at the intersection of brands, media and culture

Archive for the ‘agency’ Category

The New Russian Design Culture

In agency on April 15, 2008 at 12:29 am


Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

I toured the Moscow-based design studio Art. Lebedev yesterday and fell in love with these “Russian Doll” style tech measurements on display in their offices. Find more products and a bit more about them (they are really cool) at their site.

My Better Is Better

In advertising, agency, Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, culture, strategy on March 24, 2008 at 1:36 pm

Love this work for capturing the competitive spirit of Nike and making me want to be an athlete again. Besides, I can’t get that bloody song out of my head but funny enough I don’t mind.

AKQA, Please Stop “Referencing” Other Agencies Work…

In advertising, agency, Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, culture, strategy on March 24, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Am I the only one who thinks these ads are awfully similar? It’s not like Wieden didn’t win a Gold Lion for the Honda work and AKQA didn’t notice. Moreover, at least W+K’s work for Honda had to do with the product, what does this spot for AKQA have to do with beyond some nice visual effects?

The original Honda Ad from W+K:

Pot Noodle from AKQA:

Additionally, Ad Age is becoming worse than its brethren Ad Weak when it comes to honoring creative. And yes, I say that both because they like this ad from AKQA as well as the pro-leprocy/violence Skittles work from Chiat.

The Death of the W Brand

In agency, Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing, strategy on March 17, 2008 at 6:48 am

Sofa or bed? _W Hotel
Originally uploaded by K.W.

I’ve stayed at a dozen or so different W’s in my professional career which have ranged from the amazing (Mexico City) to the run down (Atlanta) to the downright not trying anymore (NYC midtown) which I’m staying at now on what has become a recurring bi-weekly trip to NY. The disparity between properties is alarming and even more so in light of further expansion plans for the brand into places as far flung as Africa and New Jersey.

I’ll admit that I was originally charmed by the W brand. Modern, metropolitan, design-oriented hotels built with the creative class in mind… but where did those brand attributes go? Early on I started to see chips in the dark wood desks which seemed to allude to the veneer that surrounded the brand. It wasn’t a deep brand, it wasn’t substantive– but that was okay, I wasn’t going to let a couple dings get in the way of a great hotel experience. Besides, they along with Schrager helped to create the bar-as-living room concept and how much time was I really going to spend in my room anyway?

Well, now I’m at the hotel on Lex and 49th which is going through a renovation that will change out the dirty carpet (ever notice how hotels dim the hallway lighting as the carpets get soiled?) and hopefully replace the chipped desk but the chance to wow me with their famous service has passed.

Rooms haven’t added amenities but they have added adjectives. I was pleasantly surprised to get an upgrade from a “wonderful” room to a “spectacular” room but it only made the let down bigger when I got to my shabby shoebox.

And a note about the Starwood points thing: I get the fact that you want people to book through the W site in order to get points. The fact that I saved $100 a night over a 5 day stay may be annoying to you, but I’m a Gold member and I’ve been Platinum in the past so evidently I do go out of my way to stay at Starwood properties. One indication of such “loyalty,” perhaps, was how I paid for the first night with an exhorbatant 20,000 points. So please don’t get surly with me and say that if I wanted points I should have booked through your site instead of Orbitz (“because it’s a loyalty program”) when I ask if you have my Starwood number linked to my reservation. If it were a loyalty program you would bother to note that I’m still choosing to pay more to stay at a Starwood property– but it’s more truthfully a marketing program, isn’t it?

And I guess that’s what the root of my issues come down to. W is trying to gloss over their brand issues with slick marketing, adjective-laced naming and dim lighting. The big problems are in the service and facilities though, not in the marketing, and that’s what they need to understand if they really want my loyalty.

Chiat Day Uses Leprosy and Violence to Shill Skittles

In advertising, agency, communications, youtube on March 13, 2008 at 9:19 am

I’m not sure I have ever seen a more unappealing ad for candy, seriously. I’m sure it was funny when everyone was high during the concepting phase but it just grosses me out.

