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.
In every big city, more pedestrians run red lights than motorists. Impatient and confident that no driver would purposely run them over, they dart across the red lights or inch off the curb and into the intersection to get a head start when the light turns green. This doesn’t happen much in Los Angeles where automobiles are “king,” and pedestrians know that they have few rights.Cars speed down city streets, daring a walker to step into their path. On the other hand, San Francisco has always been more pedestrian lenient. Motorists get annoyed with “red light jumpers” and jaywalkers, but perhaps are more forgiving because they know how steep the hills are and recognize that trudging across a hill is an ordeal for the elderly, disabled, and anyone carrying a heavy bag.
In Lisbon, Portugal, the company behind the Smart car successfully tested a novel deterrence, and it didn’t do it by stationing traffic cops at every crosswalk, handing out fines, or constructing barricades. It used entertainment. Smart Company installed “dancing traffic lights” that projected moving pictographs of passersby dancing in real time in a specially designed booth. The dancing signal was so engaging that red-light jumping was reduced by 81%. Now the question is how to get pedestrians to move along and cross the street.
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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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.
Food trucks and pop-up stores are proliferating all over the world, but this is the first time we have heard of a mobile lighting showroom. Created by British designer Lee Broom, the Salone del Automobile is located in a moving van that stops in key urban design districts between London and Milan. From the outside, the vehicle looks like an ordinary delivery van, but when the back door is open, it looks like an elegant Italian palazzo with Corinthian columns and decorative stucco details. The interior is painted a subtle gray with an illuminated floor for effect. It provides the perfect background for Broom’s new lighting collection Optical. The idea of a traveling showroom has many appealing, cost-effective advantages. It literally places itself directly in the path of target customers, can quickly relocate to other promising geographic markets, and limits security risks by offering the ability to park the “shop” in a garage.
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Everything about this commercial for Adobe Marketing Cloud rings true, except for rerouting the spaceship to another part of the galaxy. Created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners for Adobe, this “Do You Know What Your Marketing Is Doing” ad campaign gives us an extreme look at what can happen when companies move warp speed ahead on their brand strategy before or while collecting, analyzing and understanding marketing data. Invariably reticent managers afraid to express their doubts about the chosen direction, do so at the very last minute when it dawns on them that they would be blamed for letting it go forward. Re-dos cause delays. Delays burn budgets, sometime to a crisp. One reason this TV spot is hilariously funny to so many in the marketing/design business is because it is painfully familiar. Such “war stories,” usually confessed in an inebriated state, abound. At some point, we’ve all been there. Gotta laugh so you don’t cry.
Commercials run on the Super Bowl have become their own cultural phenomenon. Costing about $5 million to air a 30-second spot (or $166,666 per second), the commercials reach an estimated 115 million American viewers, and millions more outside of the U.S. Advertisers throw big budgets and top talent at making these spots. In past years, the entertainment quality has been so high that some viewers only watch the game to see the commercials. After the game, people turn to YouTube to see the commercials they missed. This year, however, many advertisers aimed for a pre-game viral buzz by releasing their commercials in advance on TV, YouTube and online platforms.The commercials kinda dribbled out over the past month. The buzz created by millions of people seeing the ads simultaneously for the first time on the Super Bowl was missing. The Super Bowl ads were no longer an event. Without a doubt, there were some terrific ads on the Super Bowl (like the ones shown here), but the thrill of the shared experience is gone. People aren’t coming into the office the next day and chatting with co-workers about their favorite Super Bowl commercial the way they used to.
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Designers are always in search of ways to convey a message visually without the need for lengthy explanatory text. That’s the charm of this Greenpeace advertising released to coincide with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris last week. Created by London-based Stine Hole Mankovsky, the video and print ads communicate through a shorthand of visual metaphors that are widely understood by the public. Iconic Russian nesting “dolls” tie the story to Russia; stylized icy blue peaks suggest Arctic glaciers, and the decreasing size of the dolls serve as a metaphor for the ever- shrinking habitat of polar bears, which are fast vanishing in numbers. The only text is “Save the Russian Arctic. Greenpeace.” That says it all. Today the gravest threat to polar bears and the Arctic is the unmitigated release of greenhouse gases, which are warming the planet and causing the climate to change.
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Don’t worry, no pets were harmed in the making of this ad for 3M Lint Rollers. Created by Grey Group Singapore, this print poster campaign for 3M India provides a wildly exaggerated demonstration of how effectively the product picks up pet fur and other types of lint. The Grey Group team included chief creative officer, Ali Shabaz, with art direction by Ang Sheng Jin, photography by Jeremy Wong (Nemesis Pictures), and major retouching by Evan Lim (Magic 3).
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Insurance companies are their own liability when it comes to describing the services they provide in advertising. Boring. This explains why the insurance giants resort to surreal humor, wild exaggerations, and CGI characters to keep viewers from immediately switching channels. Particularly memorable are Geico ads, which feature anthropomorphic animals such as its gecko mascot, created by Richmond, Virginia-based The Martin Agency. Geico ads have featured other animals too, including a talking duck, pig, squirrel, goat, kraken, and chihuahua. Lately, a smart-ass camel has a starring role. What’s interesting is that the 30-second commercials give viewers no clue what product or brand they are promoting until the last five second closing voiceover. “It you want to save 15% or more on car insurance, get Geico. It’s what we do.” It must work because viewers remember Geico’s tagline.
