Archives For Ideas

ideas

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So there’s this small tavern in the small town of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin a few miles from my home. It’s called Paddy Caughlin’s Irish Pub. It’s wonderful.

Alas, I didn’t celebrate my Irish brethren there this year. (This photo was taken last summer.) But the photo shows an incredible idea for how you can put your customers first – let other customers buy them something. In this case, it’s a beer.

This simple “pay it forward” chart shows who bought a beer for a pal, and who has a free beer coming their way. This idea plays into the neighborhood hangout brand that they’re trying to carve out. It encourages word of mouth. And it means instant revenue for the bar; with 15 to 20 percent of gift cards going completely unused, it’s likely that this is a pretty profitable tactic.

Free beer? Great idea, Paddy.

 

 

Advertisements

Tonight is the first big live TV event in the US since last week’s Super Bowl. Are advertisers on stand-by, waiting for something to jump on, like an electricity malfunction?

Here’s a quick video asking you to predict the future. The “blackout ads” that appeard in social media as a result of the Super Bowl blunder paved new advertising ground. Advertisers took advantage of a one-of-a-kind opportunity to instantly connect with customers in ways that they haven’t before. These kinds of ads are going to happen again, most likely during the awards show season. So, this video asks, what is this new ad format going to be called from here on out?

These are bourbon ball makers. It makes four ice cubes. Four huge, whiskey-loving ice cubes, just one needed per glass.

These are bourbon ball ice cube makers. It makes four ice cubes. Four enormously huge, whiskey-loving ice cubes.

It’s simple. Give away exclusive cool stuff, for free.

That’s one way how Maker’s Mark puts the customer first. This short video blog shows three cool gifts I’ve received just by signing up for the Maker’s Mark Ambassador Club about five years ago. It’s a really cool loyalty program that rewards customers with exclusive perks. The letter that came with the gift this year encourages folks to go to the Maker’s Mark Facebook page to “share the laughs.” (Although it doesn’t look like a lot of folks did.)

Word of Mouth.org calls it one of the best fan clubs of all time in this great story. They’re right. Maker’s Mark is making a huge number of fans feel special just by doing things a little differently. This disruptive tactic goes a long way to build not just long-term customers, but long-term fanatics. And hey, volume was up 16% for the first half of 2011 according to Nielsen. (See their entry into the Ogilvy Research Awards.)

Here’s Maker’s Mark website where people can sign up for the Ambassador program. And here are some neat photos from Maker’s Mark fans over at Flickr.

Expect the 28th to follow the 27th again this year.

Expect the 28th to follow the 27th again this year.

I’ve spent literally seconds scouring the world wide internet for stories of the Pantone color system’s 2013 calendar written in French, and I really feel this is the best one. It’s a really cool idea for a calendar.

It was created by the one and only Pentagram Design‘s Eddie Opara and Brankica Harvey.

You can buy one for $15.00.

Via Fubiz.

Young monsters looking for an excellent post secondary education should strongly consider Monsters University, says the beautiful new recruitment television ad. It’s a place “Where those who embrace their history become those who create it.” Potential applicants can learn more about MU at a nifty new website.

But wait – the ad isn’t meant to recruit monsters to go to a real animated university for real animated monsters. The ad’s job is to promote the Monsters University movie, premiering June 21, 2013. It’s a spot-on parody of the awfully scary, terrifying ads for colleges that we’ve all seen. Some are gouge-my-eyes-and-ears-out-awful. Hey Appalachian State, you are not, in any way, hot hot hot. Sorry.

But wait – the website’s job isn’t merely to sell movie tickets and toys. It’s to boost the whole Monsters franchise, which is smaller than Cars and Toy Story. The movie Monsters, Inc. will be 12 years old when the sequel comes out, so the website will give the whole franchise another thing for fans to talk about, which helps Pixar, which helps Disney. Oh, happy anniversary Disney. It’s almost seven years to the day since you and Pixar got married.

The Monsters University campus map.

The Monsters University campus map.

It’s a great website, spoofing education communications really well. At the Alumni page: “Seeking intern or employee talent? Don’t forget MU’s ‘Monsters Hiring Monsters’ initiative.” Easter eggs and surprises are baked in, and the writing pimps the platitudes of communications in academia. There’s a login feature, but it goes nowhere. Gotta be a tease for future functionality as we get closer to the premier.

Back in June 2012, this Monsters University trailer was released, but it was just a typical, average trailer, and the site was launched back in October to little fanfare. That’s a pretty fractured and boring release strategy. But this parody spoof campaign seems new, and really smart.

The movie is an animated cartoon for kids, right? But wait – the recruitment ad and the website aren’t targeted to kids. Hey, the recruitment ad broke during the Rose Bowl, which doesn’t exactly pull in the youth market. And kids won’t get the parody of the ad, or the website. Disney/Pixar’s target is old people, like me. The strategy here is “get adults into Monsters University.” That’s smart business. 

(Here’s a repost of a favorite video – a recreation of some great Blue Note album covers, from August, 2010.)

What a cool idea: take some classic Blue Note album covers from the 1960’s, and recreate them with live action and animation. What a big job.

Check out the original covers below.

The video was created by Bante to promote the Bellavista Social Club‘s concert season. Here is another wonderfully-designed music video he/she/they did.

It would be appropriate at this time to offer a four beat rest moment of silence for iconic jazz photographer Herman Leonard, who passed away this week. Leonard invented (accidentally) a style of side lighting for photographing jazz musicians in clubs that perfectly captured the feeling of the clubs, the players and the music.

