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“One size fits all” fits no one

airplane

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.

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Kit Kat & The Salvation Army: Useful interactive posters give people a break

kit kat chair

JWT for Kit Kat is on fire–but this time it’s Auckland, not Tokyo. In their latest, passersby in local parks are invited to take a break twice over–that is, break up a poster to take a break. The confectioner placed wooden posters at park entrances and in public spaces–posters that could be popped apart and assembled into the perfect bench for a (snack) break. (And it’s got to be intentional that the mode of assembly so closely parallels the way you would snap apart a Kit Kat bar–it’s too good not to be.) The poster is not only interactive–it’s useful–and it does a kindness while connecting simple pleasures with the “break” line Kit Kat’s been using for years.

kit kat

In the spirit of useful interactive posters, here’s one of my all-time favorites, from the Salvation Army, which posted blankets emblazoned with the words “Support the homeless this winter. If you’re cold or know of someone who is, please take this poster” in areas of need. Not only did these ads get the word out and even provide much-needed comfort to the homeless that began using them for warmth, but when the blankets were thus displayed, on the backs of those in need, the message became all the more starkly powerful. The absolute opposite of urban spam.

salvation army



A little Tender Lego Care for buildings in need of repair

lego patch

He’s done it all around the world–Amsterdam, Berlin, Quito, Tel Aviv, to name just a few cities–but artist Jan Vormann just brought his Lego patchwork installations stateside. Showing that Legos–and grassroots urban beautification–are for all ages, Vormann was joined by a volunteer team aged 3 to 40 that helped him renovate cracked and pitted buildings across New York City. The project was done as a part of the VOLTA art show, and took citizens’ initiative and immediate action to address buildings in need of repair–literally, unsightly “gaps in the urban landscape”–by applying playful patches of color that both highlight the problem and help fix it. (Incidentally, these Lego installations are conceptually similar to Pete Dungey’s British pothole gardens, which simultaneously draw attention to the problem of poorly-kept roads while providing a cheery quick-fix with the addition of flowerbeds to the roads’ many blemishes.)

Vormann’s installation goes along so well with Lego’s past “Build it,” “Rebuild it,” and “Build Together” campaigns it’s uncanny–you almost wish it were a branded installation, but ultimately it’s even better that it isn’t; it’s indicative of the cultural inroads Lego has made that it would be independently seized upon with such enthusiasm and for such on-brand purposes.



Man vs Wild puts Bear Grylls’s camel carcass residence up for rent
March 1, 2010, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , , ,
camel

Photos via Getty Images

One of the most memorable episodes of Man vs Wild had to be the one where Bear Grylls gutted a dead camel in the desert and climbed inside its cavernous carcass to protect himself from dust storms–you know, like you do when you’re in the desert and have a dead camel to spare.

Now, as a promotion for its new season, Man vs Wild is letting people take a tour of this unusual desert residence. In a stunt in Sydney, Australia, the Discovery Channel, which airs the show, placed a life-sized replica of the camel carcass on a street, touting it “open for inspection.” The stunt invited passersby to hop in for the “open house,” which was also advertised on a local real estate rental website. Billed as a snooty rental property (Camelot–punny excellence), the camel carcass lets people get a taste of Bear’s desert digs and engage playfully with the outlandish adventures the show regularly features.

Watch Bear Grylls’s original feat here. Not for the super-squeamish, but awesome nonetheless… just as nuts and vaguely unnecessary-seeming as everything he does, but worth watching in spite of/because of it:



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.



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

Cingular

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

Economist

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: , , , , , ,

Hoppers

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.

Popcorn

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.