Friday, July 31, 2009

Award for Campaign that celebrates Honda staff returning to their jobs

Honda's upbeat press ads to celebrate staff's return to work as its Swindon factory re-opened has won an award for best national newspaper campaign of last month.

The campaign featured poems in praise of workers at the plant, which closed for four months earlier this year because of the slump in car sales, against a background of images evoking factory life such as bacon, a cup of tea and an iron.

All five ads in the campaign, by agency Wieden & Kennedy London, have been nominated for the national ad of the year of awards to be held in January.

Darren Bailes, the creative director at ad agency VCCP and an awards judge, said the Honda campaign effectively operated as "news in the form of advertising".

The temporary closure of Honda's factory saw 1,300 workers take voluntary redundancy and the remaining 3,400 agree a 3% pay cut for 10 months. Employees said they were pleased to return to work at the plant.

"The reopening could have been swept under the carpet all too easily, the shutdown being seen as a real blow to the pride of the brand," said Bailes. "This recession is something we are all in together, the workers and the manufacturers are all in the same boat."

From Media Guardian

Sam Winston

Take the whole text of Romeo & Juliet, separate out every word said in passion into one pile, everything said in rage in another, and then a final group that wasn’t passion or rage. Finally arrange them lovingly in three collages, and what do you have? The latest piece of mastery from Sam Winston.

From It's Nice That

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Who said Amy Winehouse was no oil painting?

The troubled singer has been 'painted' as a lady in French artist Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres' Princess Albert de Broglie.

The picture was one of a selection of celebrity portraits composed by readers of website Worth1000 in an online art contest.

Joining Amy on canvas was actress Jennifer Aniston, who was recreated as Jacques-Louis David's 1780 oil painting Young Woman With A Turban. Her ex-husband Brad Pitt and his wife Angelina Jolie also got the Old Master treatment, together with Tom Cruise, Snoop Dog and Nicole Kidman.

Monday, July 20, 2009

One day in type

What would your day be without type? Dima Boulad, a Paris-based multimedia designer, documented every encounter with a typographic element in the course of one day.

Apple hands Palm a problem and gets slapped by Microsoft

Great article from today's MediaGuardian

It's a dog-eat-dog world in the technology jungle. For the best part of two years, Apple's iPhone has had the top end of the smartphone market to itself. But then along came the Palm Pre, which has had a very favourable reception from the geek crowd, and is a much more polished product than early versions of the Android (aka Google) phones. Personally I thought it unlikely that the Pre would seriously challenge the Apple product, but it seems that Steve Jobs & Co are taking no chances.

How do we know this? Well, the Palm phone had an intriguing feature: it could sync (techspeak for synchronise) with Apple's iTunes software, thereby enabling Pre owners to take their music with them, just as iPhone owners can. Quite how this was possible is an interesting question. Was it a happy accident that the Pre could exploit a loophole in the iTunes system? Or was it a clever wheeze dreamed up by Palm engineers? Either way, Apple was not amused.

So last week Apple released an update to iTunes that closed the loophole and effectively screwed Palm, whose share price immediately declined. How did Apple describe its tactic? Merely by saying that the upgrade "addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices", which upon translation reads "Yay dudes! You're stuffed."

Meanwhile, in another part of the jungle, Apple itself was getting grief from Microsoft. Of course, with only 7.6% of the PC market, Mr Jobs's outfit is a flea compared to the Redmond-based giant. But this particular flea has infuriated the elephant over the past two years with its "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads, which went viral and successfully implanted in the public mind the idea that Macs were chic and efficient whereas PCs were worthy but dull, and distinctly uncool. It took Microsoft a while to find out how to hit back: an advertising series with the message that consumers were paying a pretty steep premium for Apple coolness. In other words, while Macs might be OK for trendy folks with lots of money to fritter away on fashionable kit, real people on a budget would always find Windows-based machines a better buy.

