Friday, December 24, 2010

I don't typically tire of the holiday season, but this year has been one of the busiest and most hectic with Creative Communications courses finishing for the first semester.

I'm very excited for my work placement coming up & the inevitable onslaught of presents and cheer, but I feel like we should all take a moment to simple do nothing during this holiday weekend.

Let a moment of zen be your Christmas present unto yourself, mi amigos.

Keep calm & be merry.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"RAWR" Means "The Best To You & Yours During This Glorious Season"

I eat gingerbread men like that as well...

If I had sent out a Christmas card, it would have looked something like this.
So enjoy this one on me.

[ art from the talented d-mac]

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's Time. Christmas Time.

This is how Christmas advertising should work.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Science has never been so face-punchingly awesome.

I am so excited for The Five Fists of Science. It may have to be an early Christmas present unto myself.

It's Matt Fraction's new graphic novel where Nikola Tesla & Mark Twain collided with Edison and Morgan, an evil science cabal merging the Black Arts and the Industrial Age. Turn of the century New York City sets the stage for a titanic battle over the very fate of the mankind.

I adore unique graphic novels almost as much as I adore Nikola Tesla & reinterpretations of 1800's technology (see the explanation for the wonderful world of steampunk). It's slated to be out in May of 2011.

[ Pre-Order on Amazon ]
[ Read More ]

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

RIP John Lennon :: 9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980

I believe that all those years later, he never really forgot about The Beatles.


30 years ago today the world lost a great visionary & pillar of what music would become.

It's hard to consider the possibilities of what famous celebrities would have contributed after their deaths. I often think that self-destructive people in the spot light like Kurt Cobain or James Dean would have imploded, John Lennon was a creative soul who I think valued life muchly.

The reason for his death will always be unclear, but his impact on the world will be remembered.

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Improvising At The Parthenon

We finished off our Thursday comedy class with some improv (which, for the record, evolved into the raunchiest version of the freeze game I've ever seen) and I thought I'd illustrate some American humour mixed with some dry wit from the darling Stephen Fry in a clip from the British version of Who's Line Is It Anyway?.

We Are Not Alone

According to NASA, a bacteria organism has been found in California's Lake Mono that changes the way we define "life".

The bacteria is arsenic based, rather than carbon. All life on Earth is made of six components: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, share the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same.

But not this one.

According to

If we can find exotic life like this on Earth, arsenic-based chemistry, then the larger universe probably contains life forms that are way more exotic than we're even imagining right now," Jarvis said.

So, this changes the definition of "life" when searching for life forms in space.

"There are more tools in the tool box to understand how life might emerge on places other than Earth," Jarvis said.

And there are more places to go look for it. Astronomers Wednesday tripled their estimate of the number of red dwarf stars in the universe.

"It's even more unlikely that we are unique and alone. It's more likely that the universe is teeming with life, and the only reason that we're not talking with each other all the time is simply the sheer distances between us," Jarvis said.

All of this opens up opportunities for fascinating new research.

Absolutely fascinating.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Name is Phil Davidson & I Will Not Apologize for My Tone

“Some people call it fanaticism. I call it being a believer”

I don't even understand how Phil Davidson has vocal chords left.

In case the loudest councilman in the village of Minerva, Ohio has flown under your radar...

[ click for actual Phil Davidson video ]

Never has the quest to become the treasurer of Stark County been more exciting.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Grave of a Soul Who Allowed Many To Express Love

"I awoke the imagination of my century so that it created myth and legend around me" - Oscar Wilde (1854 – November 30 1900)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Warning: False Claims & Fur Ahead

I don't even know what to say. Maybe Orangina could help me with that.

France's Orangina advertisements have bordered on the wild since 2007, and the video above pays homage to one of the strangest campaigns that has fallen under the scrutiny of North American eyes.

The ad campaign has been accompanied by a print campaign with sexualized images of animals enjoying Orangina, apparently enjoying both jeers and praise across the globe.

I'm just in love with the fact that the ads above make every claim in the book in absolute zoo-let-loose nonsense context.

Created by agency FFL, Head of Marketing, Adrian Troy said in 2008 that

“The advert has enjoyed a phenomenal response in France where Orangina is famous for its iconic advertising... Through the music and incredible animation, it really celebrates the ‘joie de vivre’ (or ‘joy of living’) feeling which Orangina encapsulates."

Orangina has been chided by UK as using the sexy furry friends in a way that confuses children. Several of the advertisements featuring highly over sexualized CGI good times were aired after 9 o'clock due to their content.

Whether you love the eccentric idea or hate the bizarre take (and the choice to brand yourself as a "adult soft drink of choice"), it's something you won't see here in Canada any time soon.

Let loose, hellcat.

[ note :: visit AdFreak for more bizarre adverts from Orangina, but be warned that some of them are NSFW (not safe for work). I regret even having to write those words in a blog about mandarin-flavoured soft drink commercials... ]

SNOTM :: Challenge

[ [ ] ]

When It Rains It Pours

As we approach December, I am anxious to begin talking about the good, the bad and the ugly of Christmas commercials.

Public service announcements have the been the main focus for Ad majors in Creative Communications for the past two weeks, safety, charity, poverty and valuing what you have ever pertinent themes during the holiday season.

Rekindling a famous campaign during New Zealand's wettest season shows the extremes of outdoor billboard advertising and how effective it can be:

Created by Colenso BBDO, Auckland, the functionality of a crying billboard is both shocking and beautiful from a technical/functionality standpoint.

A PSA aimed to reduce weather-related driving fatalities, any threat of distracting passersby in the treacherous rains could be covered by proper press coverage ahead of time, but if the "surprise" factor is lost, is the campaign as effective?

