Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

Momtroversy: That Ain’t Right

In case anyone missed the Motrin Momtroversy, here’s a recap. Skip to the concluding thoughts if this is old news to you.

1. The offending article

2. Righteous indignation

3. Trial by Twitter

4. Parody

5. Apology


I’ll whisper my words here because this whole fiasco has woken up a big, bouncing bundle of ire.

How can ads cause this kind of offence? What causes them to miss the mark? Is there any other recent example?

In the summer, Nike pulled a bunch of ads from their Hyperdunk print campaign. Item A:


In Nike’s case, the campaign at large was well received. But specific executions weren’t – as they were deemed homophobic.

One ESPN basketball blog felt sadness at the loss. Because he believed the campaign had a smart message and was shot down by political correctness.

W+K removed the ads from their blog but the remaining comments show a real mixed reaction, including ardent advocacy.

Compare the two controversies:

Nike got the message right for their target but suffered from a blindspot. The subconscious or implied meaning was offensive to group that, in all probability, weren’t considered as their consumer. Backlash.

Motrin got the conscious message wrong because they spoke directly to mums (moms – sorry, I’m from the UK) about a concern that, for most, is likely to be subconscious and if it exists, a potentially guilty feeling. That ain’t right.

Did either of these ads offend you? And if so, why?

The Discipline of D.E.

It’s Wednesday, and the limiest gunmen are sweating bullets.

How fast can you take your time, kid?

I love Gus Van Sant’s debut short, The Discipline of D.E. (1982).

Adapted from a William Burroughs story. Here’s a teaser if you’re too time-poor to watch the thing. (But really. “Time-poor”?):

“DE is a way of doing. It is a way of doing everything you do. DE simply means doing whatever you do in the easiest most relaxed way you can manage which is also the quickest and most efficient way, as you will find as you advance in DE.”

(First seen on Cinema 16: American Short Films.)

I Think We’re Lost

Don’t despair if you can’t find this landmark on your map. It doesn’t exist.


This is one of many buildings imagined by Belgian photographer Filip Dujardin. According to Mark Magazine, Dujardin dreams up a concept building then embarks on a photo safari.

From the photo hunt he composites spectacularly complex, often impossible structures.

In this first photo (above), the choice of context causes much of the displacement. Since reading Daniel Kalder’s Lost Cosmonaut, I’ve loved the idea of a futuristic structure in the wilderness. It’s reaffirmingly absurd.

But Dujardin’s work can be equally brutal:


There’s plenty more on Dujardin at BLDG BLOG and Designboom.

And if you’re in the London commercial game, Marcus Lyon is a photographer you could speak to. He showed us some beautiful cityscape comp work a few months back.

But to step off the fictional made real, what about real made fictional…

Could you find your way around this map?


Not how America looked the last time you checked your atlas. But there’s a very good reason involving very detailed data.

Mark Newman‘s maps of the 2008 US presidential election results have had over a million hits in the last couple of weeks, and I give them 6 thumbs up.


Newman, at the University of Michigan, uses cartograms to rescale states according to their populations.

He goes beyond that with hue, using shades of purple to indicate voting % – so the maps don’t just represent a first-past-the-post majority, but the shade of victory.


You can get great cartograms from The Future Mapping Company on Columbia Rd.


You can lose yourself in imagined space. Then make it real. Or vice-versa. I don’t know. Did you bring a map?

Dial V for Viral

Interesting (half?) thought at the Halfbakery (via).


There was a fully baked version of this idea a couple of years ago.

Virgin Mobile Australia launched a viral campaign using Jason Donovan. Donovan was paparazzo’d in-car with a ‘for sale’ window ad displaying his full phone number.

The pictures got around blogs. 680,000 prank calls and a D&AD Yellow Pencil for interactive viral followed. If I’ve not explained this clearly, the video below should:

Now back to the 555-idea.

It’s different in a few ways, but the difference isn’t insurmountable. Donavon (an actor) was snapped in real life. So people could assume the number was real.

Phone numbers in films are generally assumed to be false – I don’t think that would change overnight, even without the 555 prefix.

You’d need some word-of-mouth that the fictional characters have a life beyond the film/ TV show. Maybe throw in some sham PR.

And that’s been done before, too – with websites, at least.

Arrested Development frequently referenced “fictional” websites that, if the viewer checked, turned out to be real. (Sadly, as far as I can see, they’ve been taken down now.)

So what do you think? Getting warm yet?

This Report Via Hologram

“We’re going to do something that’s never been done on television before.”

The words, last week, of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Before you ask yourself how that can be a real name – watch the clip below.

A real hologram?

Technically, no (a point well elucidated elsewhere). But let’s not get hung up on the technicality.

CNN liked the trick so much they kept turning it throughout election night. Later in the evening, witness Will I Am:

For a musician, he’s got awful timing. But wait a second… That’s because although his virtual body is in the real studio, the audio link still lags.

Hmmm… So what’s billed as hologram isn’t technically a hologram. The green screening is rough around the edges. And in spite of the spatial trick, the sound can’t keep up. All pretty comical.

Reminded me of Tchaikovsky’s ghost judging Music 2000 in Look Around You:

It’s understandable that TV wants to get less 2D, and I’d imagine that’s where all this comes from.

But in this context, a virtual 3D body is less credible than a real 2D image. It works for comedy, but not serious reportage. The perception that the hologram isn’t “real” is too overwhelming to see beyond it.

Conversely, in a strange twist of perception, a fake body with a real spatial existence can be more convincing. It can all be achieved in a glance.

As this work from OgilvyAction Amsterdam shows:


I wonder if anyone interviewed the man with the placard…

Big Smoke in A Blink

In case you’ve never been here, a chance to fill your eyes in quick:

3328 photos in under 2 minutes by David Hubert.

It’s a little unreal, but feels right at the same time. One comment on Vimeo says it all:

“I like how you made our buses feel plentiful and on time.” Quite.

And while we’re warping time in the capital, have you seen Grey London‘s new Toshiba spot?

For $57 – Change

I can’t help but feel optimistic this morning, and I’m hopeful – with the biggest turnout in US election history – that we have a new, engaged generation.

Obama’s arrival will come to symbolise far more than the erection of a new American idol. Watching the crowds celebrate, I felt a bigger, richer sense of people coming together. The victory is theirs.

I hope we’ll continue to witness that joy and humanity on the streets.

There’s a short film that’s doing the rounds now (via BOOOOOOOM!) that seems all the more timely. Shot entirely on mobile phone, on the streets of Sydney and New York:

Mankind is No Island, by Jason van Genderen (director), Shane Emmett (producer) and John Roy (music composer) won Best Film at Tropfest NY 2008. The story created from found signage, beating 100 submissions from around the world, cost just $57 to make.

Small change. But we can all make small changes. That’s how a big change will happen.