Wednesday, December 31, 2008

9 Premonitions For '09

Now that I have a blog it will be much easier to see if any of these come through. Happy New Year everyone. 


9) Barack Obama will continue to innovate government communications with integrated branding and new media ideas, but will fail to appoint me to his cabinet as Secretary of Branding after several of my repeated requests.

8) Sometime after Spring Break '09, the brand managers at Pepsi will stop mixing whiskey in their drinks and realize what they've done to their identity. It's going to be a hell of a hangover.  

7) wii and twitter form a partnership titled twiittiiwt.

6) Blagojevich will declare Illinois' independence from the union. 

5) Brand managers will finally recognize the print campaign they developed in '08 didn't shift their customers beliefs. 

4) The Blackhawks event at Wrigley will be the largest single sporting event uploaded to flickr in '09. 

3) Ideas will become bigger as teams get smaller. 

2) I will tweet early and often.

1) Google will evolve their brand identity. 

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Keeping It Simple

This is a great piece of motion graphics work + music that I came through my twitter stream. If you have a minute or two to load go to:


Audio/The American Dollar

Director/Kasper Verweij

Design & Animation/Menno Fokma, Harm van Zon, Reinier Fleas, Heerko Groefsema, Kasper Verweij, Rogier Hendriks

Post/Rogier Hendriks


Friday, December 26, 2008

Social Distortion

After browsing through a handful of agency blogs and reading the year end reviews it's pretty clear that almost every shop is trying to figure out how to leverage social media for their clients. I was more heavily involved with social media a couple of years ago and there was an underlying tension between agencies and clients because nobody couldn't really agree on how to use it. Not only was it literally changing by the day, most agencies were still figuring out how to integrate online and offline initiatives. But as I sit here with my iPhone downloading apps to make my mobile life more fluid you can feel the shift that social media is making into everyday communication and (brand) relationships. 

These three trends from the OgilvyPR blog ( connect the social media engagement into tangible results.

- In crowdsourcing, My Starbucks Idea reported receiving over 75,000 suggestions since its inception in early 2008; the company has implemented several of those including complimentary wi-fi at stores

- In microblogging, Dell Outlet reported selling over $500,000 in refurbished items through Twitter promotions

- In applications, Acuvue reported greater brand awareness and an 18% sales lift in the quarter following the introduction of a creative corporate Facebook application: Acuvue Wink

Even the local deli is getting into the social media game and I particularly enjoyed Dan Shust's blog entry about Twittering Pastrami.

A spin on the 4P's that I thought was relevant for social media I came across on Mark Stinson's blog ( Mark suggests extending the "4P's" idea into Personal support. This is one area I think social media can play a huge role in connecting with customers beyond the typical (and reactive) customer service call center. 

If everything in social media is happening too fast for you Big Spaceship does a great job of taking a step back and looking at the big picture: "Way back when, email was scary too. Maybe in the near future, social media will be thought of as just another office tool." Read the full entry at:

Until then you can follow me at

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Whopper Virgins Mirror

It's a taste test but who cares about the winner in this contest. The Whopper Virgins idea is the most authentic piece of advertising I've seen in awhile and by far the most interesting idea ever to come out of burger culture.  

There's been a lot of negative comments about this campaign ranging from "Those poor people. I bet their stomachs exploded soon after eating those things and woke up the next day craving hamburgers. Thumbs down for CP+B."  to "Why don’t they bring along a little smallpox while they’re at it…"

This campaign isn't about taking advantage of third world cultures or some bizarre global expansion strategy. It's not even about taste! It's about 1 thing: Making Burger King relevant again by getting people talking about it. In this they have succeeded based on all of the noise in the media about it. 

But for me, the real genius of this is how it introduces the idea of discovery and understanding through authentic cultural exchange. Not only did BK take our culture to other parts of the world, they are allowing us peek into cultures many of us aren't familiar with even though it's just a commercial. American society is so preoccupied with itself that we're oblivious to just about every other culture on the planet. We often believe that everyone is just like us. And why not? We're the greatest aren't we?