Regardless, this is a unique example of outdoor advertising that apparently had proven results; the district of Papakura reported no automobile deaths during the Easter weekend, a campaign benchmark for awareness. The campaign was awarded with a Bronze Design Lion at Cannes International Advertising Festival in 2009.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Update :: Mr. Peanut Rides Again

I can only hope my holiday party will be as awesome, with less incidents of friends trying to kill me...

Planter's revamped Mr. Peanut (now voiced in CG by Robert Downey Jr.) has made his first commercial available to the public, in true holiday fashion.

I made a joke that everyone must be waiting for their invitations in the mail from RobertDowneyPeanut. That actually seems like it would have been an alarmingly charming publicity move to get people to the Facebook page for the feisty legume. I would have put it on my Christmas tree like a card from a loved one

The characterization is far more chill than I had imagined; they've let their iconic character gain a bit of an edge. Mr. Peanut ads are no stranger to humor, but this latest departure is definitely reminiscent of M&M's Red & Yellow characters. The dark ego is a popular personification for recognizable icons & lends the type of funny that shows a company isn't taking itself too seriously.

Admittedly, I'm pretty sure they modeled the image around the voice. (I am also sure that Mr. Peanut Downey Jr. bit when Kraft Foods set the bait based on the fact he got to sing a holiday greeting unto us all. He hasn't had a lot of opportunity to revamp his singing career when he's busy being Ironman n' such...)

I am excited to see these start popping up on the TV. If my October revolved around Halloween commercials, best believe December revolves around Xmas. Can't wait for more.

[ / delicious ]

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New Duds for Mr. Peanut

Oh nuts.
[pictured RDJ is not their mascot. unfortunately.]

According to Kraft Foods, they will release a newly revamped Mr. Peanut to TV and movie audiences on Tuesday, November 9th.

In a nod to changing times, the commercials will harken back to Planter's Peanut's roots while embracing the personification the character can gain by having him update his Facebook status as the event gets closer.

The commercial will also be available on their Facebook site prior to the actual launch.

[ Follow Mr. Peanut on Facebook:: ]

The rebranding approach isn't aimed at older fans of the product, but rather the 'old-is-new-again' retro chic approach.

“One thing we learned is that while people love Mr. Peanut, they weren’t connecting with him beyond the nostalgia,” said Jason Levine, senior director for marketing at Planters at the East Hanover, N.J., office of Kraft.

The campaign is bolstered by a $30 million budget & carries the apt tagline of 'Simply Remarkable'.

Clad in a gray flannel suit alongside his sidekick Benson (Sherlock Holmes throwback much?), Mr. Peanut is set to throw a Planter's Holiday Party in the commercials aptly timed for Xmas time.

Read the following excerpt of the script as Robert Downey jr. (the actor chosen to voice Mr. Peanut):

“At Planters, we know how to throw a remarkable holiday party,” Mr. Peanut says. “Just serve classy snacks and be a gracious host, no matter who shows up.”

The guests gasp as a nutcracker enters the room. “Hey, sorry about last week,” he says. “I don’t know what got into me.” Mr. Peanut replies, “Yeah, well, forgive and forget, kind of,” as he turns to reveal a bandage covering cracks in his shell.

Can't wait.
It's going to be a nutty holiday season.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

No Cruises At Comic Con, Please

I found a comment at, from 2008:

I was just called (at work on my cell phone) and kept him on the phone for about a half hour trying to get them to explain how they were a legitimate company. In the end they couldn't do it.

I entered at the Manitoba Comic Con - I'm involved in the event and I'd like to know why we allowed these people to appear. It's disappointing that we allowed them.

I had a fantastic adventure at the Central Canada Comic Con.

I didn't expect to get a call today saying I won a Bahamas Celebration cruise discount.
(note:: I am not discrediting the cruiseline. I am discrediting the raffle that was held at a booth at C4 this year)

The operator seemed very keen to tell me that "S.E. Vacations" had selected me as one of the raffle winners to receive a discount where I could pay as little as $75 for an 8-day Florida-to-Bahamas cruise.

When I said I've never owned a credit card & was very unwilling to give him my banking info, I whittled the deal to have the operator allegedly call me back in 2 days. I'll have to see if that actually happens.


My mother seemed curious about the lengthy conversation I was having on the phone about money. When I got off the phone, she admitted to me that when she was my age, she fell for a discount exactly like the one I had been offered.

We were told (20 years apart) to call 60 days prior to the trip to confirm.

My mom was never able to get phone number; the company didn't exist anymore.
She lost $200 of her hard earned money.

The problem is that Central Canada Comic Con would allow someone to set up a promotions booth without checking them out beforehand.

If this has been reported before, C4 needs to step up their security to ensure that faithful fans of the event aren't taken advantage of.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Adieu, Hallowseve.
May nothing scare you for another 365 days.

The Power of TV Advertising

Now infamous Harvey ad for
(created by The Red Brick Road - Gemma Phillips (copywriter), Mark Slack (art director), and Justin Tindall (creative director))

I'm enamored by a marketing and television advertising specializing in proving the benefits of TV to advertisers has created a ridiculously successful commercial about just that. "If a dog can sell you on the concept of himself through persuasive video, think about what it can do for you!"

Oh Harvey.

Join [ Harvey's Facebook Page ]

[ via Big Fat Whale ]

Happy Halloween! I'm Going As The Hamburgler

Don't lie.
You still have the Vampire Nugget toy in your basement.
Happy Pumpkin Day!

Just Admit It

[ via flowing data ]

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sue's Corner :: Halloween Is Ruining Us All

You won't get any fun-sized Snickers from me.
Because I don't believe in free charity.


