Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

You had me at “popcorn”…

Ok, so popcorn only comes into it at the end. But you catch my drift.

Thank you, The Auteurs, for your charming (and helpful) email.

Advertisements

Visible Sounds: What You Can’t See Won’t Hurt You?

Here’s what Serato Scratch Live looks like, if you haven’t seen it before:

When I’m not busy ballsing up a mix, I’m staring at this screen – mainly at the middle, at the sound wave graphs. They’ll show me where a break’s coming, where the sound gets fuller or quieter.

The newer recordings I have tend to be fuller. You can see it onscreen because the sound waves go bonkers, stretching the volume limits and bouncing through at a higher frequency (witness Major Lazer above).

Now I’m no musicologist. But I’d guess that coverage of the Loudness War gets to the root of what’s going on here:

Do you find it a bit weird that we don’t ‘see’ music like this more often?

The graphic equalizer has been around for nearly half a century. But iPods just show us timelines or numerals, and sleeve art. Music videos give us visual reference to understand a song, but rarely any data. The modern displays on digital radios are mainly functional.

Cue data viz delight when I discovered this little number today… A Visual History of Loudness (PDF) [via The Loudness Wars: Why Music Sounds Worse]

Wowzer. I’ve not even included the visual for 2010 here – but it probably won’t blow your mind to learn it gets louder again. You’ll have to check out the PDF.

So there’s one argument that appears to make sense: “Because louder music creates a more immediately pleasing effect on the listener, record execs have been ordering the volume knob cranked up for the last three decades.”

But is there more to it? Feels to me that musicians and producers must have played a role too. Look at this Ableton recreation of ‘Smack My Bitch Up’ [via Lemonade Was A Popular Drink…]

It’s not just about jacking up the volume. It’s about sampling too. Every time a track takes a sample and ‘smacks the pitch up’, it compresses more sound into a smaller space. That also makes it harder for you, or me, to mix it with another record – we’ll need to filter out more sounds to stop that nasty soundclash noise.

*SURPRISE ENDING* You might have heard of The Mosquito – a high frequency sound device that “stops teens from loitering”.

If you’re under 25 you should, in theory, be able to hear this:

The Teenager Audio Test MP3 [via The Oatmeal]

So what do you reckon? Will the music industry get itself back on an even keel? Will Apple introduce iTunes upgrades that let us ‘see’ sound differently? Will bigger gaps develop between the hearing ranges of different generations – and will they be used against us? Or will the kids fight back with ringtones?

Too many questions. I’m sorry. Got overexcited there.

If I were to make a prediction, it’s this – advertisers will make more use of sound and, specifically, sound viz this year. We haven’t seen the last of this.

More sound experiments:

Mathias Delplanque – ‘Call Centre’

– The sounds of the Indian call centre, remixed

Giles Turnbull – ‘The Present Sound of London’

Audio journalism from the Big Smoke’s undersides

More data viz goodness:

Information Is Beautiful

information aesthetics

Flowing Data

The 2009 Feltron Annual Report

Ads that are either light years ahead of their time or so far behind it it’s terrifying #1

Afri-Cola “Lust”, dir. Charles Wilp, 1968

[via Lonely Sandwich]

The Language of Fried Chicken

Chicken: High Art, Low Calorie is a fresh (or at least still warm) project by Siâron Hughes, showcasing the graphic vernacular of fried chicken vendors in the UK.

chicken_4

Image cred: Mark Batty Publisher.

Hughes, a talented designer and illustrator, did not stop at cataloguing the star-spangled array of signage.

She also interviewed the people behind brands such as Perfect Fried Chicken and Hen Cottage, most notably Morris ‘Mr Chicken’ Cassanova – who claims to be responsible for “90% of the logos that’s been used out there now”.

chicken_2

Image cred: Mark Batty Publisher.

The interview excerpts on Creative Review are juicy and occasionally mysterious:

1. On Origins

“A lot of people who were franchisees say from Kentucky Fried Chicken or something like that, maybe were feeling the squeeze. They feel as though they were working for Kentucky Fried Chicken and y’know Kentucky is so strict, whatever they says goes.”

chicken_1

Image cred: Mark Batty Publisher.