Last week, Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer, claimed that this campaign has rattled Apple. "All of our research shows that our 'I'm a PC' ads, [which] talk dramatically about the price of Macintoshes, work quite effectively," he said. "We've gained market share quite effectively against Apple over the past six to nine months."

Well, he would say that, wouldn't he? But his colleague Kevin Turner reported that "two weeks ago we got a call from the Apple legal department saying, 'Hey, you need to stop running those ads, we lowered our prices.' They took like $100 off or something. It was the greatest single phone call that I've ever taken in business." So, Turner went on, "we're just going to keep running them and running them and running them."

Microsoft's next offensive suggests that the company still has a thing or two to learn about strategy, though. It announced that it's planning to attack on another front - by opening Microsoft retail stores next to Apple stores.

This looks like a bold move. After all, Apple has managed to transform tech retailing by creating stores that customers appear to enjoy visiting (and which are still thronged, despite the recession). What could be better than to prove that the elephant can go head-to-head with the flea on the high street? And to show that it's serious, Microsoft has recruited a senior Wal-Mart executive to lead its assault on the world's shopping malls.

The prospect of Microsoft and Apple stores side by side is rich in comic possibilities. For one thing, what will the Microsoft store sell? It's a software company: its hardware range consists of the Xbox games console, some keyboards and mice, and the Zune music player - which, compared with the iPod, looks like something produced by the Soviet Union in its heyday. But a retail store needs exciting hardware to attract people in off the street and create a buzz.

Stand by, then, for a new range of viral ads from Apple. A Tale of Two Stores, perhaps. One establishment is crowded with teenagers browsing Facebook and trying to get off with one another, watched by benevolently smiling, T-shirted geeks. The other is a deserted cavern, rather like one of those Sony outlets, in which dispirited chaps in ties try to interest passing tramps in the new features of Office 2009. YouTube here we come!

By John Naughton

Friday, July 17, 2009

Credit Crunch Spotlights Fast Food Brands

The 12th annual Top 500 Superbrands survey, which identifies the UK’s strongest consumer brands by polling the British public, launches today and reaffirms the success of the fast food chains and multiple supermarkets in the economic downturn.

Some of the brands showing the strongest year-on-year improvement in the survey include McDonald’s, which rises 227 places, Burger King, up 189, KFC rising by 164 places and Domino’s Pizza, which moves up the table by 144 places. The highest new entry into this year’s list was Krispy Kreme, further indicating the nation’s demand for relatively low cost treats as the downturn bites.

Recovering from last year’s plummet in the survey are the supermarkets. The ‘Big-Four’ make up for the ground they lost with ASDA leading the way with an impressive increase of 213 places to sit in 226th place. Tesco is the next biggest supermarket riser, gaining 185 places to reach position 116, whilst Waitrose climbs 60 places to fall just three places short of Tesco at 119 – only Sainsbury’s breaks into the top 100, placed at 92. A threat might come in the future from Morrisons and The Co-operative both of whom enter the top 500 for the first time. As well as the supermarkets winning favour, traditional high street retailers are also regaining ground, with brands such as HMV jumping 118 places, B&Q up 168, Boots climbing 117 and Argos storming up the rankings by 230 places - making it the eighth biggest riser overall in the top 500.

With supermarkets increasingly gaining share of the overall fashion market, the specialist ‘Clothing and Footwear’ category has struggled with only two of the 23 brands in this sector, namely DKNY and Paul Smith, improving their positions from last year. That said, fashion retailers Karen Millen (480), Pringle (418), Ben Sherman (327) and Hush Puppies (258) all entered the top 500 for the first time.

In the top 10, Microsoft® regains its number one position, which it lost last year to internet giant, Google. Google itself slips two places to third, whilst four other brands keep their top 10 placing. These include the embattled BBC and British Airways, as well as Mercedes-Benz. New entries to the top 10 in 2009/10 include LEGO® and Cola-Cola, both re-entering after a one year absence. Rolex and Apple also join the top ten alongside this year’s surprise entry Encyclopædia Britannica, which was 29th last year.

