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Archive for February, 2010

Oscar Nominated Short: Logorama

February 21st, 2010

The ad man in me can’t resist posting a link to the well-done Oscar-nominated animated short, Logorama. French art/video direction collective H5 made what is essentially a shoot-em-up action sequence set in a world constructed entirely of logos. Watch the whole thing here (until it inevitably gets taken down due to copyright violation).

The film features some amusing dialogue, a lot of clever moments, and a generally irreverent feel — but the best thing about it is that it demonstrates how much of the physical world has been captured into corporate logos. This same line of thinking makes me wonder if one could reconstruct any anecdote, film, or book solely using clips from episodes of Seinfeld — a show that perhaps only came to an end because it had exhausted all the narrative possibilities known to man.

Yeah, I bet a works-of-Shakespeare-as-acted-by-Seinfeld-characters mashup channel would be a hit on YouTube.

Advertising, Design, Movies , , , , ,

Friday Fun: Holiday Road

February 19th, 2010
YouTube Preview Image

I’ve inexplicably had this song, from Chevy Chase’s National Lampoon’s Vacation, stuck in my head all day. Watching this music video totally scratches my itch sonically, but the video itself seems so at odds with the spirit of the song as it is presented in Vacation, that I had to minimize my browser so that the song wouldn’t be spoiled. Nevertheless, enjoy. I hope it inspires a Chase movie marathon.

PS – I never knew Lindsey Buckingham sang this song. That seems weird for some reason.

Movies, Music , , , ,

Yelp Poetry

February 17th, 2010

I happened across this local bar review on Yelp

Bartender Guy with the curly hair
Acting like he don’t care

You look like glen beck and crusty the clown
But you must know..I am the main carney in this town

Its good you turn down the lights in this wack ass place
With a crew so weak…what a disgrace

…and was pleased to see that the author had more works published in his portfolio. I wish that more people took the time to consider the form and not just the content of what they create online. I’m all for the genuine, but sometimes artifice is so much more fun.

Read all of his Yelp masterpieces here, including my favorite: a review of Northgate Mall in four couplets that artfully encapsulate an inspired, if typical, experience of contemporary shopping center life.

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The Kon-Tiki Effect

February 16th, 2010

An outbreak of personal adventure has recently spread among my friends in the form of a book. Anthropologist and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki, the true account of his ride across the Pacific on a balsa raft, is a page-turner. This little paperback epic is easy to recommend because the tale seems to speak directly to that innate part of people that secretly (or not so secretly) wants to commune directly with the unknown—and unknowable—forces of nature. Aligning yourself with this wild spirit just feels right.

The story of the journey itself— a tapestry of jungle headhunters, whale sharks, naysayers, miracles, and the sparkling beauty of a perpetual ocean horizon—makes this work a compelling one, for sure; but it is important to understand that Heyerdahl wasn’t just a thrill-seeker. He undertook the whole brine-soaked affair to prove to his colleagues that an anthropological assertion he had made in a paper wasn’t an impossibility. He staked he and his crew’s lives on his belief that the Polynesian Islands had been populated thousands of years prior by ancient peoples from South America. The story of Kon-Tiki is most interesting to me because it is the story of a man’s sense of duty to his ideas.

What Heyerdahl understood is that people must want to be a part of an idea before they will stand behind it. Time after time during the book, people offer their help with the expedition solely because of the “courage and enterprise” of the whole affair. So, what makes people get swept up in an idea? According to a study of the New York Time’s most e-mailed articles, stories which inspired a sense of awe in their readers were among the most viral of any in the paper. Likewise, those individuals most highly regarded in our society are those that seem to actually embody their big ideas; People such as Heyerdahl, Gandhi, Dorothy Parker, or even Prince, are inspirations to many. We reward their commitment with a deeper appreciation of their message. Other idea-men, like Steve Jobs or TV’s Don Draper, are most admired for being able to tell a story like no one else, even if we don’t always like their personality. Either way, the takeaway here is that storytelling, not just story, is king.

May we all make the journey that must be made to support the ideas we believe in, both in our lives and in our work.

For those of you prepared to see how it’s done, watch the Academy Award Winning documentary of Heyerdahl’s journey, made with footage taken on the voyage itself.

