How better to illustrate how frustrating and isolating it feels to be a foreigner who can’t communicate with locals than to use a “real” alien. The funny commercial, made by Wieden & Kennedy London and directed by David Shane, features a tourist named Alexi from who knows what planet explaining how Babbel, the language learning app, transformed his travel experience. He went from being treated like a strange alien to the gregarious, likeable individual he really is. The advert was charmingly “convincing,” except for the fact that on first meeting Alexi, the locals remained infinitely polite and patient and didn’t threaten to call the cops. Must not have been made in the U.S.
Film director Dougal Wilson and Furlined, a global production company with offices in Los Angeles, New York and London, are sweeping the 2018 ad awards shows, including medals from the Art Directors Club, One Show, Webby Award, D&AD, and British Arrow. Their winning entry is “Barbers,” a quirky commercial promoting the Portrait mode on Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus. Previously available only on DSLR cameras, the Portrait mode uses the iPhone’s rear cameras to separate the foreground subject from the background, to secure impressive studio-quality lighting effects.
The location for showing the iPhone’s Portrait is set in a funky New Orleans barbershop, enlivened by “Fantastic Man” by Nigerian synth pop artist William Obyearbor. Apple says it had to do 24 haircuts to make the advert. It donated the shorn hair to Locks for Love, a nonprofit that helps provide hairpieces to disadvantaged children in need.
Op-ed columnists write copious essays laying out carefully reasoned arguments to support their point of view; editorial cartoonists sum up their take on current events in one iconic, thought-provoking, and often humorous image. A case in point can be seen in Barry Blitt’s new book, “In One Eye and Out the Other.” A long-time cartoonist and illustrator for The New Yorker, Blitt uses analogy, exaggeration, and irony to make people think about events of the day.
Berlin-based ad agency, Jung von Matt, has produced a wildly over-the-top ode to grilling meats that could be a scene from “Game of Thrones.” Made to promote the German supermarket chain Edeka, the ad titled “Men of Fire” relates the affinity of fire to meat through the ages. British actor Christopher Fairbank narrates with Shakespearean gravitas the importance of fire as he walks us through the centuries. “In the beginning there was fire kindled by lightening from heaven,” he roars, taking us past cavemen gnawing on “slain” charred meat. Fairbank’s scorns the modern barbecue fare – the “ridiculous sparkling drinks, the fussy pretentious artisanal salads, breads, and sweet dips too.” The one eternal truth he tells us is that “meat was meant to be charred.” The ad was a wonderful spoof, although since Edeka isn’t an American brand, it was unclear what the ad was plugging. Still it was memorable and fun.
Pakistan’s ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif thought he had “dotted all the i’s and crossed the t’s” when he presented Pakistan’s Supreme Court with supposed exculpatory documents that disproved corruption charges against him. The seemingly ironclad evidence was signed and dated February 2, 2006. The fake document would have been credible, except for a subtle oversight that forensic experts quickly spotted. The text was printed in Calibri, a font that was not widely available until 2007 –a full year later.
Created by Lucas de Groot, a Dutch type designer based in Berlin, Calibri had been around for a number of years, but was little known until Microsoft adopted a modified version of it to be the default font for its MS Office suite. After that, Calibri had become so ubiquitous that it probably didn’t even occur to the forgers to change the font. That likely was the case in Turkey too when the government accused about 300 people of plotting a coup, based on documents printed in Calibri and back dated to 2003.
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Most of us grew up believing that Humpty Dumpty was a big clumsy egg that fell off of a wall and couldn’t be put together again. This notion was drilled into our consciousness by illustrators who came up with their own interpretation of what Humpty Dumpty looked like. But when you go over the actual words of the 18th century rhyme, nowhere does it state that Humpty Dumpty was an egg.
That depiction was introduced in 1872 by John Tenniel, who drew Humpty Dumpty as an egg in Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass.” The egg characterization was picked up in the 1902 “Mother Goose” storybook illustrated by William Wallace Denslow and in the 1916 version of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by artist Milo Winter. Maxfield Parrish even painted a Humpty egg on a 1921 cover of Life Magazine. Pop culture came to embrace the persona of Humpty Dumpty as an egg — but it wasn’t.
With the exception of The New Yorker’s Victorian dandy, Eustace Tilley, American magazines haven’t had any memorable mascots. The haughty fop, peering at a butterfly through a monocle, debuted on the cover of The New Yorker’s very first issue in 1925. He was drawn by Rea Irvin, the magazine’s first art director. Irvin, who also designed the New Yorker’s distinctive font, based his illustration on an 1834 caricature of the notorious social gadfly, Count Alfred d’Orsay.
The New Yorker’s icon acquired the name, Eustace Tilley, from a series of tongue-in-cheek articles called “The Making of a Magazine: A Tour through the Vast Organization of The New Yorker,” written by Corey Ford in 1925. Ad buys were slim in The New Yorker’s early years (along with subscribers), and Ford’s humorous articles published in 20 installments were used to fill pages that advertisers weren’t buying. Ford named his fictional expert on magazine-making “Tilley” after his maiden aunt and “Eustace” because he thought it sounded good with Tilley. In time, Eustace Tilley and the top-hatted dandy on the cover of premiere issue became identified as one.
When I was a toddler, my grandmother, who spoke mostly Japanese, taught me how to mimic the sounds that dogs, cats and horses make. So imagine my confusion when my kindergarten teacher asked what a dog says, and I quickly raised my hand and said, “Wan, wan.” She shook her head and asked the class, “Does anyone else want to guess?” All of the other 5-year-olds yelled out, “Bow wow” and “woof woof.”