For better or worse this piece forces us to look at ourselves and take stock in what kind of culture we've created and/or forced onto other parts of the world. It forces us to think about how other people may view our culture and just how foreign we can appear in a different context. It forced me to think where the hell is that guy going to put that wrapper we just gave him? Will it end up in the ocean? Where have I been putting wrappers all of these years? 

These individuals should look curious and confused just like we would be if we were eating seal meat for the first time. I don't think it's designed to exploit them, rather to hold up a different mirror to our own culture. But the underlying point is we need to be aware and open others so that we can have a better understanding of our neighbors whether they live next door or live on another continent. It's everything Obama's been saying! 

Part of this "exchange idea" comes through during the Thailand scene when they show the Americans dining on the other cultures food. They even give you a nice close up of the dish that would typically be reserved for the burger "product as hero" sequence of a typical commercial. Everybody is sharing and it's a two way street. I especially like the last interview and the gentleman revealing he "likes seal meat better." It's a great ending and more importantly it's real. 

So thumbs up to Crispin Porter + Bogusky for letting us have it our way and bringing some other ways to us. 


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sol Sender

An interview with Sol Sender. Much more insight to the work and the phenomenon than the New Yorker post from the other week. 



The List

Other bloggers seem to have lists all about them. As I was thinking about it, I realized, if I were to put a list together, some of my closest friends paid pals might learn something new. Let alone all my millions my three other blog reading friends. Since I'm 35 years old, this is my list of 35 things about me that you may or may not know (or want to know).

1. I was born on the south side of Chicago. As a kid, I lived in Orland Park. The White Sox are the baseball team I cheer for.

2. I have a very typical nuclear family: 2 parents, 1 younger brother. Growing up, we didn't have a dog, but we did have a white shit brown picket fence. My parents have been married for 40 years.

3. I lived for 3 1/2 years in Columbus, Ohio. I learned a lot there. Maybe too much.

4. I bought a guitar when I was 14 against my parents orders. I wanted to play like Eddie Van Halen. I met Eddie once. I still can't play like Eddie.

5. The first time I got drunk... never mind. 

6. I still am in contact with several childhood friends.

7. I had two reoccurring anxiety driven dreams as a child. The first was being abducted by the Incredible Hulk. The second was riding my big wheel off a cliff.

8. My father was an engineer and my mother a counselor. I'm an art director + designer in the branding industry. Go figure.

9. My grandmother is 86 and has smoked for 70+ years. I don't smoke but I'm considering starting. 

10. After high school I had no direction in my life whatsoever so I went to Illinois State University because some of my friends were going there. Luckily I fell in love with Graphic Design and it all worked out. 

11. An ex-girlfriend once told me that I'll bend over backwards for a perfect stranger but I abandon the people I'm closest too. I hated to admit it, but at the time she was right. I try to bend over backwards for everyone now.

12. One of my favorites movie lines is from Caddy Shack: Thank you very little.

13. I'm addicted to tomatoes and tomato based products.

14. When I saw E.T. for the first time I cried at the end.

15. I know one person from China. I met him in Ohio. He's probably the most incredibly gifted artist I'll ever know. I've had the privilege of regularly drinking beer with another successful artist in Ohio who I secretly idolize. I know another artist from Ohio who still owes me money. I met a lot of very talented artists in Ohio.

16. I'm 5'11. 

17. I don't have any stupid human tricks that would get me on Letterman. However, I once was able to change a tire in under 30 seconds when I was a tire tech. 

18. I've lived without a TV for the last 5 years.

19. I went to Rome by myself after college to see the art that I learned about first hand. Some people think it's weird that I went there by myself. I think it's weird that people don't do the things they want to do.

20. I've dated a wide variety of women in my life but women with cats are deal breakers. Even smart, rich, beautiful women with cats. I tried. 

