Ad giant Wieden And Kennedy has relaunched it’s worldwide website with a clean and minimal interface that warrants an intuitive ease of use. Applause.

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Alright, so it goes something like this, two very talented guys sponsored by a software company travel around making local commercials nominated by other locals through their website. The results speak for themselves. I have to be honest, I think I have watched a few of these about 20 times today and they never get old. How do you score a gig like this? Jealousy. Be sure to watch some of the behind the scenes action. The ‘making-of’ is almost funnier than the final product. The spots above are among my personal favorites but there are a few more gems waiting to be discovered here.

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Infamous design super hero Stefan Sagmeister suggests you might want to take some time off to recharge those creative batteries and help get those inspirational juices flowing through the system once again. The only thing is, we live and work in a dog eat dog, money by the minute (billable hours anyone?) society that sucks creativity dry like a ravenous vampire. We take less time off in America than any other country on this entire planet. I am taking two weeks off next week for the first time in 2 years. I can’t imagine in my wildest dreams even considering taking off an entire year.

Thanks for the advice Stefan, but until the system gives a little, I don’t see many of us that aren’t already independently wealthy taking off an entire year. Not unless you want to lose your job and your mortgage. It’s not that I don’t agree, it’s just that I also live in this country called America where I work as an Art Director and designer and exist in a reality where never before in all of history has time been more equivacol to money. My vacation usually consists of a beer at the end of a long day. Until perceptions and norms seriously shift, or until the working public has just finally had enough, I don’t see employers bending much on allowing time off for employees that are burned. That is exactly why you see so very many people burning themselves right out of the ad business. Sometimes the well just dries up after it’s been over tapped day in and day out.

I definitely support his argument, I just don’t know who the hell, other than independent small business owners with a penchant for risk and an enjoyment for bucking trends, could realistically try something like giving both themselves and their employees a real amount of time off to recharge. I think time will tell, in this system that is quite literally killing all of us with stress that he is probably right.

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I attended the Outside Speaker series sponsored by the New Denver Ad Club last night. The guest speaker was MT Carney, Co-Founder and Partner of Naked Communications, New York. The topic of discussion was that the current advertising agency model is broken, and it’s time to re-think how products, services and brands are connected to their consumers.

‘Relevancy’ was definitely the word of the day. The landscape that clients, media, agencies and consumers face is alien compared to what it was just 10 years ago. The world has changed very quickly with the massive surge in our technical culture. It’s much harder now to both rise above the clutter and define a clear and ‘relevant’ pathway through which to reach the target consumer. One 60 second commercial, run during prime time across major networks, no longer cuts it. Especially if your consumers are ‘on-demand’ television viewers who tape and fast forward through the nightly news or just get that news from the internet. The media landscape has become fragmented, and the consumer is now much more in control of what he or she sees.

Let me take a step back and try to define exactly what Naked does and the unique need they serve. The short version of the story is to call Naked an outside account planner for clients and agencies in need of an effective strategy. The long version is that Naked takes an in depth agency-disconnected view of what the client/account’s problem is and how to solve it. One would think an ad agency would serve this role, but so many agencies are stuck clinging to an outmoded model that just can’t be retrofitted to the modern market (hey Denver what’s up?). Naked basically seized upon this gaping wound of a niche. What makes them more than just an outside account planner or research company is that Naked aligns the proper strategy with innovation that it then transmits to the agency. Naked does not execute on their strategies. They leave that to the agency. Think of them as a marriage counselor for a rocky client-agency relationship.

Here’s a quote from MT taken from AdAge:
Naked is premised on the notion that communications need not involve an ad buy. As such, it positions itself as neither a creative agency-Naked doesn’t execute on the strategy it creates-nor as a media agency. As digital channels proliferate and commercial clutter accumulates, it’s only natural that marketers would be taken with any counsel that can help them reach their targets-especially if that doesn’t involve heavy outlays on traditional media.

What was most striking and unique about their approach is that they aren’t looking for the ‘sexy’ (won’t this get us into Cannes) solution. They are taking in a big picture perspective of what exactly the problem is that the client needs addressed. The strategy is developed around solving the problem and the campaign is then put into line with that strategy and then briefed for the agency. If the ‘non-sexy’ answer is simply bigger in-store signage at the point of consumer purchase versus a Twitter campaign, then that is what is recommended. New and shiny are not on the menu unless that is the meal the consumer is hungry for.

