i'm with the brand

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


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.


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:

Murray Hill Inc. runs for Congress, sticks it to the man little guy
Murray Hill

Ill-gotten influence--it's our birthright!

In the wake of Citizens United v FEC, the harebrained January Supreme Court decision that gave corporations to right to make direct political campaign contributions as an extension of free speech (and in so doing insidiously and ominously granted corporations legal “personhood”), liberal-leaning political PR firm Murray Hill is running for Congress in Maryland’s 8th district.

Throwing their hat in for the state’s Republican primary, Murray Hill (Incorporated, they’re eager to add at every opportunity) is running under the slogan that “Corporations are people too!” The New York Times reports that “Campaign Manager William Klein promises an aggressive, historic campaign that ‘puts people second’ or even third.” The firm also has plans to fight for its right to vote as a citizen—it’d be a hard-won right, to be sure. (I’m tearing up at the injustice of it all. Power to you, Murray Hill; may your time come soon.)

This astute campaign may be hilariously absurd and tongue-in-cheek, but underneath it all it’s bitter—and deadly serious. The campaign deftly exposes the mockery the Court’s decision makes of the political process and an independent government, and the real dangers it ultimately exposes us to as a free people. What’s truly tragicomic is that in campaigning to be an elected legislative representative, Murray Hill still fails at being evil–if elected, they would, after all, be using more legitimate means of influencing policy than most corporations do today.

This campaign may be the best agency ad in recent memory: it amps their cred as a go-to firm for lefty causes (they have a long history representing labor unions and environmental organizations), and shows that as a PR firm, Murray Hill knows how to run riot in the PR game.

Their website is worth your time. And so is their spot-on campaign ad:

(Thanks to Rose for the tip!)

Michel Gondry calls the emperor on the whole no clothes situation
March 16, 2010, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

gondry and gaga

I’m sick and tired of people talking about Lady Gaga as if she’s some game-changing avant-garde breath of fresh air. Catchy as it may be, her music is resolutely derivative, but she’s somehow managed to distract everyone with an entrancing combination of hype, clothes, and infuriatingly affected speech–trickery! But wacky costumes do not a groundbreaking artist make. Luckily, I can stop feeling crazy (or can I?), because Michel Gondry agrees.

While the rest of the world treated the premiere of Lady Gaga’s why-does-it-exist video opus, “Telephone” as some sort of major cultural event (why??), Michel Gondry, visionary director of some of the most inventive films and music videos of this generation, declared himself “not interested.” Slam!

Read the exclusive interview on Movieline: Music Video Pioneer Michel Gondry on Lady Gaga: “I’m Not Interested”

In celebration of truly interesting, fun, innovative music videos and the artistry they celebrate–both musical and visual–here’s a couple vintage Gondry…

And one from another of my favorite music video-turned-film directors, Spike Jonze:

Puma HardChorus won’t make you choose between the loves of your life
March 4, 2010, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , , , ,

hard chorus

For Puma, Love equals Football. They make this amply clear throughout their recent campaign, replacing a hand-drawn football for the word “love” all over their site. Football (soccer–I’ll say it once, then not again) is about passion, loyalty—an enduring affair. In a banner on the relentlessly upbeat site, the football icon completes the sentence: the power of love, or the power of football? They both work, because to Puma, they are one. I couldn’t possibly care less about the sport, but even just going to their website is inspiring, uplifting. Nice one, Puma! It’s refreshing that it’s not about the brand, really—it’s about the sport. It’s not “Puma is for those who love football”—it’s “Love football; that’s enough for us.”

My very favorite element of this campaign, however, the one I honestly cannot get enough of, is the HardChorus. A microsite for the HardChorus declares “They want to be in your arms. You want to be in the stands,” challenging the true superfan with the unthinkable: “What do you do when Valentine’s Day falls on match day?” What indeed? Well, for starters, you can let the HardChorus say what you can’t.

An almost cartoonish assemblage of  hardmen and everymen—balding, pudgy, snaggletoothed, cauliflower-eared, all—motley hooligans of the Vinnie Jones variety, the HardChorus belt out their love with the fervor of a pubscreaming sports anthem. In a charmingly awkward display of machismo-wrapped sincerity, the men holler out a surprisingly tuneful “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden, while for Italian-speakers, a separate Italian chorus sings Umberto Tozzi’s oldies hit “Ti Amo.” Urging you to “dedicate a song to someone you love as much as football,” the site allows viewers to send the HardChorus performance to their disgruntled beloved by email or Facebook.

I don’t want to get carried away here, but I just love the whole thing to pieces. It’s hilarious, it’s adorable, it’s inspired. And it gets to the heart of a very real feeling, somehow managing to capture and articulate that which so often eludes authentic, unvarnished portrayal: the experience of loving the game, of loving sport—the thrills, the anguish, the camaraderie, the sacrifice—all of it.

In English…

And in Italian…

OK Go fights for their right to party embed their own videos

ok go

OK Go are master choreographers, and they know how to play the low-budg homemade video game–they launched their career on it. On their first it was treadmills; on their latest, it’s an elaborate and well-timed Rube Goldberg setup. Here it goes again indeed:

With a knack for knowing what will go viral, they rode their Youtube promotional model to success and recognition–“To the band, ‘Here It Goes Again’ was a successful creative project. To the record company [EMI], it was a successful, completely free advertisement,” says lead singer and guitarist Damian Kulash, Jr. in a recent New York Times op-ed sending up the band’s label for misguidedly disabling the embed feature on the band’s Youtube videos in an attempt to eke out additional revenue. (Youtube only pays royalties for those videos viewed on the site, not those that are embedded.) The move fundamentally misunderstands the function and potential of Youtube in today’s cultural (and musical) landscape, and is merely one in a long string of embarrassing failures by a hopelessly outdated and pig-headed recording industry blundering indignantly and ever-insistently towards obsolescence.

The old music business model’s inability to accept, embrace, and leverage technology and the changing ways in which people are discovering , sharing, and interacting with music is a tired subject by now (and it’s not to say that some artists and labels are not learning to approach the changing business with enthusiasm, innovation, and aplomb), but Kulash lucidly argues his point : “In these tight times, it’s no surprise that EMI is trying to wring revenue out of everything we make, including our videos. But it needs to recognize the basic mechanics of the Internet. Curbing the viral spread of videos isn’t benefiting the company’s bottom line, or the music it’s there to support. The sooner record companies realize this, the better — though I fear it may already be too late.”

As of two days ago, EMI (which has a mortifying track record of desperate, just-doesn’t-get-it, artist-and-fan-alienating gaffes) has allowed OK Go’s videos to be embedded–but not because the label concedes the error of its ways. Rather, the band has secured a sponsorship from State Farm Insurance (huh??) which will allow them to embed with the sanction of EMI, which, while it’s something, does nothing to resolve the fundamental issue, and further encourages the label’s blind and ignorant drive to monetize–ironically, at all costs.

Read the rest of Kulash’s great op-ed, which goes on to question the shifting role of the label in music and the detrimentally-morphing artist-label relationship, at the New York Times.

And lastly, here’s the video that made them famous:

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: