This hamster video actually started as a way for Los Angeles-based social media agency, Denizen, to promote its business of creating branded content for social media venues. They tried to convince their corporate clients to buy into some of their zanier concepts but found no takers. So, Denizen co-founders Joseph Matsushima and Joel Jensen decided to start their own YouTube channel to demonstrate the possibilities. The hamster idea seemed just goofy enough to succeed, but the making of the video was no picnic. Denizen had to bring in a hamster trainer, build a tiny table and chair set with a Thanksgiving decor, and get a food stylist to make miniature food. It took nearly a dozen people a month to plan, script and prep, and another 12 hours to shoot the hamster dinner. What started out as a new business recruitment tool became a YouTube blockbuster attracting millions of viewers. Denizen has made a series of hamster videos and even integrated a tiny hedgehog into the cast. For all creatures, large and small, happy Thanksgiving.
Imagine that you have been invited to Piet Mondrian’s home for Thanksgiving dinner. He’s doing all the cooking and food styling. What would he serve? That’s the fanciful musing of San Francisco-based artist Hannah Rothstein, who created her own impressions of dinner by famous artists. Her interpretations are being offered as 16”x20” signed, limited edition prints. Only 25 copies were produced and the prints are available at $75 each, with 10% of the profits going to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank. Order here. Happy Thanksgiving.
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Lasso Tyres, based In Turkey, chose a novel way to urge customers to be prepared for winter weather by linking their treads with threads. Designed by Happy People Projects creative agency in Istanbul, these print and outdoor advertisements invite the viewer to make the connection between deeply grooved tires that will hug the road even in the worst weather and very pronounced knit sweater stitches. Very clever and memorable.
Like fine wine, beautiful typography adds a touch of elegance wherever it appears. Creative agency Typejockeys in Vienna, let the typography serve as the graphic identity and packaging for Trapl, an award-winning wine made in Stixneusiedl, Austria, by vintner Johannes Trapl. Each of the seven varieties in the Trapl line has a uniquely designed label featuring Typejockeys’s hand-drawn letters, frames and ornaments. All the legal information is integrated into the wraparound typographic label, so there is no “back side.” Copper-colored foil stamping and blind embossing make for a sophisticated design that is consistently carried through even on the packing boxes.
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This poster has a history that spans decades and continents. It started in 1952 when American photographer Harold Feinstein created a photomontage of Brooklyn’s Coney Island Boardwalk that looked like a music score. Sixty years later on the other side of the planet, someone at Havas Worldwide Turkey in Istanbul flashed on Feinstein’s photomontage while brainstorming ideas for a print ad for Acik Radyo, the only non-state-owned radio station in Turkey. Acik Radyo covers global social and cultural issues and airs all types of music from around the world. Its motto is “Open to all sounds of the universe.” Feinstein’s artistic photomontage perfectly expressed the theme “Music of the People.” The poster was a big hit and went on to win multiple prestigious international honors, including the Cannes Gold Lion and Epica Grand Prix award.
Assignment: Develop an ad campaign for an appliance that extracts juice from raw fruits and vegetables.
There are so many cliché ways to sell such a product. Show a “loving mother” in the kitchen making nutritious juice for her adorable kids. Feature a young athletic type fixing his own power drink. Do a close-up of the appliance with tantalizingly colorful juice pouring from its spout. Or buy time on a TV shopping channel with a fast-talking telemarketer demonstrating how easy it is to juice anything from a turnip to an artichoke and shouting at the invisible television audience that only three products remain, so call in now.
Or you can take an entirely fresh and novel approach and not show customers, juice or even a close-up of the product. That’s the approach that ad agency BBDO Proximity Bangkok, Thailand chose for Tefal Juicer. The photographs of vegetables and fruits about to burst into liquid form are intriguing and beautiful, and so much more interesting to view.
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This public service ad by the World Wildlife Fund in Belgium needs no translation. Created by VVL BBDO in Brussels, “The Melting Earth” ad is a metaphor that works across all cultures and even communicates in a way that children can understand. The text in the boxed space warns: “The first signs of global warming are now clearly visible. We urgently need to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Nothing and no one will be spared from climate change….” As much as the image communicates the point instantly, what’s needed are follow-up ads/posters/booklets that spell out pragmatic steps that each individual can take. It’s not just a a problem for the world or a nation to solve. It demands action on all of our parts. But the public needs more guidance on what we as individuals can do to lick this problem before we suffer an irreversible meltdown.
TNT Express, the Netherlands-based international courier, launched a global campaign to rebrand itself as “The People Network.” Its TV commercials drove home that point by making a delivery truck (cab, frame, tires and engine) literally out of people. Directed by Mischa Rozema from PostPanic and created by Amsterdam agency Etcetera/DDB, the 60-second spot is an incredible feat of creative imagination, Czech stunt team agility, and seamless CGI magic.