2. On America

“In the past Kentucky usually have a little logo, a little slogan, “American Recipe”… Because they try to pull the wool over people’s eyes, you get your Dallas, it’s American, you get your California, it’s American, you get your Mississippi it’s American …”

chicken_3

Image cred: Mark Batty Publisher.

3. On Logos

“People see them and try to change them around a little bit, and you will see somewhere along the line somebody will have something looking similar to that. It’s not all about the bits and pieces that goes with it, they will automatically try to copy it.”

KFC is still ahead of McDonald’s as the USA’s largest purchaser of chicken (says this site). McD’s have a diverse menu but chicken was never the main attraction.

The Chicken McNugget hit the market in 1983 and only after the McChicken sandwich bombed before it.

The Wire Season 1 – McNuggets by pushmedia1 on YouTube.

Much as I like D’Angelo’s parable in The Wire, it doesn’t seem quite true of the Golden Arched take on product innovation.

The Fillet-O-Fish and Egg McMuffin were both created by enterprising francisees. Herb Patterson broke corporate rank to start serving the McMuffin in McDonald’s Santa Barbara before it was an official item on the franchise menu.

But getting back to chicken.

Chicken is chicken.

And the Kentucky Fried Chicken brand is chicken. Plus ‘American recipe’.

c

Image cred: Creative Review.

What strikes me from the interviews and anecdotes is that KFC weren’t hot on UK franchises trying to innovate – as Mr Cassanova said, “y’know Kentucky is so strict, whatever they says goes”.

If you worked for KFC and wanted to invent, you might have to leave and start your own business – and you might feel you needed to copy key elements of the brand to do it successfully.

So what do you call your new place – that fresh-minted copy of a copy, with new items on the menu?

“Perfect Fried Chicken. Because you can’t be Better Than Perfect Fried Chicken”.

Damn.

Maybe each new chicken joint should just take their founder’s name, like one round my way – Al Ikhwan Fried Chicken.

Or maybe someone should speak to a copywriter.

Previous logo design:

Remixing logos: Luis Vuitton sues charity campaign.

– Designer money: India crowdsources logo for the Rupee.

– How can you find your eggs in the morning? Tropicana vanishes.

Google Run (2nd?) TV Spot

So what do you make of it?

Google Chrome, Japan by Google on YouTube [via AdWeek].

Strikes me as pitching somewhere between the understatement of Common Craft (who have been commissioned by Google in the past) …

Twitter in Plain English by leelefever on Vimeo.

… and the advertising/ embellishment, for example, of 3’s Ridiculously Easy Email by glue London (you can read a discussion of this spot at ViralBlog):

3’s Ridiculously Easy Email by tookie084 on YouTube.

I met a London-based Creative Director not that long ago who said the ‘instructional video’ would replace ‘advertising’.

Now that seems like too narrow a view for me.

All the spots featured here are for tech clients, explaining either new technology or unfamiliar interface.

But beyond that, there’s clearly an ‘advertising’ way to do the instructional.

And further beyond – there’s a question:

How many websites, browsers or mobile phones needed this kind of instructional video 3 years ago? 5 years ago?

What’s changed?

The Hand that Fames You

So Bren over at M&C told me about the new Pot Noodle ads.

“Flight of the Conchords rip-off” were his words.

You can be the judge of that:

Pot Noodle Advert – Moussaka Rap by R3SPAWNS on YouTube.

Pot Noodle advert – Doner Kebab version by IverHealth on YouTube.

Do we have another Booshgate on our hands? A theft of honey monstrosity?

Facebook Fans have been up in arms. Perhaps you, like Lauren, “just thought it was me thinking it until others agreed!”

fotc-facebook1

Is it now fair game to rip-off the style of popular comedians, entertainers, celebrities?

Don’t those same celebs rip-off consumer culture and sponsorships?

Wasn’t it simpler when famos would prance around like a**holes – “against type”?

The Observer Sport Monthly reminded me of this “endorsement” gem:

Chicken Tonight Commercial (Ian Wright) by mrsimonukalt on YouTube.

Even the 21st century has its “against type” celebrity endorsements.

