Well is this thing even on? The Lifefilter has been through quite a bit of ups and downs this year. Some stories were barnburners, others were quiet as a mouse. I used to do a ton of trends for work, but not so much now. Its still my exciting outlet to the universe. I love getting deep comments. Not the visit this page because i have a patent to sell you but engaging additions to the conversation. Please send more in 2008.
At times i missed this sucker, my microphone to the wonderful world of information. Much about this blog is tied into my career, and often thats quite often why it sucketh. But i can promise the audience that 5 seconds spent outside are 5 seconds contributing to better thoughts. More on that in a bit.
I dont talk about work too much as confidentiality prevents 99% of it but this year was good to me. I worked and grew. If you can't do something that motivates, challenges, and teaches you, is it really what you want? Are you reaching your goals? What do you want to do? How can you get from where you are standing to opportunity and dreams? I have been super lucky to be part of an incredible rise of an organization that breaks ground everyday. Be grateful to where you are.
New York is grueling for anyone spending more thatn 10 minutes here. Ok maybe 5. Its definitely a chaotic universe of players, but its also a playground of learning. Anyone thinking of coming here, if you think you can jump do it. Its a new game, but one that will take you far.
old approach new approach
Ok so first this was what i see. Then it was what i found. Then it was what i found and why it matters. Now its why it will matter. Lifefilter is just a spouting point, (random) thoughts on what keeps me up at night. Its not about finding the coolest shit and saying oh look! Or proving your trendspotting point by finding one consumer. Dont show me something cool. What is the then what, how is it changing the game? How is it applicable to a category or amongst its whole platform set? This blog gets far less posts but the conversation is up to the true standard of Lifefilter, which is why i suspect people came here in the first place. No more filth. Ok every now and then but its interesting filth. More original thought than ever. Keep those RSS feeds in sync. Oh and look for this blog to put a statement out in 2008. You heard it here. Something applicable you can use everyday.
This blog has had an approach that has evolved quite a bit. Certainly technology was one part, but the style is charting new territories. My apporach to brands has changed quite a bit. Those of you that didn't notice i got out of the ad business more than a hot minute ago. I also used to do trends, a quite oversttated product. The so called trend-hunters never tell me anything except what changing. My interest has shifted to how can we change it. You dont have to be stuck selling his shitty product, fucking invent it yourself. Or help them go there and invent it, in my case.
Whats up with Innovation? I have to get my two cents in. Ads are about being different. How can i stand out and make you think about my brand? You want to SPEAK about the brand in an enlightening way. err ok. Tell me about this new contraption. But what drives the experience? The product. What are the competitors product's satisfying in terms of needs? Can we change the category? Can we change behavior with a new product? Ok see thats what innovation is (in Lifefilter terms). Innovation is not is not a buzz word for computer brands, innovation is not new strategies to use new technologies to target how to sell to consumers. Its about creating to new behaviors or inventing them. This has been going on since the dawn of time, but for some reason the media seem to be enthralled with it at the moment. I cant wait for the buzz to die so i can stop watching ads die so badly or salesmen misquote themselves. Advertising is swining around, and soon it should get real fun. Dont agree? Contact me. Discussions are always more fun when someone speaks back.
With that said the Lifefilter is looking to forward to a new year. 2008 should be quite interesting and staye tuned to new thoughts to kick it off. Thank you all for reading and returning, you make it fun.
[ed. note - most popular photo of the year, about to be torn down in 3 weeks]
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
In case you missed it, i made my sportscasting debut yesterday. More on this at a later date
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Sometimes the sum of the parts gets lost in the final product
Well folks, its again been a light posting but this time due to a bit of travel and well you know the holidays. Quite a bit going on, and some of it certainly has made me question the amount of exposure i want to give on this blog.
I was lucky enough to get to go to Vegas for Spike's VGAs (videogame Awards) and the Ultimate Fighting Championships. While i wasnt a fan of this bloodsport, it certainly made for an entertaining gladiatoresque evening. The crowd was full of zealots and it introduced me to a demographic that i really had little experience with.
Vegas is just an anomaly so many ways, from its high-rise explosion in a nationwide economic downturn, to the characters and visitors who continuously flock from the world over. Economically the strip does well but the rest of the city is experiencing the growing pains that many metro areas in the USA such as ubran sprawl, mass transportation, and revival of downtrodden areas. The city has take the initiative to create a tower that takes the self-contained towns, found in suburbs, and shrunk it into a casino-like tower. Self-sufficient with a grocery store and a gym, its inhabitants will never have to leave.
The town thrives on conventions (rodeos, video games, fights, bachelor parties) to make it a global destination. My weekend saw tons of Brits there to support Hatton the boxer, along with the smattering of professional gamblers. No where else does the service industry receive such a priority as economic driving force.
