Thursday, March 27, 2008

What ever happened to Shona Laing



Glad I'm not a Kennedy is an iconic New Zealand song by an iconoclastic New Zealand artiste. I never really liked it, too gimmicky for me. But the other day Monique Rhodes mentioned she'd heard from Laing.Last I heard was an interview on National Radio. What interests me about the clip is that I think it was directed by Kerry Brown, the talented fashion photographer turned director. Kerry shot an annual report for me in 1986 - the last year of disgraceful indulgences before the share market crash (correction) of 1987. We made some very nice portraits of the Brewer's employees in fashionista tritone black and white. It was a two volume set - one for the pitch and one for the financial - with a slip cover. Very Genesis - high concept… I will never forget shooting the board. We were carefully briefed that when they emerged from their board meeting we would have one minute with each. No longer. We were not to interfere with their lunch any more than necessary (to inspire investor confidence - always found that curious…these guys were heavy hitters in the kiwi business world. They could lunch with anyone anytime anywhere, but the effort to make a lasting impression was an afterthought. Most of the men - they were all men were actually quite gracious - a couple of skinny little kids directing them didn't phase them for a moment. Only Douglas Myers felt the need to treat us like shit on his shoe. He behaved disgracefully, insisting that he be photographed in front of the Brass Lion in the foyer of the building and crossing his arms carefully so the camera could catch his Rolex. Yawn. I hope he has gotten over himself. Kerry behaved with complete professionalism. The shot was ok but looked silly - all of the other directors looked great. Myers looked weird. I won't say that he brought about the stock market crash. Butyaneverknow.

Kerry also shot possibly the worst ad I ever made - for Coruba rum. We filmed it in the Bahamas.

But that's a story for another time.

Monday, March 24, 2008

We shall fight them on the beaches an'at

winston churchill v for victory

Is nothing sacred?
Apparently not.
The Churchill image is from a SKY tv ad campaign for the history channel and the clip is from English comedy duo Armstrong & Miller - very funny.



Saturday, March 22, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

The One & Only Redux


Great turnout for Monique Rhodes at Honey last night.

The group Pearl also played but they brought me back to my original thesis for the this blog - The One & Only: when Pearl played, and they play well, having been performing together since 2003 they are quite slick and have developed a little cabaret of moves and interactions that sometimes worked and sometimes made me cringe. The real problem with Pearl is that they seem to have a music processor working as they perform which turns even well known songs from acts like David Bowie and The Rolling Stones into a cover that sounds like it is being played by a mutation of the Corrs or The Bangles, with a smidge of Wilson Philips. The audience didn't seem to mind. It was a cute, sweet performance, but compared to the raw energy and emotional connection Monique Rhodes made - she made the Van Morrison classic Gloria (G-L-O-R-EYE- A) her own - there was no real comparison.

From my earlier post


I recently read Cowell's autobiography I Don't Mean to be Rude, But...: The Truth About Fame, Fortune and My Life in Music - It reinforced much of my own thinking about brands and connecting with audiences in unconventional ways - being The One & Only. You can't succeed by being Elton John. Obviously - because Elton John already exists. Ironically I recently read an article about Elton John in which his producer said the performer had lost his way artistically and with reduced commercial success by trying to adapt to current musical styles - but had now returned to being Elton John.


And before that:

The risk of truly being yourself and taking the time to understand how you can break free of the conventions of the market is quite a mission. It never ends. The rewards are distinctive products and services that competitors cannot emulate and, if they do, they seem like frauds (and consume their resources trying to be you).

Honesty and authenticity are highly prized by audiences. Watch American Idol and see how many talented Mariah Carey soundalikes fall by the wayside (there is already a Mariah Carey) - Fantasia Barrino won the last series. She wasn't the prettiest or even the most technically excellent performer in the competition - but she was far and away the most distinctive. That much was obvious from the moment she began singing the Gershwin tune Summertime from Porgy & Bess. " Schhummertime...". One of the undeniable truths of the Idol shows is: that making a warm, human connection with the audience, having a great story is just as important and being able to sing. Doing things well is just what Kevin Roberts of Saatchi & Saatchi calls 'table stakes'.
.


Monique Rhodes Site


Pearl Site

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holden Monaro Concept - stalled.

Holden Monaro Concept

Holden have been showing their concept for the new Monaro around the traps. But it is unlikely to be built. Which seems a shame. It is a fine looking beast. Much more of a muscle car than the lithe, feminine model launched to great fanfare some years back. I never thought it had enough bonnet and lacked an aggressive edge.

The problem here is that the volume of vehicles that would sell under the Holden brand wouldn't justify the investment in developing the thing to a production stage. If GM, who own the Holden marque were to rebadge it as Pontiac for the US market it might have a chance. The wheels of GM grind slow though and maybe a car like this has little relevance in a market hit with oil at over $100US a barrel and concerns for sustainability. Even if the Monaro were to be made greener than before it might not be enough where the greenest solution is the right one.

