When Grey Group opened a new Singapore division of its ad agency earlier this year, it wanted to communicate that it had assembled a team from a dozen different countries to handle business in 106 national markets. It was truly multinational in every sense of the word. The challenge was how to suggest its global outlook visually without resorting to tedious clichés. Luis Fabra, Grey Singapore’s senior graphic designer, chose the most recognizable symbol of any country – its national flag. From there, he deconstructed each flag into geometric shapes – stripes, dots, triangles, half circles, etc. – and rearranged the color scheme on each flag to form a single letter of the alphabet. Grey Singapore’s multinational typeface actually has 106 letters in the alphabet, with some letters repeated to give each country equal representation. Abstract yet country-specific, the letters in combination suggest a strong communication program that is sensitive to all cultures.
When Johnnie Walker signed onto the Join the Pact initiative to promote responsible drinking, the whisky maker did more than lend its name to the campaign; it gave an impactful demonstration of what might happen when you drink and drive.
Marketing agency APAC Iris Singapore worked with Johnnie Walker to create this 90-second public service spot. The agency took advantage of the fact that Johnnie Walker has been a long-time sponsor of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula One racecar team, and proposed building a CGI model of a Formula One car out of 1,750 Johnnie Walker whisky glasses. The project, headed by Iris regional creative director Grant Hunter and film/3D director Russell Appleford, proved to be an arduous task. Just the crash scene alone required more than 100 gigabytes of data. Two-time world drivers’ champion Mika Häkkinen, Johnnie Walker’s responsible drinking ambassador, was brought in to give the voiceover message authority, advising, “Staying in control is what matters in racing. Split-second decisions are the difference between finishing first and finishing last – or not finishing at all.” For a liquor company, this approach is bold and civic minded. It addresses the potential danger of their product directly and doesn’t try to slip in a self-serving “buy more whisky and party hearty” plug.
Sports and beer were meant for each other. If you watch beer commercials, that’s the impression you get. The beer- sports fan theme is an advertising cliché. Unfortunately, most of the ads are so interchangeably similar that one brand name on a beer bottle could be photoshopped out and replaced with another and no one would know the difference. Most of these commercials feature attractive, young people with bottles of beer in their hands, yucking it up in a crowded sports bar. When you’ve seen one beer-in-bar commercial, you’ve seen them all. Which brings us to the Carlsberg Fan Academy spot, created by Fold 7 agency in London. Like most videos that go viral, this one has a story line that holds your attention and is fun to watch. It’s a comedy sketch, with actors not models, and the brand message for Carlsberg comes through strong, but doesn’t stomp over the entertainment value. The viewers’ delight in getting amusement from an ad, makes them feel good about the brand and want to retweet it to share with friends.
Ottawa-based McMillan Agency got straight to the point in this direct mail piece. Recipients first read how the creative agency would help clients stand out from the crowd, and when they unfolded the sheet, they could read a lengthier discussion about the challenges facing companies today. Attention-grabbing. Succinct. Minimal production costs. Great idea.
Sometimes a literal visualization of a message is the most effective one. These billboards by creative agency Extra Credit Projects in Grand Rapid, Michigan, promote the services of Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, an 80-bed rehab center in Grand Rapids. On the all-text billboard ads, the ailment to be treated is clear; nothing more need be said or shown to improve understanding.
As an aside, the name of the hospital itself has a fascinating origin. In 1891, a group of women in Grand Rapids sought to provide medical care for people with limited financial means by asking everyone named Mary, as well as those who knew anyone named Mary, to donate money to secure a free bed in one of the local hospitals. The so-called Mary Free Bed Guild went on to raise funds for convalescent and orthopedic centers for disabled children. In 1966, the program, expanded to care for spinal injury and stroke adult patients, was renamed Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.
IBM’s “Smarter Planet” communication platform, developed with its long-time agency, Ogilvy & Mather, added a low-tech, but highly appreciated approach to its outdoor advertising campaign. IBM looked beyond its digital technology business and considered what would enhance the quality of life in a community. It didn’t change its marketing message, but it did alter its outdoor advertising strategy. Incorporating a simple curve in the physical shape of its billboards transformed them into street benches, rain shelters and ramps — which all goes to prove that small changes can provide smart solutions for cities.
Starbucks in the UK found a novel way to promote its discount latte special, available only on Mondays until February 18. London-based ad agency AMV BBDO created a stop-motion video to tout other great events that happened on a Monday, citing Neil Armstrong’s first walk on the moon, the first chiming of Big Ben, the first performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth as examples. The entire commercial was produced in-house at Brand New School, using items from Starbucks for props. Coffee cups, napkins, wooden stir sticks, straws and corrugated java jackets serve as stand-ins for super heroes, landmarks and Macbeth’s three witches hunkered around a cauldron stirring up “toil and trouble.” The charm of the animation is its playful homemade quality. The only question is did someone at AMV dream up the idea on a Monday?