Also mentioned was the fact that vegas seems to be getting colder. Nights were well into the 30s, and it may be a bit of a generalization to state the climate is changing but several pieces of evidence existed. Sprawl has shot out well over 30 miles, taking up desert floor, and putting in houses with dont give off as much heat. Water is also becoming an issue, so much so that they paying residents to rip up lawns and replace it with desert fauna.
Interesting times in Vegas, but i was pretty psyched to see a rainbow appear on the strip one day. No word on how many people flocked to the casino to throw away there money in hopes of finding the pot of gold.
Special thanks to Meghan for making it happen, and the Spike, MTV, Pepsi folks for the hospitality.
Spike's Hospitality Suite - I never wanted to leave
The Only View halfway Decent
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Many of you may not have heard of a cough syrup called Buckley's. The brand is well known for being quite effective, yet tasting terrible. Absolutely no innovation has been done since its creation and the Canadian product is pushing into the U.S. with an interesting, yet honestly brilliant campaign. While on espn, i saw a redirect to the myspace page where they are promoting consumers to contribute exactly how awful it tastes with their best after-consumption shots. There is also a battle of "Buckley" faces between towns in Illinois and Washington.
Brilliant not for getting consumers involved nor creating contests between towns nor letting people be 'friends' with Buckleys. Brilliant for acknowledging that the product, tastes like crap and using the natural human behaviorial response as the platform. If more brands would acknowledge where they sit in consumer's minds and hearts, the world would be a better place. Awfully good ad eh?
Monday, November 26, 2007
Really interesting article in the NYtimes the other day that covers the end of the pool hustler. Apparently until the last decade its been profitable enough for them to earn a living from hustling in various haunts. According to the author, L. Jon Wertheim, "pool hustlers have joined American heavyweight boxing champs, complete-game pitchers, hockey goons and drug-free cyclists as relics in sports. Endearing bit players in the cast of American culture, hustlers have been written out of future episodes."Apparently this was due to two things, the death of the International Pool Tour and the birth of internet poker. Why should players risk driving miles to earn $500 bucks only to get beat up and lose it in the parking lot.
Wertheim, poigantly states "The death of hustling marks the end of a uniquely American pursuit. What’s a more vivid extension of the frontier mentality than a man, carrying only a wooden stick, slinking into town and making a buck?" America has always been defined by the cavalier attitude from the time of buccaneers to cowboys to the dot-commers.
Have the mavericks and cowboys merely gone underground and/or become hackers? Are they all playing videogames or racing cars? Surely its part of a behavior evolution, and we cant argue that pool is any less popular. With so many behaviors becoming digital, we must ask ourselves at what cost is physical behavior being redefined?
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Ok so I have that quite strange and amorous relationship with all things data. Time Magazine has a great slice of life in America by looking at what we do in an average day. Yes, all of us. Called One Day in America, it aims to find out just how average we are.
Absolultely chocked with mind-boggling behaviors and happiness drivers and drinking habits the study sheds like on quite a few consumer behaviors that are imperative if you are in branding, sales or product development.
With family in the urban planning circle im quite fascinated at large-scale behavior models and ecologically compliment solutions. We are major fans of Bruce Mau on this site.
The Population density in NYC during the DAY
The Population density in NYC during NIGHT
WHERE DID EVERYONE GO?
We can begin to assess the importance of transportation, living situations, and product purchase behaviors of this city of "commuters". I would be interested to see if this is a trend in other major-metro areas and then we are talking about a massive cultural behavior. I personally believed the density was much higher at night in NYC, its still crowded as hell to me.
This chart explores happiness in terms of job occupation. Priests are the most happy and waiters are the least satisfied. Interestingly both rely on handouts for their services.
This chart shows the annual alcohol consumption in america. While Utah is barely buzzed New Hampshireites are drinking up to 40 gallons of hard liquor per person, per year.
I recommend picking up the magazine as the website doesn't have the range of graphs and charts that the full article does. While only planners can get excited about presentations of census data, i would consider it a must-read for anyone in strategy or advertising.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I keep seeing this everywhere and just had to comment. Gaming is certainly an established economy. Just look at the Halo 3 sales. Gaming is here to stay and now its infiltrating all walks of life. David Rosenberg gave a great presentation on this at last years PSFK conference.But there is something much larger going on in society in terms of Gaming. Gaming seems to be a shift in terms of the layers of how consumers connect with products, brands and experiences.
Look at the types of experiences with brand's products or experiences: Its either active engagement or passive.
Experience Types (i.e. beer drinking)
1) absolute experience = That beer really tastes like beer
2) Virtual experience = Simulated beer, not quite as fun
2) Passive experience = Experience is viewed or read about (watching those guys drink beer is torturous)
Clearly active experiences trump passive ones, and gaming is a new active experience often minus the product or actual experience.
