Showing posts from October, 2008

The Vet Who Did Not Vet


Remashed lyrics in pop videos

A wee gem from the web via Sunrise on TV3. Funny what passes for content on TV now - content from the web. Media entropy in action?

Who let the dogs out?

As a child I often volunteered to collect donations for charities. Schools often recruited door-knockers to collect the envelopes, into which the public placed their donations.

It was an eye-opener. People would do the strangest things ranging from coming to the door in their underwear or less. Some would be indignant or passive aggressive, others were friendly and generous and they seemed genuinely glad to be philanthropic. Let's not talk about the rat-bags that couldn't seem to control their dogs.

This week the Foundation of the Blind are running their annual appeal. It reminded me of my experience of that organisation. In the early 90s I won their advertising account with my company Milk Mustache. We ran an award-winning and successful campaign to raise funds for guide dogs with the campaign line 'We see life a little differently'.

One of favourite pieces from the campaign was a poster with an embossed image of a guide dog puppy. The only ink used was for the headline…

Lazy Sunday - On a Monday.

I know I should be working, but it is Labour Day and so, a public holiday. If the public aren't going to work, then neither am I.

I have been whiling away some bandwidth on the New York Times video section. Vicariously wandering around the sights and sounds of lower Manhattan, visiting a dude ranch in the Hollywood Hills, listening to Natalie Portman prattle in a 'screen test', cringing at the seriously excessive eyebrows of the (female) journalist who covers new treatments for breast cancer and marvelling at the movie section when I stumbled across rave reviews of Kaufman's new movie Synecdoche, New York.

Maybe I was swept up in the social proof of the matter. If the readers of the New York Times rate this the movie of the moment, then I shall wait expectantly for it to arrive here in the colonies. Adaptation is one of my favourite films and I enjoyed the strangeness of Being John Malkovich; though I confess to actively disliking Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - …


Yesterday I had brunch with Monique Rhodes, the first time I had a chance to catch up with her since she returned from France. While we sat and chatted I noticed an attractive woman arrive with some friends. It was interesting to me how she exuded presence. Its not that she was especially beautiful or tall or expensively dressed. While others came and went I was captivated by the sense of awareness that she was in the vicinity. I have thought of her since. Not in a prurient way, but simply wondering what it is about some people who seem to fill a room, to turn heads. Is it innate? Is it on purpose, can it be learned?

By contrast I can come and go without being noticed at all. The question is whether I should use my invisibility for good or for evil?

Magic - Tommy Cooper for Lego

Monique Rhodes and Shona Laing on Radio New Zealand

My dear friend Monique Rhodesinterviewed by Jim Moira on Radio New Zealand National with Shona Lainge.

Together they are touring New Zealand here are the dates.

Saturday 25th October
Ascension Winery
Bookings: (09) 422-9601

Friday 31 October
Seifried Winery
Bookings: (03) 544 5599

Saturday 1 November
Whitehaven Winery
Bookings: (03) 572 7588

Friday, Saturday, Sunday 7,8,9 November
Ohinemuri Estate Winery

Saturday 15th November
Langdale Vineyard Restaurant
Bookings: (03) 342 6266

Saturday 22 November
Tribal Lights
Bookings: (07) 348 7425

Saturday 29 November
Alana Estate Winery
(06) 306 9784

Both are very genuine people and genuine talents.

Get along with you and enjoy.

Such great heights…

Some time ago I made a set of stilts for my eight year old daughter. Or rather one and a half stilts. I devised a cunning design that used a foot platform the sugly fitted onto a rod made from a handrail and secured with a height adjustable dowel it is destined to be a design classic.

But I didn't finish them. The reason was that the material I was using for the platforms was all but impossible to shrink-fit to the pole because the cheap Chinese hand drill I had bought for the occasion wasn't up to the occasion. The bit spun the chuck and the hole saw rotated just fast enough to make a little smoke - like rubbing sticks in sawdust to emulate Prometheus. I was appalled. I decided there and then only to buy quality tools or none at all. Haven't bought any since. Hence the incomplete stilt project.