Sunday, October 24, 2010


Switching your language to 'Zombian' makes everything seem like you're illiterate + drunk on human bloooooooood.

Finding this site was a Zombie Walk fan's dream.

The washing machine kings at Sears have a web portal to their real website for the livingly-challenged, catered specifically to zombies looking for products to suit their needs.

Talk about working outside your marketing target audience. Sears is the last company I would expect to take both an interactive route, including company made videos on how Sears can fit your zombie needs, as well as a such a well executed stunt that only an edgier audience could appreciate.

Regardless of how much Sears has surprised us, the site is phenomenally funny.

Please change your language to Zombian when entering the web portal.

What a befitting Halloween tribute for a company whichdas always sdadalsdjm oijkjfkdsjfoie jdfadsj haaaababababaarrrrr arrrrrrgghhhhhhhh brainsdfs BRAAAAINS! BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINS!


Find the zombified Sears site [ HERE ]


I don't think I'll bother carving this year.

[ via tumblr ]

My World w/Photoshop

[ ]

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's A Small World After All

I have never been to Disneyland.

But this advertisment makes me want to go.

Right now.

Disney has always tapped into the magic of emotion in adverstising, making the whimsy of Disneyland seem like it will light up the face of not just any child, but your child.

Their new ad brings together viewer interaction + childhood excitement in all of the the right ways. The "home video" feel of it makes the potential customers relive their last visit or imagine the possibilities of suprising their own family. I'm sure it has been a challenge for the majority of Ad majors in my class to embrace the emotional approach to advertising when we spend so much time being witty + funny, but this is one of my favourite examples of how this approach succeeds in the best, see-yourself-in-those-shoes ways.

The pizza gets me every time

SNOTM :: Mo Money, Mo Problems

[ [ ] ]

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

L is for Leukemia

[ Aid For Aiden ]

I love the crafty site Etsy, for all of its homemade + found goodies, bought + sold by people all over the world.

I love etsy more when I find someone fighting for a good cause.

Aidan is a little boy with a big personality.
Buying one of his drawings of awesome monsters will help fund Aidan's medical bills as he fights leukemia.

[ CLICK for AidForAidan's Facebook for info ]
[ CLICK for AidForAidan's website for more information

[ CLICK for AidForAidan's etsy to Donate ]
[ CLICK for AidForAidan's etsy to Donate ]
[ CLICK for AidForAidan's etsy to Donate ]

Technology Craze @ RRC

iPads taking over RRC.
Photo credited to Erica Glasier

Social media blogger extraordinaire Erica Glasier is taking on the avid, upward use of technology by students at Red River College.

[Erica Glasier: Oversocialized]

Personally I'm thrilled to be on the precipice of being job ready with the knowledge of all possible outlets to employ advertising in.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kids Singing 'Kids'

Control yourself
Take only what you need from it
A family of trees wanted
To be haunted

PWN'D, Horse Riders

Someone just got told.
From The Daily

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sans Sheriff

I love going to the grammar rodeo.
[ A Simple Apology ]

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Simply Divine!

Winnipeg :: Prepare for Waters.

According to a Wpg Free Press article I stumbled upon, the infamous cult film maker John Waters will be part of the discussion at an upcoming series of symposiums on the correlation between artists + their city. Waters is best known for his cult films out of his home town of Baltimore (including the now famous Hairspray + Crybaby)

The series called My City’s Still Breathing (Nov. 4-7) is part of the Winnipeg Cultural Capital of Canada 2010 program, where Winnipeggers will be able to see local and visiting experts deliberate and debate the relationship of art and design to city-making.

Irregardless of the importance of the debate,
JOHN WATERS IS COMING TO WINNIPEG on November 4th @ The Garrick Theatre.

I don't even care what he's talking about. He could sarcastically read the phone book in the style of a monologue + it would be an experience I wouldn't miss for the world.

For more info, visit
The John Waters symposium details page.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sesame Street: Smell Like A Monster

This is why I love both Old Spice + monsters

May Jim Henson continue to shine his presence down upon you, Sesame Street.

And may I continue to be on a horse.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Heart You, Canadian Free Stuff

So I'm sitting on the couch eating shelled peanuts + watching Night Court when I was reminded that I received a package in the mail today.

I am a huge fan as of late of the website Canadian Free Stuff, so I had no idea what it could be. It was squishy enough to not be free food samples + too big to be my hair product minis.

I was under the impression things like this never work.

In the past two weeks I got free samples from Aveeno, and now this puffy package.

I saw that the envelope was from Canadian Club.

I entered a super simple promotion in August: refer 5 friends on Facebook to Canadian Club and they will send you a t-shirt.

Sadly there was no 'small' to select, but I did indeed get a medium-sized t-shirt from Canadian Club in the mail!

I have learned 3 things from this experience:

1) Free things are awesome.
2) My friends who must have 'Like'd CC, unannounced to me, are awesome + facilitate my love of t-shirts.
3) Canadian Club's promotions department knows what they're doing.

Besides having a wickedly designed website, their Hide A Case contest has captured many people's attention. Contestants (4 US, 4 Canadian) solving five out of the six puzzles advanced in the contest, and the end will be eight finalists will go on an adventure to find a hidden case of Canadian Club whisky to win $100,000. It's an elaborate contest that really leads the way in interactivity + product marketing.

But you'll have to excuse me.

I'm going to take a nap in my oversize Canadian Club t-shirt now.

PS: The Proctor & Gambler SAMPLER is back! Visit to get Tide, Head & Shoulder or Crest White Strip samples sent to your house!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Snoopy is 253 in Dog Years Today

Happy 60th Birthday, Snoopy! *throws Red Baron shaped confetti*

Pork Pie Lover of Mine

Happy Birthday, Buster.