While this is rough thinking, virtual worlds have established themselves for a myriad of reasons. One major strength being that they still allow the consumer to actively participate with the brand. Many consumers don't want the full-on experience. They want the filtered, more fun, less dirty version. So it seems we create games that engage consumers and connect without the actual purchase or post-product withdrawl. Give them access without any drawbacks. Access also allows for a greater audience potential. BMW is capturing generations of future drivers with this video games.
While games allow for massive participation, they can make even drab subjects fun. This is where we see gaming be introduced more and more.
Politics - Everyone has an opinion, but how can we crown a winner to the debating?
Dating -Love stinks for those trying to find it. How can we make it fun?
Avante -Garde Dating
Oceanic Exploration - Tracking sharks with gps getting you down on science? Lets make it a game
Networking - Forced to coherce with new peoples at corporate events? How can we switch it up?
Sports - Sports are the quintessential game, but not everyone can be a pro athlete. How have we engaged consumers to play along without stepping on the field?
PTI, Around the Horn, fantasy sports
These layers of connectivity allow for greater width of interactions, and let brands stretch themselves without changing who they are. Games are memorable engagement that creates emotional benefits for the brand/experience beyond its traditional function. Tracking sharks in sharkrunner feeds me emotional notes of accomplishment, competitiveness, escape, affiliation. Many of which aren't achievable just by passively watching a show.
Games provide brand access and participation, stretch the brand by providing benefits beyond the core product or experience, and can establish new economies for brand revenue (look at BK's King Games for the Xbox).
Is your brand ripe for a game?
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Complex Magazine has created the Complex Platinum Club, which is an invite-only experience that brings pages of the magazine to life. This exclusive invite-only retail store is on 41st street in New York City. It carries an impressive list of duds from MHI, Penfield, Staple, Modern Amusement, WESC, as well as footwear from Jordan, Y-3, Clae, Supra (Gold Skytops) and more. Expected to coincide with each publication, featured products will end up in the store. As of right now the store is invite only, but you can get on the list here.
Wired started this with their Wired Store which pops up every holiday season to show the latest inaccessible gadgets we all covet. The Complex store is good for several reasons:
1) The hype and release nature of streetwear products
2) The covet and hunt process consumer behavior of purchasing unique streetwear
3) The insider-only status of 'authentic' streetwear retail locations
4) Brings the lifestyle mag to life
Streetwear is a somewhat fickle cat-and-mouse game of my brand is cooler than yours and my personal statement is about slying embracing change but going my own way or illustrious destruction mantras. Complex has long been the mainstream staple (Ecko-started and run) of cool, urban brands but never moved beyond the occasional party or one-off. Establishing a retail store is a smart move, albeit it brings the 'mainstream' label to the scene. Will really be interesting to see how the kids react. On one hand it could access to a myriad of sources with its connections, on the other it could become the "lugz" of streetwear retail. Streetwear has a level of authenticity, but this location could seem too forced.
Certainly a brand which preaches fresh consumption needs an outlet beyond just finding the products. A retail location is a natural fit, and i would appreciate more magazines to do so in the future. Maxim could own guys, People could be the epicenter of women's beauty and entertainment, and Sports Illustrated could create sport retail locations. It seems to me to that channels that are the aggregators of news and new products, ought to be selling them. Consumers have already invested money and time to learn what they find, why not ultimately sell their featured products direct to them?
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The AP, god bless em, finds more trend nuggets than most attribute to them. Hiroko Tabuchi, recently wrote about how PCs are losing their relevance in Japan. Younger generations are apparently choosing to spend money on electronics and digitals that aren't PCs.
According to Hiroko, "The PC's role in Japanese homes is diminishing, as its once-awesome monopoly on processing power is encroached by gadgets such as smart phones that act like pocket-size computers, advanced Internet-connected game consoles, digital video recorders with terabytes of memory.
Japan's PC market is already shrinking, leading analysts to wonder whether Japan will become the first major market to see a decline in personal computer use some 25 years after it revolutionized household electronics — and whether this could be the picture of things to come in other countries."
Analysts seem to think that the cell phones and consoles are stealing the thunder. Consumers now download music straight to their phones instead of computers and choose to read emails over their phones on the go versus a home office. Digital tv's have built in hard drives and movies can be downloaded to an ipod or tv.
So everyone says the PC is dead, but really i see this as the re-birth of the PC, due in part to three things:
1. Change in consumer behavior
2. Change in global trends
3. Change in retail market
1. Consumers want to access information anywhere. Cause you can't lug your pc to the library and back.
2. Global connectivity has a created a flat world where we pull information from virtually anywhere Global markets actually rely on technology more than ever, increasing the need for PCs or PC-like systems in more aspects of our lives.