Today I was talking with a designer in the office about a completely unrelated subject and it occured to me there is a simple solution to the stilt issue: I'll make a pattern in…

Your number is up

Early this morning my old mucker Ollie (yes - he who disagrees with me about the Greens) sent me this message:

The strangest thing happened to me last night -

At about 8pm the electricity suddenly snapped off in the house.
No other houses - just this one.
The kids were with me.
I went to have a look at the fuse box with a torch.
Inside is a digital counter, (as opposed to an old style analog dial) which adds up the electric usage.
It's a standard device used by most houses in NZ.
I looked at the number on the counter as I was about to touch the fuse.
The number was 31770.
That is 'OLLIE' upside down.
I use this number a lot and always have done - it's my number.
I didn't touch the fuses becasue for a moment I thought that's it, my number's up - I may die.
So I called in the neighbour to reset the switch.
He did, and it ticked over to the next number and all the lights came back on.
The chances of this happening are less likely than winning the national lottery on consecu…

Some things can't be summed up in bullet points

Witness -The Way We Live is a research company with a difference. More ethnographers than data collectors.

"Insight into the undercurrents of society are everywhere. It only takes knowing where to look.

Our lens is trained on everyday people and how they connect with the world around them.

We are chroniclers of their essential story, interpreters of their evolving lives-revealing the depth and context of the person who is more than a consumer.

Witness the Way We Live blends strategic planning, ethnography and film making to document the small moments that shine light on the larger truths shaping us."

I came across their site via Simon Law's Another Planning Blog and am blown away by their use of film and storytelling techniques to convey a sense of the audience or a trend. The short film about the new phenomenon of Freeboarding is sensational. I'm inspired. I wonder how this kind of approach could be translated here in New Zealand?

If any of my design research methods stud…

Animals, Animals, Animals activism

I suspect this show means more to me now than it did back in the early 1970s when I first saw it as a child. I like the randomisation of quite ordinary information.

I'm pretty sure that TV programmes like this actually formed my way of thinking; making connections and following a train of thought. Useful? Sometimes. Usually.

Every day I am confronted with people in business who are either so paralysed by fear they keep repeating what they did yesterday or are so emboldened by yesterday's successes that they keep repeating them. Not sure which is worse. Either way they are stuck.

By the way Lynn Kellogg is amazing.

And the whole thing is delivered without a shred of post-modern irony.


Your Welcome.

When I was young I was an animal

Just following a train of thought. Age, youth, collective consciousness.

Mmmmmmichael Hill,…jeweller.

Michael Hill is New Zealand's Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. I just watched an interview with him at the award presentation and felt strangely encouraged. He said he didn't start out for himself until he was 40 years old. At 45 I guess I am a late starter.

He also made another point that resonated with me. When you get to the top of a mountain, there's nothing there. Interesting how metaphors work.

It's a shame there are no classic MH Jeweller ads on YouTube but everyone in New Zealand knows the reference. They wen't something like thins:

Palin as President

Check out the web site Palin as President. As with anything to do with Palin the truth is too close to the fiction.

The NZ Herald today revealed that Palin spent quarter of a million New Zealand dollars on her new wardrobe in which to campaign. Oddly the piece appeared in the 'Life & Style" section.

Responding to criticism of Palin John McCain said: "She's the most qualified of anyone recently who has run for vice-president, to tell you the truth ... I'm frankly entertained at the elitist attitude towards a person who is a proven leader." Conclusive proof that, while Palin may be a fool, there's no fool like an old fool.

…And Conquered Wurrrrlds

I have arranged to interview the legendary Martin Lambie-Nairn for Idealog. So, while dutifully researching my subject I was flipping through the history book of D&AD - Rewind Forty Years of Design & Advertising
(which is a fascinating record of marketing communications) for information.
I found some of what I wanted, but I was also reminded of this Sony PlayStation commercia which won in 1999. Worth revisiting. I like it for its lack of computer generated graphics and throbbing guitar music that seems to characterise later work.