"Buster plainly is a man inclined towards a belief in nothing but mathematics and absurdity ... like a number that has always been searching for the right equation. Look at his face — as beautiful but as inhuman as a butterfly — and you see that utter failure to identify sentiment."

-film critic David Thomson on the straightface & physical comedy master Buster Keaton

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I ironically discovered the link to Catfish's website through Facebook.

Facebook has been hardest hit when it has come to changes in privacy policy while individuals struggle to deep their personal information as private as possible & out of the hands of data miners.

With the release of The Social Network, Catfish is being called 'The Other Facebook Movie'. The film was a Sundance hit & is in limited release in the US right now.

Catfish is a fictional tale that says it's not based on a true story, but indeed true. The plot line sounds like it's happened a million times before:

The main character, Nev, is a 24 year old photographer. An 8 year old girl contacts him through MySpace and asks for permission to draw one of his photographs. Nev is so blown away by what talent the rural Michigan girl has that he supports her painting efforts & befriends Abby and her mother through Facebook.

Megan is the beautiful sister of the child prodigy. Nev's filmmaker friends document the whole process, which from an outside perspective seems to border the invasive. As he uses websites like Google & Facebook to find out information about her, even the placid beginnings of the film conjure up images of Internet acquaintances doing the same to you. Megan & Nev starts a texting-and-Twittering relationship and he inevitably sets out to meet her by traveling to her Michigan farm, without any prior notification that he is coming for a visit.

The premise seems benign enough, but the film is shot in faux-doc style akin to The Blair Witch Project.

Even the sound effect @ 2:00 in is a shocking device used well to immediately get the adrenaline flowing & the potential for a troubling ending theorizing.

For all of it's promised anxiety-inducing moments, the film is apparently very genuine in it's address to the social, personal, truthful & privacy conflicts social networking sites like Facebook pose in our global society.

The trailer was reminiscent of Winnipeg filmmaker Sean Garrity's Zooey & Adam, promising through a series of quotes that the last half of the movie will take you on an emotional roller coaster. My advertising class pitched potential promotional campaigns to him during the release of the film; I immediately recognized the similarities between the two but understood from my experience with Zooey & Adam that endings can be a double-edged sword to either be accepted/analyzed or rejected/called a "let down".

Catfish is not slated for release in Winnipeg (yet), so only time will tell.

The trailer & buzz around the movie make it clear that Catfish uses the theatre-of-the-mind to fill in the dark & lurking gaps about what possible conclusion the film could amount to. The discomforting feeling that comes from thrillers, not horrors, is an art that few filmmakers are either willing to attempt or can successfully achieve, but I would like to be able to experience how well Catfish does this for myself.

The most phenomenal part of the Catfish movie is the website used to promote the film, making you the voyeur.

Clicking the 'ENTER NEV'S WORLD' button on the website takes you into Nev's computer, allowing you to look at photos, archived chats, etc.

A few minutes into the exploration, a dialogue box for an Instant Messenger pops up and you get the voyeuristic pleasure of watching a conversation between Megan & Nev unfold.

The fake desktop view is the ultimate actualization of what anyone armed with the web smarts to investigate your personal information can achieve through social networking sites. While the extreme interactivity of the site is impressive, the guise of reality about it makes the experience of poking through Nev's personal files disturbing.

While a very well thought out promotional tool, the creepy 'Facebook-stalker' draw of it is tempered by the Twitter widget on the desktop which allows you to Follow the movie & 'desktop icons' which allow you to watch the trailer.

It's a bold move to not maintain the illusion of really delving into the characters' personal lives, but the film doesn't perpetuate the slim chance it could be a real documentary, like Blair Witch did.

SNOTM :: Try Harder To Look Tough

[ ]

Movies Are Fun

Don't lie. You cried.
[ ]

Visit Jennifer Hanson's blog 200 Movies, One Woman
See her trial & tribulations of watching 200 movies in a short amount of time.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Herding Cats

"Home" is apparently filled with hairballs

IKEA's newest effort involved releasing 100 cats into an IKEA store.

The results appear to be 100% less chaotic than I imaged.

For having a concept that seems like a technical nightmare, the effect of the ad is rather touching. It's hard to predict if it was pure luck to get the camera shots they did of the cats snuggled up on the furniture exactly like they would at home; if it was kismet, god bless those cats. If it wasn't, and the creative team knew the cats would settle down eventually & had it all planned, bravo.

Stylistically beautiful, it makes me want to sneak into an IKEA store at night & gingerly turn lighting displays on. It has the allure of a forever-Christmas tree.

Regardless of how hilarious the 'making of' video below portrays the hairy event as, the results definitely touches the inner most human part of furniture buying; not style, not size, not ease, but comfort.

The 'Making Of' video can been seen [HERE].

Happy Hallowvertising

Trick or treat, consumers.

I love Halloween like Uncle Fester loves lightbulbs.
(I feel like I'm betraying my love of The Munsters by saying that. Oh Herman.)

As much as many people would inevitably hate to admit it, advertising is a seasonal sign that the most gruesome and fun holiday is upon us.

Regardless of where you live, your skimpy or spectacular costumes have to come from some Halloween depot & that store probably has an advertisement wedged into your consciousness that helped you along with your decision.

Between the United States and Canada, I would figure the biggest competitors would be:
Party City
Spirit Halloween
Value Village
Party Stuff
(In Winnipeg)

The Village of Values holds a special place in my heart when it comes to Halloween. (Value Village's website is also very clean & attractive, but that's beside the point)

When I was young (and in my adult years, as a special nostalgic treat) I was always delighted by Halloween commercials, including those for Value Village. Talk about taking a holiday & working it to your advantage; selling second-hand & new costumes gives Value Village an even larger opportunity to sell the main component of their store, used clothing. I recall their ads saying that if you cannot find something you like, make your own costume out of the thousands of pieces of clothing about the store. Super clever & obvious campaigning.