21. I started taking violin lessons when I was 7. I stuck with it through 11 and I quit because I was the last boy left in Orchestra. One day, when I have more time, I'd like play it again. While I'm at it I'd like to learn the piano too.

22. I've never been to New York to see The Apple drop at midnight. I have been to Clinton, Ohio on New Year's Eve to see the Muskie drop at midnight. 

23. At 12 years old I realized that my childhood was officially over after entering Disney Land with my parents. Even though I was far from home I didn't want anyone to see me with them.

24. I'm lefty. I once was told that there's something attractive about the way I protectively cradle a pen in my hand. I've also been told there's something wrong with me because I'm lefty.

25. I have never completed a triathlon or marathon. I did run the quarter mile consistently in high school in under 60 seconds and a mile in college consistently under 5 minutes. I will do a marathon at some point in my life. 

26. I hate being in a car.

27. During my high school years, I remember having a tortureous jalapeno pepper eating contest with some friends. It was one of the most amazing events I've ever witnessed.

28. I'm have no formal training in architecture and urban planning but I'm fascinated with both subjects.

29. I don't wear glasses. 

30. I once lived in a house for 2 years without a kitchen. I was too busy with my career to care.

31. I'm not sure what role religion plays in my life. I'm discovering that it probably should play a role.

32. At 35 I'm finally realizing that I'm not in my 20's anymore.

33. It makes me crazy when people confuse activity for progress. 

34. One of my favorite memories in life so far has been driving down PCH 1.

35. I hope I can write a list that goes to 100 someday. 

Friday, December 19, 2008


SlideShare is a networking service that allows users to share presentations across the web. Below is a sample presentation that I created as a test to layer into other web applications.

Killer Copy

I've always enjoyed reading through branding agencies materials to see how they sell themselves. It also gives you a view into their belief system. This copy sample from Sandstrom is one of the better examples I've seen of describing what they do and how they do it:

"Sometimes a client will come to us with an extremely well-established identity in need of reevaluation and/or refreshing. Sometimes they'll come to us with an idea for a new brand–like, say, flushable diapers. In either case, we approach a brand's corporate identity from a holistic, systematic and idea-centric perspective. Everything emanates from the one overarching idea that drives the brand–the reason for its existence in the first place. We generally try to get agreement on that before we explore specific marks or typography or color. Everything should exist for a reason, not just because the CFO's wife likes teal. Don't get us wrong, we love a good teal now and then and we're sure Muffy has exquisite taste. But if logic and aesthetics got into a fight, we think logic would kick aesthetic's aesthetic."

Copy like this makes me want to go out and kick some serious aesthetics. 

See more at:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Ambirams

An appropriate creative idea for the holidays from Nikita. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Personal Branding

I had the opportunity to work on David Armano's team for a brief period of time. I was amazed at his clear insight into very complex situations and his ability to illustrate solutions into concepts that entire teams could act on. The presentation below is an example of David's clear perspective on new media and brands. 

Friday, November 28, 2008

Logo Consistency We Can Believe In

I hope that some day all of my projects go as smooth as Sender describes the development of the "O" logo in a recent New York Times article. What the article lacks in uncovering what must of been gut-wrenching pressure for a group designers fueled by pizza and coffee, it makes up for in honesty for it's concerns for use and misuse as they handed it off to the campaign. Thankfully the campaign designers were good brand stewards and the logo will be remembered as one of the most successful identities of the year.

The "O" in Obama as presented by the New York Times:

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Road To Nowhere

One thing I enjoy about about the web is google search and the nonlinear connections it can make on any given subject. I can be lazy at times and I often find myself using google search to spellcheck a specific word instead of actually clicking on the spellcheck function of a given application. (Ultimately this may be more work in the end but that's not the point). This leads to some interesting websites that stimulate my thinking, and on occasion forces me to question the motivation of human beings. One word that brought much joy to a google search was "definitely". The search results for this word listed a very interesting site.

