Thursday, February 21, 2013

KLM - Must See Map

For the past couple years, KLM has been setting the bar in terms of how an airline should behave in the digital space.  Recently there was an excellent article about their approach to digital on Think With Google (article is here).  Almost every campaign includes a service design element where they attempt to enhance the user experience either before, during or after the journey.  The latest from KLM is a tool called Must See Map, which uses a custom Google maps implementation to allow travelers to create a personalised map for an upcoming trip.  That functionality alone can be done with the standard Google Maps functionality.  However, Must See Map allows users to invite Facebook & Twitter friends to suggest places to visit and directly add their suggestions to your map.

It's a really nice execution driven by the insight that travelers most often look to friends for suggestions of places to go and things to check out when planning a trip.  Those suggestions typically come in the form of e-mail or social networks posts, so KLM is eliminating the pain point of having all those suggestions in e-mail or list form by enabling your friends to input them directly.

My favorite part of this whole experience is how KLM is bridging the digital and physical worlds.  Once your map is complete, KLM will send you a hard copy of the map within three weeks.

Check out the explanation video below.  Anyone know the agency behind this?

UPDATE: This was created by the good people at Code D'Azur.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Two Attempts To Stop The Harlem Shake - W+K NY & Freddie Wong

I've never seen a meme explode so quickly as the Harlem Shake craze (there's currently 4,000 harlem shake videos per day being uploaded).  If you want background on the phenomenon, check out this YouTube trends blog post.  At the same time, I've never seen a meme become so immediately and thoroughly tiresome.  When the anchors of the Today show are doing it, you know that it's time to take it out behind the barn and put it down for good.  Thankfully, people more talented than I are doing their part in putting an official end to this phenomenon.

First up YouTube star Freddie Wong:

And the good people at Wieden + Kennedy New York bringing an old meme into the mix:
And finally, the guys at Vice have a good write up about why the Harlem Shake as currently imagined is but a shell of it's former self and generally sucks.

Topshop/Google+ - The Future Of The Fashion Show

Lately there's been a trend in terms of fashions shows bringing the audience closer to both the catwalk and behind the scenes of the show (see the recent interactive Adidas Fashion Show).  Now Topshop has teamed up with Google+ to launch what it's calling 'The Future Of The Fashion Show.'  The show itself takes place at the Tate Modern, but a host of tech will make the experience incredibly rich for the audience online.  The desire is to give viewers the ability to see the show from every point of view including the makeup artist the audience in the front row and even a first person view from the models as they walk down the runway (using micro HD cameras).  As the Telegraph writes:

Google+ will offer its users exclusive digital diaries by four of Topshop's famous model faces - Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Rosie Tapner and Ashleigh Good - in their 'Road to the runway' series which will track each of the models from their first fittings for the show to the moment they hit the catwalk.

Via YouTube, Topshop will broadcast not only the live show but a 'red carpet hangout', allowing viewers to join in the hustle and bustle of the celebrity arrivals at the show, and using Google's 3D streetmap technology you'll be able to explore the show's exciting venue, The Tanks at Tate Modern.

Other aspects include a 'Be The Buyer' app which will allow fans to create their own mood boards from the pieces on the runway, as well as video advice from International buyers and Topshop's in-house team offering tips to aspiring young buyers or fashion enthusiasts. An animated Google+ photo booth has also been installed in the brand's flagship Oxford Street store allowing fans to upload their looks to an interactive digital window immediately.

Check out the video below that demonstrates how it all comes together & tune in on Sunday, February 17th at 3PM (GMT).

Nivea - Stress Test

I love this fantastically executed stunt from Nivea in Germany to promote their Stress Protect line.  Nivea's agency, Felix & Lamberti, setup an elaborate ambush in an airport waiting lounge, making it seem that the targeted person was wanted by the police.  I don't want to spoil the video, so I'd just suggest you watch below.

Valentine's Day - Nivea, Sky, & Ikea

In honor of the most Hallmark of holidays, I thought it'd be nice to show few examples of Valentine's Day executions that stood out in my mind.