Stephen Cheliotis, Chief Executive of The Centre for Brand Analysis, which administered the research on behalf of Superbrands UK, said: “This year’s survey reaffirms some of the downturn’s winners and losers, with the fast food chains and supermarkets doing particularly well. The results, as always, return some surprises with this year’s notable high achiever being Encyclopædia Britannica. Bearing in mind that thousands of brands are initially considered, actually making the top 500 itself is an achievement: the competition amongst brands for consumer attention and share of wallet is intense and growing fiercer.”

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Evian’s Dancing Babies Ad Makes a Splash

That’s at least part of the thinking behind Evian’s new advertising campaign, which has taken off on YouTube, thanks to a troupe of infants breakdancing and roller-skating across the screen. The campaign, called “Live Young,” broke last week and has received more than 2.8 million views on YouTube in the U.S., and another 2.3 million internationally.

Babies breakdance and roller-skate with some CGI assistance in this innovative new campaign.

This isn’t the first time Evian has used babies to get the point across. In 1998, it ran a campaign featuring babies doing a synchronized-swimming routine.

Evian’s ad is getting plenty of adoring responses, mixed with the occasional “creepy” and “Soooooo fake.” What do you think of it?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Great Branding / Packaging: Cider

After launch, Cider immediately took second and fourth place on the Swedish cider sales list, and has been top five ever since.

Design group, Amore has won numerous awards for the design of Cider, and with zero other marketing efforts, Cider has achieved sales and distribution in Norway, Italy and Germany.

Amazing doodles

10 Golden Rules for Freelancers

Thanks to Mark Ramshaw for this excellent article:

Mark interviewed leading freelancers from the fields of 3D illustration, animation, visual effects, games and architectural visualisation to uncover their strategies for success. These were his key findings...

1. Test the market first
Make sure there is interest in your work before you begin. Freelancing part-time first will also enable you to experiment with standard assets and settings, optimizing them for quick, high-quality renders. And make sure you invest in a back-up computer!

2. Use online networking tools
While establishing a reputation, keep yourself in the public eye by maintaining an up-to-date presence on your own website, online communities such as CGSociety and, networking sites like LinkedIn and, if appropriate, IMDb.

3. Tap your network for leads
A network of fellow freelancers is one of your best resources for finding clients - and those that you do will be trustworthy. No one wants to recommend a bad client; and clients won't want to let down the freelancer who made the recommendation.

4. Meet in person where possible
Your work may be digital, but when contacting new clients, try to arrange a face-to-face meeting. This enables you to sell yourself and your services most effectively. Mail and email shots are almost useless unless you know exactly who to contact.

5. Research the client in detail
Find out the style the client likes to see work done in by researching their past projects. These can also help you to assess the level of quality they seek. A brief exchange of phone calls or emails will help you get a feel for the clients as people.

6. Always confirm the deadline!
Find out the deadline before you accept the work, particularly if you work in print or broadcast advertising. Advertising agencies are notorious for spending months planning a campaign, then leaving the illustration itself until the final week.

7. Calculate a minimum hourly rate
A blunt but effective formula for working out your hourly rate is to take what you think you should be getting as a yearly salary and dividing by a thousand. Tools like AllNetic Working Time Tracker ( help keep track of little jobs.

8. Refine the fee through discussion
Once you have calculated your minimum rate, assess whether a higher fee is reasonable. Talk to friends and trusted colleagues about salaries. Should a client ask you to reduce your rate, look for ways to offer services that cost you less time instead.

9. Always use a contract
Freelancers are in a relatively strong position when it comes to copyright: without a contract, the default position is that they own the work they produce, not the client. However, standard terms and conditions ensure there is no uncertainty about the job.

10. Use the contract to ensure prompt payment
Whether you use your own contract or the client's, use the wording to your advantage by linking transfer of work or intellectual property ownership to payments. Such clauses provide a simple, effective incentive for the client to pay promptly.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A new tool that automatically checks the spelling errors on your website is a handy new tool that automatically checks the spelling errors on your website. Check yours now!