Not only was the site helpful in providing me with all of the ways not to spell definitely, the publisher of the site was thoughtful enough to inform me that Sylvia Brown is definitely not a psychic. Not only do I not care who Sylvia Brown is, I don't have any interest in psychics, but google has played a role in sparking some kind of nonlinear interest that I've surrendered all cognitive control over. As I dig deeper it becomes obvious that someone has an agenda with Sylvia Brown because the site is really a funnel to drive traffic to Reading through this site not only do I start to question the motivation of a Mr Robert S. Lancaster, who is the creator of the site, I start to question my own motivations.

Why do so many subjects that we come across online suddenly interest us that we wouldn't waste one second pondering offline? Is it because it's so easy to point and click? Is it pure entertainment? Is it because someone has created an online experience with passion about a particular subject? Or has search become the greatest nonlinear organizational tool and exploring these connections is just a natural part of trying to understand how the web is organized? Or am I just addicted to chaos?

In any case I've finally had the word "definitely" ingrained into my brain thanks to google search being used for something it wasn't really designed for and a passionate individual who has a bone to pick with a psychic.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Beyond The Bumper Sticker

Politics aside, Barack Obama's presidential campaign was one of the finest integrated marketing efforts I've ever seen. Of course the message and the man are core factors to the campaigns success. But the brand discipline has created a powerful framework for how people connected with the message and the man. Ultimately this branded connection is greater than the sum of its (branding) parts and inspired change.

Here are some of the basic elements of the framework that helped develop a simple and compelling story about Obama.

The Message: Obama's clear and compelling statements outlined what he stands for and how he would deliver it. "Change we can believe in" became the brand promise and allowed the audience to connect to his vision of who we could become. In short the brand essence: transformational.

The Brand Personality: Obama's message of change harmonized across both the intellectual and emotional sides of the brand. The intellectual side appeared authentic, thoughtful and progressive. Emotionally he connected with an approachable, open-mindedand and an empowering tone.

The Brand Design: From the consistent use of the American inspired Gotham typography to the gracefulness of the "O" logo, each of these elements helped shape reinforced his message with a consistent visual voice. The design did more than just look nice in a news clip, it demonstrated a level of control that you don't often find in even high-end consumer brands.

The Brand Connection: The campaign website it truly the experience engine of the campaign. From a design perspective it presents the candidate and the messaging in a clean, smooth and elegant fashion. Of course the content is relevant and dynamic, and because it was updated daily (and sometimes hourly) it opened the door for a "real time conversation" of sorts between the candidate and the audience. Not only was this a chance for the campaign to make meaningful connections, it allowed the audience to share what they felt was relevant, the way they wanted to share and consume it.

Opening The Brand: Taking the website experience a step further with a solid brand framework as its foundation, the Obama brand to become an open brand experience. Being an open brand didn't mean giving up control of the message, rather it allowed people to participate with the campaign on their terms. Of course there were blogs, video feeds and real time feedback but there was a sense that this campaign was be co-created with the community. People were interacting and sharing with perfect strangers over the internet through social networking. Micro-communities were springing up all over the internet and created a momentum that took on a life all of its own and became difficult to blunt let alone stop.

Obamamania Goes Viral: This campaign took on a life of it's own through associations wanting to connect to Obama and what the brand stood for. Everything from the mash up to inspired citizens creating videos, art and music began to circulate online. You could see tangible evidence of the bottom up model creating content and embracing the message. This wasn't a creation of the media. It was an authentic and it also helped to convert passive online viewers into active (financial) contributors to the campaign.

The Obamamania experience came to a crescendo on November 4th with the celebration in Chicago's Grant Park. Not only did the brand evangelists come out by the tens of thousands but the man, the message and design framework came full circle once again as the echo of "Yes we can" was heard around the world.

I'm certain that there will be dozens of books written in the months to come about how the campaign leveraged marketing principals to reach its goals that will be much more thorough than my entry. But there are a few additional points worth mentioning:

1) The design framework that shaped the open brand campaign approach brought a level of inclusion and intimacy that you don't often find in brand let along political campaigns.

