Andre Still Has a Posse

28 11 2007

Obey Image

Today I took the brand new Karmaloop TV service from Karmaloop for a spin today, and it definitely has a lot of promise. I always dig an ‘insider’ look at an underground-type of industry. My favorite segment so far is an interview with Shepard Fairey, artist and founder of Obey. It was a Fairey experiment that produced the famous image above, which you probably recognize if you were skating in the mid-90’s.

Before I get to the content of the interview though, let me just say that Karmaloop CEO Greg Selkoe clearly should not be interviewing people. He is eating the microphone, his questions are pretty dumb, and he introduces himself with aliases? Who does that besides Sal Masekela and Sway? It detracts from the person you are trying to interview and just doesn’t look very professional. I admire him because he has been pretty successful, but leave the interviewing to someone else!

Once Shepard Fairey took over the interview, it became very insightful. He spoke on his humble roots and how the whole ‘Andre the Giant has a posse’ meme came about. Fairey really goes global when commenting on his reaction to the growth of the ‘Andre’ image:

“…it really opened my mind to the ideas of an image in public sparking a reaction that is something that is outside of advertising and the usual signage that you see that raises people’s awareness about what’s going on around them.”

I had just read something about influential street artist Banksy and his exhibit here in New York. Fairey’s comments got my mind rolling on the whole awareness idea. In advertising, we really inundate the public with ‘awareness’ campaigns that are trashed and forgotten almost immediately. Today one of my clients sent out almost two million direct mailings to consumers. They are hoping 95-98% of recipients don’t trash the piece immediately.

Comparatively, Fairey’s Andre image was first published on a sticker in 1989, and almost twenty years later his art has grown into not only a full business, but has influenced many people to look at the world in a different way.

All we have to do is take some time and create real creative work for our clients. More than just words on a page describing policies and legal. Make them feel something as well. This can be accomplished just as thoroughly with art as a traditional print or TV campaign. But make it something rare – make it something your target will seek out and obtain, rather than have it stuffed into their mailbox. Only then can we create influential works to last over time.


More Than Popcorn

16 10 2007

movie pic

Brandweek just released in a report that in-theater advertising has experienced a 15% increase since 2005. I’ve never really thought much about in-theater advertising, but clearly it will increase in popularity and importance with film budgets ballooning and the threat of busts increasing.

The truth is, we have become pretty darn good at picking a flop when we see it. Sure, some well received movies still flop (see Shawshank Redemption and Grindhouse as my favorites) but we’re rarely fooled by junk such as The Heartbreak Kid (Ben Stiller seriously needs a new character type) and the biggest loser, The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

But another part of the problem is, we just aren’t as motivated to head out to the movies with the ticket prices still rising. I know if I’m borderline on a movie, or just don’t feel like making the time, I’ll wait for the DVD. And even then, if a friend says it sucked then I won’t even put in that much effort.

So the challenge then is to drive people to the theater. Make the experience memorable, and customers will go and line up during opening weekend. Give them an added on performance to go along with the movie, and maybe they will be happy to shell out the $30-$40 it can cost to have a date at the movies.

I’m not a marketing genius, but I do know that studios are shelling out millions to place their movies in every available media slot and open space outside of the theater. I literally just watched “The Comebacks” sponsor a spot in the intro to the ALCS game four. And I know Transformers was sponsoring NFL football this weekend (now where was the tie-in there?)

But then you arrive at the movie, and there is no special effort to connect. There is no reason to show up before the previews. If the only experience is the movie, then why NOT just wait for the DVD and watch it in your own home? Save some of the millions from stuffing your movie down our collective throats. With the power of the Internet, we’ve been reading about your movie for months. And even if we haven’t, the local paper and news reviews your movie before it opens.

iron man

I think some of the movies coming up have incredible potential. Slash Film, an awesome preview and review film blog, recently posted their 55 Must See Movies of 2008. Movies like Cloverfield, Be Kind Rewind, Jumper, and of course Iron Man look like sure-fire hits. Couple the movie with something unique, some free schwag, something that says, “we gave a damn that you specifically came to the movie.” I’m thinking a glossy book of pictures from shooting, or a comic that supports the storyline. The more interest the movie studio shows, the more we as viewers will return.

In the end, the movies can be a welcome escape for a lot of people. The movies captivate our attention in the way few other things do (sports and musical performances come to mind). But with the expansion of the home theater, it takes something extra to get us to choose the movies for our night out. But as the numbers show, in-theater advertising is a channel that has serious growth potential, both economically and creatively.

UPDATE: The Movie Blog author John has written an article on why commercials before movies are worse than piracy. Makes it even more important to have a relevant, creative, well connecting idea for marketing to filmgoers.

Kid Genius

2 10 2007

So who is looking for a job? Check out this video, see if this is like you.

Video made for BBH Ad Agency. Pretty fun stuff, wish I was that smart as a kid!

On another note, check out this post by Advergirl. It’s on the many roles she plays as part of her job. And it’s true, and good.

UPDATE: Here’s what Agency Spy said about this spot – they were not crazy about it. I looked at it in a slightly different way, and I think they were put off by the sexist tones. I’m clearly not very good at picking those up!