Herman Leonard’s photo of Duke Ellington in Paris, 1958

Laser-zapped map chart art, from belowtheboat.com.

Laser-zapped map chart art, from belowtheboat.com.

See what happens when that the old school nautical map vibe gets together with talented laser woodwork supercrafters?

The folks at belowtheboat.com bust out really nice craftsmanship and detail that combines cartography, topography, information graphic-ography, Mr. Remke’s 11th grade Geography, and Great Lakes lunker hunter sweet spot-ography.

Great execution of these disparate -ographies help make a good idea become great.

Thanks Colossal.

The evolution of information graphics saw some cool highlights in 2012, and the New York Times does a great job of compiling and curating it here.  The famous 512 Paths to the White House which played out dramatically in real time in November, the patterns of where the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder hit their shots, how an orchestra conductor’s gestures and patterns flow while jamming Stravinsky. Check the creative examples of visual communication and technology coming together.

SideBySideETC

Above: how we currently text. Below: how ETC technology will allow us to communicate more with symbols, images, and logos.

Happy birthday, text messaging. Today marks its 20th year as a communication form. So what a great day to pontificate on the next big thing in communications, which is right at our fingertips. Or, should I say, our thumbtips.

Imagine using pictures when you text and message and write online, in addition to words. It’s almost here, it’s cool, it’ll change how we communicate, and it came to me in a really neat way. Better grab a cup of coffee. This could take a minute.

I’m President of KW2, an ad agency in Madison, Wisconsin. We bought our building around 1990 from Towell Advertising, which was the longest-running ad agency in Madison. Three generations of Towells made ads here for long-time Madison businesses. But soon after we moved in, Towell Advertising changed its name to Roundhouse, and completely changed their business model to become a promotional agency.

Can you imagine? Here’s Bill Towell, all of 36 years old, telling his dad and grandfather he’s going to toss away the model they spent a couple of lifetimes growing. I bet that was an interesting conversation.

I’d known Bill over all these years, because a couple of good pals of mine worked at Roundhouse. Bill was always kinetic and intense and full of passion. His office was in a train car. They made their employees take a one hour lunch every day from noon to 1:00 PM on the dot. This is when I knew it wasn’t an advertising agency any more.

Well, Roundhouse worked really well, is still going strong, and Bill sold his share in the business a few years ago. In “retirement,” Bill drove around folks from the Porchlight homeless shelter for a year, mastered the art of lounging, and took a few classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I bumped into him on LinkedIn, and invited him to see what we’ve done to the building he said goodbye to some 20 years ago.

It was fantastic. So much history. The names of classic Madison advertising folks and brands and campaigns was great fun to hear about.

Then in the “see you later” home stretch of our chat, Bill kind of blew my mind. He told me about how he and a team of digital folks across the globe figured out how to get pictures seamlessly integrated into digital communications, in the places words would typically go. Wow.

He invented the next big thing. It was one of those that you hear about and go “duh” and you smack your palm on your forehead. Palmsmack! Of course!

It’s called Enriched Text Content (ETC). It allows people to insert images, pictures, images, logos, and graphics into alphanumeric text. Palmsmack! What took so long?

If you go to their site, baddonkeysocial.com, it would seeeeeeeem to appear that Kraft is one of the first big brands to jump on board. And given that Forbes has Kraft ranked as the #14 social brand in the world, well, this could indicate that one of the world’s largest food manufacturers thinks Bill is on to something.

This makes so much sense. We’re going more and more and more visual as a species. Instagram had 10 million shares just over Thanksgiving weekend. Do you think we’re a visually-driven bunch of mammals? Seems like it. Words are work. Pictures are not. Pictures are fast. Words are . . . less fast. Poor boring old word-based texts. They’re going to look like black and white TV next to high def, wide screen LCD TV.

Look at how just the last few years of digital evolution has already changed how we communicate. A cursor arrow. A trash can symbol. A colon with a parenthesis next to it. New shortcuts in communication are getting created and used all the time.

What are the long-term implications? I think this will significantly change things. Are we headed towards a visually driven language, or alphabet? Will new symbols be created to visually communicate?

There’s value to the user. In the time that it takes to text the word weinermobile, a texter could send an entire ETC message, like the one here. Reading messages with symbols is faster as well. Palmsmack!

The value to brands will increase. A text or email or blog post with logos in place of pictures will make those branded messages worth more, yes? Many logos will not work, and will have to be tweaked. Nike, the NFL, sports teams, and Apple will look great. Other brands like Harley-Davidson Motorcycles may need some identity work to get their logos “text logo” ready.

More symbols and fewer words in the future? Makes sense. We’ve always loved symbols. Thirty-five thousand years ago, some French communicator tagged cave walls with symbols of the giant creatures that they hunted. He (or she) didn’t graffiti the word “DINNER” or “RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!” on the wall, the caveman/woman made symbols. Then the Egyptians, over 5,000 years ago, invented symbols to depict words, giving birth to the idea of written language. Then there’s the 15th century sign in an English street that showed a symbol of a boot on it, indicating where a black plague survivor could pick up a pair of sensible Mary Janes.

And then there’s ETC, the technology that paves the way for more symbols being used more often in some of the most popular forms of communication in this era.

We’ve gone from pictures on cave walls to pictures on social walls. Pretty cool.

(Here’s a great repost from earlier in 2012.) What a great idea – design the idea of Kurt Vonnegut’s master thesis. By Maya Eilam, a designer in New York City.

www.mayeliam.com