3. Retail is now direct to consumer, eliminating storefronts are service centers. The longtail theory exists on the ability to have mass categories of brands based on directly on consumer purchase desire. Consumers want choice without excessive hoops.
PCs are becoming democratic and incorporated into everything. RFIDs track clothing and proximities, mp3 players are built into sunglasses and ads are tailored to our purchase habits on game consoles and in the games themselves. The PC is becoming localized to its specific channel. I want my mobile phone to update when i enter Charlotte Speedway with the latest race day information. Look at the iPod and Starbucks relationship for localized content downloads with a cup of joe.
Companies like Google have smartly realized that the PC can exist without the PC. Its the structure and use of technology that we rely on, not necessarily the box. Incorporating the PC into clothing, food, and other aspects of consumer behavior won't kill it, but redefine what computing is. Right now the phone is a natural conduit that will be dominate for awhile. That will change as more technologies are implemented and attack what the phone does best. Apple could surely cram an OS into that ipod but then that would hurt Mac sales....
The PC is still required for certain things and will for some time. Its role will become split into other areas but the idea of 'computing' will become more intertwined with 'living'. Dare i argue that it hasn't already?
Sales of actual PC's may be down, but i could bet that technology that uses PC-like systems is actually rising.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Nothing to me is more refreshing than a trip home to north carolina. I live in such a chaotic place, home is the antithesis and the true centering point. For me i get to see family and friends, and live life how i knew it for my first few decades. Its also a chance to recharge my batteries, which i find continually drained being a strategic brand consultant. Not to say i don't love it, but i find it continually more involved than advertising. The work i currently do involves branding, but absolutely no advertising. I tend to believe this is the redefinition of brands, which has apparently been brought up recently here. I was quite happy to hear of this upon my return as brand ideas should be conversations not necessarily campaigns. Needless to say this is the approach we currently take at my job.
Needless to say i feel rejuvenated, hope to build on all these ideas around me and finally get the Lifefilter back on track.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Nearly 9 months ago, we reported on a ground breaking site called Oink. Well it seems all good things must come to an end. A special message greeted some of the estimated 180,000 paid members of music file-sharing Web site OiNK.cd when they tried to access it on Tuesday: "This site has been closed as a result of a criminal investigation by IFPI [International Federation of the Phonographic Industry], BPI [British Phonographic Industry], Cleveland [U.K.] police and the Fiscal Investigation Unit of the Dutch police, into suspected illegal music distribution.
The site —is apparently the world's biggest source of pirated pre-release albums — had been the subject of a two-year investigation overseen by Interpol and known as "Operation Ark Royal". The site relied on donations, but was apparently extremely lucrative. Over 60 major pre-release albums this year were released on it, prompting the shutdown.
While Oink started as a place to share obscure music, it seems the promise of a being an illegal distribution center for pre-release albums was too great. I for one had believed a nice elite barter system was in place, and having not visited after the first day i signed up, was unaware of the rampant piracy. Its no surprise that a few would spoil it for the rest of us for the quickly shared spoils on the internet.
I for one wonder what this means for legitimate bartering over the net. While certain sectors won't die, it seems that technology(especially music) is still figuring out what is acceptable and what isnt in the digital age. While another music site will pop up to download JT albums, im not sure something as communal and open will show anytime soon.
At least i dont have to worry about membership requests.
Monday, October 22, 2007
All this speak of branded utility these days, but this one missed a lot of mentions. Google's 411 service launched with not that much fanfare.
Google started Goog-411 from Google Labs today which is a free telephone based information service aimed at again routing another service through the Google search parameters. TechCrunch states that "About 2.6 billion 411 calls are made in the U.S. each year, and it is a $7 billion/year market."
The product is completely voice automated, leading to some efficiency problems but really a small price to pay considering the charges most people are hit up with when using a live operator. Of course it ties into Google Maps, making it somewhat irrelevant to those with a nearby internet connection and some type of mobile computing device.
Microsoft recently purchased a pay-for-service 411 service as well, but it looks as if these freebie models will probably own share in a few years. Google has a great premise on their hands, furthering the democracy of information as it spirals to freeness. It seems data and information are destined to be open in the future, just look at the riot going on with the music industry. Services are being completely destroyed as the generators are choosing to directly sell or give away their content. In this case Google, disrupts the current phone system, albeit its for the better.
My theory is that disruptive services such as this are actually easier to establish in a static market. Certainly makes standout communications including advertising's job easier. On the other hand, utilities and phone services in particular are somewhat resistant to change as a herd mentality is predominant. Should be interesting to see how long it takes for another service to be rewritten through the internet. Should be just a matter of time...Note this merits further conversation, but im trying to actually post on this space. So maybe another time and place..
Thursday, October 18, 2007
See previous article for recent theme..
