Monday, June 28, 2010

37: england in roo-ins!

Due to the atrocity that was Sunday's Germany-England game, I've decided to temporarily leave my British accent in the vault.

From Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn: "If The Few had defended as badly as England, we'd all be speaking German now." Talk about a sharp tongue. Zing!

Also, please view the following comments posted in response to Nike's Write the Future advertisement, which was first uploaded on YouTube a few weeks back (and which I wrote about here). I was amused:

Update: Curse of the Nike ad confirmed with Portugal losing to Spain this [Tuesday] afternoon.

Friday, June 25, 2010

36: tiffany's favorite office workplaces, summer 2010 edition

No personal studios or home offices allowed. Factories and warehouses OK.

Liganova (link)

Photos via company promotional materials

Last summer, I worked at DDI Magazine as an editorial intern, which entailed all sorts of responsibilities, including but not limited to contacting PR reps to gather information, photos, and so forth. I got in touch with a lady who works at Liganova ("brand retail marketing" company), and she sent over a bunch of promotional materials. I fell in love with and screen-capped some photos of the company's offices, and am now sharing them with you. If this is illegal, I'd appreciate if someone could let me know in the comments. As soon as possible. Please. Kind thanks in advance!

NYLON (link)

Photos via The Selby

It's possible that I'll live and work in New York City someday after graduation. If I do, I hope to be able to spend my time in a place as charming as the offices at NYLON Magazine. I love the very open, airy feel of the place, the studio lights, the clean colors and the workspace set-up, the reference materials all along the walls. No cubicles here! Very young, very fresh, very alive-feeling. Perfect for putting together a bold, hip[ster] magazine. Just lovely.

W+K Portland (link)

Photos via W+K Portland

If you know me IRL, you may be aware of my slight obsession with this agency. The previous photos may help you better understand why. (By the way, I'm fairly certain that the tent and makeshift hammock in the third photograph are not actually permanent pieces in the building. Details here, if interested.) I've never seen pictures of the other W+K offices, so I can't be sure if this is just the "W+K style" or a Portland thing (two of my favorite things, incidentally -- W+K and PDX), but either way, it's fabulous and quirky and divine. I want my real-life home to look like this.

Ink & Dagger Tattoo Parlour (link)

I guess technically this is a studio, but it still qualifies to be in this list for a number of reasons. First of all, it is not called "Ink & Dagger Tattoo Studio." It is called a parlour. Second of all, the guy who opened the place -- Russ Abbott -- evidently decided to spell "parlor" the British way. And anyhow, everyone knows Brits do their own thing, so I've decided to take a leaf out of their book (oh, there's my idiom for the day) and ignore the few stipulations I've listed at the top of this post. Don't question my logic.

I really adore this place. It's masculine, strong and bold, without being disgusting or dirty (sorry for the generalization, boys). It's not over-designed or -furnished. It feels very comfortable, warm, cozy -- which I imagine is perfect for people coming in to get tattoos for the first time, or for people who have long sessions ahead of them... Very classy, dare I say handsome, and it screams out -- in a polite, tactful tone of voice, of course -- a resounding "BITE ME" to all those who hold stereotypical views and misconceptions regarding tattoo artists.

Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory (link)

Photos via The Selby

Such a beautiful place to spend your day. All of the wood accents and warm brick walls make Rick and Michael Mast's Brooklyn chocolate factory a very welcome place, even during the early hours of the morning -- hah, at least, in my head this is the case. I really like the giant world map on the back wall, as well; gives it a bit of a rustic yet sophisticated feel. And of course, there's the obvious fact that this is a craft chocolate factory. 'Nuff said.

Other people's lists:
The Coolist: Office Design Excellence
Positive Sharing: 10 Seriously Cool Workplaces
Office Design Blog: Office Design
New York Magazine: An Inside Look at the Offices of...
Tutorial Blog: Cool Workspaces

What about you? Where's your ideal place to work?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

35: volvo still thinks edward cullen is dreamy... but then again, who doesn't?

It's not that I'm a big Twilight fan. Honestly. But whenever any Twilight-related ads come out, I can't help but be drawn to them. (So what if I find Robert Pattinson handsome as anything? I can't help it. He was made that way.)

I discussed Volvo's marketing approach for New Moon in an older post (click), and I'm sure you'll be thrilled to hear that, in conjunction with its Boston-based ad agency Arnold Worldwide, Volvo Cars of North America is launching another online campaign to promote its XC60. Excellent timing, of course, since Eclipse -- the third and sappiest installment of the Twilight franchise -- premieres in one week on June 30.

