Friday, September 28, 2012

(New) MySpace set to launch in 3, 2, 1...
Will we finally hear “lift off?”

Can this social media juggernaut learn from past mistakes and finally breakthrough re-entry of the social media cosmos?

It finally looks like it may be all systems go.
Intrigued? Heck, this cynic was. I even downloaded the song (“Heartbeat” by JJAMZ). The design team at MySpace recently announced that the site is being “rebuilt from scratch,” and will soon be re-born as an entertainment-focused community.

Wait, do we really need (or even want) another social media community?

We can already connect with/grow to hate the people we know through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Foursquare and LinkedIn (just to name a few).

And Facebook has the music side of things covered with Spotify.

And you can follow your favorite artists on Twitter.

Here’s why MySpace is better situated for a comeback now than ever before.

They’ve got a cool front man.
To grab attention of the masses, you need a magnetizing leader. Everyone likes J-Timberlake. Ever since “Dick in a Box,” the former N-SYNC lead has won over even the most macho of men. The musician turned actor turned MySpace majority stakeholder is just the ticket MySpace needs to bring sexy back (sorry, I just had to).

Their UI is kick-ass.
Floating tiles, translucent layers that slide, and edgeless video plugins. The MySpace dashboard/home screen is a breath of fresh air for those fatigued with the columnar design of Facebook.

But video of one user in a test environment in one thing; repetitious use in real-world another. If it proves clunky and full of glitches, sophisticated users will tire quickly and abandon.

Most importantly, (we think) they know their place.
If you can’t beat ‘em, wrap around ‘em!

A bit of humility goes a long way. Instead of asking users to open and build out YET ANOTHER social media profile and presence, MySpace lets prospect users “login via Facebook or Twitter” (Or so it seems in the video). Unlike Google+, MySpace isn’t interested in dethroning other platforms. 

They’re content just filling holes.

Because we DON’T need (or want) another Social Media site.

The next big thing will be the thing that connects all things (are you following me here?).

Wouldn’t it be cool to access your now disparate social world through one central electronic gateway?  Imagine selecting a connection and having a way to open one interactive snapshot of all their social media activity (Facebook albums, Instagram captures, recent check-ins, tweets and posted videos). Imagine mobile extensions that would actually link directly to text and the lost art of placing a phone call.

Instead of simply being a new take on an already heavily saturated, matured and fatigued market; asking users to do all the heavy lifting – why not go back to internet fundamentals? Why not fill in the gaps and make connecting between platforms easy.

Could MySpace be the next big thing….again? :)
We're on the list to find out...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Oreo has been on a creative roll these days

A roll!? More like hell-bent on cookie aisle domination!

When I was a kid I swear there were just two varieties of America’s favorite cookie – regular and double stuffed.

Today there are seasonal colors and flavors, mint, peanut butter, and ones covered in dark and white chocolate shells.

And while I wasn’t smart enough to nab the now cult-classic Birthday Cake Oreos earlier this year, I stocked up on the Candy Corn Oreos in advance (├╝ber-scrumptious, fyi – smell like candy corn, but taste more like butter cream vanilla).

They won’t back down on delivering killer advertising either.

First, there was the commemoration of 100 years (where we missed out on the “Birthday Cake” variety). Through a series of nearly 20 print ads, Oreo played out several monumental moments of the past century with little more than their signature cookie.
See the entire set of ads here, courtesy of AdWeek.
Then there was the infamous rainbow/Gay Pride graphic first released on their Facebook page (kudos for upholding your stance even amidst threat of boycott).

Now, this little gem of an ad, I first noticed this morning on the way into work.

Simple elegance that delights the imagination; enforced by transforming product into art.

Clean empty space, minimal copy with one creative focus.

Where have we seen this style before? Oh, that’s right. Apple (and a recent run of ads by LEGO).

And while they may not have invented the style, Oreo gets an ‘A’ for application.

Much like Chipotle’s silver-foiled burrito and Absolut’s iconic bottle of vodka, Oreo puts their end-product center stage.

The concepts are beautiful and thought-provoking. And really, what other creative choice is there for a century-old cookie? When you reach “icon” status, it’s time to sideline features and benefits (of which Oreo has few) and simply reinforce brand stickiness.

BONUS: Oreo’s #DailyTwist

If you’re on twitter, you have to add @Oreo.

Relax; they won’t clutter your feed with 1000’s of tweets and RT’s. Much like a daily tear-away desk calendar, they’ll provide you thought-provoking nuggets of history by date, all in Oreo-signature creative. 
Tuesday's, just to wet your whistle. ;)
Stellar work, Oreo!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

WANTED: a Tourism Campaign that Works


(Just beyond the cheese curtain).

