Thursday, September 30, 2010


AdFreak posted this creepy-as-hell PSA intended to combat child obesity in Australia:

I am just as concerned as any parent about the poor eating habits so many people are teaching to their kids. But comparing feeding them junk food to injecting them with... well... junk? It's offensive on so many levels.

He'll soon start mugging people to support his Happy Meal habit.

First of all, the occasional fast food burger is relatively harmless, and does indeed contain some nutrition. Second, heroin addiction is way too serious a social issue to be treated so lightly. Third, as I keep saying, shock and shame advertising is rarely effective in social marketing.

If you're going to call people bad parents for doing something completely ordinary, you are really unlikely to reach anyone who really needs the message. There are better ways to inspire change.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Joannie's too curvy for London Fog

I really loves me some photoshop fail, but the one posted today by Sociological Images really takes the cake... or rather "cheesecake":

That's Christina Hendricks of Mad Men, but you can be forgiven for not recognizing her, because — both in reality and on TV — she looks like this:

That's right! Not even the "Sexiest Woman Alive" (according to Esquire) has a good enough body, according to some Art Director and/or client who is missing out on the renaissance of curviness. (Of which Ms. Hendricks is a reluctant champion.)

With all the PR problems advertisers are having lately with photo manipulation of women's bodies, it's ironic that they were so obsessed with "improving" on nature that they ended up taking away the very attributes that made their expensive spokesmodel — in many people's opinion, the Marilyn of the Now — so very talked about.

And yes, Christina Hendricks is first and foremost a great actor. But curves still rock.

Young Illinois voters rock out with their...

With municipal elections looming in Ontario, politics are top-of-mind around here. But the most important election issue in an democracy is that people simply exercise their right to vote.

Make The Logo Bigger posted this somewhat awkward video by Equality Illinois, The Chicago Reader, Rock the Vote and Roosevelt University that tries to umm... arouse the democratic spirit among university students:

Yay democracy! Although, this video gives me the impression that the franchise is limited to the attractive and physically fit. Oh well. As long as they don't leave their chads dangling...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I'm lovin' it

I'm not a big fan of McDonald's as food (except for the Egg McMuffin, the best breakfast ever) or as a marketing machine aimed at kids. But this new Australian ad from DDB Sydney, aimed at men, does a pretty good job of playing into the ironic manliness that is coming back into vogue:

(Link via Make The Logo Bigger)

Canadian readers are already familiar with this campaign, though. It was Harvey's "Meat.Fire.Good." and "Long Live the Grill" campaigns from the mid 2000s.

Nonetheless, I'm always up for a good laugh at myself.

Monday, September 27, 2010

life.turns. into something awesome

life.turns. is a project started for the 2010 Edinburgh Arts Festival by

It incorporates 1205 photographs taken in 21 countries over 40 days, as one film.

Models were shot in a variety of "walking" poses, then the images were stitched together to create a continuous movement.

It's a digital version of the zoetrope, a Victorian-age machine that produced animation by rapidly cycling still images. With the invention of photography, Eadward Muybridge took the next step towards motion pictures with his rapid-fire photo montages. (Link contains lots of nudity - Muybridge was a bit of a pig.)

So, here's the digital zoetrope:

life.turns. from Blipfoto on Vimeo.

Music is "Turn" by Travis.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Only the parents will identify with these...

And although some may find them creepy, I think they're cool. My Ladman often seems to have multiple grabbing appendages...

The copy reads "For little monsters with big imaginations."

Campaign by BBH Singapore. Via I Believe in Advertising.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

So much sexism, so little time

Yesterday, I stumbled upon the latest attempt to document the worldwide reality of women treated as sex objects in advertising.

It's a Flickr photostream by a user called woman_objectofdesire, and it's called "Sex Sells (ad sexism photoblog)".

It isn't original by far, but what amazes me is this photoblogger's energy. Between September 14 and today, woman_objectofdesire has posted 620 images. (Not to mention the other photostreams on the site!) They range from well-known PeTA and American Apparel smut to retro ads from "men's magazines", movie stills, and even book and album covers. (That Roxy Music album, IMHO, is one of their best!)

I even found an ad that provided a stereotype of Canadian men I wasn't previously aware of:

A worthwhile archive for anyone looking to research the topic of women's sexuality as ann advertising obsession. It's particularly interesting because it has so many obscure European and Asian examples I had never seen before. I just wish it were more focussed in its scope, sticking to the topic of ads. (Update: This linked set is much better.) There should be enough content in that alone to keep this blogger busy for many years to come!