Nivea - A Date To Remember
Nivea is promoting their new Stress Protect deodorant range which 'provides proven protection under stress, so whatever happens, you can stay cool and confident.'  Developed by Agency Republic, A Date To Remember is billed as the first date that the user controls.  The interactive YouTube experience allows the user to choose how the date (awkwardly) unfolds while showing the stress level that the 'ordinary' girl is experiencing.  Check out the trailer below and have a play around with the experience on the Nivea UK YouTube channel.

Sky Germany
This ad from Sky in Germany reminds football fanatics the potential risks of forgetting Valentine's day, More importantly, it just goes to show that everything is better in slo-mo.

IKEA - Australia
A love this Valentine's day print ad from IKEA in Australia.  See below.  No further explanation needed.
amusing Valentine's Day offer—a free crib for babies born nine months from today.

EasyWay Language Center - Subtitles

A bit of background, Brazil-based EasyWay language center is primarily targeted at foreigners living in Brazil (eg. student and ex-pats) looking to learn Portugese.  You may remember the innovative use of the Chrome speech input functionality that they used as part of their web experience a few months back (see previous post here).  Now EasyWay has launched another service that uses Google technology in a clever way.  Their agency, Loducca, has created a browser based experience that helps people learn Portugese by providing subtitles for Brazilian TV in any language.

The website provides real-time subtitles to the major Brazilian TV channels by combining old school closed captioning technology and Google Translate.  Here's how it works:  EasyWay has a computer hooked to up to TV set 24 hours a day.  The computer captures and uploads the closed caption data to be translated on the website.  Users visit the site from their mobile device (or laptop I suppose) and choose their preferred language & TV channel.  Voila!  The subtitles for the program are displayed on their second screen, synced up to the TV broadcast.  Check out the video below for a better explanation.

Final Superbowl Thoughts

Contagious has a good Superbowl Advertising roundup which can be found here

My personal favorite spot was Samsung Next Big Thing with Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, & Bob Odenkirk.  I love the shots that they took at AdLand (I counted at least five).

The VW 'Get Happy' Superbowl ad generated a whole bunch of controversy with many people calling the spot offensive and even racist.  I was surprised that nobody has really picked up on this response video from Red Strip that ran during the game.  Everyone was swooning over the Oreo blackout execution, but the way that Red Stripe responded and attempted to insert themselves into the debate around the ad was incredibly smart in my opinion.  See below.

VW had a backup ad created for the Superbowl, but decided to run the 'Get Happy' ad after the teaser spot had significant response on YouTube (see the behind the scenes article).  I'm wondering if this ad below isn't the backup spot.  Personally I prefer this to 'Get Happy.'

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sodastream Ad Banned From Superbowl

A few weeks back I featured a Sodastream ad that was banned in the UK because 'denigrated the bottled drinks market.'  Ridiculous, but to be fair the advertising standards in the UK are far different than the US.  Essentially, denigrating or drawing unfavorable comparisons to your direct competitors is not allowed.  I noted that Sodastream would be running a similar spot during the upcoming Superbowl.   The Superbowl spot was created by former CP+B principal, Alex Bogusky and ridicules both Coke & Pepsi for their harmful effects on the environment.  Now word has come down that Superbowl broadcaster CBS, having screened the Sodastream Superbowl ad, have decided to ban it.  According to Forbes 'CBS banned SodaStream’s Super Bowl spot because, apparently, it was too much of a direct hit to two of its biggest sponsors, Coke and Pepsi.'

You can see the banned spot below.  Please watch it and share it.  Seriously.  I usually refrain from expressing too many of my personal opinions, but I find the ban absolutely outrageous.  Past Superbowl spots could have been deemed offensive to any number of people (GoDaddy anyone?).  Now that a spot offends two of the biggest advertisers in CBS's stable, the advertising standards people step in.  Effective creative communication is one of the great equalizers in marketing.  Coca-Cola & Pepsi are big boys, with big budgets and access some of the best agencies/creative talent in the world.  Sodastream should be allowed to compete freely with Coke and Pepsi in the marketplace of ideas in order to persuade customers to choose their products.  It's just that simple.