The results they have achieved are quite simply amazing. Naked gained 11 clients, including Coca-Cola, Johnson and Johnson, the NHL in just 8 months. Who knew there was so much money to be made (and saved) for both goose and gander in cutting the bullshit and looking for the truth?

The saddest part of the event was the attendance. For all the talk about Denver being at the cusp of becoming a future creative competitor within the national scene, it didn’t seem like very many people wanted to show up and learn something.

I was really inspired by the talk and will continue to be. It was an eye-opening experience and gave me a lot of hope for what could be done within the ad community here to help us become better players in the future. Thank you to NDAC for bringing something of true value to our community. I had chance to speak briefly with MT after the talk and she was as lovely as she is brilliant. It was a blessing to share time with a real innovator and player in the national advertising market.

Next time show up people.

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Lemonade is an upcoming documentary that will hit a lot of us very close to home. I have been laid off twice so far in this industry and the second time I wasn’t sure I could rebound from. I am back in it now, and in it deep but a lot of people are on the outs in the current recession. Lemonade is a documentary about a few of those 70,000 people in the advertising industry who have been handed a pink slip and gone out to discover who they really are and do what they really should have been doing.

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I have read about this program and expressed my interest in helping and/or contributing as it is here close to home. I was hoping to teach a class this fall for CU’s advertising program, but was unable to commit since I am taking a long vacation in Europe. Fall is also usually when things ramp up for me both at my job as an Art Director at Cactus and with my work for Changethethought. I am hoping maybe I can teach in the spring of this upcoming year.

Nevertheless, this looks like it could be a really good program and there are some really intelligent people involved in making it happen. I was asked to help spread the word since this is a great contribution to our advertising and design community here in Denver/Boulder. Here is what I received as a description in my inbox:

Opening in Boulder, Colorado this August is Boulder Digital Works (bdw.colorado.edu), which is a digital program that will teach the integration of technology, business, and creative fields. This is a unique program that is the first of its kind in America. BDW has and is working with: Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA), Hyper Island, Modernista, IDEO, Goodby, AKQA, Google, Microsoft, EA, Facebook, Amazon, Hulu, R/GA, Twitter including FL2, The Foundry Group, Spiremedia, Effective UI-whom will recruit from BDW. At BDW business people will experiment with the technology side, creatives will embrace the business end and technologists will pitch ideas.”

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This will surely be the news of the day in the ad/creative circles. CP+B has launched a new and apparently still ‘beta‘ version of their website. The concept is very similar to Modernista’s site whereas content is being fed from all over the net about Crispin into the site. It’s still an interesting idea and maybe more relavant to the giant press-making machine that is Crispin but the execution is really lacking. I know everyone wants to jump on the hate train with CP+B because they are so absolutely amazing but it’s purely logistical. The site just looks ugly and unpolished. If you want to go clean, just do what Weiden and Kennedy did with their recent ‘London‘ website. You can still make a site attractive using type and color. Logistics or not, Crispin is the undisputable heavyweight of the ad world at the moment. I don’t think that is up for argument here, it’s just their site is blah.

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I read this essay today and had to share it. I could not agree more with the sentiment and the synopsis presented here. It is about as close to absolute truth as I think you can get right now. I am glad to see someone just saying it plainly and putting it out there for all of us to digest. Feel free to discuss your experiences or your take on this.

There is wisdom to be ganered here so please read it in full:

(I believe in lunatics)

It’s about the struggle between individuals with jagged passion in their work and today’s faceless corporate committees, which claim to understand the needs of the mass audience, and are removing the idiosyncrasies, polishing the jags, creating a thought-free, passion-free, cultural mush that will not be hated nor loved by anyone. By now, virtually all media, architecture, product and graphic design have been freed from ideas, individual passion, and have been relegated to a role of corporate servitude, carrying out corporate strategies and increasing stock prices. Creative people are now working for the bottom line.

Magazine editors have lost their editorial independence, and work for committees of publishers (who work for committees of advertisers). TV scripts are vetted by producers, advertisers, lawyers, research specialists, layers and layers of paid executives who determine whether the scripts are dumb enough to amuse what they call the ‘lowest common denominator’. Film studios out films in front of focus groups to determine whether an ending will please target audiences. All cars look the same. Architectural decisions are made by accountants. Ads are stupid. Theater is dead.

Corporations have become the sole arbiters of cultural ideas and taste in America. Our culture is corporate culture.