(I am not the target. I am not the target. [gentle rocking of the body] I am not the target.)

Hat tip to brandflakesforbreakfast.

Abercrombie and Fitch Encourages Women to Be Their Best

In advertising, agency, Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, culture, marketing, strategy on March 10, 2008 at 1:35 pm

… just so long as it involves nudity. Drumroll please… Abercrombie and Fitch has lauched Gilly Hicks of Sydney, an underwear company complete with an Austrailan sun-drenched backstory. It’s sort of like Abbie Winters, but for perfect people. There’s some debate around whether it is a real brand launch and that they’ll later actually sell things, or whether their design is solely to get attention and put some sexy in Abercromie since they can’t have their models ride horses in the nude anymore. Which, by the way, the horses never liked.

Frankly, I don’t care either way but I like the approach purely for marketing purposes. You build a backstory, enhance the brand with imagery, continue to sell teenage fantasy. Of course, some argue that it isn’t teenage fantasy but rather fantasy about teenagers — and they may have a point here. But I still like the move and the video made me want to move to Australia.

Crispin and Burger King Think Everyone is in on the Joke

In advertising, agency, Brands, communications, marketing on February 26, 2008 at 9:48 am

Originally uploaded by distillerymedia

That’s really the only way I can explain this billboard that I saw today in NY. The text reads, “Silly Whopper That’s a Big Mac Box.” Obviously a follow up to their WhopperFreakout work, but last I checked the campaign isn’t on the top of everyone’s minds and people have better things to do than recall campaigns and try to link them together.

I enjoyed the strategy and execution behind the original work but I think this overestimates the power and reach of the campaign and only serves to remind customers that there are alternatives to the Whopper.

Tide And Saatchi Want Stains To Talk

In agency, Branding, Brands, communications, Consumers, marketing on February 19, 2008 at 12:11 pm

In my opinion, one of the more under-appreciated spots of the Super Bowl was Tide’s Talking Stain, produced by Saatchi. A great strategic ad that focused (and made customers focus) on a real problem. Stains say a lot about you and in certain situations they do all the talking.

This is one occasion where I wish that the campaign would have stopped with traditional media. Some nice television, outdoor, maybe a radio campaign with only the gobbledygook of a talking stain for 10 seconds followed by the sell. But alas, they didn’t ask me, so they didn’t stop. They’ve launched a campaign asking users to submit their own talking stains (Monica Lewinsky are you listening?) as well as a site to download ringtones, screensavers, etc. And yes, a colleague did download the ringtone and it is annoying as all get out. Go ahead and knock yourself out here.

A Complaint About Hold Music

In advertising, agency, communications, strategy on February 6, 2008 at 9:56 am

Holding Hands

Originally uploaded by DalaiMickey

I started my day yesterday by sitting on the phone for 20 minutes waiting for some clients who never showed up to the conference call. This was a painful reminder of how bad the conference call experience is.

I get it, the communication companies have invested money in the infrastructure that’s important, namely crisp, clear calls for low prices. But now that we’ve passed that phase of differentiation, can I get some choices on what kind of music I can listen to? Nothing says “we value you as a partner” like making me listen to Muzak for 20 minutes. How hard would it really be to offer me the option of pressing 1 for classical, 2 for pop, 3 for country western?

Oh, and the second part. Can people please start showing up to conference calls on time? “It fell off my calendar” is the new “my dog ate my homework.”

Commentary on Brand and Design Firms

In advertising, agency, Branding, Brands, strategy on January 24, 2008 at 3:50 pm


“Currently, most practices are either strong on the strategic (business) side of branding or the creative (design) side. Too much strategy makes for an ugly brand and too much creative turns brand development into a ‘look and feel’ exercise.”

Amen. Can’t we just be friends, design and brand folks? Even better—friends with benefits, chief among them better work for our clients? I’m in, who’s with me besides Flipper here?