Assorted Cleverness

Floods in Bartlesville, Oklahoma complete this billboard.

I really appreciate the kind of thought that goes into creating an experience like this. A great use of surprise and delight.

This is K-Mart’s error page for gamers. If you don’t “get” this instruction, don’t worry. You just have to know that it fits perfectly with their audience. Inside jokes like this work really well to create a sense of community.

Click to view full-size.

The ad on the left was placed in Cosmo, and the ad on the right was placed in assorted men’s magazines (eg: Maxim). The men’s explains that the women’s ad is creating a subliminally positive image of men that drink Molson Canadian. If they only ran the men’s ad, would it have made any difference?

Paul Rand on Options, the NeXT Logo

I asked him if he would come up with a few options, and he said, ‘No, I will solve your problem for you and you will pay me. You don’t have to use the solution. If you want options go talk to other people.’
— Steve Jobs, talking about Paul Rand

I’ve heard this before, and while I like the sentiment, I can’t help but think it’s either incredibly pompous or ignorant. I think I’d balance it off of some of the things that Michael Beirut says in this Creative mornings talk, where he points out that his clients aren’t any different from anyone else’s, and that while some people think that Pentagram clients self-select, they’re the same random mix of people that anyone else gets. Those clients aren’t going to swallow such an egotistical line, even if you’re the top designer in the world.

Still, the idea that Paul Rand has, that he’s going to understand your problem and solve it for you (and so there is only one correct answer), is a pretty nice one for those of us that design corporate brand identities. And why not, it seems pretty logical.

When Paul Rand presented his NeXT logo, he did it with a custom-made book (scroll to the bottom of the page, look under “presentations”) that walked Steve Jobs through the problem, and the thought process that went into designing the logo (more scans of the book are available at Imprint). Which is absolutely how you’d have to do it, if you’re only presenting the one concept: you’re telling the story about how the identity is fated to look like this, and not like anything else. If you can get that story right, presenting one option will work. But it might help if you’re not quite as brusque with the client as Mr. Rand is quoted as being.

As an aside, I happen to think that the NeXT logo is poorly done.

Endangered Species

I have to take a minute just to recognize this long spot for Forza Motorsport 4. The Gran Turismo franchise is the recognized leader of racing video games, so Forza has a bit of an uphill battle with its latest release.

But they’ve done a lot right. They hired Jeremy Clarkson, one of the most recognizable voices amongst auto enthusiasts to do the voice over. The copywriter also did a great job with the script, a long editorial about the struggle of being an fan of powerful cars. Overall, it’s very easy to watch this 2’40” spot and feel passionate about driving expensive cars fast and irresponsibly.

The Mother of All Hot Wheels Tracks

Here’s how you make a viral video. One thing I’ve noticed about viral videos, is that they’re earnest. They’re not overproduced. And they rarely give you the sense that the creators really thought that they should make this in order to go viral.

I also really liked the last 45 seconds or so. After watching the video, they make a plea for a small donation to their favourite charity. Having watched the video, don’t you feel like you owe them?

Tim Hortons Jumps the Shark

When Tim Horton’s recently announced that they’d be adding espresso to their lineup in a bid to take on Starbucks, I had to check the date to make sure it wasn’t April Fool’s Day.

This move is so stunningly ignorant of the brand, I question who is in charge at Tim Horton’s, and how disconnected are they from their customers. Tim Horton’s is defined as much by what it is, as what it isn’t. Tim Horton’s isn’t Starbucks. The two tribes couldn’t be further apart, or more clearly defined. So this move to capture some of the Starbucks audience is particularly puzzling. Nevermind that espresso doesn’t fit into the Tim Horton’s brand of simple, Canadian comfort food.

This is where Tim Horton’s jumps the shark. I eagerly await their next brand extension, but I’m not sure how they can get further from their audience and brand than this. Maybe sushi?

World Gone Sour

Here’s a really entertaining music video from Method Man and Sour Patch Kids. It’s kind of surprising to see a member of Wu-Tang hocking candy, though rap is no stranger to paid product placement.

I can only imagine that this is an attempt from Sour Patch Kids to do some “viral” marketing (I wonder how that meeting went). While I’m not sure about how viral it actually is (it isn’t), and I don’t know how the video contributes to the brand perception (do these candies need more street-cred?), I give them credit for getting a credible artist, and not some hip-pop “star”.

Saskatoon Restaurant Speaks to their Audience

I really liked this billboard, mostly because of how well it speaks to the audience: it’s a polarizing message that delivers their brand promise. Perhaps what’s so novel about this ad is how rare something like this is. The restaurant has one location, so the ad budget can’t be immense. But often similar restaurants flounder in their attempts at advertising, missing their audience completely. While I often point to a meagre budget to explain their failures, this ad shows that a bit of strong copy can do wonders.