Saturday, March 28, 2009

Little Red Riding Hood - all funked up.

Here's an interesting mash-up of contemporary information graphics and a timeless tale by the brother's Grimm. And grim it is when Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother is dispatched by the wolf.

The clip was exectuted, if I might indulge in the theme a little further, as a school project by a Swedish Chap. I am assuming he's not in primary school - though these days who would know?

Discuss with me on Twitter

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Viral advertising references itself

There always comes a time in advertising when the ad makers decide it's time to reference themselves, with a knowing wink to the audience - nudge, nudge.

This mini commercial is intended to be spread, as I am doing now, on the web.

I rather like it. I'd probably be disappointed by my new Mini if it couldn't perform as if it was an invisible HotWheels track though.

What do you think? Chat about it with me on Twitter

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Confessions of an Advertising Insider

Charlie Booker is still the funniest media observer I know of (though, if you know anyone funnier, feel free to send me a link).

In this short piece he says what advertising agency people say amongst themselves, but don't really want you to hear.

I warn you now. It's not MadMen. But I'll wager it's the best TV you'll see today.

Thank you BBC, for sharing your content.

Tell me what you think on

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Testing Creativity

A Twitter friend, Kirsten Wright wrote this on her blog:

Creativity Test

Creativity is not to be taken for granted, it is not something you ‘have’ it is something that you must work at, and practice, to keep strong. I practice my creativity daily, by writing, twittering, designing and researching. I am always trying to find new, unique ways to practice my creativity. One of my favorite ways is to pick a photo from flickr, and create a marketing campaign for a product, using the image. I don’t do it for work, or because I have to, but because it helps my mind to stay sharp and think outside of the box. So, I figured I would let you all try it with me today. Here is the image that I chose:

And here are the questions you have to answer:

1. What product would you use this image for
2. What would the tagline be for the product
3. Where would you promote it (web, billboard, tv, etc)
4. What would you expect people to visualize when they saw the image
5. What other colors would you use with the image
6. What fonts would be great to use with the image

Here is my assignment ma'am.

(Click on image to enlarge)

I made the client up: The Karma Center for Meditation.
The tagline (copy) reads 'Next time will you regret the choices you made this time?'
I'd use social media and other onscreen media.
I'd imagine they'd engage with the cute squirrel. Read the copy and join the dots with the advertiser and a little light would go on. Hopefully they would see that Buddhism doesn't take itself so seriously.
The green is so predominant in the photo I would be sparing in use of color.
I chose JY Artemis from Jack Yan Fonts for the caption, it's nice and unusual without being too hippy. The use of Futura for the logo is to avoid cliche's about Buddhist iconography - the use of the infinity symbol to represent the road to Nirvana via reincarnation also avoids trippy symbolism.

How'd I do?

Join me on Twitter. Make friends & Make 'em laugh.

I see! Visuals create understanding.

When we grasp an idea or a concept we often say 'I see' -even when the information might have been delivered in writing or verbally. Our minds paint a picture, the bits of information become joined and a meaningful picture forms. If it is meaningful we say that it has made an impression or have gained insight.

I won't say that I think 'visually'; I'm not sure that is what is happening inside my brain at all. But I do know that I think more clearly and have better comprehension, faster when ideas are presented to me with the support of images or graphics.

Of course not all images are created equal. Some can be baffling and serve only to amplify the speed of confusion. But well thought-out graphics can be a godsend for conveying ideas - with that metaphor in mind it reminds me of how paintings and stained glass windows helped dramatise the liturgy for an ignorant peasantry.

There is a selection information graphics here which illustrate a range of contemporary techniques to explain the economic crisis.