Greenie Sees red - Sorry Ollie

Crickey, my observations on the Green Party has prompted a backlash already. I am unrepentant though.

"The usual dope-smoking imagery and toothless old granny in the scene from the 'great leap backwards' are just sad cliches…"

Perhaps, but all good cliches are bound with reality. Nandor Tancoz is an exponent of the ganja Sue Bradford isn't a sweet little girl.

I think I was was even handed in my observation. But I like the term 'The Great Leap Backward' and shall us it remorselessly.

To be clear. I don't have a problem with green concepts and the sustainability agenda. I utterly embrace them. That s why I am pro-nuke power (me and Bishop Montefiore)

From Greenpeace to the Green Party, some of the most prominent environmental groups today made their reputations in the 1970s as opponents of nuclear power. So it was no wonder that greens were vexed last summer when prime minister Tony Blair proposed a new generation of nuclear power plants for Britain to co…

Daily Show - Monday

What? You haven't seen today's show? What is broadband for?

It's not about going back. It's about going forward - why NZ Greens irrelevent

The New Zealand Green Party seem ever so irrelevant these days. Their truth is that sustainability has gone beyond a lifestyle issue to one of global socio-political importance. It's not about going back - it's about going forward. No party, with the possible exception of the U.S. 'Clean Coal' Republicans, can ignore the need for pragmatic polices to address the issue. If not only because it is objectively necessary but that the weight of media - equivalent to billions of dollars globally to promote the issue shouldn't go to waste. And then there is the issue of nullifying the 'green' political agenda. It is one of the threads in my satirical novel Vanishing Act, the other is dolphins…awwww.

The other uncomfortable truth for the Greens is that we not only vote for ideas, we vote for people to represent them. Sue Bradford was a tireless campaigner for union members and people on low incomes. I have no doubt about her care and concern for folk. Not for a secon…

Campaigning for brands

Modern Brand BuildingView SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: deepspacespace150)
I like the transliteration of campaigning in marketing communications as like political campaigning instead of the usual military metaphor.
Paul Issakson is a senior planner in London. His blog is an outstanding resource.

To the barricades

Noticed an item on TV last night suggesting that, which ever way the dice rolls in the US Presidential election there is likely to be some unrest.

I have a feeling democracy in New Zealand is going to be turned into a joke - the minority can overwhelm the majority by the weird jerrymandering system of MMP + the distortion of the race seats. It will be a fiasco.

Image via PSK

Yellow Tree House Campaign

The Yellow Pages are working hard to stretch their brand away from their legacy of paper and ink. In the past their marketing effort has been slightly, well, creepy: detatched black hands helping out (doing the walking I guess?).

Their latest campaign seems altogether more promising.

The idea is that 'Tracey', the character in the commercials is going to build a restaurant in the boughs of a redwood tree.

As the project unfolds there will be commercials detailing her progress.

Sounds like fun (if you are a regular, you'll know I love tree houses: Building a treehouse, and a funky lofty endeavour).

The web strategy is nicely integrated and I think it is a good model to learn from. I like that when you leave a comment you get a link back to your own site (which is mighty neighbourly - and good blogging etiquette).

Check it out for yourself

WordPress Themes - Massive News

I have a new hobby. Trying to figure out how to adapt some of the fantastic WordPress themes that are available on the web. I've installed WP on my personal site (as I am now employed by BrandWorld, I have no need for a trading site - so I am converting it to a blog that only discusses brands, planning and marketing communications issues. The theme I am running at the moment is Massive News by Press 75. It is a nice looking content system (which will probably become a time glutton as I will have to fill it).