Ideas, Movies, Writing , , , , ,

The Compromised Man & Superbowl Ads

February 8th, 2010

The commercials during the Superbowl have become tiny cultural vignettes at least as entertaining as the game itself. These marketing one-liners are cooked up by teams of ad creatives most often made up, from my experience, of the same 20-to-30-something males that, in theory, the Superbowl is most popular with. However, also judging from my experience, many of the men that work in these agencies are anything but the type of men that are most likely to watch the Superbowl. They are pop cultural anthropologists whose goal it is to identify stress points in the culture that they can take advantage of. They are salesmen dramatists, putting their heightened intuition for human needs in service to creating stories that help corporations sell more product.

This may explain how we ended up this year with a large group of commercials that the New York Times and many others are calling misogynistic. However these ads may signal anything but a trend towards male dominance. If most expressions of aggression come from a place of insecurity, then ads that lash out at the world in the name of Men most definitely indicate a weakness in the squarer sex. I have read countless articles lately about how more women than men go to college, how it is becoming more common for women to earn more money than their husbands, and how young men are increasingly without ambition in general. If I were working in an ad agency eager to channel the minds of young men and identify where they are feeling vulnerable, I suppose the realm of gender dynamics might be a good place to start.

Does our gender really feel this compromised, though? Should we all be worried? The problem clearly isn’t that women are feeling more empowered to pursue their interests, but that men somehow feel divested from wanting any sort of responsibility at all. What happens when people follow their dreams, as they’ve been encouraged to do their whole life, and their dream is to hang out and watch TV? Even worse, do modern men feel like they are sleepwalking through a life of job, family, and responsibility, only to be temporarily reinvigorated by recreation, sex, and spending? I can only hope that these advertisements are off base — that they don’t really resonate with their intended audience — because they truly paint a bleak psychological picture of the American male. This first ad, for Dodge, presents what is perhaps the most depressing of all messages: life is one giant sucking compromise, but at least you can drive a fast car.

Dodge: Man’s Last Stand
Wieden + Kennedy, Portland

Bridgestone: Your Tires or Your Wife
The Richards Group, Dallas

Budwieser: Women’s Book Club
Cannonball, St. Louis

Dockers: Men Wear the Pants
Draftfcb, San Francisco

Dove For Men
Ogilvy & Mather, New York

Advertising, Ideas , , ,

The Apple iPad: Just What We Deserve

February 1st, 2010

Like many, I was swept up in the sport of imagining what sort of magical interactive paradigm Apple would present with its new tablet computer. Would you talk to it? Wave at it? Put your face on it? Would you be able to hold it up in front of your friends face and see on the screen what they would look like as a zombie?

Well, like many, I was disappointed with the well-made but annoyingly locked-down media consumption device that Apple delivered. I ranted for two days about how the iPad was more a business avenue than a computer. That it was a media buying appliance dressed up as a lifestyle device. Basically, I was pissed that the device encourages the consumption of media over the creation and sharing of ideas. The iPhone managed to support both consumption AND communication. I had assumed that surely the tablet would build on both of these pillars, while using its increased screen size and power to allow for even more creative ways of making and sharing. Portable devices are supposed to be social, right?

However, the avenues for getting media onto this machine seem to be few and far between unless you’re going through an Apple approved venue. The browser doesn’t support Flash, so there will be virtually no alternative music or video services online. Pretty much all the music, movies, and books you consume have to come through the iTunes Store. There is no camera, so there isn’t a way to share photos of the things you see or video chat with friends. There is also no phone, so you can’t send text messages or talk. Where’s the rebellious creative fun!

After grumbling for a while, I came to an epiphany that has put me at ease and lulled me into a state of acceptance of this, the next big gadget. We, the People, deserve the iPad. We deserve the inherent restrictions of our benevolent big brother Steve looking out for us. We’ve had more than a decade of wild romping through the world of interconnectivity online and we’ve proven ourselves incredibly irresponsible. We steal music. We steal movies. We steal whatever intellectual property we have the good fortune to hear about on Twitter. Our society is like a teenager who wrecks his parents car, and now we have to deal with the consequences or there won’t be a car to drive by the time Prom rolls around…or something…

So, the iPad represents a new Internet paradigm. It is a curated, safe world where the people are shepherded to the media experience they desire for a fair price. You won’t be able to do whatever you want or share whatever you want, but you’ll find what you’re looking for really quickly — and with a host of suggested related materials to enjoy later without ever getting out of bed. I guess I can live with that.

Design, Gadgets, Ideas , , , , , ,