For anyone who hasn’t seen it – here’s Iggy “Lust for Life” Pop getting wired on respectably-priced insurance.

Swiftcover Iggy Pop Commercial by phatfubble on YouTube.

[Iggy, incidentally, couldn’t hold a Swiftcover insurance policy on account of his being a musician. But don’t let that prejudice your answer to the next question.]

So which is worse –

Embracing the hand that feeds you

Or waiting until it bites your style?

Previous ad controversy:

The Mighty Boosh vs. Sugar Puffs – Crimp Off

Fauxbama campaigns turn racist

Tropicana packaging: Is it all over Arnell?

“Adverts make things look bigger” scandal

Craft, England and Codpieces

You need not see what someone is doing

to know if it is his vocation,

you have only to watch his eyes:

a cook mixing a sauce, a surgeon

making a primary incision,

a clerk completing a bill of lading,

wear the same rapt expression,

forgetting themselves in a function.

“Sext” (1954) by W.H. Auden.

england-murals

Tailored by England murals on Great Eastern St, London.

I think the gentlemen and gentlewomen at Umbro have hit on something. Their new England shirt has certainly garnered attention.

This little island was once a hub of craft and industry. By delivering “The right shirt at the right time”, Umbro have collared an inconvenient truth:

We stopped crafting – and started outsourcing.

That “rapt expression” of which Auden speaks disappeared from the face of the nation. And I couldn’t agree more with Umbro’s strapline – this is the right time to look back, and move forward.

New England Shirt – The Making of by umbro on YouTube.

A few weeks ago two Brits clashed in a game of Layer Tennis (massive props to Coudal Partners, the broadcasters and creators of the event).

What emerged from this riveting rally? For one thing, both Rex Crowle and Simon Cook were obsessed with… things.

We see “things” that are British every day. We use those things too. We may even keep them in our codpiece.

rex-crowle-layer-tennis

Layer 6 by Rex Crowle on Layer Tennis.

Somewhere in the twilight of late capitalism, we lost sight of those items on our kitchen table. The necessaries in our chest of drawers.

Cookie does a wonderful job of reviving that joy of craft and “things” at his blog, Made in England by Gentlemen – go check it out.

It was there, to bring this little ramble to an end, that I discovered his apt fondness for the work of Hwa Young Jung.

In her words:

“…if you’re English these are things you might have grown up with & therefore you feel is insignificant. They are new and fascinating to me.”

Fingers crossed, as they say, that fascination can return for English folks too.

tetley-tea

Tetley by hwayoungjung on Flickr.

Club Tropicana: Drinks -20%

tropicana-new-branding

Failed Tropicana packaging by Arnell Group via Brand New.

Last week AdAge reported that Tropicana’s sales shrank 20% at the start of the year before rebranded packaging was pulled.

Designs by Arnell Group were kicked before they hit the shelves and heartily jeered on their exit.

Although recession squeeze must have played a role, it doesn’t seem to account for the whole story. Sales of refrigerated orange juice across the board only dipped 5% in the same period – 1 January to 22 February 2009.

Peter Arnell Explains Failed Tropicana Package Design on YouTube.

Unsurprising that Peter Arnell’s looked strained, and unfortunate that the Tropicana debacle followed criticism for his Pepsi rebrand.

Some remiss comments to a Newsweek reporter can’t have helped:

“I can’t believe that for the rest of my life I’m going to be known as Peter ‘Tropicana’ Arnell.” He says Tropicana overreacted to complaints. “I have my own perspective on it. But it’s not my brand. It’s not my company. So what the hell? I got paid a lot of money, and I have 30 other projects. You move on.”

pepsi_tropicana_old

Old Tropicana packaging by Sterling Brands via Brand New.

So why did he “move on”? What was wrong with the straw-in-an-orange?

Arnell clearly thought it could be improved.

Watch how animated he grows in the press conference [above] once he gets onto the “interesting little squeeze cap” that “implies squeezing ergonomically”.

Was his best insight executed with too much subtlety?

Strange that in the same week Arnell gets cussed all over the blogosphere there’s massive acclaim for another fruit juice packaging design.

strawberry-juice

Strawberry fruit juice packaging by Naoto Fukasawa via TheDieline.