Travel Wisconsin’s “HAVE YOU SEEN” campaign is brilliant.

It’s deceptive (but in a good way)
Advertising where you least expect it. By attempting to mimic the form of a homemade ‘Wanted’ / ‘Lost Dog’ sign, TW immediately peaks audience curiosity and gains attention.

It’s cheap (relatively speaking)
Baring the mark of an entry-level Lexmark. In opting for low-res photo finishing quality on paper no sturdier than what you’d use at home, Travel Wisconsin captures (and capitalizes on) the grassroots effort motif perfectly.

Beyond raw materials, TW pays virtually nothing for placement! By trading looming billboards and boring bus skins for paper pin-ups, the only deployment cost Travel Wisconsin incurs is the hourly fee shelled out to the guy with the staple gun.

The pull-through is cool, too.
After grasping your attention on paper, the website that awaits those that answer the CTA is astounding!

Maybe it wasn’t a matter of choice. With this robust of a web build-out, maybe the ‘HAVE YOU SEEN’ campaign HAD to be low-budget!’s “Fall Color Report” is an interactive web designer’s dream! Daily updates on the status of fall foliage by county, complete with social media-enabled photo sharing functionality? Bravo.

If you can’t beat ‘em, follow ‘em.

My walk to work takes me up Chicago’s famed Michigan Avenue.

I pass Grant Park and The Chicago Institute of Art, say “hello” to the faces of Crown Fountain and wave to Cloud Gate, (aka “the Bean”).

With each new block I pass dozens of tourists all smiling ear to ear as they snap and pose with our city.

It’s an inspired way to start your morning, so long as you can learn to hurdle over the slow walkers and lost meandering types.

But it’s a different story come fall.

Since Labor Day there has been a significant drop in tourism foot traffic on the streets of Chicago.
Kids are back in school and the days are drawing in.

As families shift their focus from full-fledged “vacation” to “weekend getaway,” Travel Wisconsin knows it’s time for B-string destination states to kick their promos into high gear.

WANTED: Chicago-made Money in Wisconsin

While the Windy City boasts architectural marvels, world-renown shopping and all the hustle and bustle that goes with city life, Wisconsin knows it can be fatiguing. What Chicagoans need most is a break from it all; the chance to get lost in the splendor of autumn.

Perfect timing, creative execution, and flawless follow-through, Travel Wisconsin; nicely done!

We’ll be venturing up 94 soon. :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

‘KISS’ Branding (you can kiss creative, cutting-edge logos goodbye)

Say it ain’t so!

It’s been a while since our last “Facelift Friday” (new logo) feature. I was a little surprised, as late Q3 typically serves as the high-water mark for logo revisions.

Just like us humans, brands looking to drop a few pounds or change up their hair try to do so before the highly-visible hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

So I decided to go back through my “new logo” Google news alert (yes, I actually have an alert) – and realized there were actually quite a few new marks unveiled this summer.  Why didn’t I see them before?

No news is good news?
No, in the case of logos, no news means boring news.

Why when it comes to re-envisioning brand does it seem companies regardless of shape and size are suffering from groupthink?

Everyone is opting to simplify; less is more. It’s a phenomena we attribute in part to the growing need for brands to be scalable – to acquire an identity that doesn’t lose impact when shrunk-to-fit digital and mobile platforms. 

But does everything have to possess a blank, spare look?

The prevalence of san serif typefaces, Helvetica(-ish) in particular, have become all the rage with playing it safe corporate America.

Here are just a few recent changes:
USA TODAY and Microsoft are perhaps the most drastic departures from their former selves. But I’m less focused on the before vs. after of any individual brand and more concerned with the whole.

If you just eye down the left column, you see four different and distinct brand marks; complex and proprietary shape configurations, layering, and (at the very least,) the use of italics.

Whether you like any individual look or not, you still see variety.

Do the same with the right and try not to fall asleep. Variation is limited to casing, colors, and (in the most dynamic situations), which universal shape configuration one brand is going to embrace over another.


More importantly, how did we get here? I thought branding was about standing out?

Maybe logo design adaptation and trends follow a trajectory similar to that of the fashion industry? A few well regarded, successful brands set the “look” and other brands follow with aspiration.

Think Apple and Starbucks.

In the last few years both have opted for simple flat logos and sans-serif type; few words paired with a lot of blank space. Can we assume that with sufficient repetition, this look became synonymous with their hip, always-fresh success? That as other companies looked to redefine themselves there subconscious gravitated towards similar visual treatments?  


But I don’t want to live in a world where creativity is squelched in the name of safe, homogenized branding!

Branding renegades and trendsetters welcome. :)