Thursday, June 20, 2013

64: never apologize for selfies


Also from Tumblr. At the risk of hitting you over the head with this stuff, I'm just going to point out (briefly) why I love this whole post:
  • Understanding the culture of selfies (if you don't get it... sigh)
  • Rationalizing that culture from a hilarious art history angle
  • Connecting past & present and tying us all together
(via staff)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

63: paint what matters

This is kind of an unintentionally silly ad by the Martin Agency (and Brad Pitt!) for Benjamin Moore paint. It hearkens back to the Dodge Chrysler Detroit story – same sentimental American voice (hey, Brad Pitt, why are you doing voiceovers for commercials now?), same push for Americana, same attempt at bringing a sense of heritage into the picture.

The kids over at mediabistro hate it, clearly. I find one comment particularly interesting though: "Shame to ruin the awesome style of those buildings with a fresh paint job." I tend to agree and wonder if corporations like Benjamin Moore give thought to things like that.

I mean... they're trying so hard to evoke a sense of timelessness, history, "the American way," and yet? In painting over the walls, aren't they erasing that timelessness, that history, that reminder of what it was like "back in the old days"? The concept is great: Hey, let's assert ourselves as a company that cares about America and Americans and community!

But does the execution really make sense?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

62: tumblr cult(ure)

Tumblr Tumblr Tumblr. Up until recently, it was the biggest thing you've never heard of – an odd thing to say, given that President Obama has his own account (and might I say, it's pretty darn great), not to mention countless other individuals that are huge in their own spheres: John Green, Wil Wheaton, Neil Gaiman, Queen Bey, Marina and the DiamondsZooey Deschanel... I'm lazy so I'll stop here.

Anyway, I bring this up because Tumblr is clearly a huge thing. Yet it's surprising how many people don't get it. Tumblr is constantly overlooked, with social media "experts" and "strategists" still hyper-focused on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest instead. (I've attended workshops and online seminars where the speakers don't even know what Tumblr is!)

So many of these agencies have underestimated the intensity of Tumblr users, and it's their loss, really. From my own experiences with Tumblr, a bulk of its users are actively involved with multiple fandoms, social causes, etc. and are proud of it. (Isn't this every brand's dream? To have the Engaged Target Customer?)

After Yahoo(!) bought out Tumblr a few weeks ago (cue sad violins), there was a flurry of activity surrounding the deal – i.e., lots of Tumblr users seriously concerned that Marissa Meyer was going to kill off their favorite website. Hank Green had some really great thoughts on the buy-out, so I won't go into detail there. What I do want to think about is the importance of maintaining your brand in the face of a big change like this.

David Karp wrote a letter to the Tumblr community, noting that:
Our headquarters isn’t moving. Our team isn’t changing. Our roadmap isn’t changing. And our mission – to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve – certainly isn’t changing... As always, everything that Tumblr is, we owe to this unbelievable community. We won’t let you down.
Fuck yeah,
(Emphasis mine.)

Like many others, I find it really important to highlight his sign-off because it is a reminder that although this sacred website has signed a deal with a huge corporate dinosaur, it doesn't mean that Tumblr will turn into something else. It's David Karp's way of acknowledging the Tumblr community's concerns. It's his way of almost drawing a line in the sand and showing us that he knows what Tumblr users are like – that he himself is one of them – and that he's on our side.

Wow, this got real sappy real fast.

I'm not saying that David thought through and calculated every word he was writing (I mean, maybe he was – who knows?). But my point is that there are ways for brands to assert their identities, to create a camaraderie between brand and user without it feeling forced. For Tumblr, it's about staying relevant and understanding the culture (think about all the Fuck Yeah! blogs that exist), as well as subtly affirming a sense of loyalty and therefore assuaging user concerns. Or trying to, at least.

So... cheers to that. May other brands learn from Tumblr along the way.

Monday, June 10, 2013

61: street art for sex workers

Been thinking less about "good ads" lately and more about (1) effective forms of communication and (2) effective ways of asserting your brand. The first, I'd like to touch on today.

These "ads"/street pieces for AMMAR, Argentina's association for sex workers, have been making the rounds on Tumblr for several weeks now. The thought behind it: "86% of sex workers are mothers. We need a law to regulate our work."

I like this particularly because it doesn't feel like an advertisement. It feels (and looks) like street art, which has been historically and traditionally – though that's another topic altogether – used to promote non-corporate interests. In other words, the interests of the people.

It's attention-grabbing and it's clever and it's honest. These pieces make you think about a controversial issue in a new way. It forces you to acknowledge that, like you, sex workers have families that they need to support and that, like you, sex workers deserve basic human rights.

AMMAR's goal is for sex work to be regulated by law, so that sex workers can be safe and protected from things like police brutality, sex trafficking, and other forms of violence. I don't care whether or not you agree that government should decriminalize sex work. I do hope, however, that you can recognize that strand of humanity that must necessarily connect us all, regardless of our choice of work. I am all for meaningful creative endeavors that play on empathy and compassion for people, and I think Ogilvy & Mather (Bs As) did a really great job here.

(via catsandgraffitis and Ads of the World)