Friday, September 24, 2010


My friend Marc from Osocio today posted this ad in Dutch-language marketing blog, Mol/blog.

Besides being crude, this ad takes an odd approach: insult. Sure, it's flipping the bird at its competitors' ripoffs of the "Five Fingers" fad, but can't any customer viewing this feel that the brand has a little too much hubris?

Plus, of course, whether it's the music industry or Barbies or shoes, consumers are sick of hearing about companies' intellectual property woes.

It's not a big deal, but I also think this is a bad case of corporate arrogance spilling into the mainstream media in a threatening manner, and that's not a good trend.

What's next, Crocs that bite back? Nikes that just do YOU?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sesame Street loses its innocence

AP reports that a musical segment guest starring Katy Perry will not be shown on TV due to excessive cleavage:

AP: "Sesame Street said in a statement Thursday that in light of the “feedback we’ve received” after the bit was aired on YouTube, they won’t include it on the show."

Personally, I'm on the side of this comment on YouTube, from bcdflash:

"I don't get it! it's cute. the kids wouldn't see it as anything other than a fun song to hop around to, and dance 'til they're tired. Katy has boobs, mommy has boobs and even school teachers have boobs. Do you really think this is something shocking?? What sad and pathetic people won't complain about for attention."

If showing that much is bad for preschoolers, what must the complainers think about taking their toddlers to the beach? To the art gallery? Or anywhere where a woman might be *gasp* publicly breastfeeding?

Sure, the song is kind of lame. But the outfit is no more scandalous that what most under-30 women wear in their daily lives. By making a scene about "naughty" body parts, these parents will make their kids all the more interested — and it's that combination of shame and titillation, IMHO, that really leads to lost innocence.

It's time for America to overcome its Mammophobia. You are embarrassing us all.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vote for America's Worst Ads

Today, Consumerist announced its finalist nominees for "Worst Ad in America", as chosen by its readers.

The online ballot has most of the campaigns linked, but I'll embed the 2010 contestants here for ABSOLUTE WORST AD IN AMERICA:

Other categories and finalists are listed below. (Ignore the radio buttons, it was a C&P.)






They are indeed bad ads, but I was hoping more of them would be epic trainwreck bad. I guess the vox populi nature of nomination and voting would automatically favour well-known crappy national campaigns than hilariously awkward (but obscure) local ones. Oh well...

Go to Consumerist to view and vote before 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday, 9/28/2010.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Let's ban the V-word from advertising

I mean "viral". It's tiresome, it's jargony, and it's over-promising.

According to YouTube, people are watching 2 billion videos a day on there and upload 24 hours of video every minute. That's a lot of competition. And yet agencies continue to promise clients a "viral campaign" as if it were just another media buy.

It used to be easier. In the early days, just about anything that was funny, shocking or moving was considered shareworthy. Remember Bride Has Massive Hair Wig Out?

That thing was great because it successfully recreated the schadenfreude viewers feel when they watch someone else's trainwreck. And many thought it was real, because it had no branding whatsoever. Instead, it was a brilliant strategy of making content that was newsworthy in itself, then reaping the earned media rewards once the jig was up.

But that golden age has passed. Now, ad agencies are trying to struggle with clients who don't have that kind of patience. They want their online videos to turn into commercials right away.

As an example, let me give you this one from The Viral Factory. It's cute, it's catchy, and it's kind of flawed. It doesn't know when it is supposed to be "reality" and when it's supposed to be staged. Almost from the start, the two pro dancers behind the little girl give the choreography away by anticipating her moves. It's just branded entertainment.

The same agency put out this very different, but highly amusing video playing on another of advertising's staples: boobs. It's bizarre, it's disturbing, and it's completely unique. But still a commercial.

The kid one has had over three and a half million views so far. Because people are suckers for kids, and Samsung really pumped budget into it. But is it "viral"? It has certainly spread electronically, as per the definition, but in the ancient days of the Internet, really good "virals" were unintentional successes. They spread because they accidentally spawned memes that were too interesting to ignore — often at the expense of their subject. An early (and cruel) example was the Star Wars kid. A recent one is Double Rainbow.

These ideas "went viral" not because of a marketing strategy, but simply because they had a special something that nobody can really plan. So agency people instead fall back on the ancient stables of babies and boobs to get attention and notoriety.