If anyone out there knows anyone out there who can help me with some of the more arcane details I would be eternally grateful. That's the problem with becoming an enthusiastic amateur in the dark arts of making web stuff - the top is only the half way mark.

That's so gay...

The Ad Council in the United States has produced a campaign to discourage the use of the expression 'That is so gay..." To described something naff or uncool.

Have to confess I find it an incredibly irritating term. Not because I find it especially offensive but because it is mindless. It worries me when I hear my 8 year old daughter use the expression because I know her vocaublarly has enough language stashed away to be more articulate.

Using a bromide term to describe virtually anything degrades our language and its user.

Of the three executions I have seen I like this one best because it reinforces my thoughts on the matter, rather than the social activism of the others in the series.

As a foot note it amuses me that ad campaigns are still made in sets of three. Like a Lladro theme.

Official site

Via Made to Stick blog

The Split

Here's a funky idea I spotted over on the wonderful I Love Typography blog.

A reminder that everything can be a creative medium.

(I've had two divorces and never once hired a lawyer - just so you know.)

A bird in the hand…

I was rereading Made to Stick the other day. One passage caught my imagination - talking about the stickiness of proverbs and their presence in most of the world's cultures.

It occurred to me that it would make a great name for a writer or writing business:

ProVerb (Doing Words For Profit).

I sketched in on a piece of paper, then left it lying on my desk, basically adding it to my pile of ideas that probably never get done.

In completely chance meeting with a woman who happens to be a writer it came up in the conversation. Turns out she had been looking for just such a name for her business. So I have given it to her, she has registered the domain and is in business. Perfect.

Serendipity and Synchronicity at play.

I recommend Made to Stick (read my review on the Idealog Magazine blog).

Get a copy from Fishpond (NZ)
Or Amazon

Some news:

New post over on The New Yak Times - Blogging about Blogging

Latest issue of Idealog magazine is out. My column this month is about trust, brands and branded content. It will be on the newsstands over the weekend. Another fine looking issue (though I haven't had a chance to read any of the articles - interested to learn about Loop).

Sarah Palin, you little beauty.

Well, …I laughed.

Via Kiwiblog (with a little daub of photoshop)

I need a change…

“Did you know that when you see the same thing over and over again, your brain uses less and less energy? Your mind already knows what it’s seeing, so it doesn’t make the effort to process the event again. Just putting yourself in new situations can make you see things differently and jump-start your creativity.”

According to Berns, the tendency of the brain is to take shortcuts through categorization. “Categories are death to imagination… Often the harder one tries to think differently, the more rigid the categories become. There is a better way, a path that jolts the brain out of preconceived notions of what it is seeing: bombard the brain with new experiences. Only then will it be forced out of efficiency mode and reconfigure it neural networks… The surest way to evoke the imagination is to confront the perceptual system with people, places and things it hasn’t seen before.”

“It typically takes a novel stimulus – either a new piece of information or getting out of the environment i…

Mon Ami & the Dalai Lama

My beautiful, talented friend Monique Rhodes has been in the South of France at a Buddhist monastery. Long Story, …another time.

She played her sensational music for His Holiness. What an honour. For him too.

She's home this week and has concerts scheduled with Kiwi Legend Shona Lang. I'll keep you posted.

Design - kids, don't try this at home

There is an interesting article over on the Fast Company site about the new head of the Rhode Island School of design that you might find interesting. I found it inspiring - education and design (design education) are areas near and dear to my heart, having taught at Massey University's Design School in Auckland for three years.

John Maeda arrived at the RISD from MIT. He is described as a Rennaissance man, based on his accomplishments in both technology and the arts. Factions at the school distributed the meme that Maeda would eliminate tradtional craft based foundation programmes that emphasise skills like drawing and replace them with computer based activities. Not so, as it happened. Maeda used blogging in addition to usual channels to give an unfiltered, non-chinese whisper account of his true intentions.

What is interesting in the article is the criticism of the fashionable 'design led thinking' notion.