Party City also has their stuff together; it's always a classic to do the Thriller and it always works. Very simple list endorsing costume selections, and that's about it. The baby is pure gold & helps you to remember them. (Plus, I was totally a devil for my first Halloween costume. Just saying.)

Spirit Halloween is apparently amazing. I haven't visited the new addition to Winnipeg's Halloween shopping experience, but from what I've heard they have an awesome selection of large yard & indoor displays (like Party Stuff on steroids, because their only job is to carry Halloween items).

I'm by no means an expert spot producer, but less is more when it comes to Halloween. A focus on large display items, or even just a video of one of their displays repeatedly scaring people would do the trick rather than the shopping list approach.

(10 seconds of Spirit Halloween Minnesota's promotional video is just a hand flying at the screen... View the madness [HERE] ... There's a nun, a kid in a firefighter's jacket + Pinhead mask, an orangutan... It scared me more than the actual store)

On the assumption we all know what Halloween is, it's a great time for creativity in advertising your product or service at kids & parents.

The Mall of America's beautiful paper cut-out style TV spots is the perfect creative promo for what I imagine would be the ultimate "Trick or Treating at the mall" experience, away from scary lawns (like mine).

Seasonal themes are great and something audiences should look forward to if they are consistent in look & feel, even getting as lucky as to incorporate characters. (MOA's Christmas advertisements also tickle my holiday fancy)

Regardless of whether you choose to make your own costume this year or buy one, definitely take time to enjoy Halloween commercials in all of their cheesy, fabulous glory.

This is definitely not my last deluge into Halloweenie commercials. Stay tuned.

(I <3 Vincent Price, for the record. Le sigh.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

AXE Twist :: Do Women Get Bored Too Easily To "Get" Your Ads?

Peekaboo! You could be a chauvinist.

AXE is the Dennis Leary of the advertising world when it comes to sensitivity in their portrayal of women.

Making women man-chasers is their staple; I'm just not sure how stupid you can make women in a commercial before someone objects.

AXE has the 'ultra masculine', preteen-trying-to-be-cool-&-mask-the-smell-of-pubescent-odors image down pat. Their branding has a corner of the market where the desired client isn't 'old' (or on a horse) enough to be using Old Spice or just wants to smell relevant. I think they make a good product whose clientele are loyal. Their commercials usually work off of humor where the guy 'wins' a gorgeous girl for using their product; who doesn't want to make their buyers a winner?

AXE's 'Wash Your Balls' infomercial-style commercials were mildly amusing for what was a straight-laced looking parody in my opinion. Some are out for just being able to show all of the sexy women you will get by wearing AXE; we all know it's not true, but product selling is mostly about hypothesizing.

What I'm torn about is whether or not to accept their new Twist campaign on face value as another for-guys commercial or if it's just outright chauvinistic.

Guy are the go-to stupid character in advertising as well as in television. Beer commercials are notorious for jocularity, but it's almost always the kind that makes fun of men so men can laugh at other men not being them.

Beer commercials on the whole will make fun of any possible situation men can get themselves in to, and it's usually good fun for anyone watching. (Case in point, Bud Lime's 'Get It In The Can')

There's a way to do double entendres that I'm not sure AXE has mastered.

I'm no stranger to the fact that the majority of American sitcoms leave the average male character as nothing but a fumbling oaf who is constantly trying to hide his transgressions from his overbearing wife. He's typically over weight with a below-average IQ. I'm almost certain this is true in many a household, but it's a brutal generalization which has made intelligent men in a sitcom an oddity.

How well can women take a joke, is there a "joke" in this ad, and is it alright to portray women as easily amused or distracted when men are constantly portrayed as easily amused or distracted?

There is a thin line in advertising between tongue-in-cheek and offensive.

My initial thoughts on AXE Twist was that it was:
A) Well produced
B) Tongue-in-cheek
C) "That guy has a great pomp. Wonder what they used to keep his hair up..."

It's a very, very thin line between being facetious towards women & actually portraying women as stupid and flighty. It's easy to see that we have made a mockery of the common man in advertising and that it's OK because of centuries of unequal rights towards women.

What I'm struggling with is whether it is ever 'OK' to make "Women get bored easily" your tag line.

It's fine when men are stupid, but how far can you go when calling women out for the same thing?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

iPad Timing

As part of the Advertising major in Creative Communications, our fearless leader, Kenton Larsen, wrestled us up some iPads to be used with a partner for a week at a time.

I wasn't initially sold on the idea; I understand the ability to immediately access every social networking website (via App or the net), but I had been under the impression that the iPad served a very limited purpose and couldn't be anything more than a way to play games under the auspice of doing work.

We quickly learned about the huge range of free Applications for the iPad, including Evernote for taking and organizing notes proving extremely useful for school or creative writing. (And we all know how amazingly all-consuming the feathery passion of becoming addicted to Angry Birds can be... Why so angry, birds? Just lay new eggs...)

Bizarrely enough, after being sold on the concept that the iPad is not merely a phone-less iPhone and that it had it's own merits, be they steeped in fun or function, my turn to take the iPad (lovingly named Jimmy) from fellow advertising student Jen Hanson came about and I found absolutely no time to use it during the week.

Disappointingly, my router at home is having a heyday laughing at me that am I unable to connect to my WiFi in my own house. I have to devote some time to figuring the mess out, but I haven't brought the iPad to school because every spare scrap of time has been devoted to editing a short montage and other homework during an exceptionally busy week.