The best thing about strategic work/planning/imaginatively structured/anti-marketing thinking (whatever you want to call it these days) is the opportunity to shift your perspective.
This made my day yesterday. Not too bad eh?
Monday, October 15, 2007
So once again Lifefilter is on another hiatus. Not much to say other than hey I work a lot. Yes a lot, in a very worthwhile yet time-consuming and sleep-inducing profession. Someday hope to get the schedule a bit better sorted, but as of right now i'm full steam ahead.
Friday, October 12, 2007
How do you know when you have a success on your hands?
When consumers are creating their own mini-games before the actual product's launch...
Also you have to love the way Valve have branded their game as the "Orange Box" clearly defining it in a sea of games that usually try to blend in within their system. Personality really makes for nice value proposition.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Boing Boing had a really interesting tidbit about Slacker.com creating a streaming playlist of punk songs that go along with the current Spin magazine's October issue, "1977: The Year Punk Exploded!" While it supposdly "consists of handpicked songs representing the most influential punk music spanning three decades", it is designated as the musical counterpart to the punk rock articles.
History lessons aside in great tunage, this is a great idea and one that seems to be emerging in the world of music. I believe music has really lost its sense of intimacy as we continue in this digital age. Everyone can download songs, and while that encourages diversity, it eliminated the dreamlike sequence we had when we listened to a CD from start to finish. Gone are the B-side tracks, and the (often-annoying) skits seemed to have lost their relevance as well. All of those though bite at the creative genius musicians used to harness, as well as how consumers immerse themselves in the music.
Gareth has a nice thread going about Radiohead's new model system which lets people choose the scale of content you want. All of this circumvents the iTunes model as well.
I'm very proud to see how the music industry is seeming to swing back with these creative marketing and alternative models. While sales are plummeting due to digital, its nice to see it not completely roll over. What really brings me in is how this plays into complementariness. (if thats even a word). I'm beginning to feel that brand experiences are truly multi-sensory or at least should be. I also think that different brands can carry conversations between each other of these sorts as well. Music is starting to play with things that capture consumers outside of the listening experience. The Slacker playlist brings music to a publication in a specific way that complements to create the full/ aka full experience(music publication + music for that publication =aural bliss). Thats what people are reading the magazine for anyways.
Agencies keep wanting to look at what consumers doing and ideate off of that versus creative executions that often come off as a bit of announcements, shouting matches and never really in synch with consumer behavior in the first place. We need more things like this, that create fuller, richer, deeper experiences based on what current consumer behavior is doing. The Slacker/Spin playlist is an excellent idea because it incorporates a passion with a behavior in a complimentary way to create a total branded experience. Radiohead are using consumer involvement with a passion to create an experience as total (or minimal) as the consumer wants it. Brilliant use of consumer integration.
Will more brands seek complementary ideas that create total experiences? Targeting the senses is certainly one way for a singular brand. Using passions and technology are another. Inter-branded is one of the more intriguing, and im hopeful we can see that in the future.
Music is an interesting field which has been forced to really look at itself and undergo a revinvention of sorts with the digital dawn. Music is forever and I for one, am excited about Music 2.0.
[Ed. Note] - The Seminal tackles this too, more eloquently
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Businessweek has an interesting article about Sony's announcement to start a recycling program. What makes this an extraordinary program, was that it was started internally and mapped out a potential revenue generating pipeline from its own discarded wares. It seems these days a company's best ideas come from the outside. (yes i can speak to this being a consultant)
The program's goal is to offset every new product in the US, lb for lb. Sony has partnered with Waste Management Inc, one of the largest refiners of used materials. The brand will ask people to donate goods at 75 centers in 18 states. The goal is to expand to 1000. The kicker is Sony products are free, and other brands are received for a fee.
Really what caught my eye was the fact that an electronics brand was treating recycling as a business, not a facet of consumer behavior. Much of this has probably started because consumer awareness over waste, particularly e-junk has soared in the last few years. Thats not a bad thing, but as this has happened a new economy has been generated. Economies aren't just created through the sales of products, but their deaths as well.
States used to pay for returning bottles, but now Minnesota charges for curbside pickup and California adds $6-10 fee on retailers for all new electronic/appliances. New York City, the anomaly as always, has homeless people that make a 'living' solely on recycling goods for money. Product cycles are changing as brands and corporations become more transparent. Your product is accountable from conception to development to usage to endgame.
Think about the product-consumer relationship. Products sells, corporations receive sales, pay off debts and the rest is profit(assuming they have balanced the check book). In the digital age of transparency, now the entire product's lifecycle has to be considered. The rules have changed because companies are responsible for their products not only outside its intended use, but in greater scales such as locally, globally and future generations.