While the corporate world is obsessed with the idea of design thin…

Gates and Sienfield connect with real people.

While I'm filled with happiness and light for PCs…

A nice PC of work

If you've read some of my posts over the years you will know that I am a Mac addict. The Apple campaign 'I'm a mac…and I'm a PC' reinforced everything I believed about my brand of choice and conferred on me the kind of cool that I know only resides in my dreams.

When I came across this spot I felt bad for having been so partisan. PC users are, it seems, people too, not just stereotypes.

And maybe, just maybe, I'm feeling a little vulnerable right now; because the disk drive on my new Powerbook has gone phutt after just a few months. Maybe not enough to really sway me to the dark side, but enough to shake some of my unquestioning loyalty.

Green Slime

This clip kind of says it all. Be very sceptical of green messages.
Cool clip for a youth audience. Plenty of clues there for people interested in this category.

The whole 'green' scene is in danger of becoming a farce. Too many band-wagoners and exploiters.

The rise of 'Green' publications and sections withing magazines is a cynical new trend.

Seems the desire to 'make a magazine' overwhelms the desire to seriously address the issue.

Because printed media has to conform to 'folios', pages have to be a certain multiple to be viable. If you have an 80/20 split of editorial to advertising then, if you sell well, you need content. I hate to say it but my friends at HB Media seem to have fallen into this trap with Good Magazine. For example, from the current issue:

Starring in any New Zealand television comedy is a bold move. Bolder still is starring in one with your name on it. But Jacquie Brown is a bold kind of gal. She pulled off the Tv show with aplomb, an…

Just The Facts Ma'am

There is a saying that: if you torture statistics for long enough they will confess to anything. So, here is a statistics torte.

Via Dan Pink's blog

Compare and Contrast - Diesel Fuel for Life music

The use of of music in commercials fascinates me. Vodafone's use of Charlie Parr's 1922 blues is an interesting juxtaposition of contemporary themes with the rustic or tradition. It works because of the contrast.

Sometimes music can also seem utterly perfect and contextually in-sync. I love the music for this commercial for Diesel. (Trio for piano N2 E flat major op 100 Andante con moto - Schubert). Beautifully observed, very sexy new commercial for Diesel Fuel For Life Unlimited - For Women Only.

The music immediately reminded me of Barry Lyndon, the classic, beautifully shot period piece by Stanley Kubrick. Does the Diesel ad refer to it? Maybe a little.
Interestingly the musical director Leonard Rosenman won a 1975 Academy Award for Best Musical Score for adapting the various pieces of baroque and classical music. Ironically, years later, Rosenman expressed bittersweet memories (both of this movie and of Kubrick): "He would shoot take after take needlessly. He just didn&#…

OJ Simpson Verdict - if the glove fits.

I normally try to avoid news of OJ Simpson. There is something creepy about the guy.
However I stumbled across a blog by American comic Andy Borrowitz and if I might borrow his wit for a moment this made my morning coffee shoot out my nose:

"At the University of Minnesota's School of Law, professor Davis Logsdon said there is "a valuable lesson to be learned" from Mr. Simpson's conviction: "Apparently, in America it's easier to get away with murder than stealing sports memorabilia."

Via The New Yorker

Slate parodies Loose Change. Presidential campaign parodies a presidential campaign.

Now back to crochet today.


Puns have a certain economy

Flipping through the latest Communications Arts Advertising Annual I noticed the Economist campaign continues to chug along on its award winning way. Trump Donald. Perfect, economical. The long running campaign demonstrates the value of tenacity, simplicity and self control. The brand is mirrored in the art direction, nothing fancy, nothing unnecessary.

Is Tiger Woods God?

There are some who think so. EA Games have proof.

A nice example of how brands can engage with consumers/fans who citicise. In this case there was a glitch in the EA Tiger Woods game than made it seem… well, I won't spoil it for you. Watch the clip.