From what I have experienced, the iPad can be the first all touchscreen personal computer of the future (not the mention, my own personal Star Trek dream) but the transition to using it for almost all daily Internet and writing activity would have to be all or nothing.

Hopefully I will have more bonding time my communal iPad next week, and I'm looking forward to spending more time using it for everything it can possibly do.

Better luck next week, Jimmy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Working Outdoors

Out of home advertising. Speedy messages. Zoom zoom.

I'm not an outdoors-woman by any means. My definition of a fun time in the wild involves a lawn chair in the front yard while I'm wearing a sun bonnet and protective clothing.

Regardless of my major lack of prowess when it comes to exploring Mother Nature, I love the idea, look and effect of outdoor advertising.

Out of home/outdoor ads are the ones that have created the most 'That's amazing' moments in my life of viewing the world as a consumer. They captivate passersby, targeting the precious middle ground of potential customers who haven't crystallized an opinion about your company/product.

Repeated exposure can lead to a major logging in the memory banks of frequent travelers. Because of Winnipeg advertising laws, the staying power of billboards is short, but I choose to see it as an opportunity rather than a drawback, where new ideas or locations can be tested.

Print advertising blows my mind, because it takes the principles of art where so much is said with so little, and very often uses high impact humor. 1 + 1 = two of my loves in life combined into very clever ways to sell things/concepts we often take for granted.

It's a new way to see, or even revitalize, something old.

Even a different shape to something we see everyday can have massive impact.

I feel like I could write out of home ads forever, but I understand the need to have a concrete concept that fits with your brand image; if you miss your mark or create an ad as simple as a bus treatment that does not draw eyes, it's a huge space misused.

Hopefully I can make art, not space.

-NIKE Argentina's placement of 'wet paint' signs on old benches to promote physical exercise.
-KitKat's delicious looking chocolate shaped benches.
-Weighing scale created from a transformed bus shelter.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Baman Piderman

Puppets Make Me Buy Chow Mein

0:40 is surely some sort of pressure sell.

Let us celebrate the salesmanship of the La Choy Dragon.

The La Choy Dragon appeared in TV ads for La Choy from 1965 to 1967. It was an early project for the burgeoning Muppets Inc., with Jim Henson providing the voice (which sounds nearly identical to Rowlf the Dog, if he had 50% less brain cells and yelled everything for emphasis).

Interesting Muppet trivia: Rowlf the Dog was the first Muppet to reach stardom & an advertising deal as the star of a series of Purina Dog Chow commercials in 1962, prior to the La Choy Dragon's invention. But I digress.

I'm a huge Muppets and Jim Henson fan, so it was a treat to find this gem years ago. It never ceases to make me laugh and foster a longing for the classic days of Muppets Inc. and selling techniques that just involved yelling your message loud enough from the mouth of a giant puppet. Regardless, the tactics of that boisterous lizard (who had Muppeteer and crucial member of Muppet/Sesame Street success, Frank Oz, inside for the first and last time as a walking full body puppet) are crude at best and I love him for it. He wrecks the whole store and scares women into buying noodles.

If I were approached in the same manner, I would agree to anything that dragon suggested just as the terrified mother does. Clearly she just wanted to feed a bunch of hungry cub scouts, La Choy Dragon. And we all know cub scouts love Chinese food. It's quick cooked in dragon fire for Pete's Sake.

Look forward to more classic advertisements and Muppets in future entries!


PS: If you happen to find one of THESE promotional blow-up La Choy Dragons in your next antique store hunt or Uncle Bill's yearly garage sale, call me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Balentine's Dhey

I Won't Tear Out Your Heart (most likely)

I love Valentine's Day. I'm not afraid to say it. I also love chocolate and marshmallows.

It seems like another beautiful day to gorge yourself on chocolate and marshmallow combinations, while expressing a little bit of honest sentiment to the ones you love.

I had a discussion recently with someone who expressed their view to V-Day being extremely commercial, but I counteracted his argument by saying that it's possible to have a no-buy Valentine's by reducing your activities to a mix of lovin' and homemade gifts and cards. I don't think that spending Valentine's day without someone special is an excuse to be bitter against the commercial machine of Hallmark either, because I used to do the Single Friends Round Up on February 14th. All my single friends and I would go to the Forks and go shopping, followed by dinner of Teryaki wings at Hooters (both female and males friends agreed this was good idea for some reason).

I always suggest making the most of your Valentine's Day in the way you see fit.

I also suggest going to buy discount Valentine's Day candy after the fact. Because love may go stale, but processed marshmallow goods never do.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Kwedit Scores Are The Dog's Breakfast

If a duck can do it, so can your teens

Kwedit is now getting me free dog food.

Not quite, but it could, were I to make a virtual contract, for virtual money, to feed my virtual pit bull.

I'll admit that, having no real pets, I can easily transfer a small portion of my affections to a screen-full of pixels and enjoy the com of a virtual dog via the numerous social networking applications through the magic of Facebook. The way some people do the Sudoku, I just as easily find feeding my virtual dogs a 10-minute stress buster. FooPets is probably the most advanced, moving to the most realistic, 3D furry friends found anywhere on the Internets. It can be added as an application on both MySpace & Facebook and on it's own distinct site where you can breed and sell your pets for virtual currency.

The site being targeted at youngsters with parents who have jobs, FooPets (just over two years old in it's revamped form) made the logical leap to implement a "FooDollars" option where you can purchase better items with their currency, which can be purchased with Visa, Mastercard, Discover (I love when sites with intangible items create an intangible class divide with virtual haves and have-nots).