Not that these aren't skillfully done, mind you. But when the content comes out of a strategy, a professional production, and deliberate seeding to influential bloggers, I feel like we've got to call an ad an ad — no matter how stealthy or outrageous — and leave "virals" to the amateurs.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Yesterday, people across Canada participated in the Terry Fox Run. If you're not from Canada, I'd like to tell you a bit about Terry, because he's my favourite national hero.

Terry Fox was just a teenager when cancer—osteosarcoma, specifically—took one of his legs. A devoted athlete, Terry became a wheelchair basketball star and once he was fitted with an artificial leg, he resumed distance running.

Still just in his early 20s, Terry became increasingly angry about how little money was being spent on cancer research. It's amazing to think about that today, when cancer fundraising has reached epic proportions. But 30 years ago, one young man decided to make a huge difference.

He planned and initiated a run across Canada. There was little fanfare. He dipped his leg in the Atlantic ocean near St. John's, Newfoundland, and started running. His only support was his brother and his buddy Doug, who followed him in their van. His original goal was just to raise one million dollars for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Terry ran through bad weather and past rude motorists in Quebec, who told him to get off the road. (A couple of BC boys, Terry and his brother never even considered a need for French advance PR.) But by the time he reached Ontario, Terry had become a popular phenomenon. He was given a police escort to protect him from growing crowds of onlookers and distracted drivers, and made his way to Ottawa where he was welcomed by Prime Minister Trudeau and the Governor General. Then he kept going.

It occurred to me this morning that a good number of my agency colleagues had not even been born in 1980, when Terry Fox was on the road. But I was 10, and my family had to drive past the Marathon of Hope along the Trans-Canada Highway on our way to our cottage in Sault Ste. Marie. I remember lots of traffic, police cars with their lights on, and a lot of commotion. I think I remember seeing Terry, but I have seen news footage of him so many times, it could be that which is burned into my brain. But at least I had a brush with history.

And history it would soon be. Terry only made it as far as Thunder Bay. Well, perhaps "only" is an understatement, since he had run 5,373 kilometres on his artificial leg! But his cancer, always lurking, had spread to his lungs. He had to call off the run. He died the next year.

But he started something huge. It wasn't the tragedy that got people's attention, it was his tenacity. Terry saw something wrong with the world, and took it on with nothing more than guts and ambition. In a world of traditional media, he earned attention and money for his cause the hard way, by just dragging himself out onto that highway every day until his body couldn't take it anymore.

Thirty years later, the Terry Fox Run is the world's largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research. Over half a billion dollars has been raised in his name for cancer research.

So as you sit in front of your computer today, and engage in your Facebook, Twitter and Blogular slacktivism just like I do, take a minute to ask yourself: what you would really be willing to do to save the world?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ad Hotties vs. being naughty

Perhaps I got my gitch in a twist yesterday, but when I read about a new user-generated site called "" on Adrants, my first thought was that it was bad news for women in my industry.

Of course, I shared these thoughts, and got tweeted back by both Steve from 'rants and the @adhotties, basically telling me I was too uptight. Maybe I am.

It's ironic, because around my agency I've gotten a reputation for blogging a lot about sex and bodies and women's issues — which makes some people uncomfortable. But truth be told, as much as I am frank and liberated when it comes to blogging sexual or sexualized issues in ads, I try to keep it strictly (although creatively) professional. When it comes to my real life colleagues, I try to see them in a strictly professional way, too.

We work in a sexually-charged industry. And while it is nothing like Mad Men, no workplace will ever be able to escape the sexual dynamic. People flirt, make inappropriate jokes, share questionable content, and generally kid around. But if you observe these shenanigans, you will see that it is a fairly gender-equal phenomenon. In many cases, the humour is there to dispel the awkwardness.

Despite all the equal opportunity goofing around, I believe that a "hotties" site like this is more threatening to the status of women in advertising than it is to men. Sure, that's a double standard. We should know, because we created it.

It wasn't that long ago when naughty talk at work was much more devious. Older men would make thinly-veiled sexual comments to (often younger) women and revel in their discomfort. Those were the days when women were "put in their place" by a constant barrage of "compliments" and "jokes" that reminded them they were pretty faces first, and colleagues second. I was reminded by a longtime industry (female) friend that those days are closer behind us than we'd like to think.