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Trendy fashion retailer, Forever 21, recently mounted an Instagram-assisted event and invited millennials to see what they’d look like in thread. A monumental undertaking, hardware maker Breakfast New York spent a year-and-a-half building the 2,000 pound “Thread Screen,” made up of 200,000 components that manipulated 6,400 mechanical spools of multicolored threaded fabric. Each spool held 5 ½ feet of fabric, divided into 36 colors that transitioned every inch and a half.
Forever 21 then invited fans to post their photo on Instagram using the “#21ThreadScreen” hashtag. The machine “read” the submitted photos and instructed the spools to travel along a conveyor-like device until it hit the right hue, displaying the thread-assembled portrait at an 80×80 screen resolution. Forever 21 and Breakfast live streamed the photos turning into thread, and sent each participant an edited version of their own personal thread portrait. It was like totally awesome!
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More than 3,000 mourners came to the rural Japanese village of Kinokawa last weekend to pay their final respects to Tama the super stationmaster of Kishi Station, the last stop on the Wakayama Electric Railway line. Tama was elevated from stray cat to stationmaster in 2007, at a time when the regional rail line was $4.7 million in the red, forcing the layoff of all employees at Kishi Station and leaving the stop unmanned. Reluctant to evict the charming calico cat that hung around the station, the railway’s president announced that he was appointing Tama the super stationmaster of Kishi Station — a position that included free housing in the ticket booth, her own litter box, and an annual salary paid in cat food. For her official duties of meeting and greeting passengers, Tama was outfitted in a tiny custom-made stationmaster cap and cape.
What started out as a playful marketing ploy to raise awareness of the railway’s plight quickly turned into a media sensation with tourists from across Japan and around the world flocking to the village to see Tama at work. Train ridership increased significantly, and Kishi Station itself became a tourist attraction.
The railway’s management capitalized on Tama’s appeal and developed an extensive line of souvenir items bearing a cartoon likeness of Tama, including T-shirts, coffee mugs, stuffed animals, and even a full set of dining room furniture featuring carved silhouettes of cats. In 2009, Wakayama Electric Railway rolled out a train car decorated with cartoon images of Tama, and redesigned the exterior architecture of Kishi station to resemble a cat’s face.
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Shocase is a new social network site with some of the intentions of LinkedIn, Pinterest and Facebook, but is targeted specifically to the 100+ million marketing professionals worldwide. It acts somewhat like the old Blackbook directories, but in a friendlier, more interactive and constantly updated way.
Shocase CEO Ron Young explains, “Members can present their work, skills and experience in the best light to the audience they value most; brands can find the right marketing professionals to suit their needs in any discipline. The site is designed to help build working relationships, and ultimately help members grow their business.”
Viewers hate YouTube preroll ads, those irksome commercials that run before you get to watch the real YouTube video you want to see. One survey revealed that 94 percent of viewers will hit the “Skip Ad” button as soon as it appears. But advertisers keep sticking their commercials up there, presumably in the belief that the few they don’t annoy will embrace their message fondly and run out to buy their product.
This brings us to the Geico preroll, created by The Martin Agency in Richmond, Virginia. In a YouTube ad campaign that can only be viewed as experimental, the car insurance giant crammed its ad message into the critical first five seconds, and then spent the next 60 seconds having the main actors freeze motionless, while absurd actions happened around them. The only mention of Geico was the brand name that stayed on the screen. I didn’t get it, but thought it was funny anyway. I watched it three times to see if I was missing a deeper message. The only thing that annoyed me was that a preroll ad for another product ran before I could watch the Geico ad. I hit “Skip Ad” on that one as soon as it let me.
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Digital billboards are making it possible to connect with people in ways we couldn’t imagine a few years ago. To mark International Women’s Day last weekend, UK-based Women’s Aid worked with WCRS London to launch a billboard campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence. The billboard features an obviously battered woman with two black eye, swelling and cuts on her face. From time to time, she blinks sadly.
Using facial recognition technology, the billboard lets passersby heal the woman’s wounds by looking at her. The more people stop and look directly at the image, the faster her face heals and returns to normal. The facial recognition technology can register exactly how many people are looking at the poster and pick out their faces from the crowd and display them through a live-feed of the street.
The beauty of this appeal by Oro Verde Rainforest Foundation is its humble low-tech innocence. It doesn’t smack of big budget glitz, high-tech digital manipulations, and pre-launch market testing. The idea is everything. Its charm is in its simple, direct, homemade look. A high school student could have produced it… but didn’t.
Actually, the campaign was created by ad giant, Ogilvy & Mather, in Frankfurt, Germany. Hand-written placards were posted on more than 600 trees in Germany and helped OroVerde raise cash donations by more than 27 percent.
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