Their parent company FooMojo claims that the site was the top search for the terms "virtual pets" in the winter of 2009, a hefty feat in a world filled with competitors. To pay the designers of over 20 breeds of cats & dogs available and maintain it's popularity by offering new & exciting options, FooPets expanded into the realm of monetary direct payments for exclusive content.

Many virtual game sites (like the now famous Zynga responsible for the monstrously large, free time dissolving FarmVille Facebook application) have had trouble incorporating a pay-for-play option into the free play format. Time has shown that for small format games whose interaction is highly forum based (not World of Warcraft multi-player style), people intrinsically do not want to pipe money in to get a few minutes enjoyment per day. However, Zynga's Petville is planning on releasing a "PetCash" component very soon; I am predicting that they may use this opportunity to use an intermediate between the site and the user to increase both the security of the site's revenue and the security of the payment options.

This is where the clever duck of Kwedit flaps on by.

FooPets started using a "Kwedit" system today to purchase FooDollars on an online contract system.

Here's how it works: Using a virtual debt, you get virtual money instead of paying real money. You make a promise to pay it back in a certain amount of time. You get your FooDollars now and buy a pretty dog bed that no one else has. My pit bull Mikey is comfortable. You wouldn't like him when he's not comfortable. He gets all up in your screen.

Kwedit expects you to pay the money back as soon as possible, in the real funds the amount would have cost if you'd bought it through another form of payment. Most young users won’t have credit cards, so they can’t pay via normal online methods.

They can however print out a bar code and take it to any 7-11 store in the U.S. for payment. Or they can mail in cash via a pre-printed postage paid envelope. Users can also ask other to pay the Kwedit for them via Pass The Duck; a social payment feature that sends a message to a friend or family member asking them to pay.

Kwedit falls in between direct payments and offers. Even if users default, the site isn’t out any cash. They’re just giving away virtual stuff in exchange for the virtual Kwedit. If you pay, you're given a good "Kwedit Score" and can access rewards through the site.

Since Kwedit is in such an early stage, I'm eager to see if this become a stain on the site's history, proving the site members to be participating in a den of lies and never to be repaid contracts, or if it acts as a brilliant median for kids waiting for their allowance to putter off the 7-11 to pay their virtual debt.

I think it makes buying virtual goods even easier, and people like easy. Kwedit could be onto kwsomething.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


A note that today is the birthday of my favourite original Star Trek actor, DeForest Kelley, aka Doctor Leonard McCoy.

I love McCoy as the cantankerous ship surgeon on the infamous five year mission of the USS Enterprise not because of his likability or valour in the face of danger, but the fact that space was his greatest enemy. He hated the transporter and the troubles that were inherent to the extensive use of technology surrounding him. While being an exceptional friend to Captain Kirk from their college years in Starfleet Academy, McCoy somehow remained a simple southern boy (not unlike Kelley's true Georgian roots) in a fast-paced future reality. He had simple pleasures (from what I understand, mostly liquor) and a love of beautiful women (who somehow preferred Mr. Spock over him, consistently, through three seasons of the show). His griping about everything that made him angry was a true show of his passion, a quality which constantly reminded the good Captain of the human factor inherent to any mission or conundrum the crew faced.

It's easy for actors in iconic roles to remain immortalized in their feature role, but real fans of his know he can be found in 20 years worth of cowboy shoot 'em ups of the 1940's and 1950's before he ever stepped foot onto a spaceship.

DeForest Kelley's southern drawl somehow always emerged in his character, despite his best efforts to iron it out during his early days in Hollywood. My favourite Star Trek game to play is listening to which vowels Dr. McCoy let's go limp through the course of an episode, letting a "y'ahll" or "dahmn" slip out. Truly a guilty genteel smile shines from his face every time.

It would be Mr. Kelley's 90th birthday.

[/The End <3]

Friday, January 15, 2010

In The Chamber (of desolate analysis and renouncing)

While both plays in the Theatre Projects Manitoba production of In The Chamber 2010 were complicated depictions of the muddled, bureaucratic human condition at it's most stunted and volatile, their scripts discussed the nature of risk; both took a gamble and only one section emerged the victor over it's own weighty jargon and the sentiment lost in it.

Gordon Tanner's self written monologue puts his character at the moment he begins to record a video in motel room, in anticipation that Warren Buffett may receive it and understand his reason for not presenting the Power Point presentation he had crafted for an agricultural conference. Tanner's character's explains his rationale as it dictates that Buffett is by proxy his boss through a long convoluted chain of hierarchy, setting the frazzled tone for the entire speech.

Through his retelling of his involvement in the examination of a massive Cremorna hog barn fire, Tanner's character reveals his own disillusionment with his life and the lack of personal risk he has taken. Breaking down the Human Assessment Factor involved in his job, the character attempts to keep the industry terms to a minimum and instead tries to explain his revelation that regardless of there being no human influence in the starting of the fire he feels that the industry's low standards and the appalling living conditions of the pigs are to blame.

The ineffectiveness of the bureaucratic feedback loop and the innocence of well-known 'It seemed like a good idea at the time' thinking are highlighted in Tanner's tortured yet humorous rant and well integrated into the Power Point with the usage of long pauses after the delivery of the devastating highlights of the hog fire. It helps conjure an effective emotional response to the issue at hand without being "preachy" like a PETA speech, making Tanner's character's pitiful efforts to explain his sudden change of heart seem more rational than the second half of the two-part production.

In the second installment of In The Chamber, Steven Ratzlaff's performs his piece set at the 'retirement' party for a 50-something "gangly, repressed, Mennonite" Winnipeg Health Science Centre employee who has recently quit his job. He is surrounded by a small group of friends who are forced to listen to his long winded speech he presents impromptu, encompassing his new found efforts to capitalize on his new Costa Rica cottage by investing in the less-than-moral sounding sex and medical trades and his hatred of the Canadian health care system as it contributed to his own personal moral disillusion and the death of his infant son. Neither issue is dealt with with great emotion, but instead a callousness which causes each of his friends (represented in a very minimalist way by balloons tied to chairs) to leave as they become disenchanted with the subject matter.