Naoto Fukasawa’s inspiration for these lovely designs doesn’t sound so different to the revelation that got Arnell’s eyes glinting:

“I imagined that if the surface of the package imitated the colour and texture of the fruit skin, then the object would reproduce the feeling of the real skin.”

bananas-22

Banana fruit juice packaging by Naoto Fukasawa via TheDieline.

For me, Fukasawa’s work is a delight. Hope it’s as tactile as it looks.

And either way, the idea behind the skin is eminently clear.

Consumers didn’t find that with Tropicana. They couldn’t even find their rebranded juice in the supermarket. So they didn’t buy it.

banana

Banana fruit juice packaging by Naoto Fukasawa via Toxel.

Pharrell vs. Sammy Stephens

Fresh murketing from the Golden Arches sticks Pharrell chez McDonald’s at the crack of dawn. Acting like it’s not his first crack he’s tasted that day.

P vs McDonald’s by NeRdArMyViDeOs on YouTube.

Mr. Williams doesn’t need a sponsored viral to be “internet famous”. Although he will “try anything to get McDonald’s to open early”.

Over 1min and 18 seconds he goes through every trick in the book:

– Sing a jingle

– Sing a jingle

– Sing a jingle

– Sing a jingle

And he even dances.

But when it comes to jingles and dances, what’s Pharrell got on Sammy Stephens?

Flea Market Montgomery – Long Version by teedadawg on YouTube.

OK OK OK. So Sammy was “internet famous” in 2007 and times have moved on.

Practioners of the “jingle and dance” are more professional now.

They get up at 6am to perform choreographed routines – and that’s before their authentic carb breakfast of Parisian French fries.

Stephens was a mere amateur:

“I didn’t write it,” he said. “I just felt it.”

But there is hope for the plucky amateur. His name is Howard Brown.

Original Howard of Halifax advert by gazhack on YouTube.

The UK’s golden boy of “jingle and dance” enjoyed a hugely repetitive 6-year “jingle and dance” career after turning pro in 2002.

So when you get that urge to “jingle and dance” because you “just feel it”, make sure there’s a camera in the crowd and give it all your heart.

Dreams really can come true.

How to VJ #9

Puma Lift by Droga5 on Vimeo.

I didn’t expect to include ads in this series. But I didn’t see this spot coming.

Droga5 and Puma have used projection mapping to spectacular effect for their ‘Light Injected Footwear’ – the print work is striking too.

Where set design, installation and architecture converge with live visuals, we’re getting to glimpse the future. It’s increasingly spatial.

james-chinlund-projection-mapping

CAD render showing the beam traffic and early set design [image via ‘boards].

Production designer James Chinlund explains some of the thinking in interview:

“We felt like it was important that it feel at all times like these people were doing this themselves, in their own space. When you watched it that you felt like you were seeing a performance that was happening in real time.

We thought of them as a team of young artists making a piece with almost no money, you should be able to feel the “edges”. The projections weren’t mapped perfectly, there were shadows and spill-off.”

It pays off. The piece feels like a performance and that, for me, makes the creative ambition all the more impressive.

Flight of the Conchords – Carol Brown, Dir. Michel Gondry on YouTube.

That’s not to talk down the projection mapping in composed pieces. Michael Naimark’s installations were groundbreaking and Michel Gondry keeps using the technique with aplomb.

Since Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (White Stripes) he’s taken it into TV.

But how far can you take projection mapping in a club performance?

I hope to find out tonight when Etienne de Crécy and Parisian crew Exyzt bring their Cube to matter (London).

Etienne de Crécy Live 2007 by Clement bournat on Vimeo.

The 3x3x3 cube puts different demands on a VJ crew – but this crew has architects, not to mention scaffolding.

Managed to snag free tix for tonight and will report back from the field…

More on Projection Mapping:

AntiVJ: Exyzt Installation Ripped off by The Killers.

– Memo.tv: Projection mapping with VDMX.

Previous How to VJ:

#8 Interaction: keeping interface simple

#7 No laptops: 8-bit VJing

#6 Pixel-per-pixel: a history