So let me tell you something about myself: I write about sex in advertising, I am wearing an "I ♥ Boobies" cause bracelet (for a breast cancer charity), and I am a heterosexual man who appreciates female beauty. I am also a staunch supporter of women's rights and equality in the workplace, and I try to judge every professional colleague on what they do, not what they look like. I don't like things that threaten to tear the delicate fabric that separates the two worlds.

So look, folks. I get that is a joke. And I really enjoy the fact that it has quickly turned into an ironic sausage party of goofy-looking guys posting their pics for laughs.

But I still don't like this. Those of you outside the industry may enjoy the sweet irony of ad people exploiting themselves and their own, but to me it crosses the line. Present company excepted, we really are a remarkably good-looking industry because we are a charisma-driven one. But deciding if people who could be colleagues are "hot or not"? Let's just remember that Mad Men is historical fiction.

And let's remind ourselves to keep it that way.

Fair enough :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The SoCOAL Network

Coal power sucks. Have you ever really looked at an urban photograph from 100+ years ago? Those black clouds aren't rain.

And yet coal — an industrial era technology — continues to be a major source of energy around the world. The US leads the dirty charge, with 45% of its electricity coming from coal.

While regulators have a role to play, so do consumers. And that's why Greenpeace has decided to use the power of social media to try to shame Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg into using sustainable energy to power his network.

According to Greenpeace's Executive Director, Kumi Naidoo:

A company such as Facebook, which now has 500 million users world-wide, can have both a direct and indirect effect on this reality. Direct because the company can reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions by phasing coal out of its electricity use. Indirect in that a true display of leadership will set a high bar for the rest of the industry and help catalyze a clean energy transformation.

Here's the vid:

Pretty amusing stuff. And timely, given that "The Social Network" is about to premiere. Can it work? That's up to us...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Want to run a tasteless ad? It's your funeral.

This is sort of a sequel from yesterday's post, as I'm still on a rant about how cynical creatives can be when it comes to creating newsworthy (and shareworthy) ads.

This one showed up on Ads of the World yesterday, from Mccann-Erickson in Tel Aviv:

The copy reads:"15% of woman who suffer from anorexia will die this year" and it's an ad for Beitech, a non profit organization for woman with eating disorders.

Visual humour has become a standard way of reaching international audiences, but is this really appropriate? It seems that an industry that is often blamed for aggravating or even causing this often fatal mental illness should be a little more respectful of its victims.

But hey, the creative team of Igal, Ifat and Asaf are just trying to make their mark, right? More shame, in my opinion, should go to the client for approving it.

Plus, as someone who has been a pallbearer before, I should point out that even an empty casket would be really frigging heavy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How not to catch a viral (from sex in advertising)

I seem to be getting a bit of a reputation for looking at the industry's seamier side, so I'll try to keep this tasteful. It's about what suckers we all are.

Ever heard of Soft Paris? Of course you haven't. But don't click the link because it's a French sex shop.

I hadn't heard of them either until I read my "news" (ie, social media feeds) over coffee early this morning.

Ads of the World, you see, is a favourite hangout for Creatives like me. Getting your ad on there is a virtual guarantee of coverage in ad blogs — and possibly even MSM coverage — which guarantees thousands of clicks.

And sure enough, first Copyranter, then Adrants, picked up the story. AdFreak can't be far behind. And believe me, you will be hearing about this on mainstream online news in a day or two.

What's the big deal? It's just sex. (And it's NSFW in much of North America.)

[Video baleeted by YouTube - but still on Ads of the World]

And yet people lap it up like a bowl of strawberries. Why? Because we're chumps. Big dumb men (and the women who put up with them).

But it doesn't matter how self-aware we are. Ad people are pervs. Believe me. I've been doing this for 20 years, and I actually get called "politically correct" on occasion by even cruder colleagues.

So I have a challenge for you, dear readers: Do NOT pass this post on. Do not talk about it, and certainly do not show it to your friends when the boss isn't looking. Forget the name "Soft Paris" and the mental images it brings up. In fact, forget you ever read this blog. And whatever you do, do not look up what the Italian word for "fig" means in common slang usage.

And don't comment either! You'll just draw attention to this smut.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Coke adds life?

There's a bit of a debate going on Osocio's comments thread about this post regarding Kia Canada's new "Corporate Social Responsibility" campaign. Some readers are pointing out (and not without justification) that a car campaign dressed up as goodwill has no place on a social marketing blog.