On the plus side, Sodastream just saved itself a significant percentage of their overall marketing spend (the going rate for a Superbowl spot this year is nearly $4 million for 30 seconds).  I expect they'll garner a huge amount of PR/buzz due to the ban, as was the case when the UK commercial was banned.

Dodge Dart Registry

I was blown away when I first saw this idea for the new Dodge Dart.  Developed by W+K, the Dodge Dart Registry works like a normal gift registry, but for purchasing a car.  The Dart is targeted at a younger audience who typically can't necessarily afford a car.  The potential buyer picks out the features they want, then invites their friends and family to sponsor parts of the car as gifts.  Once they reach the fundraising goal, they are the proud owner of a brand new Dart.  As Dodge says, it's an entirely new way to buy a car.  Check out the intro video below.

The reason I love this idea so much is that it's grounded in consumer truth and presents a new twist on existing consumer behaviour.  In hindsight, this idea is almost inevitable. The rise of crowd funding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo has been relentless, so it was only a matter of time before that funding mechanism spilled over into the main stream for big-ticket items.  Additionally, the idea of a gift registry has been around for years.  More recently, the idea of contributing cash/funding to a wedding registry to make one large purchase (such as a honeymoon) has become commonplace.  Combine all of these factors with the insight that the target audience often needs help to finance a new car purchase and you can see how it all comes together beautifully.  Have a look around on

Durex - SOS Condoms

Some of you may remember the Cannes winning VIP Fridge Magnet service for Red Tomato Pizza in Dubai from last spring (see case study here).  Now Durex, along with their agency, Buzzman, have launched an interesting branded service in Dubai.  Based off the insight that you never have a condom when you need one, Durex has launched a delivery service that will bring you a condom, wherever you may be, within an hour.  It's a nice take on branded utility for a mobile app and is definitely a new twist on location based technology.  Again, good to see mobile apps that actually give something back to the user (and in this case also promotes safe sex)   Check out the overview video below.

The campaign/app has been successful enough in Dubai that Buzzman and Durex are running a competition to decide the next city that will get the SOS service, so feel free to head over to SOS Condoms to vote for your city.

hat tip: Adverblog

McDonald's - Track My Maccas

The recent Tesco Horse Meat scandal has put issues of supply train integrity and brand transparency front and center.  It's been interesting watch McDonald's (across various regions) dedicate significant time and effort to behave in a more transparent manner.  The McDonald's - Your Questions campaign was featured on this blog a few months ago, but even that effort pales in comparison to the recently launched 'Track My Maccas' campaign.  Track My Maccas is an app that provides McDonald's customers with a vast amount of information about where the various parts of their McDonald's meal were sourced.  As the good folks over at Contagious describe:

Once downloaded onto a smartphone, the TrackMyMaccas app uses GPS and image recognition, combined with date and time information, to find out where and when a particular McDonald's menu item has been purchased. It then overlays that information with data from McDonald's' supply chain in real time. Finally, it serves up an immersive and entertaining story about where the food has come from.
Using augmented reality, the app then transforms the restaurant table into a farmyard, showing where the beef was sourced, or the ocean, if the main meal was a fish fillet. The story unfolds differently depending on exactly where diners are in Australia.
People can also meet the suppliers, for instance, farmers, fishers, bakers of burger buns, etc, and find out how long they have been working with McDonald's.

The app, developed by DDB Australia, is a fairly mind-blowing effort from both a logistical and a technical perspective.  I also appreciate the effort taken to make the resulting information/data both interesting and entertaining, rather than simply presenting it in a dry, tabular way.  Check out the video below that shows off the Track My Maccas app.
hat tip: Contagious

Hessian - A Brand In Search Of A Product

Here's a really fascinating idea from identity and product designer, Ben Pieratt.  He begins with the Walter Landor quote 'Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.'  Typically a brand is inextricably intertwined with an actual product.  Even if the portfolio has expanded far beyond the original product, the brand DNA is often anchored in that original product (eg. Nike).  In many cases there's reference to some sort of origin story for the brand or it's component elements (eg. the Nike swoosh).