Culture used to be the opposite of commerce, not a fast track to ‘content’- derived riches. Not so long ago captains of industry (no angels in the way they acquired wealth) thought that part of their responsibility was to use their millions to support culture. Carnegie built libraries, Rockefeller built art museums, Ford created his global foundation. What do we now get from our billionaires? Gates? Or Eisner? Or Redstone? Sales pitches. Junk mail. Meanwhile, creative people have their work reduced to ‘content’ or ‘intellectual property’. Magazines and films become ‘delivery systems’ for product messages.

But to be fair, the above is only 99 percent true.

I offer a modest solution: Find the cracks in the wall. There are a very few lunatic entrepreneurs who will understand that culture and design are not about fatter wallets, but about creating a future. They will understand that wealth is means, not an end. Under other circumstances they may have turned out to be like you, creative lunatics. Believe me, they’re there and when you find them, treat them well and use their money to change the world.

Tibor Kalman
New York
June 1998

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I had the opportunity to watch Mekanism’s reel this afternoon and damn are they good. Funny as hell and even more talented. I seriously hope to work with them in the very near future.

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If you have been seeing all of the weird pictures of naked people floating today it is all because of the new website for the creative studio Legs. They deserve the attention as well for the work they have produced so far for clients like Diesel and the NY Times.

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The stellar advertising/creative agency Strawberry Frog has been reborn as Amsterdam Worldwide under the new ethos that creative is now a global marketplace and should be approached as such.

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Legendary advertising agency Weiden and Kennedy has relaunched the website for their London branch. Amazing and intelligent work goes without saying. You can’t miss with W+K.

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“Commissioned by the advertising agency Nordpol+ Hamburg I designed the origami models and consulted the stopmotion aswell as the computer animators of this world wide corperate movie that tells the story of the japanese sports brand ASICS. The movie won a Grand Prix at the Eurobest, gold at the New York festival, gold at the London International Awarts, silver at the Clio in Miami and two times bronze at ADC Germany.

See more of my work here:


Director: Tim Schierwater (Nordpol+ Hamburg)
Art Director: Sean Kirby (Nordpol+ Hamburg)
Producer: Florian Liertz (elemente-e Production)
Animation: André Junker, Chrisoffer Wolters (Nform)
Stopmotion: Kathrin Albers, Jim Lacy (Stoptrick)
Origami Artist: Sipho Mabona (Mabona Origami)

read more about the making of here:


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Not entirely sure what this is for but as far as advertising goes, I was sold.

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Sid Lee conceives brand experiences-by creating products, services and spaces-and markets them through advertising, experiential marketing, branded content and interactive communications. Commercial creativity is how we define this novel integrated multidisciplinary approach.”

Wow, that was a bit of a mouthful. To cut to the chase, Sid Lee has one hell of a slick website and some really attention-grabbing contemporary work in their book.

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Really cool little video holiday card from AKQA.

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Wow, it just doesn’t get much weirder than this ad for Volkswagon. From Bitt Animation.

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Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s recent campaign for Burger King made my skin crawl a little. I don’t eat fast food and neither does my wife. I quit eating it in my teens and just never went back to it. I need a french fry fix like any other guy from time to time but usually get it at a regular restaurant. I worked at McDonalds when I was in highschool, and I used to sneak into the stock room and look for ingredient lists to see what they actually put in the food. It isn’t even food when it boils down to it. It is more like something that is engineered in a way that it becomes just a taste experience with zero nutritional value. I also have my own theories on how eating stuff like that might give you cancer, not to mention diabetes, so I just started steering clear of it all together. I wish I could say the same for alcohol but I do have some vices. Damn you whiskey.

Anyway, this campaign is raising eyebrows all over and really getting to some people. I honestly think that is the whole point and that reaction is the whole reason for the campaign and is the campaign. Otherwise I wouldn’t even be writing about it here. I just think it is exploitive frankly. But advertising is sometimes exploitive when it needs to be. If anything I am sure it will make some people curious just how good a whopper tastes. Personally I could care less because I am still not going to eat one and after so many years (probably something like 12-14 years now). I honestly can’t remember what they taste like, nor do I have any craving for one, so seeing someone eat one doesn’t even make me hungry.

It does strike me as sad though that a business and just people in general would spend all that money and go all that way to do something like this. I am sure millions were spent on this campaign and is something like this worth it?

I don’t know. It just makes me sad. What do you think and how does it make you feel?

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