Times are a changin'

Monique Rhodes - Honey (no money), tonight.

monique rhodes rocks
Dont forget the gobsmackingly talented Monique Rhodes is performing at the Honey Lounge this evening (Thursday 20 March), 8.30 sharp. No cover charge. You will be blown away.
Visit her site for a sampling. Buy her debut album. Tell a friend.

The Dapper Nudist

A bare all tale of deception and sunburn…

Just practicing my enigmatic book titles and all but useless blurbs.

By the way I have been getting good feedback from Vanishing Act readers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mac Air Music



I love the idea of the Mac Air but, call me old fashioned, …no disk drive? How will I watch Ratatouille, Toy Story, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Cars and A Bug's Life on DVD?

The music on the MacAir launch commercial is terrific. I tracked the artiste Yael Naim's video for you. What is the name for this genre (Regina Spectre et al)?

Apparently Steve Jobs chose the track personally for the TVC.

Order from Amazon:



Splash out:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The missing Lynx



From the marketers of the Campaign for real beauty (Dove) come … life advice for lads.
Highly evolved young men coming to a town near you.

Funny though.

Monday, March 17, 2008

All Rhodes lead to great entertainment

monique rhodes live performance star
I met Monique Rhodes at an art awards function. Even from across the room I could see she had star power. I had no idea she was a musician. We chatted briefly about art and marketing and I was interested in the business model her friend's gallery was using to bring art to the people and money to artists.

Monique contacted me to ask if I'd be interested in helping her with ideas to promote her work. After a visit to her site I was sold. I love her music and energy.

She has been enrapturing fans at small venues here in New Zealand, building a loyal base. She lives most of the year in France. She toured Europe opening the legendary Chuck Berry's shows (and yes, appernetly he does like to be paid in cash).

Monique is playing at Auckland's Honey Lounge in O'Connell Street on Thursday. Gig starts at 8.30. There's no cover charge. It will be a great night. The group Pearl follow. If you see me there don't hesitate to say hello.

What better way to kick of the long Easter weekend? Good Friday - Better Thursday.

Check out Monique's music on her web site and become a friend on her
"MySpace page (she counts Sarah McLaughlan, Sheryl Crow and our very own Annie Crummer amongst her friends and fans so you'll be in good company).

Order a copy of her debut Album Awakenings
from her website or on theAmplifier
New Zealand music site.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Brand Hijack


Working with the team at BrandWorld again. Interesting to think about where advertising and marketing might go.

I was interested to see this book promoted on a book cover design blog.



Based on a radical concept--letting go--this book about "marketing without marketing" is written by an author "Adweek" calls "a marketing subversive."

brand hijack (br?and h? -j?ak): "consumer takeover" (synonym).The consumers act of commandeering a brand from the marketing professionals and driving its evolution.
Out of nowhere, a brand like Red Bull, "The Blair Witch Project," or even the Howard Dean campaign takes off with little or no conventional marketing. How do these accidents really happen, and why do they ultimately succeed or fail?

Welcome to marketing without marketing: the emergence of the hijacked brand. Dont let the all- too-clever subtitle fool you. Far from representing the absence of marketing, this book describes the most complex sort of marketing possible, as well as the least understood.



Order a copy (I have):

Brand Hijack: Marketing Without Marketing

Eunoia - what a nice word.

From the wikipedia:

Eunoia is the shortest English word containing all five main vowel graphemes. It comes from the Greek word εύνοια which means well mind.

It is a rarely used medical term referring to a state of normal mental health.

In book eight of Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle uses the term (in Greek) to refer to the kind and benevolent feelings of goodwill a spouse has which form the basis for the ethical foundation of human life.[1]

Eunoia is also the title of a lipogram by Christian Bök which consists of chapters written using words limited to a single vowel. Bök defines "Eunoia" as “beautiful thinking.”



I like the concept of beautiful thinking, based on benevolent feelings and goodwill.

I had heard of it before but was reminded of it when travelling in the car, listening to an interview with Christian Bok on Kim Hill's radio show. You can listen to it here
Buy an audio recording of Eunoia from Fishpond.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Magazine Design

I'm just finishing my first week of shared care with my daughter. No more alternate weekends. I'm glad to say it all went down without a single cent being given to lawyers. A tribute to being reasonable and both parents caring for their child and putting their personal differences aside. So I blog a little less.

Further to my previous post about car magazines. Wait…before you change the channel there is a point…stay with me.

This evening I took Zoe to the public library - readers are leaders. While we were there I picked up a couple of issues of Road & Track magazine. I have to say that it is a fantastic publication. I was first introduced to it back in the 1970's by my boss, Eddie the Milkman who had imported a beautiful Mercedes into New Zealand from the United States where he and his family had lived for many years. In those days it was hard to get your hands on new cars. Eddie had a big pile of R&T and I hoovered them up - in between painting his roof and manually digging a hole for his swimming pool and working seven nights a week as a milk delivery boy(I was pretty driven to make cash as a teenager).