2) An obvious but critical element to the success of this campaign (or any brand) is it was easy to donate (or make a purchase) online. There was also an instant follow up confirming and thanking the individual for contributing. These were design and communication elements that were planned well in advance that gave the user a level of comfort and sense of forethought.

3) People love brands for the experience they deliver not just the product specifications. You'll never see technical specs in a iPod commercial because nobody really cares. Much like a high-end brand Obama was able to project and reinforce the essence of his brand himself without getting pulled down into the marketing weeds. He left the policy specification to other tactical channels and was able to build equity into his core message where his competition couldn't compete.

4) This campaign was less of a political machine and more of a media organization. Control of communication is critical across the organization as well as to the audience. Design can play a significant role in optimizing the message as well as the presentation of the message.

5) Brand design is more art than formula. If there's one thing that was mastered by the Obama campaign it was creating a balance between structure and flexibility.

The bottom line is that building a brand framework that leads to a self sustaining community looks less like marketing or design and more like customer relationship management. It takes the combined effort of different disciplines to bring life into something that has an extreme level of control. It's not a campaign you can launch and let the media buy do the rest of the work. However, if you are fortunate enough to have an audience that wants to connect, it's something worth developing.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Art and Advertising

Art can meet personal objectives. Advertising has to meet business objectives. Can't we all just get along?

This months issue of Creativity recognizes and celebrates the artistic side of the industry. I posted this to remind myself that "art and commerce need each other" for a healthy future and one can inspire the other.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Low-Fi Point of View

With 62% of adults owning a digital camera, personal photography has become very homogeneous and in my opinion much less a process of discovery. Not only has the general consumer gone digital, almost every professional photographer has made the leap to digital just to stay in business. With the death of the still image on the horizon Kodak announced that they will be eliminating the production of Kodachrome film. For decades, Kodachrome was the standard choice for professional color photography and avant-garde filmmaking. (It's the only film to have a state park named after it - photogenic Kodachrome Basin State Park in the red-rock canyons of southern Utah). The elimination of Kodachrome is just one of many signs that the new era of image making is officially here.

I understand this change is a natural cycle of technology and business but I'm truly sad to see so many quirky photographic processes and experiments fade from the creative process. If there is a bright spot in all of this there has been a revival of low-fi cameras and experimentation. Holgas, Dianas, Lubitels and just about anything else that puts light on film have been dusted off to capture the distinctive quality of pictures that only they can create.

I'm a big fan of cross processing and enjoyed the surprise of opening the pack of prints because of the vivid colors. The images at the top of this entry I took a couple of winters ago in Chicago and Santo Domingo.

You can stream more low-fi images at

Sunday, October 5, 2008

361 Days and Counting

Chicago has been chosen as one of four cities in the world competing to become the host of the 2016 Olympics. The Chicago 2016 organization is reaching out to the people of Chicago to help tell the story of Chicago in its bid to host for games.

To share a story with the world visit

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Designing Death

When I first started listening to Metallica I didn't know a thing about branding but I do remember thinking logo was cool on the Kill 'em All album cover. And on the Ride The Lightning cover the logo was even cooler because it was airbrushed, and had lighting bolts flying out of it. Fast forward about 25 years and Metallica has just released their new album Death Magnetic. It's their first studio recording in 5 years and is the first to enlist the expertise of the branding agency Turner Duckworth.

Just as any company's brand identity can begin to erode over the years though lack of standards, not evolving with technology or employees not understanding the value it possess, so can a metal bands identity begin to drift into strange territory. Over the years the Metallica logo began to take on a life of it's own and loose its punch on albums such as Load and St. Anger. Turner Duckworth retooled the logo in the spirit of it's classic form as well as designing the packaging for the new disc.

The logo redesign is a success but the Death Magnetic type seems overworked in my opinion. I understand the D and the C being modified to look like a magnet however they extent too far and look more a U that has been turn on its side. Furthermore having the album title in perspective doesn't enhance the meaning it and isn't harmonizing with the Metallica logo type in any special way so why bother? (For the record Turner Duckworth has shelves full of Cannes and I don't.)