Via Perkett PR Blog >> Via Valerie Maltoni

Structured Knowledge

I am fascinated by the way that data is represented. This dynamic presentation of Olympic Games medal statistics is one of the best I have seen. It shows the number of medals won by participants in the Games from the start of the modern Olympiad to the Beijing events.

Via the New York Times / Knitware Blog

It reminds me to dig out my treasured copy of Information Anxiety 2 - Richard Saul Wurman
This stimulating book is worth reading in or out of sequence if only for Wurman's views on education and the need to "transform information into structured knowledge. Publisher's Weekly

Interview with John Hegarty

Interesting to hear John Hegarty talk about technology. He is one of advertising's greats. I agree with much of what he says in this story but also disagree with some. In may ways Sir John argues for creativity in the traditional way that it is expressed in the world of advertising. Still, hard to argue with his success.

Great background to Hegarty here on the Independent Newspaper's site

"We've moved from the age of interruption to the age of engagement, from a passive consumer to an active consumer who basically doesn't just sit back and wait for things to be delivered but who goes and seeks things out. A whole new mind-set is needed in the way you create and develop work and how you plan your media," he observes.

"One solution is to make advertising more like entertainment. From the moment 22 years ago when Nick Kamen dropped his jeans in "Launderette", the seminal commercial Hegarty created for Levi's, BBH has been the master of the compe…

The Meaning of Life

A seeker, after an epic journey to seek the meaning of life, staggered up to a dangerous mountain top and a guru, who was his last hope.

“O holy guru, I have given up everything to seek the truth, but it will all be worthwhile if you can answer my question: What is the meaning of life?”

The guru smiled and said, “My son, here is the answer you seek: Life is a fountain.”

After a long pause, the seeker shook his head. “A fountain? I have come thousands of miles to hear your words–my possessions are all gone, I’m starving, I’ll probably die on this mountain–and all you have to say is, life is a fountain?”

The guru trembled. “You mean… it’s not?”

Via Peterman's Eye

A note on the J.Peterman catalog. I have to confess it had a huge impact on me when I first encountered it in the early 90's. It showed me a conversational style of writing that doesn't hard sell can be incredibly compelling. I have long wanted the Hemmingway style cap, you know the one with the longer bill - ironically p…

Classic Volkswagen Search

I am trying to locate a classic advertising spoof from the 1960's. It was shot in black and white and featured a round table discussion with some of the ad world's luminaries of the day. They sat around in a stark, somewhat gloomy set discussing the state of advertising while chain smoking. One of the people was called Jeremy and other was a woman with big, black framed glasses. During the show there is a parody of a meeting with a creative person who presents a classic, modernist VW ad (Think Small, or Lemon - can't remember which, art directed by Helmut Krone). The account team proceed to 'improve' the ad with embellishments like star-bursts and pictures of a dealer, some lifestyle happiness until it is satisfactory.

I know there is a print version too - I think it appeared in Communication Arts - remodeling the VW ad until it is set by a stables…

Can anyone help me to locate either… I want to include it in a presentation. I'd be grateful.

Gams & Gammer

You're Daily Fix… You'll thank me later.

More awful pizza

Just saw a promo on TV for Pizza Hut, the ailing fast food outlet operated by Restaurant Brands.

I thought the product looking interesting - if you like that kind thing.

But what I found a little disturbing was that I misheard the brand name - and then couldn't get it out of my mind;

I heard: 'More awful pizza'. Sorry - it stuck.

It is more aligned to the natural rhythm of speech than - More For All Pizza.

Go on, say it out loud:

More Awful Pizza
More for all Pizza.

Only In America - Sarah Palin by Bill Maher

What can I add?

A Well Balanced Rock Star

This just in from TV3's Nightline show, presented by the impossibly beautiful Samantha Hayes (who reminds me of S1MONE from the film of the same name by New Zealand's leading film maker (no, not Peter Jackson - Andrew Niccol)