(I'm both slightly embarrassed and oddly proud to announce that I have a pass to see an advanced screening of Eclipse on June 29, courtesy of my friend Stephanie. Not Meyer.)

The campaign is called "Lost in Forks," and features print and TV advertisements starring RPattz and K.Stew, as well as an online game, developed by Euro 4D. The goal of the game is to reach the fabulous Cullen home "in the shortest number of steps, by successfully navigating a series of forks" (hah, forks... good one...). If you manage to find Edward's impossibly hidden house*, your name will be entered for a chance to win a Volvo XC60. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you too can have Edward's personal car! Oh, Stephenie Meyer... you have worked such wonders for Volvo.

Apparently there are clues at each fork in the road, some of which are actually misleading (w-t-f?), so you really do have to know your Twilight stuff (update: no, you really don't). As the game goes on, you can click on things and find Easter eggs, which as far as I can tell, include brief little montages and video clips related to the film. Oh wait, I just found some wallpapers! You guys! Now I can have a line of newborn vampires on my desktop! Wow, Euro 4D. You went all out.

1024 x 768
right click save as, please
1280 x 1024
right click save as, please

Interested? You can play the game and check out the campaign here. Don't be ashamed. I've been playing it too. It's kind of convoluted and fun and REALLY difficult and also incredibly true to life, because if I had to find Edward's house on my own, I'd probably get lost a thousand times over. (Sorry to all the people who are Google-searching "how to find edward cullen's house" and ending up here instead! That said, I have finally found the Cullens' awesome home, after constructing a tree diagram to map my steps.) Lost in Forks, indeed.


*Seriously? No wonder the Cullens have no non-human friends... Can you imagine having to give directions to people? "You really should stay away from me. You might get lost in the forest and be eaten by wolves. It actually would be my fault this time." "It REALLY WILL BE like I never existed because you probably won't be able to find my house again, anyway!" Oh, Edward. How you underestimated Bella back in New Moon. It's like she's got a GPS system installed in her brain.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

34: "concept promotion" does not sound fun, but it is -- promise

It's been such a hectic yet non-hectic two weeks. My grandparents from Taiwan moved in for the summer, my grandmother got sick, my grandfather got sick, my dad got sick, my mother is now sick. Four out of six -- I'm probably next.

At any rate, I've been thinking about concept promotion for the past few months. I've decided to finally verbalise and organise these thoughts (and yes, I do mean verbalise and then organise -- please bear with me).

The phrase "concept promotion" makes me sound all high and mighty, but before you begin to judge me, I will qualify my imaginary terminology with a link to a website with all sorts of inspiring ideas -- actually make that two links; check out Colour Me Katie again -- as well as a video which you've probably already seen, since it's been passed around for ages already:

Both Colour Me Katie and Volkswagen's The Fun Theory are about incorporating fun into ordinary aspects of our lives (although the ultimate goal of the Fun Theory is to change people’s behaviours for the better, according to their website). In the past, Volkswagen has used fun and whimsy to encourage people to do stuff like putting their rubbish in rubbish bins, taking the stairs instead of the escalator, and recycling their glass bottles.

I'm super fascinated by this -- using true creativity and real interaction to advocate certain actions and/or ways of thinking, instead of promoting commercial products, places, things, as is typical in most advertising/marketing initiatives you encounter. (Get it now? "Concept promotion"? Yes/No? On second thought, it may be a bit of a sloppy generalisation; I'll be happy to clarify if need be...) It's just all so interesting to me.

I mean, all too often, we resort to new technology, new products, new this, new that, new everything, to resolve problems that we encounter. Why don't we try to nab problems at the source instead? You know, look at human behaviours, the way humans think -- study and understand what it means to be human. And then go from there. (Aside: That's pretty much what simplicity is, isn't it? Understanding the area of interest and extracting the essential? This is why simplicity works.)

Clearly, people like Colour Me Katie (sorry, her name is officially Katie Sokoler, which I've mentioned in a previous post, but she's still "Colour Me Katie" in my head) and Volkswagen get it -- they know that an inherent part of human nature is our affinity towards fun. Sure, you can logically convince someone to do something; you can scare me into exercising, you can tug at my heartstrings and make me donate all my money to your charity, you can leave me with no other choice but to do what you're asking... but when fun is involved, when you make me actually want to do more? Now, that's a horse of a different colour.