Anyway, the new identity really extends itself seamlessly into the merchandising. The redesigned M works "rocks" as a hallmark and conceptually works with the coffin icon on several levels. I've only seen a few samples of the new disc and other materials but a very strong visual language has emerged with this new release.

For more visit

For someone at Tucker Duckworth to rip apart my work visit

For someone at Tucker Duckworth to contact me about cleaning their Cannes feel free to email me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

China 101

China's new 101 story Shanghai World Financial Center recently opened for business. The design is so simple and elegant it effortlessly links the earth to the sky. The tension between these simple geometric shapes is a great reminder that sometimes simplicity leads to the most dramatic solutions.

KPF ( also designed the 333 Wacker Drive building in Chicago.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Am I Evil?

Even a tired category such as document management can be brought back to life with a great creative idea.

This series of outdoor ads by Gordon Flesch features several mythological tech-gremlins that we've all had to battle at one point or another in the office. Copy machines tends to have a evil side but it took some great art direction for all of us to see it clearly.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Art That Moves You.

For the last couple of years I've been reading more and more about mass customization but haven't seen it applied to anything greater than ordering something complicated at Starbucks or an Union Flag on top of a Mini Cooper. However, Nike has recently gone beyond the typical mass customization model and allows the customer to apply their own experience to the final design. For the record Nike's customers have been able to customize their own shoe since 1999 but now they can take it to the next level by leveraging existing technology. Customers use their camera phone to take a photo of anything they want. That image is then uploaded to NIKEiD. From there NIKEiD reads the photo and extracts the two most prominent colors, applies them to a Nike Dunk shoe, and sends the user back an image of a customized shoe super-imposed over the original photo. The design can be saved a mobile wallpaper, emailed or linked to the NikeiD site for purchase.

What a great way to keep a piece of rubber, mesh and thread socially relevant.
See more at:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Aurora Art Walk

After a long week it was a pleasant surprise to see Downtown Aurora's streets full of life on a Friday night. Despite the rain Aurora's Art Walk was in full swing. This was first opportunity I've had to view the galleries and other creative venues since I've moved downtown. I was really impressed with the John Stanicek pieces at the Blues Alley Art Gallery and I'm regretting not taking any photos to post.

The other pleasant surprise was the Back Third Audio recording studio. I've walked by this building almost everyday on my way to the train and I wasn't even sure if was open for business. I'm glad to report that Aurora does infact have a music scene and Back Third is in the middle of it. When I arrived Rebel Rouser was in the middle of a set that sounded great. The Back Third space was really cozy and it was great to see a fully functioning creative studio in the heart of Downtown Aurora.

For more info visit these sites:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Prime Time Display

Finally, someone found a great use for all of that unused AstroTurf laying around. I'm also glad to see someone useing authentic materials to support the message.

Da-duh-dant! Da-duh-dant!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Are You Walking in the Rain?

When I arrived at the name Updside-Down-Umbrella for this blog I thought it was a unique enough to standout on the web. I was wrong. It seems as if it's getting harder and harder to come up with an original title for just about anything these days. All you have to do is Google a name or an idea and chances are someone else has thought of it or is using it already. In the case of Upside Down Umbrella there's a UK band who go by the same name. The good news is they have some very cool electronic tracks thick of ambient rhythms and textures. It's great music to blog to.

You can listen to their tracks here:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Stump Tower

After several years of bad residential buildings being thrown up across the Chicago skyline I was looking forward to something of significance being built. With the summer coming to a close Trump Tower is almost completed and I have to say the taller it has become the more disappointed I am with it as a piece of architecture and how it relates as a sculptural neighbor.