Producers certainly don't make products like they used to, but they may not be necessary in the age of Moore's law. We replace phones every few years, tvs every half-decade or so, and so on. Its almost a rule of thumb that new hard drive would only last a few years. Purely speculation, but companies might be considering this more and more when they create things these days.
Think about the existing product lifestage:
-Manufacturing & sale
Really brands only profit from the first, and less so from the second part of the cycle.
Beta brands and better brands in general have multiple touch points for consumer relationships. Most often brands work so hard on the sell, sell, sell and less so once the product has been bought. Ok i have your money, now what? Beta brands tend to do a good job keeping in touch with consumers, by opening dialogues which in turn can open multiple revenue streams. Just look at all the social/networking thingies that have arisen to be the new Silicone Valley. But how often are brands able to capitalize when a consumer has thrown away a product and ended the direct relationship? At that point brand trumps product in a rare instance, but how can a brand have influence over a product relationship? Especially a defunct one?
Integrating a relationship into the post-ownership of a product creates a brand that is not only more regal and above typical transparent branding efforts, but one that is truly rooted in the cause of the post-ownership relationship. In this case its recycling and do-good for the earth. I'm not sure why more brands haven't capitalized on this "do the right thing" mentality, other than profits often go out the window.
Is the recycling economy one of the next big areas for innovation? Possibly. If more brands consider the lifecycle of their product, we just might have less waste and live in a better place. Additionally new economies can be created through the retrieval and re-usage of potentially valuable materials. Everyone would like to believe their product will last forever or is the last tv they ever buy, but brands must consider what happens to the product after consumption. Brand responsibility should be something that everyone preaches.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Ken Burns is back with the story of World War II as told through 4 distinct American towns. Truly an extraordinary time in American history, one that propelled us to an isolationist country to one of the most powerful nations in the world. More than just a look at the second great war, Burns' current views are thinly veiled in this. This seven part series is airing on the wonderful, yet forgotten PBS. See why the 'greatest generation' earned its name, and an unbelievably raw look at the lives of Americans when we didn't censor caskets or what was really happening.
Anyone familiar with Burns exquisitely thorough and storyteller style, can instantly pick up the roll of this new series. Preliminary figures for "The War" premier exceeded all but three of Burns' previous series: "The Civil War" (1990), "Lewis & Clark" (1997) and "Baseball" (1994), PBS said. Burns calls this his best work to date. A stunning look at Americana when war was seen through a different lens.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I have a friend with a relationship with the big M and was lucky enough to take a spin on an advance copy of Halo 3. A few quick and dirty thoughts.....
Is utterly amazing I have to say…..Give you a little lowdown without giving anything away. Definitely found myself looking at all the little graphical enhancements. My friend asked if it was as pretty as Gears, and while I don’t know at first, the little details on everything from plants swaying to the rusty guardrails really popped. It could be better, because I haven’t played too many games in HD yet, but the graphics were well above the beta. I would put it up there with some of the best ever on xbox360. Oh and the explosions are incredible. They seem completely unscripted even though I know they cant be.
Gameplay was very tight, similar to the beta, but they definitely tweaked it a bit. Will let you discover that for yourself. Level design (so far) is super sharp, definitely better than 2, reminiscent more so of the first one. A.I. is waaay better, all the way through the little guys(grunts), who are braver and more accurate. I have definitely had some tough moments, and i'm 5 chapters in…Some of the battles are on a grand scale, which was spectacular. I had moments where the adrenaline was really rushing, and i was totally immersed in the environment. And it’s tough, so I can see tons of replay value. Not to mention the new weapons and vehicles, mmm mmm you are in for a treat.
The multi-player servers weren’t up yet, but I was definitely itching to get online. Guess we have to wait till the launch.
All in all, no one should be disappointed. Its everything they promised and then some. And more.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Ever found yourself trying to match colors to a photo in photoshop?
Color Hunter is a no frills program that creates color palettes from images on the web such as flickr. Looks like they did a nice one on our Sapporo Kicks we created for the 'Design the Night' campaign a few years back. Sorry the shoes aren't for sale. Apparently DJ AM owns them now.
These days music can often feel like the "lost" media with so many innovations, new fangled communications, and brand discussions going on out there. I know my own habits have changed significantly over the last 6 years in terms of finding, listening and sharing music. These two artists though have really blown my mind as of late and i cant seem to get them off of repeat on the ipod.
Kanye West - Graduation
Matthew Dear - AsaBreed
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
While i may have a few links of my buddies and fan-favorites below, often i lack the foresight to acknowledge the other excellent blogs which are truly inspirational to me. The best thing about blogging and the 'Net in general is its sharing ability. I wanted to share a few other blogs that really keep me going these days when i need that motivation and an intriguing read.