Wild Winter Ale is the fourth in a limited edition series of seasonal beers released by Danish brewery Mikkeller in 2012. The label, created by Swedish graphic design agency Bedow, features a simple silhouette of a leafy apple tree, printed with thermochromic ink. The ale is meant to be kept refrigerated or at least cold until serving. What makes this label intriquing is that the ink is heat sensitive. As the label gets warm from being held in the drinker’s hand, the tree begins to shed its leaves until only its bare limbs remain.
Thermochromic inks were first popularized in the 1970s, appearing in “mood rings” that changed colors supposedly indicating the wearer’s emotional state. Increasingly, designers are finding creative ways to use heat-sensitive inks in printing.
For Coke Zero’s joint promotion of the new James Bond film “Skyfall,” Belgian ad agency Duval Guillaume Modern set up an elaborate stunt in the Antwerp central train station. It began when unsuspecting commuters walked up to a Coke vending machine, which displayed a promotional offer that came with a hitch. They could win two free tickets to a special screening of “Skyfall,” if they could get to the vending machine on Platform Six within 70 seconds.
Preferred by über rich and famous men, E. Marinella neckties have been worn by aristocrats, global leaders, titans of industry and movie heart throbs. Founded in Naples in 1914, Marinella began as a tiny shop that catered to men with elegant taste and deep pockets. Throughout the 20th century, the family-owned business let its clientele from around the world beat a path to its Naples store, without spending a lira on advertising. Marinella himself (now the grandson) would advise customers on colors, patterns and measurements, and then have his artisans custom-make each necktie to each customer’s specifications. Only in the past decade has E. Marinella established boutique shops in a few fashion capitals outside of Italy. This has led to the launch of an advertising campaign telling elite clientele where its shops can be found. Playing off of the brand’s tagline “Since 1914, the taste of elegance,” the ads created by Footbite agency in Monza, Italy, feature neckties folded like an iconic food for which each location is known – Lugano chocolate, London tea, Tokyo sushi, Italian (Milan and Naples) espresso, and Parisian croissant. The campaign was art directed by Paolo Guidobono and Michele Sartori.
IKEA is redefining retail catalogs by making theirs come alive. On July 31, the Swedish ready-to-assemble home furnishings giant will begin sending their 2013 edition, so keep your smartphone handy. Interspersed throughout the catalog are augmented reality codes that you can access by downloading a free IKEA catalog app onto your Android or iPhone. Look for the smartphone icons on the page and hold your phone about eight inches above the image to activate the digital layer.
Created by McCann agency with Metaio technology, the app-friendly catalog takes you beyond the printed page and launches interactive content – three-dimensional products, video stories about the product designers, an x-ray look behind a cabinet door, etc. It’s a digital magazine and shopping advisor that piggybacks on paper. For IKEA, the largest portion of their marketing budget goes toward the catalog, of which they print 211 million copies translated into some 20 languages. Enabling access to digital content is like expanding the number of pages without adding pages. Unlike websites where you have to find a way to make consumers visit your site first, the printed catalog puts the marketing piece in the consumers’ hands and then encourages them to linger longer, read deeper and return to the catalog repeatedly to discover what else is there.
When Nickelodeon sought to tout its new HD network in Europe, its parent company, MTV International, hired ManvsMachine agency in London to brand the channel. What they got back was a logo identity study that playfully took Nickelodeon’s screaming orange brand color and morphed it from one texture to another, from faux fur to plastic to globule bubbles, all reforming themselves back into the Nickelodeon logotype. It’s fascinating to view.
San Francisco-based photographer Ryan Heffernan took these dramatic shots for a Japan Rags ad campaign. What looks like a freeze-frame photograph captured with split-second timing is actually a composite of three different stills.
The winter of 2009-2010 proved disastrous for registered beehives in London. About a third of the registered bee colonies collapsed, poising an enormous threat to food growth in the United Kingdom. According to U.N. statistics, the decline of the honey bee population in Europe is now between 10 and 30 percent; in the United States, it is at 30 percent, and in the Middle East, up to 85 percent of the bee population has disappeared. This is worrisome. Of the 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.
London recently teamed with LIDA Agency and M&C Saatchi to launch a Capital Bee Campaign to raise awareness of how human behavior is endangering local bees. The campaign includes a series of billboards and YouTube videos to change public beehavior.
This looks like a high-school science project, but it is really a commercial for Asics new Gel-Blur 33 athletic shoes, which Asics claims offers lightweight, cushioned comfort to all 33 joints in the foot. To illustrate the tagline “Gravity, Meet Your Archenemy,” Southern California-based creative agency, Vitro USA, strung multi-colored ping pong balls on fishing lines and pumped compressed air into a glass chamber, causing the balls to rise into the shape of an Asics 33 shoe and float in space. As with some of the amazing 3-D projection mapping videos now coming out, the behind-the-scenes making of this commercial needs to be seen to appreciate the feat achieved.