From a distance some of the materials have an pleasing aesthetic quality but the closer to the building you become the design starts to break down. The materials don't hold up and the overall design really lacks the elegance of the IBM building next door. Some of the sight lines are dramatic especially from Lake Shore Drive at the river but what we've ended up with is a sky blue Sears Tower with rounded edges and a squatier bottom. Maybe if it was in another location in the city it wouldn't be critiqued so critically and that space could of been reserved for something to compete with the buildings going up in Dubai or Asia.

Hopefully over time as other building go up around it Trump Tower will grow on me but until then I find it very uninspiring.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

It Had To Start Somewhere.

I have probably walked by this little bit of Chicago history at Wacker and Lake a thousand times and never noticed this plaque. It's hard to imagine in this day of instant communication, there was a time when the mail only showed up once a week.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A high fructose dose of reality.

This blog isn't sponsored by any brand but if you're interested call my people.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Never forget a face

Bringing new meaning to the statement "all eyes are on you", TruMedia and Quividi have brought face-reading technology to retail billboards to determine who is actually looking at the outdoor media. You can read more at and


Friday, August 15, 2008

It's not just your idea anymore.

We all have great ideas but bringing them to life so that they are fully formed and can live beyond the printed page is becoming an art in it of itself. The function(s) of planning, development and production expertise has become an upstream necessity for agencies that traditionally haven't placed a premium on these roles. The August issue of CREATIVITY does a great job of crystallizing one of the bigger challenges of today's shops by stating "...the issue of determining where an idea stops and where it execution begins and who are the creators and who are the producers goes far beyond award show credit. It speaks to significant changes in media, creativity and technology and the way in which those things combine to make new kinds of ad experiences."

Creativity is still king but without in-house (or seamless partnerships with) development teams, production planning and innovative management, clients won't have the security blanket to move forward with the biggest and best ideas. 

Monday, August 4, 2008

For Fun: The Carousel Ad

Here's a look a Kodak ad from the early 60's that is featured in the video below. JWT created the original advertising for this product and was featured in Advertising Age recently. 

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Delicate But Potent

Mad Men has instantly become my favorite show for obvious reasons. Here's one of my favorite scenes because Don Draper isn't selling. He's tapped into the truth. 

This is probably one of the most "real advertising" moments of the show. (They finally get beyond the cigarettes and whisky.) 

Remember kids... It's not The Wheel. It's The Carousel.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Just Doing It Right

The Human Race 10K is probably the most innovative cross promotions that I've seen this year. Showcasing the new Nike+ Product (powered by Apple) this 10K race lets you participate against runners across the globe on 31.08.2008 in real time.

From a brand perspective I think it's great too see 2 brands leverage their strengths in a partnership to offer something new to customers. From my perspective this truly is what social networking (or community building) is supposed to look like. 

Nike has done a great job of building out the promotional site around this event. The site is packed with cool features and opportunities to customize your experience. To see them all go to:

Friday, July 25, 2008

Great Places in Illinois

I think many Art Directors secretly want to be architects or direct films. I fall into the architect camp. I love architecture and buildings probably more than I love people so I was really happy to see the Illinois Chapter of the American Institute of Architects launch a site celebrating 150 great architectural sites in honor of the 150th anniversary of the AIA.

The information design is very well done and it's easy to filter information to search in all types of ways. If you like architecture and you live in Illinois this is a great directory of locations to visit. The photography on the site is inspiring as well.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Don't try and be original. Just try to be good.

This video is a good reminder of what we should be aiming for in Graphic Design. 

Monday, July 7, 2008

Green Gallery At The Mart

The Merchandise Mart is featuring a "Green Product Gallery" on the main floor featuring some very innovative and creative products. Even the banners advertising the display are biodegradable. 

Here's the text from the images in case it's a little hard to read:

Second from bottom: EcoGen™ marks the start of a new ecological generation. The average plastic container will last a million years after disposal. EoGen™ products are 100% biodegradable and will decompose in six to nine months when properly composted.

Bottom Image: Printed on BIOflex™, a completely biodegradable PVC material

You can get more information on BIOflex™ at

It's great to see these products getting some floor space at the Merchandise Mart. Hopefully they'll be getting more in the future not only at the Mart but on store shelves. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Can I get a logo with a symbol on the side? And hold the hyphen please.