Census Fact Finder
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Those cool cats over at sneakerfreaker have a super rad interview /visual histography with Steve Van Doren, the founder of Vans. A rare insight into the building of brand that has soaked culture with its designs and communications for the last 30 years. I think its been published before, but it always amazes me to read about the humble beginnings as a rubber company. Equally amazing was "since 1900 there had only been 3 companies that had manufactured vulcanized footwear in the US, Randy’s, Keds and Converse," when Van's was formed. Whats truly incredible is the amount of customization and consumer interaction the brand was based on, which only makes it the more radical for a 1960's shoe brand run out of a rubber factory. Several other firsts include customized skater pro models, innovating to develop high-tops to protect ankles from skate wipeouts, sport-sponsorship on a grassroots level, and even a user-generated (i hate that term) system to introduce new models. I'm a Swoosh guy, but really an excellent read which should educate many brands on how to remain culturally resonant for decades.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Sony Aibo was truly a wonderful piece of technology. These robotic dogs could run around, fetch a ball, and interact with humans in a somewhat realistic way. But it blew everyone's mind in the late 90's when it arrived. For some odd reason, or what seems to typify Sony, they shut down the project and now Aibos cease to exist.
Pleo is the next big thing in robotics. Pleo is a robotic dinosaur, made for all ages, designed to emulate the appearance and behavior of a week-old baby Camarasaurus. It was designed by Caleb Chung, the co-creator of the Furby. Before you say dear god help us, read about what exactly this thing can do, according to Amazon:
"Moves organically, expresses emotion, autonomously explores and responds to the world around him. Each Pleo has a unique personality that develops based on Pleo’s life experiences with you. On www.pleoworld.com owners can connect, find training tips and download new enhancements to Pleo. Pleo’s sophisticated sensory system has devices that enable him to see, to sense touch, and to detect objects: a color camera, sound sensors, 2 infrared sensors, 14 motors, over 100 gears, 8 touch sensors, and an orientation sensor." Sounds more like a B-52 than a toy.
All of this for $350 a pop. Pricey no? Inside is "a sophisticated sensory system consists of nearly 40 devices that enable him to see, sense, touch and detect objects in order to move autonomously and explore his environment without requiring any remote control. This robotic dinosaur includes a color camera with a white-light sensor that allows him to detect bright light from dark, see colors, detect motion, track a moving object, and perceive objects in front of him. The Pleo Life Form also has over 100 custom-designed gears, and 14 motors for highly-articulated movement. Each motor has a force feedback sensor that makes them sensitive to forceful grabs at the dinosaur's legs, neck, tail and torso, causing him to shut down during trauma to avoid internal damage. Pleo will actually react to being hurt, perhaps exhibiting a limp, and can recover over time depending on the level of nurturing you exhibit."
Seems like artificial intelligence is the next leap in not just robotics but children's toys. This will be a hit; you can pre-order yours for $350 today.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Citibank pretty much upped the game years ago with its reward lifestyle positioning. American Express has been one to quckly follow suit (despite it wanting to be an originator, you arent). They have created some authentic claims though evident in my visit to the US Open yesterday. Upon showing your card you (and your party) recieve a wireless radio to listen to the matches, which also turns into a normally functioning radio for sporting events after the match is said and done. Brilliant! You can also "borrow" a wireless lcd tv to watch every match while on the premises as well. AE has stepped up its marketing and communications over the years to position its simple credit card, as giving insider access to events and rewards. While everyone talks rewards, AE makes it come true in real life experiences. Enhancing events makes every brand-member worthy and part of a greater experience. The best part was not needing 10,000 points or the black diamond magenta card. This sorta brushes against the whole brand is a utility thing everyone seems to kick around gloriously. How does a brand's functions affect your head next to your actions. In my case, it created a richer and more meaningful experience. It gets me asking why arent more brands creating reward type relationships with consumers. How can they reward patronship beyond the core product? What makes AE so outstanding is not being linear with X being given for Y, such as points. Reward is by definition, something special or extra. If frequency or amount must be relied upon to create a relationship, consumers feel 'used' by the system. Giving back outside the core product or with typical "rewards naturally extends the brand and develops a stronger consumer relationship, setting the brand up for value outside of its core, creating a potentially longer lasting and more robust brand.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Vice is without a doubt one of the most irreverent and cherished magazines out there today. Vice is that guy that really doesn't give a f$%k. They say what everyone is thinking but is afraid to, traveling to the places you are told to avoid, and other general badass types of things. I had the privilege of chatting with the Vice folks last week, and got hooked up with some schwag including the latest issue of Vice Magazine. While the magazine was the original media vehicle, it now extends to ViceTV, music, and video content. Each platform is true to the brand's (dare i say corporation's) root which is incredulous considering how massive it is. Or is it? Vice has never really wavered in terms of street cred despite going from a freely-distributed zine to a multi-platform self-funded global publishing empire.