It was then that I realized that every culture has its own impression of how animals sound. As graphic communicators, we should be mindful of this when translating a book into another language. It’s not just words that differ; it’s how sounds are heard too. Manchester, UK- author James Chapman made this point in a charming illustrated book called Soundimals, presenting 19 animals “speaking” 32 different languages.
Most magazines post editorial mission guidelines to define their target audience for advertisers and content contributors, explain their editorial focus and how it differs from other magazines in the same category, etc. Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, and Glamour fall into the women’s fashion and style category, but each has its own unique perspective and tone of voice. Outdoor, Runner’s World, and Sports Fitness each cater to a specific demographic. Occasionally, a magazine will fudge its guidelines – like Sports Illustrated’s “swimsuit” edition, which is a stretch to claim that it has anything to do with sports or swimming, but would leave muscular jocks in tears if that issue was ever cancelled.
Lately it has been interesting to observe that a lot of magazines have strayed from strict adherence to their editorial guidelines and run articles touching upon Presidential politics. Teen Vogue, Scientific American, and Allure are just a few publications that found a way to fit a Trump story into their story format. GQ (Gentlemen’s Quarterly) recently came up with a clever way to stay true to its editorial position as the premier authority on men’s fashion and style by critiquing Donald Trump’s attire — a twist on the “Emperor has no clothes” tale, but in this case, the “President wears the wrong clothes.”
How do you sell a product that is basically the same no matter the brand? You give it a personality. You imply brand preference. You make it fun and entertaining and arouse a fondness for the brand among shoppers. Such is the case with the UK’s Cravendale milk. Wieden & Kennedy ad agency in London did not try to compare Cravendale with other dairy products or talk about milk’s many health benefits. The Cravendale commercials, released in 2010, looked at a “consumer” segment that lusted after the product, which was doled out to them sparingly by oblivious overlords. In their frustration, they fantasized how they could seize power if only they had opposable thumbs. Then the milk would be there for the taking any time, any place. My kingdom for opposable thumbs!
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No longer just a mind-boggling novelty trick shown large-scale on building facades, 3-D projection mapping technology is being integrated into everything from live concerts, advertising, gaming, theater performances, product launches, and fashion shows. Now it has gone mini and personal, performing to an audience of one.
In Belgium, animation artists, Filip Sterckx and Antoon Verbeeck, from Skullmapping, have given new meaning to the term “dinner theatre” by putting the entertainment on the plate itself. Like a scene right out of the Disney film, “Ratatoille,” the well-known Le Petit Chef in Belgium amused diners by having a little chef personally prepare their meal right before their eyes. This example of spectacular precision videomapping isn’t just dazzling audiences with its new “gee whiz” technology, but has taken projection mapping to a new level by treating it as a tool to tell a story.
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It’s not just Americans who are aghast at this year’s bizarre Presidential election. In Copenhagen, this bus broadside, paid for by Socialistisk Folkeparti (SF), urged the roughly 8,700 American citizens living in Denmark to make sure they vote. Created by Uncle Grey agency in Copenhagen, the bus ad took a neutral public service stance with its “Americans Abroad Vote” message, but slyly slipped in its partisan preference by turning the back wheels into crazy Trump eyes.
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Royal Philips, an advanced technology healthcare company, displayed its softer side in this 30-second spot just released in Australia. Created by Ogilvy & Mather London, the commercial was inspired by a real-life window cleaner who dressed up in a super hero costume and rappelled down a hospital facade to surprise and delight young patients in the children’s ward. In a twist on that story, the Philips video humanizes Spiderman by catching him when he is not fighting grime and showing that his life has the same hassles as the rest of us. The underlying message for Philips is that its focus isn’t simply on providing cutting-edge medical devices; they look at healthcare more holistically, recognizing the healing power of joy and laughter. The tagline for the ad says: “At Philips we see life differently. There’s always a way to make life better.”
More Th>n, a UK-based company that insures cars, homes and pets, commissioned British artist and inventor Dominic Wilcox to create the world’s first interactive art exhibition for dogs. In addition to paintings and drawings created in a dog’s color spectrum, primarily yellow, blue, and gray, the show features the “Cruising Canines” exhibit, giving visiting dogs an interactive open window car experience; “Dinnertime Dreams,” an oversized 10-foot dog bowl filled with hundreds of “food-colored” balls, and “Watery Wonder,” an arrangement of dancing water jets that jump from one dog bowl to the next.
The exhibition was created as part of the #PlayMore campaign to encourage dog owners to give their pets more quality attention. More Th>n invited owners to take the #PlayMore Pledge to spend 15 minutes more time daily playing with their pet, and promised to donate £1 to the RSPCA if they do. That’s more th>n any other insurer has offered.
Trust Cargo is a Latin American freight forwarder that specializes in delivering live cargo such as fresh fish to the world’s top restaurants. In print ads, created by TBWA/Buenos Aires in Argentina and illustrated by Cristian Turdero, Trust Cargo humorously stressed that its freight deliveries could be relied on even in regions of the world that are in political turmoil.
Considering GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s “promise” to build a 1,000 mile border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, the ad took Trump’s words literally and re-drew a map of the Americas with a Trump Channel separating the Southern United States from Mexico.
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Israeli ad agency BBR Saatchi & Saatchi in Tel Aviv took the claim “great taste” literally in demonstrating the quality materials that go into the making of the new Ford Kuga. It served Canadian illusionist Eric Leclerc savory hors d’oeuvre bites of the seat, steering wheel, window glass, and engine belt on an elegant silver platter, which Leclerc sampled with euphoric pleasure. The implication is that only the most scrumptious ingredients go into the making of a Ford Kuga. Whether this translates to a superior driving experience or not is debatable, but it got you to watch.