Workin Hard

3 09 2007




Man my head!  happy labor day everybody! I was up to the wee hours sharing this great time with my friends at the beach, talking about life and work.  I can see the work I’m doing is preparing me to share my skills, run my own business, help my friends market themselves and their great products to the world.My job is a great opportunity to be a ‘sponge’, soaking up knowledge, learning on my toes, sometimes flying by the seat of my pants. It’s great to say I learn many many things every day.

There is a Seth Godin post today that is really inspiring. He talks about the difference between working “hard” versus taking the easy way out. I think you guys would really enjoy it (and you can find it here).

I like to think that when I am awake, I am working. Because even though I work for a huge agency, I also still work for myself. Developing my skills, learning new things, communicating with people, (writing this blog!) – I consider these to be part of my daily “work”. And yeah, I would love to get paid for that specifically, but I’m still happy to do it regardless.

So enjoy your labor day, everybody, because tomorrow it’s back to the ‘grind’. But if you love what you do, it’s so worth it. And for those of you without a job, best of luck in that search! Oh and go Yanks!

Gone Running

29 08 2007


I love these signs. These are so perfect for the runner mentality, and have that feel of “created by runner, for runner.” They describe the lifestyle of the busy or working runner without “describing” anything. They just represent what their target cares about, and that is how a relevant emotional connection is made.

Via Ads of the World.

My Store is My…

20 08 2007

Today I was watching Mad Men, the AMC drama based on advertising in the 1960s. I’ve gotten through the first three episodes, and while I like it, I don’t love it. While I often long for Entourage to switch to hour-long episodes, I wish Mad Men was in a thirty minute slot. Sometimes the show is great, sometimes it feels like filler.


The line in episode three that really stuck with me was delivered by Rachel Menken, the owner of a major department store. After being asked by main character Don Draper if she had changed her clothes since he saw her earlier, Menken responds, “This is my closet” gesturing to the store around her.

While that line may not have been meant to capture attention, it stood out for me because that is what a passionate person will say about their work. Much in the same way Sam Melfi treats his store Books and Memories like his personal library. He questions everyone who buys books from him, engaging in conversations with some, challenging others. To him, anyone who buys his books is buying them from his personal collection, even as it has grown from a few hundred in his attic to literally hundreds of thousands in a store a block long.

I was reading BL Ochman’s blog, What’s Next the other day and loved this section:

“For me, and I think for a lot of other serious business bloggers, a blog is a storefront and, once it gains a big enough audience, a global micro-brand. You don’t just walk away from a successful blog that took blood, sweat and tears to build because a shiny new object came along.”

The blog really has become a personal ‘storefront’. So many of them are set up like portfolios, where you can learn more about the writer, their interests, see their work, etc. And I think that is great. It takes a long time to create that for a blog, and can take even longer if you don’t write your thoughts down. Since I began this blog I have re-written my vision, taken stock of my interests, and (yes) gotten a job. That’s right, I announced that quietly. I wouldn’t want to lose my support with the unemployed community.

But this personal storefront becomes a part of us, something we built with our own two hands. When you care about your work like that, when you become emotionally attached to it, you grow alongside your work. And passion is what fuels us. So grow alongside you work, whether it’s a department store, dusty book store, or a free blog online. Take pride, take charge, get out there and learn. Best of luck, I’ll be here cleaning my storefront.

P.S. Eric Webber has written another section in Advertising Age’s Small Agency Diary. It’s on how to conduct useful meetings in an agency setting. It’s another good read and you can get it here.

'Mad Men' Taps Ad Legends

10 08 2007


So thanks to Agency Spy, I found this great ‘promos’ for AMC’s new series, Mad Men. Mad Men, as far as I can tell, is about the advertising industry in the 1960s. Very cool. Haven’t seen an episode yet, but I will try to catch one in the next few days.Meanwhile, AMC interviewed 11 (well it was probably more, but these are the ones they kept) ‘Ad Legends’ and posted clips and brief bios of the Legends on their media site.These clips are amazing. Ad execs like George Lois, who have been in the business for 56 years, and are still so passionate about the industry. They still believe in the power of advertising, and that is motivating to someone like me.So check out these clips from AMC. They were great motivation for me, provide incredible insight into the business, and are pretty funny too. Some blazingly powerful quotes that stuck with me from watching these clips:Joy Golden: “the hanky panky definitely went around behind closed doors”George Lois: “advertising is poisonous gas, it should put you on your ass”Bob Jeffrey: “now we have the opportunity to be creative pioneers again”Charlie Hughes: “brilliant advertising strikes at the heart of the human condition”Dr. Lois Geraci Ernst: “great advertising will get an emotional response from the viewer. It must be based on truth, and it must make you feel something:Jerry Della Femina: “advertising – its the most fun you can have with your clothes on”Toni Pagano: “it was like being chosen for the Yankees” – I especially like that one!Martin Puris: “advertising is a paradise for brilliant misfits”Eric Michelson: “they called me an art director, but I was the minister of propaganda”Very cool stuff. Thanks Agency Spy, and thanks AMC.