Wal*Mart unveiled it's new logo on July 1st as part of an ongoing evolution of its overall brand. One of the reasons for the redesign is to align the identity with Wal*Mart's CEO H. Lee Scott's goal of "transforming Wal*Mart into a more environmentally friendly corporation."  From my perspective it seems like they are trying to move beyond the unenviable position that they have held for about the last decade as the greediest and most unethical retail corporation on the planet. (I couldn't resist.)

I actually feel a little sorry for the design team that had to work on this project. The big box retail category is boring enough, not to mention that every designer around is going to shoot holes in your work just because Wal*Mart is the client. But putting all of my biases aside I want to critique the new look. I really wish I could see the strategy document because everything really does flows from this. I suspect that the brand manager set the bar low and settled for an evolution to the identity and I think that was the first mistake. Wal*Mart has a huge image problem and not that a new logo could fix that on its own but it could be a sign that a meaningful new direction was underway. There is a huge cultural shift underway in our country and if Wal*Mart want to capitalize on this and stay ahead of the curve they could of aimed for a revolution instead of an evolution. It obvious to me from the new logo that they're just trying to fix their image instead of trying to reinvent the company. 

Onto the logo itself. The typography is strikingly close to the Kmart type. You would think someone would of done their homework on this and created something a little more unique. The new typography is more appealing than where they were but with brands this visible you typically don't see a market leader almost picking up design language from a competitor.  

I'm comfortable as a consumer seeing the brand as Walmart instead of Wal*Mart. It will be interesting to see how much of Sam Walton continues to play a part in the brand story or if combining the name starts to fade him out of the conversation. I wouldn't be surprised if they are making a conscious effort to minimize some of their heritage as they expand deeper into foreign markets. 

The color selection isn't especially creative but it is appealing and a logical step from where they were. Again I think they are trying to shed a little bit of the red, white and blue and looking to become more color neutral internationally. The new palette does differentiate them a little bit better in the US from Target, JCPenny, Meijer and the almost bankrupt Kmart. Again it's a sideways move rather than a brand ready to make a statement.

I'm struggling with the star or sun or burst or whatever the symbol is at the end of the logotype. I know that sometimes it takes time to build equity into these elements but I really think that this was a lost opportunity. Walmart is a brand that's suffering from "Target Envy" and they probably mandated that a part of the new logo could be applied to all types of branding situations. It will probably come to represent "low prices" or "excitement about low prices" in their next campaign. Not only is this an uninspired mark it's strikingly similar to several icons already. Visually it seems disproportionate compared to the type and it borders on being unbalanced. 


One of my favorite quotes about logo design is from Paul Rand: "A logo derives its meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around". I hope Walmart really is changing for the better but that will remain to be seen. If its actions don't support the new identity we can look forward to a new redesign to improve its image once again in about 5 to 10 years. 

Overall grade: C-/D+ 

Once again a conglomerate gets what it deserves.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Is it a bird? A plane?

It's a Flogo! Yes, the people at Flogos ( have developed flying logos that are made out of soap-based foam and lighter than air gasses like helium.

This is a sure sign that the end is near.

Friday, June 27, 2008

What A Character

The Stinson Brand Innovation Studio whiteboard has a personality all it's own. But this has sparked an idea to do a series of these for the Studio website. To be continued...

Burning Down The House - Literally

There was a fire right down the street from our studio today. It was tragic to watch but I thought I'd post this just as a reminder of how quickly life can change when something like this happens. Luckily nobody was hurt.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Today's Weather

Right side up umbrella.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

For a good time call...

The platform that MegaPhone  has developed is a great integration of existing technologies that can be applied in so many ways. At the moment they've taken cell phone technology, the multiplayer gaming craze and mixed in larger than life public space video displays to create a new spin on entertainment and gaming.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Temp Posting

I just posted this as a temp file.