Archives For March 2010

Smart ad. It’s ten times smarter if it actually gets used and passed on to your Australian mate. Nice way to make the beer brand more fun.

There is a cool website that you should check out called They post cool, old letterhead examples. It’s a great look at awesome design, and a fading art form. We gotta bring this quality of communication and coolness back. Who’s in?

Lots of the examples showed beautiful artwork. Or tremendous simplicity, like the only word that appears on Elvis’ letterhead: Elvis.

But Frank Lloyd Wright’s letterhead was the real knockout.

I got bitten by the Wright bug a few years back, when writing some advertising materials for Taliesin, his studio in Spring Green, Wisconsin. I learned quite a bit about this remarkable genius, and grew quite an appreciation for his bold, focused ideas on creativity. I even started collecting Luxfer tiles designed by Wright from his days working with Louis Sullivan in Chicago.

Why is it his letterhead genius? Well, it’s letterhead, but it’s not. It’s the anti-letterhead. The page reads horizontally, not vertically. Whoa! It’s margins are crazy. Whoa! The date is on the bottom. Whoa! Some stuff is printed sideways. Whoa! In 1939, tactics like that must have knocked people right out of their knickers.

True to form, he undid letterhead, flipped convention on it’s ass, and made a simple, yet loud statement every time one of his customers or colleagues or creditors opened a piece of communication from him. “I’m different.”

The letter also shows a classic, and somewhat underlooked facet of Wright’s legacy: self-promotion. He was great at plugging him self shamelessly in a way that didn’t really seem shameless. Here, he plugged some kind of good thing for him in London and Paris. (You can buy the original for a mere $4,500.)

Wright really understood a fundamental key to greatness: if you’re going to be great, make sure people know about it.

And he took one of the more commonplace forms of communication in his day, and made it unlike anything anyone had ever seen. Genius.
Postscript – As I finish this post, I saw Stu Levitan’s post on the interactive timeline the Wright-created Guggenheim museum. Check it out. It shows a couple other iterations of Wright’s letterhead.

Check out this cool t-shirt/advertising idea for Evian. It’s a great idea that says ” if you want good water in you to feel good, and feel younger and fresher, hey, get some Evian.” Okay, maybe you won’t really, really, really feel younger, but the feeling good part could actually be true.

But last night, I saw a TV ad for Brita water filters with this uncool fact: each year, we go through enough bottled water to circle the earth with bottles, like, 3 times (I think it was 3 – may have been more.) Gross.

Brita has a cool site that’s aimed at reducing bottled water usage by, not coincidentally, increasing Brita water filter sales. Good idea. Let’s hope Brita beats Evian on this one.

The t-shirt made me think of this one Knupp & Watson & Wallman did a few years back for DogJog, a fundraiser in Madison for Dane County Humane Society. It won a bunch of awards, and helped our furry friends. The model is Mr. Sexy Jerod Gibson, who is going to have some of his groovy design work in Urban Outfitters soon.

Damn, that’s dandy. More here and here.

As a father of two kids who’ve done middle school, I’d agree with some of recent blogosphere’s assertions that our educational system tends to slowly suck the creativity out of our kids. Cuts in arts programs sure don’t help.

So isn’t it perfect for world-famous Pentegram design to help dial up the creative feel in a middle school in Brooklyn? Sure, it’s a slightly fussier task than your typical school paint job. But paint and painters are pretty cheap. And I’d bet the long-term gains in pride, inspiration, positivity and creativity are much greater than the up-front cost.

Love this quote: “…graphics become part of the architecture and help the building become a participant in the learning process…”

I wonder how else advertisers and designers can use environmental design to help our kids.

Check it out here at Pentagram’s site.

A wonderful exploration by Renaud Hallee.

Now THIS is a shanty. Three mismatched kitchen chairs looking out a niccccccce bay window. A two-burner cooktop. Three skis on the bottom. I bet those chairs could tell some stories.

There is a great genre of video that has caught fire online. The formula is simple: create an ad-like thing, display it in public, video peoples’ reactions, distribute the video. It’s a rather brilliant way to cover a lot of ground without a ton of money.

It’s been a strong trend since 2008. But in no way is this new. We can thank Allen Funt, the guy who created the TV show Candid Camera in 1948. It was huge. A young Woody Allen was on it. It led to America’s Funniest Home Videos, Jackass, Punk’d. Funt’s stroke of genius: recognizing that people love watching people get surprised.

Here are a few great examples.

And here’s a fairly crappy example of this idea from Big Boy.

There was a recent study that said 62% of Americans now have an HDTV. This makes 62% of you a little luckier. Granted, there are more noble things about the human condition to feel lucky about, and one could argue that better television brings us just one step closer to becoming a civilization of zombified, mouth-breathing idiots. But this fact is undeniable: the sensory experience gained from certain communications feels neat. If not really neat.

I would make such an amazing lawyer.

So what are communicators doing to deliver the neat things HDTV can do? Let’s watch. (Pause: it’s kind of dumb hyping the virtues of HDTV via a computer, so pretend you’re oooohing and aahhhing over these ads in amazing hi-def.)

Exhibit A: The National Football League makes football look more neat by using the newish Phantom HD digital video camera. This ad was made by Grey Advertising.

Exhibit B:  Philips made a great ad to debut their new cinema proportion 21:9 ratio TV. The ad is a great idea, executed masterfully: using only one shot to capture a frozen moment in time. It was made by Tribal DDB Amsterdam, and won the 2009 Cannes Grand Prix for Film. You’ve gotta watch how they made the ad. A sequel is coming in April.

Exhibit C: Schweppes uses slomo to make you thirsty.

Exhibit D: Pedigree’s new ad, also using the Phantom. From TBWA Toronto. Directed by a cheesehead (I think), Bob Purman.

Check out these very excellent examples of using infographics to communicate information about music.

The chart on the left shows the progression of pop and rock music in one chart, from Historyshots. The chart on the right is one of many Beatles infographics created by Michael Deal Design.