Consumer focus groups have long been a mainstay of marketing research. It’s a great way to gather user perceptions, opinions, beliefs and attitude about a product. Chicago ad agency O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul pulled together a panel of mostly four-legged consumers to roll out Big Lots’ line of pet supplies and toys. Two improvisational actors served as panel “facilitators,” conducting a tongue-in-cheek user opinion survey. The panel of dogs and cats weren’t exactly forthcoming in their preferences, but they did give the discount retailer an opportunity to show the vast and varied range of pet products it sells.
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The credits for Elephant Gin read like a project conceived by the United Nations. Handcrafted by London Dry Gin, the product is distilled in Hamburg, Germany, using 14 botanicals including African ingredients like Devil’s Claw, Baobab and Wormwood. The packaging design by South African designer Simon Frouws was inspired by the pioneering spirit of early explorers in Africa. In keeping with the theme, the packaging design features a finely drawn map of South Africa and an old-fashioned cork label with a seal wrapped around the bottle neck with twine. Produced in small batches of 800 bottles, each batch is named after past great elephants or those that the group is committed to protect. The names are handwritten and numbered at the bottom of each label. Fifteen percent of the sales profits are donated to two African elephant foundations. Great packaging, good cause.
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The first Tuesday in November is election day in America, and tomorrow citizens are supposed to go to the polls to exercise their Constitutional right to vote. If turnout in past midterm elections is a guide, less than 40% of the voting age population will claim that privilege. Shame!
For the past few Presidential elections, the AIGA has hosted a Get Out The Vote poster campaign as a public call to action. Since the AIGA doesn’t create posters for midterm elections, we thought we’d revive some posters designed for the 2012 election. (The one above was done by Kit.)
Claim your future, vote.
In September, Playscape, a children’s playground created in 1976 by Isamu Noguchi in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, reopened after a restoration funded by Herman Miller Cares via Park Pride, and coordinated by the City of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs and Office of Parks. Playscape is the only playground designed by Noguchi in the U.S., despite his effort to develop more.
One of the 20th century’s most important and acclaimed sculptors and artists, Isamu Noguchi had a lifelong interest in designing children’s playground. “I think of playgrounds as a primer of shape and functions; simple, mysterious, and evocative; thus educational,” he said.
Noguchi’s approach to playgrounds was consistent with his design of furniture and lamps, theater sets, stone sculptures, and landscaped gardens. He brought an organic and geometric sculptural sensibility to all. “Sculpture can be a vital force in our everyday life if projected into communal usefulness,” he believed. His goal was to create art that the public could use in a social space. That included children’s playgrounds.
Noguchi pursued his quest to create playgrounds throughout his career. He designed his first landscape for children in 1933. Calling it Play Mountain, he proposed building it in New York City and envisioned a contoured terrain with many elements that would find their way into his other landscape designs. New York rejected his proposal. He tried again in the 1950s and 1960s, and was rejected each time.
For Playscape in Atlanta, Noguchi created colorful sculptural forms that invited children to explore this landscape, using their imagination to invent their own play. Dakin Hart, senior curator of the Noguchi Museum, described Noguchi’s belief “that playgrounds should not be designed like military exercise equipment for a cheaply executed boot camp…He thought kids should experience the environment the way man first experienced the earth, as a spectacular and complex place.” This is a vision that applied to all of Noguchi’s work.
Anyone who doubts that we live in a global economy needs to look at packaging and products from the far-flung reaches of the planet. These lovely labels for sauces and marmalades were made for Italbu Charcuterie in Burundi, a little landlocked country in Southeast Africa, bordered by Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Italbu Charcuterie is a deli shop offering organic products made from original Italian recipes.The design firm Ya Ye lists studios both in Zagreb, Croatia, and Bujumbura, Burundi. Ya Ye’s design has a contemporary universal quality that could have just as easily been produced in New York, London or Sydney. Cultural design differences were more distinctly identifiable before air travel and multinational retailers. A World War II vet once told me that if a soldier was parachuted onto foreign terrain, he would know where he landed by the typography and architecture, even before hearing the spoken language. With the Internet today, the whole world is exposed to the same visual references and design styles can’t be pinpointed to a particular culture or part of the world.
What’s black-and-white and impossible to ignore? The graphic identity of 52 North, a hip restaurant and bar in London. UK-based design studio I Love Dust and interior architects 44th Hill used scale and contrast to make us aware of the geometric beauty of typography. The huge letterforms become another shape in a collage of stripes, dots, stars and diamond angles. In 52 North’s restaurant and bar, warm wood furnishings soften the starkness of the letterpress-style mural, but the mural itself becomes like a “menu” of decorative shapes that can be mixed and matched on packaging and printed materials, making each piece look slightly different yet part of the overall brand. It’s a complete identity program with room to grow.
Apple’s fall rollout of new products isn’t welcome news for some of us still adjusting to the iPhone 5 and getting the feel of the iPad we got last Christmas. Many of us who grew up in the analog age view every electronic upgrade as stressful and disruptive. Innovation for innovation’s sake isn’t always welcome. Just because you could, doesn’t mean you should. Millennials, born thinking of their opposable thumbs as digital operating devices, don’t understand that “intuitive” is a relative and generational term. Which brings me to this classic comedy sketch created for Norwegian TV a few years back.