Ok enough of the Vice-hyping jazz. The latest issue has some very cool things if you actually got your hands on it. A paperbag branded with colt 45 allows you to cover your bag in true "brown-bag style" just like all the homies who like to kick it incognito. Smart smart smart. The coolest thing about drinking 40's are the stylish brown bags, and not swilling that malt liquor. The bags could potentially cover everything from sodas to your Corona. All done on the cheap...well done colt, well done. Anyone who reads the mag knows Colt 45 has a relationship with Vice, so maybe its not so much of a surprise; but inside the bag is a colt45 comic book by various artists chronicling the adventures of the brand. Do I smell a scion here? I'm on the fence, when people refer to Pabst as authentic, but Colt 45 has been around the block and i think they realize they do have cache with a different audience than 20 years ago. Is colt 45 the next Pabst?
Pretty much old hat in NYC, but i took this photo months ago when this place first opened. Ronnybrook Farms has opened what could be the first of its kind, Milk Bar in Chelsea Market. Very interesting turn for a brand, but judging by the crowds immensely successful.
The brand is somewhat revered in NYC, as being from "upstate" (in a positive manner) and "true" farm from its sidewalk sales down in Tompkins Park on the weekends. Chelsea Market is a fantastic collection of food retailers in a relative transparent environment, allowing consumers to watch the production of the goods for sale. Ronnybrook has a wall lined with ancient milk crates, a circular bar in the center with ice cream and they offer diner fare as well for those looking to sit down for a bit. Quite a few people came in just to purchase their milk from the coolers in the wall. Advantage niche store!
Apparently there is a history of milk bars, but this one seems one-of-a-kind to me. Other brands that live in convenience store aisles or are single-serve should see this as a great example how to create a retail and community connection with consumers. Dairy farmers' ads have been quite popular and well-branded over the years, might milk be one of the most progressive foods we have?
Monday, August 27, 2007
The Whole Foods experimental juggernaut rolls on! Down at the Houston Street location a "beer room" has opened with over 200 international and domestic beers and six local beers on tap. But you can't drink at the bar they have in the store.....You can sell it, but you can't drink it...TRAGIC!! The nice touch is that you can fill up growlers (1/2 gallon) to take home, to minimize environmental impact. Gridskipper keenly notes "It's like they took Trader Joe's idea for the wine shop and turned it into something actually cool and useful." Supposedly beer workshops are the next step. Homebrew anyone?
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Coffee. Been done a thousand ways and once more. Dark, light, mug matching etc. Here's a new take from the Roasting Plant on the LES. Popped in the other day for a peek. They are known fo their coffee that never touches the outside air, beans to roast to consumption. Its allll about the air baby or lack their of it. No humans ever touch the beans and heck they dont taste the sweet air till you drink it. Great spin on branding coffee while everyone else does pods and communal collaboration tables for creative-types. They truly believe they have the most perfect roast; through a controlled and multi-system integrated roasting and brewing system for untouched beverage bliss. The product is questionable, Consumers seem to buy it though juding foot traffic. Modern provenance is an Interesting twist, but is the coffee really better? I wouldn't know, i don't drink the stuff.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Suck UK have come up with a visual solution to morning brewing for all you interns. A pantone-style mug, shows all the shades of tea, from Milky to Builders'. There's a coffee version too. Brillant Design!
Monday, August 20, 2007
Boingboing has pointed me to this incredibly creative site run by the Centennial Society /Packard Jennings. Their acidic look on life in the states and globally is well-executed in their graphic design and farces in the common spaces of the office, advertising and the mall. They even go so far as to distribute pamphlets of their mockeries in the public space. One of the best is a 16-image that was produced to put inside the postage-paid, business-reply envelopes that come with junk mail offers. Every envelope collected was stuffed with the pamphlet and mailed back to its original company. Yes! Creative ideas such as this have a currency that spreads not only because its funny, but because it creates social situations everyone only dreams about. These guys are disruption at its finest!
Its been tooooooo long since i have made any type of change. New code, new layout, new(ish) look. Comments will be back up soon enough. Let me know your thoughts if you like it, hate it, mildly appreciate it in a laid-back kinda way...
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Nalgene has a brilliant little thing going on with their bottles. Great design is multi-functional (behaviorial and occasion -ly speaking here). Consumers sporting these bottles are either your backpacking hippies, socially conscious or just proactive planners. Nalgene has stuffed their bottles with helpful things you need for travel, your pet, kids, the hot hot heat, your auto and first aid for your scrapped knees. Brilliant use of the err technology there guys. Positioning the brand as a 'container' over just a water bottle, makes a stronger case for not only its usage occasion but its stature as a brand. Not to mention you can drink out of it when you get thirsty.
All in your usual 32oz classic nalgenes… each with a signature color for branding naturally.