Pieratt's fascinating idea is the complete opposite of the typical brand story.  He's created a complete brand identity, Hessian, that's essentially a tabula rasa for whatever company is willing to purchase the brand identity and associated assets.  In short, he is selling the brand completely independently of any product.  He's created what could be a compelling brand for any number of products, be it a store, an apparel line, a restaurant, a service, etc.  As he explains:

The core thought with is that, as designers, we naturally see solutions to problems/opportunities we can’t help but notice in the market. We have concepts that we know are valid and worthwhile, and not only that but we instinctually know how they should be launched, how they should look, how they should work, and who their target audience should be.

HOWEVER, as anyone who has tried building something knows, the actual production and launch of a great idea is incredibly difficult. Not only that, but, as Svpply taught me, launching, leading, growing and managing a product is an entirely different skill set than most designers have or want to have or should be expected to have.

Inversely, there are oceans of MBAs, Managers and Entrepreneurs out there who are passionate and talented at the actual building and leading of companies, but may not actually be great at identifying worthwhile problem/solutions in the market.

It's a genius idea and I'm anxious to see how it progresses. Check out more at

hat tip: Kottke

Target - Tweet To Runway Show

I'm pretty much a sucker for real(ish)-time video response campaigns.  Old Spice pioneered the format, but other brands have taken up the mantle in new and interesting ways.  The latest Twitter --> Video response campaign comes from US retailer Target.  The Everyday Collection campaign, conceived and developed by mono, is an unlikely fusion of high style with food and various household items like kitchen rolls, detergent and diapers.  The idea was to create a fashion show with a couple twists.  Rather than show off high-fashion, the models were showing off everyday items from Target.  Furthermore, the featured objects were chosen based off tweets mentioning said objects, often in humorous or otherwise quirky ways.  Basically taking the banal and turning it into something more.

In total, more than 150 videos were created, all of which were featured on the Target YouTube channel as well as the Every Day Show site.  Each video shows the original Tweet and those Twitter users featured were given Target gift cards.  In general the response video is a nice mechanic to create a personalized digital artifact for a select group of people.  It also has the benefit of ensuring that the people featured will then spread the artifact (and campaign) among their own social network.

Check out the highlight video below, some of the videos are quite amusing, but to be honest most don't really land well.  It just goes to show that execution is everything.  What sounds hilarious when read on Twitter becomes something completely different when delivered by a model.  Regardless, it's a nice effort from Target and their agency, it's just tough to top some of the campaigns that preceded this one.

Southern Comfort - Comfortable Weather Guy

The 'Whatever's Comfortable' spot developed by Wieden + Kennedy for Southern Comfort was one my favorite ads of 2012.  IMHO, everything about the advert was pretty much perfect, absolutely nailing the brand tagline of 'Whatever's Comfortable' in a delightful way.  Given the popularity of the spot, it's no surprise that the brand is extending the duties of the Comfort man character.  The Comfortable Weather Guy site features the eponymous character against a backdrop of whatever the weather is in your particular city.  You can also see Comfort man deliver the weather (against an appropriate backdrop of course) anywhere else in the world.  It looks like there are about sixteen different videos that are matched up to the particular weather at any given time. Check out the original spot below as well as the different weather videos or just head over to the website and have a play around yourself.  Silly?  Yes.  Pointless?  Somewhat.  Entertaining?  Most definitely.

A Few Things I Like But Don't Have Time To Write UP - Microsoft, Call Of Duty, SPIES Travels

Microsoft Internet Explorer - Child Of The 90s
Check out the video for the new Internet Explorer that resonates nicely with the target audience (eg. people my age) by tapping into nostalgia for the 90s.  It's a nice way to encourage people to give Explorer another try.  As they say in the ad 'You grew up. So did we. Reconnect with the new Internet Explorer.'

Call Of Duty 2: The Replacer
I love this spot because it's so different from most videogame launch ads.  The Replacer, created by 72andsunny, is a nice take on the idea that there are always things getting in the way of playing a new videogame.  Sort of reminiscent (on a smaller scale) of the NAB Stand-Ins campaign from a new months back.

SPIES Travels
Here's a fun little experiment from Danish travel company SPIES travels and their agency, Robert/Boisen & like-minded.  To encourage travelers to book a vacation in warm climes, they went to some extremes to show much energy you get from a sun filled holiday.