P.S. Wow, I feel my Persuasion and Social Influence class slowly creeping up on me again.
P.P.S. I think my until-now-unexpressed-and-subconscious goal has been to use some sort of outdated expression in every single one of my posts. Have you noticed this recurring pattern?
P.P.P.S. Why, yes, I do think I'm British.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

33: cars and freedom -- we're 'merican, y'all

Hear the roar of the crowds... the buzzing in the stadium... foreign accents galore... It's World Cup season, baby! This is exciting in its own right, of course, but also for Father Piñata in particular, because it means lots of exciting new advertising campaigns and television spots to be seen, discussed, and snarked at! (And oh, is there lots of snark ahead... Take it with a grain of salt, hah.)

For example, the Dodge Challenger "Freedom" commercial from W+K Portland debuted today after the first half of the South Africa-Mexico game, and I found it to be both fascinating and slightly effed up.

Actually, if I must be honest, I was a little offended the first time I watched it, simply because I feel somewhat of a greater though unfounded loyalty to England than to the U.S. (Hah, sorry -- no explanation there.)

But it also annoyed me that this commercial seems to have been developed from an overwhelmingly stereotypical American perspective of English culture, placing England in this outdated, stuck-in-the-past kind of light, which is really quite unwarranted and makes no sense whatsoever... Bah, do your research before you knock other countries for entirely unsubstantiated things. Not to mention, the entrance of George Washington and his men is a little doltish, like we're the jerks who think we own the world, with our -- with our -- "panache" was the word used in the press release.

Oh, don't mind me. I'm just irritated and bitter. This commercial makes Americans look silly. And forget about the fact that a good handful (nine of 23!) of the American players were trained in England. No big.

That said, at least the execution is nice. Lovely colors, the way the red pops against the muted green-gray background. Plus, given that this TV spot is clearly a "hoorah-let's-kick-England's-butt-tomorrow!" message of inspiration, you can't help but be a little more lenient on the ad as a whole... or something like that.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

32: bad press? broken promises? beastly plight?

Surely by now you are well aware of the epic mess that BP has made in the ocean. It's devastating and beyond infuriating. I read this comment on an online news article, and I feel the need to share it with as many people as possible. Paul says: "I don't understand how this has been allowed to continue for so long without criminal charges. If I started to pour mass amounts of oil into my local river and lake, I'd be charged for sure. Poor animals." This point is exactly what Bruce Monger, my oceanography professor from Fall '09, keeps trying to instill in us.

Bruce runs a website/blog called It's My Ocean. I'm just going to copy and paste his post on the concept of ocean ownership, because he explains it so well:
This site is devoted to promoting a realization within ordinary people that they, as individuals, own all of the ocean and its content. The hope is that when people feel a personal sense of ownership they will feel empowered to insist that no one be allowed to mess it up.

The analogy I give to the students in my oceanography class at Cornell is that lots of people in the world who read about an oil spill in the ocean will often react the same way they would react to reading an article in a newspaper about someone else’s house being broken into. They have some momentary level of sympathy for the poor guy who had his house broken into and then they move on the next page without much more thought. However, if their own house was broken into, they would be much more upset and they would scream for law enforcement to find the criminal and they absolutely would not rest until the criminal paid for the damages they caused. Well… the ocean is YOUR ocean! And when you read about an oil spill you should see it as someone spilling oil into YOUR ocean and react just as if they dumped a bunch of oil inside your house! The ocean is not owned by the oil industry. The ocean is not owned by the fishing industry. YOU own the ocean! You have a right to say, “Stop taking all of MY fish out of MY ocean!” You have a right to say, “Get your crummy oil out of MY ocean!" You have a right to say, "I am sick and tired of others coming into MY ocean and messing it up!”

The ocean is not somebody else’s property. You-Own-The-Ocean – Plain and Simple!"
Yes, both BP and the government are getting a ton of flack for the way they are/are not handling everything, and it's leading to some crazy, crazy responses, but we can't always use other people and entities as scapegoats. It's not just about what BP has and hasn't done. It's not just about what President Obama has and hasn't done. It's also about what we have and haven't done -- what we've allowed to happen with our habits and our purchasing power -- what we haven't protested or stood up for.

That said... yes, BP is still responsible for its actions and the outcomes of those actions, which, unfortunately, are proving to be but a drop in the bucket. Greenpeace UK, for one, has had enough, and is now working on an international "rebranding" effort for the company. Straight from their website: "BP's slick green logo doesn't suit a company that wants to invest in tar sands, the dirtiest oil there currently is. We're inviting you to design them a new logo that's more suitable for their dirty business." Very scathing... and sadly, this resentment is not wholly unfounded. The entire gallery of entries can be found at their Flickr page.

I think it's safe to say that Greenpeace is running an interesting little concept, but frustration alone won't change things. People may be more aware of the BP brouhaha, but we still have a very long way to go.