Looking at the mag now I see the clear threads back to those old editions. Its heritage and inherent qualities remain. It is a brilliant magazine for motoring enthusiasts. I'm going to subscribe. Unlike Top Gear from the UK it relies less on polemic and more on objectively focused journalism. And, while the design is crisp and highly useable, it isn't such a major component as it is in Intersection.

Here is my question/point:

Should design/packaging be used to mask an absence of substance.

Said it before and I will say it again:

Simplicity,
Utility,
Relevance.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Desert Queens


Not really knowing what to expect I went long to the launch of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the musical last night. A friend had invited me along. She was held up at the airport when her flight was delayed. So we missed one another. Seems the cast of the show were on the same delayed flight. So there was a bit of a wait. Made a couple of interesting contact over canapes and a cheeky little sauvignon blanc.

When the proceedings finally got underway it was worth the wait. Aside from the slightly tedious speeches (though it is interesting that The Edge is about to begin selling tickets directly - I assume nudging out Ticketec). Several of the cast in full costume belted out a couple of numbers from the show - based on the cult movie hit of the same name. It looked like the actual show will be a big night out in the vein of Mama Mia.

Priscilla - of course is the name of the bus in show…carrying on my bus theme of late.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Back to the Future


I wonder if the phenomenal pace of technology has shortened our horizons. The entire process of concept, development and implementation of new ideas happens in the blink of an eye. So the future is always now.

With that in mind I chuckled when I came across the GM truck of the future. The 50s were a period of incredible optimism. But the technology was hampered by the availability of materials and the science to understand their application. Making sure that the seemingly infinite demand for washing machines and refrigerators was filled meant volume was the order of the day. Modern marketing arose to convince consumers that cosmetic changes were sufficient reason to choose between one brand and another or to replace a product with many years of life left. The idea of keeping up with the Joneses was born.

Those rules don't apply any more. Great design is expected but it can't conceal a lack of utility. Likewise high degrees of utility with a dissatisfying user experience is a recipe for failure.

The past was a simpler place.

Always the critic

I have to write a review of The Logic of Life: Uncovering the New Economics of Everything. I know, reviewing a book about economics… who'd've thunk?

Watched the movie Ratatouille (which is genius, I did well at the video store this weekend). I think my favourite part - by no means the best - just something that resonated with me, was the review by the creepy restaurant critic:

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment.

We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."


I shall bear that in mind.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Perfume by Patrick Suskind


My favourite novel of all time is Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
I just watched the movie and am as happy as I was when I saw the Lord of the Rings. Astonishing.

Interesting for being a German Book, popular in English, made into a movie in English, by German people. I also recently watched Letters from Iwo Jima, directed by Clint EastWood, An American film, in Japanese.

Both outstanding movies. I recommend them both.

I want you to read Perfume, the novel though. It is an incredible leap of imagination.

I don't know why, but I always cringe when I hear about marketers using odors to sell products. SmellaVision. Now that is a rank idea. For the same reason billboards are a terrible idea.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Everyone on the same page


After the dramas caused by installing Apple's latest OS, I am a little sceptical about changing core software too soon - especially if the new features prove to be cosmetic. (Did I tell you about the conniptions the Leopard software caused by screwing up account settings in Dreamweaver. Seems that Apple didn't collaborate very closely with Adobe when they reconfigured things. I wasted a day trying to find solutions in chat rooms and notice boards - not something I appreciated).

I watched the presentation about MicroSoft's latest edition of Office for Mac. I regard it as pretty essential software, so obviously I'm cagey. But the aesthetic controls in the new suite look, well, …mac'ish. Which is usually good. An improved powerpoint should give Apple's Keynote a run for its money. Does anyone actually use Keynote?



Check it out for yourself. Simplify Your Work...

The Future of Advertising

I have a theory about the future of advertising. There are three predominant elements:

Simplicity

Utility

Relevance


Simplicity has always been a requisite. Time and space constraints are one thing but clutter and short attention spans make simplicity essential.

Utility is new. Tell me something I can use. Education doesn't have to be dull. Trinny & Susannah have done well teaching women what not to wear. They spring to mind at the moment because they are in New Zealand causing havoc with kiwi women. Home makeover shows, property climbing, dieting - instructive content has never been more prevalent. the idea of simply documenting something isn't what constitutes a documentary any more.
Of course the crossover of commercial into the content itself. Mitre 10 Dream Homes rates well - and it's a show about home renovation.


Google proved conclusively that the right message at the right time in the right place is far more important than a sexy narrative.

So my mantra is Simplicity, Utility and Relevance. Which, of course doesn't preclude being imaginative,

Monday, March 03, 2008

Motivational messages

ducati motivational poster
I had a link to a blog of motivational posters in the comments of a post. This one made me laugh, as only a motorcyclist with a fetish for oddball machines would.

Oh, and this one too. Sorry about the language, go with the sentiment.

Flying Sharks

Loads more here…