Video offers an unrivalled means of not only conveying information but engaging the viewer with a narrative to support the data that can be both rational and emotional. How many times did you ever feel an emotional connection with a text book on engineering, say. The video I've embedded in this post explains the changes to cars to be used in the 2009 Formula 1 motor racing series. To a lay person, like me, the changes sound mundane. New front and rear spoiler configurations that reduce grip, a return to slick tyres/tires that increase grip, a new system for converting wasted kinetic energy from the drive train - and so on. I can sense your eyes glazing over already. But the clip brings the information to life with superb Computer Generated Graphics (CGI), a story telling narrative whereby the information is conveyed graphically - at full throttle - changes to aerodynamic aids are dramatically illustrated while you are taking a hairpin bend under full braking. It is exciting - the narration is by a droll Sebastian Vettel, a German driver whose measured delivery anchors the story in a way that a breathless Jimmy Stewart would not.

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.”

The net result is operatic and thrilling. I can't wait to see the cars in action. I clearly see the point that F1 has answered its critics who said the event had become a drag race without the excitement of overtaking.

That's what happens when you feel involved.

If you are interested in information graphics I recommend these books:

Information Architects - Saul Wurman
Information Anxiety 2 Information Architects - Saul Wurman
Beautiful Evidence - Edward Tufte
Visual Explanations - Edward Tufte

(any others?...interested in your recommendations and links)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cork on the Ocean reading on Sunday at Auckland Festival.

I have great admiration for mark Somerset, author of Cork on the Ocean - I've written about the book before.

During the festival he's reading Cork and the follow up Cork and the Bottle. Both are beautiful stories. My favourite is the first.

Here's the message from Mark:

As part of the Auckland Festival I will be reading both Cork on the Ocean and Cork and the Bottle in the Spiegeltent, Aotea Square this Sunday 15th March. Come on down for a 10am start - The Spiegeltent is an amazing venue and best of all it's free!

Have you had a chance to check out Cork's great new website With our new online store you can now buy signed copies of Cork on the Ocean and Cork and the Bottle direct from us! So if you're looking for a special gift, or wish to get the latest Cork adventure for your own family, click here!


Finally, as a friend of Cork, I thought you might like to know that Rowan and I are now parents to a baby boy. Linden Sommerset was born at home on 20th Feb - weighing in at 9lb 4 ounces! He's sure to be an inspiration as we work on the final book in Cork's trilogy. Now, if only I could find the time to write!

Ride the wave!
Mark Sommerset

Might see you there.

Art Lover jilted

I went for a walk through Auckland city last Saturday. I thought it would be nice to take the 'Walk of Art' a route through the city that follows a line littered with art galleries.

I was shocked by what I found. Tbe Old Auckland Art Galllery is completely out of commission while a contemporary extension is added to the heritage building that houses most of the city's collection. The New Gallery, an old, converted telephone exchange across the street was showing a rag-tag exhibition of works referring to the New Zealand landscape (a show that lacked coherence). It was exasperating. And every gallery we hoped to view was shut.

Seems to me that the weekends would be the perfect time to invite the public into art galleries and exhibition spaces of all kinds. Private galleries play an important role in inducing and inducting new people into the world of the arts. If they are simply a store-room for work, seen only by the usual suspects who only ever visit when there is an opening and the chance of a free glass of wine then the opportunity - both commercial and cultural is lost.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Itchy Feet rides again

The other day I posted an edition of a children's story I painted onto the web to share with some of my friends in Twitter. The feedback has been terrific. So now I'm sharing it with you here. It takes about a minute to read. Leave a comment on the site.

Itchy Feet was created for my son's fourth birthday. He just marked his 17th.

I'm working on a sequel now.

Twitter invented in 1935

This device is remarkably similar in concept to Twitter - the microblogging site that is getting a lot of attention these days.

If you haven't tried Twitter you can follow me here.

Monday, March 02, 2009

In praise of ridiculous alternatives

"Why does one chess player play better than another?
The answer is not that the one who plays better makes fewer mistakes. The one who plays better makes more mistakes, by which I mean more imaginative mistakes. He sees more ridiculous alternatives. The mark of a great player is exactly that he thinks of something which by all known norms of the game is an error."

Jacob Bronowski

Bronowsi was a British mathematician and biologist of Polish-Jewish origin. He is best remembered as the presenter and writer of the 1973 BBC television documentary series, The Ascent of Man.