The health care system is viewed as an all-consuming force which contradictorily provided his livelihood as a policy drone and was the cause of the death of his son lovingly referred to as Manolo, who was a casualty of the 1994 investigation into pediatric heart surgeries and human error involved resulting in 14 deaths. Even after the court case and his inevitable (and perceptively cold) disassociation from his wife as she changed from strong suffering victim of the Chilean Pinochet regime to what he saw as a woman embittered, he was still able to become a tool of the human factor analysis process and take from the fruits provided in vacation time and pay raises.

As a self proclaimed "service industry Baby Boomer", he participated in work he no longer believed in and took advantage of opportunities which directly exploited others like his pending investment in Puntarenas medical and sex tourism. Ratzlaff's character becomes so bogged down in such self loathing behaviours and rants that his parasitic lifestyle can either paint him as a victim of the system's corruption or an incredibly unlikable character of his own demise.

Ratzlaff's dialogue becomes arrogant and his own personal liturgy on the specifics of the case, using jargon only someone in his department doing his job could understand, caused much of the audience to lose interest in the sentiment behind it. As a result, Tanner's rendition of personal struggle is more convincing and enjoyable.

Both plays were sprinkled with an adequate amount of swearing. The copious amount the phrase 'F-ck up' was surprisingly accurate for the content and how often awful mistakes in the personal lives of characters were discussed. Local, small scale theater at it's most edgy and obscure.


On a personal opinion, I would like to add that with all of the discussion we've had in class recently about a target audience for all material you are hoping to sell to listeners/watchers/readers, I believe that In The Chamber was not targeted at 18-30 year old Creative Communications students who have most likely not been involved in the situations presented in both parts of the production. As a result, I believe that both productions were not enjoyed as much as another play covering the same type of themes may have been by the portion of the audience coming from Red River College. It would be interesting to see the impressions other audience members (who from a first glance appeared to be more middle-aged than not) had during the show, but from what I can discern of the CreComm audience In The Chamber was not well received.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Creative Writing: Magazine Post

I would like to make the claim that my Christmas Break was perhaps the best Christmas break I’ve ever had, as it was filled with much merriment and well-rested days watching reruns of The Golden Girls and working my way through Season 3 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Thank you Levar Burton, for providing me with endless Reading Rainbow jokes for a month. I love you dearly.)

Now that the second semester of Creative Communications is in full swing, my mental faculties are being tested to the brink by our magazine project which encompasses all of the skills and classes we are taking.

Seeing as the overall tone and theme of the magazine is decided first, I assumed it would be easy enough to concoct a concept that everyone would enjoy writing about and working on for the next few months. I’ll admit that I had little to no experience with magazines; I enjoy Maclean’s as much as the next Canadian, but have only ever been regularly exposed to editions of More magazine and Elle Canada. Living with your Mother as well as your Grandmother makes reading materials very specific and very filled so with L’Oreal cream samples. (Actually, I wish more magazines still came with samples. When I go out on the town and someone asks me what my fragrance is I like to be able to say “Eau Du Tear-Out”)

When we submitted our initial idea, it was rejected. The audience was too broad, even though we had written the proposal with a target audience in mind. The second time we submitted an idea, we were asked to more clearly lay out how we would circulate our publication, why people would be drawn to our concept and become readers, as well as what potential revenue streams we would garner.

Coming up with the basic concept for a magazine had taken a complicated turn I had not been expecting.

Regardless, mocking up a proposal made our memo (a more specific break down of all of the components that would be needed to get a magazine approved and published) that much easier to complete. Any CreComm student who recently completed the memo will attest that it was hard to be so specific in so many areas but it was easy enough to understand why such information would be required.

I quickly came to understood the main components when we were asked to pipe into the cookie cutter mould that is the magazine project; advertisements must be constructed and potential businesses that would be obvious choices for our marketing strategy decided. The article ideas have to be brainstormed and sections have to be divvyed up. The target audience must be presented in a direct way.

My group’s magazine will consist of many do-it-yourself suggestions regarding how to live your life more sustainably and contribute to the overall reduction of human impacts on the earth. It will include a home section profiling eco-friendly cleaning products, houses in Winnipeg which have been certified by various eco-organizations as environmentally sound (for example, the use of geothermal heating), and profiles of individuals who have changed the way they’re living to be more environmentally sustainable. One section will focus on global and local environmental policy and how it effects readers in their everyday life as well as interviews with change makers in the area of eco-politics. Our fashion and beauty section will talk about how to make your beauty routine more organic as well as showcase a feature article on how locally made clothing and refitted clothing can reduce your budget and help to reduce unfair labour in foreign countries.

My individual contribution to the magazine will be doing the majority of our layout as well as writing a journal as I try to become more environmentally sustainable from the ground floor up. I am hoping that my journey will both provide instruction for others on what books are helpful, what stores are helpful in obtaining eco-friendly food, cleaning products and other resources, and recipes using organic produce. It will surely be filled with misadventures and comical instances in which I fail miserably at cooking, but provide better instruction on how the readers can succeed at being more environmentally friendly in their everyday activities.

I’m looking forward to the completion of the project, not so we can move on to other assignments but because I can’t wait to see the final result. I’m sure that other groups who are just as passionate and interested in their topics are anxious to pull it all together and see their magazine as a whole, filled with their content and efforts.

Here’s to hearty success for each group.

McNally Robinson’s shelves, here we come!