too late.

In a video to promote their upcoming digital conferences, FITC creates a Discovery Channel Pompeii Special of sorts chronicling the fall of the “Last Advertising Agency on Earth.” It’s funny, and I’m sure it hits close to home for many branding professionals who have lived through just the sort of dysfunctional head-in-the-sand environment the video describes, but it seems a bit of a harsh indictment to me–I’m unwilling to believe that no big agency has learned how to embrace new media (at least on a case-by-case basis) this late in the online game (seriously, guys–partying like it’s 1999, are you?). But there may be a kernel of truth under the heaps of tardy exaggeration–for every gem of inspired digital, there’s a truckload of unimaginative nonsense, and it’s perhaps less about digital per se and more about combating a culture of complacency: it’s about knowing how best to play the game in new and ever-changing spaces, whatever and wherever they may be.

In an ironic twist, it’s agency behemoth Saatchi & Saatchi Canada that helped produce the very video that takes shots at agency behemoths. Funny times, give it a watch:


Milton Glaser becomes first graphic designer to receive the National Medal of Arts
March 7, 2010, 4:05 am
Filed under: Art & Design | Tags: , , ,
glaser obama

President Obama presents the National Medal of Arts to Milton Glaser

Milton Glaser recently became the first graphic designer ever to be honored with the National Medal of Arts, established by Congress in 1984 to recognize “contributions to the creation, growth, and support for the arts in the U.S.”–past recipients have included composer Aaron Copland, architect Frank Gehry, poet Maya Angelou, and choreographer Twyla Tharp. Glaser is one of twelve 2009 recipients of the prestigious award, placing him in the distinguished company of arts legends and fellow 2009 honorees including Bob Dylan, Clint Eastwood, John Williams, and the School of American Ballet.  

Glaser is perhaps best known as the man responsible for one of the most recognizable and oft-copied icons in our visual lexicon: I Heart NY, but his prolific career has seen multifarious endeavors ranging from murals, logos, and posters to packaging design, publishing, and book covers–most notably those done for longtime friend, author, and fellow national treasure (and National Medal of Arts recipient) Philip Roth.  

Notoriously quotable, Glaser has given us such simple, pithy insights as “The purpose of art is to inform and delight,” and “Less isn’t more; just enough is more,” sharing with us a worldview in which design is a fundamental means of communication and art is a cognition-altering tool for relating more fully to the world.  

Read more about Glaser’s thoughts on art, career, and life at idsgn.  

i heart ny  

secret of art


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.”

Paste magazine asks: Is Indie Dead?

Illustration by Samuel Bosma (via Paste)

A must-read for anyone who cares about culture: Paste’s Rachael Maddux asks the question: Is Indie Dead? in the cover story for the magazine’s February issue.

In an incisive and far-ranging analysis Maddux grabs for fistfuls of smoke trying to pin a definition on the word, but nevertheless expertly and wittily charts its history, influence, rise, and fall—explaining, among other things, the advertising-music-culture cross-ramifications of a pervasive sensibility built around precisely its non-pervasiveness.

Read the essay to find out just how the democratization of technology, an Internet that eats its young, morphing music industry models, and cultural co-option (co-option?) of scene have worked together to create (and in some ways, kill) one of the most unstoppable and influential forces in pop culture today: the paradoxically elusive and ubiquitous “indie.”

The Auteurs top 10 movie posters of the decade
December 22, 2009, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Art & Design | Tags: , ,
Where the Wild Things Are

My favorite movie poster in recent memory (not on The Auteurs' list)

Film site The Auteurs has released their top 10 movie posters of the decade. They have The Savages and Palindromes on there; me, I’m a little illustrated out–chalk it up to oversaturation. (I’ll take retro clever over forced whimsy, though–I love their pick of Woody Allen’s Anything Else). My favorites are the ones that resist the formulaic, the ones that are visually-arresting and unsettling, the ones that are enduring works in their own right, the ones that effortlessly and imaginatively evoke the film’s spirit (I mean, as branding artifiacts, shouldn’t they all?). The truncated close-ups, the larger-than-life, the unafraid-of-white-space, the bold-and-graphic; anything but this nonsense. Or this or this or this. (Seriously, Professor Hollywood’s School of Big Buck$ Postermaking?)

It’s not my list–I’m not even sure exactly what all I’d choose if it were up to me–but I see my sensibilities overlapping with theirs to a large degree. (My personal favorite if not of the decade, then at least of the year, I’ve shared here because it just deserves to be seen: the sublime first poster for Where the Wild Things Are. I was sad not to see it included in the Auteurs list but hey, taste is taste and 10 posters is only so many.) I’ve thrown together my favorites from their list for you to see below. View the rest, and some amazing runners-up at their site.

Girlfriend Experience

#7 on The Auteurs: The Girlfriend Experience

Funny Games

#1 on The Auteurs: Funny Games

40 Year-Old Virgin

#3 on The Auteurs: 40 Year-Old Virgin

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

#4 on The Auteurs: I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

Take that, recession–Hennessey Paradis Horus is in town
December 22, 2009, 2:10 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , , , ,

Paradis Horus

Italian designer Ferruccio Laviani has created an opulent new bottle for Hennessey’s new Paradis Horus cognac. Paradis Horus boasts flame-shaped packaging in the same radiant gold as its namesake (Horus is the Egyptian god of the sun), and features an oversized stopper reminiscent of the lavish headdress of ancient pharoahs (and, of course, of the cognac, that divine ambrosia, festively overflowing).

Plated in 18k gold and utlizing a new gold finishing technique, this sculptural bottle is a statement-maker and conversation piece: the bottle is clearly meant to be displayed, to be shown on a sideboard as a marker of luxury, status, and discerning taste–even as an art piece–a move that makes sense for a prestige brand like Hennessey, and a drink like cognac, meant for sophisticated entertaining.

It’s beautiful, it’s brash, it’s even insensitive. It’s a corporate jet to a bailout hearing. Conspicuous consumption of this sort is the ultimate let-them-eat-cake, but it works for Hennessey. It reinforces their promise of class that borders on crass, of larger-than-life, even reckless extravagance for those for whom ostentatious demonstration of wealth is even more important than wealth itself.

More views of the bottle–and some sumptuous concept sketches by Laviani–at designboom.

Paradis Horus

 Horus Comp