Ironically, whenever I read the comments, I am confronted with this banner ad just below:

On surface, ColaLife is  an interesting concept:

We are working to get Coca-Cola to open up their distribution channels in developing countries to carry 'social products', such as oral rehydration salts to save children's lives. You can by a Coca-Cola virtually anywhere but one in five children die before their fifth birthday. This moratlity rate has not changed significantly over the last three decades which indicates that we need to look for new options like ColaLife.

The problem is, they haven't done anything yet. But here's how it works:

And, while ColaLife associates itself with Coca-Cola, it's actually lobbying Coke to sign on to this project, open up their distribution channels, and provide seed funding. And they're looking to public fundraising for sustainability.

It's a brilliant idea, piggybacking on one of the most robust distribution systems in the world to get medical supplies to the far corners of the third world with an elegantly simple solution:

They're driven. They're very organized. But I wonder just how much Coke is going to want to take them along for the ride.

If you'd like to help these social entrepreneurs, you can donate online.

Guest Post: The Return from Burundi

As regular readers are well aware, I have dedicated the past few Mondays to giving updates about the adventures of our resident Videographer, Christopher Redmond, as he teaches film and media at the Burundi Film Center.

Well, Christopher's back now. And as we plunge him into a busy fall of video and TV projects, I asked Christopher to give us a wrap of his work teaching Burundian aspiring filmmakers and documentarians how to tell their stories to the world through video.

Here it is:

I’m back on Canadian soil, but the rush of Africa is still coursing through my veins. I’ve tried to capture the highlights of what happened on my blog, so please check it out if you didn’t get a chance this summer. You’ll find details from our classes, production and the final gala, along with hopefully some general insight about the country itself.

Overall, the 2010 edition of the Burundi Film Center went better than I could have expected, thanks to all the people around me who refused to let us fail. The 2007 students who volunteered showed tremendous support for us on a daily basis, and made me believe we need to continue. A last minute decision from my friend (and fantastic editor) Carolyn Lecorre to join us also saved the program from falling apart in the third act, when the condensed schedule would have otherwise been our undoing. And Bridget’s presence for the first two thirds once again ensured we were able to present the project properly and professionally, both within the country and to the rest of the world. I also want to re-thank the friends, family and supporters of the project. You took a huge burden off my back by donating money and supporting us all along the way.

So what’s next? The films are currently touring the country in Burundi at open-air screenings, will soon make the international festival circuit and we’re in talks to produce a new documentary in 2011. We hope to hold a Kino Cabaret either next year or in 2012, where we’ll bring filmmakers from around the world to the country to produce their films in 48 hours, then help teach BFC classes. We even have a popular director from Hollywood interested to come teach a class, so the future looks bright. And if you or anyone you know is interested to help out in any way, please feel free to contact me at BFC.

Until then, enjoy!

- Christopher

Friday, September 10, 2010

Love For Sale

Gather round, kids. I have a story to share.

A long time ago, like in the 1970s, there was an edgy band in New York City. And the name of that band was Talking Heads.

Talking Heads were a really popular group. But they didn't start that way. They were first a couple of guys in design school who wanted to start a band, and the singer had to talk the drummer's girlfriend into learning how to play bass. Then they hooked up with a guitar and keyboards guy who once was a Modern Lover. And they played gigs in grimy little punk clubs like CBGB until they had built a big enough following to get signed.

The band made it big. I mean really big. Every time they played, they were burning down the house.

But. like all good things, it couldn't last forever. The singer wanted to do different things, and work with other people. Talking Heads found themselves playing together less and less.

Around this time, the drummer and his bassist girlfriend, who were now married, decided to start a new band. They sounded like this:

That band did okay, and released albums sporadically long after Talking Heads broke up. But I hadn't thought about them for years.

And here's where the story gets personal.

One day, a couple of months ago, I noticed my old friend (and longtime pusherman to my teenage vinyl habit) Bill had made friends with Chris Frantz on Facebook.

"Chris Frantz from Talking Heads?" I wondered aloud. And yes. It was. And he only had a few friends. So of course I sent him a request. Within 10 minutes I, too, was friends with Chris Frantz. (From Talking Heads.) So I tried talking to him.

I wasn't the only one. Chris seemed to make friends with about 10 new people a day. Many of them wrote on his wall, and he usually wrote back. He talked about songs, and records, and gigs, and his wife, and their vacation in Bretagne. And it was all very everyday stuff.

Now, Chris is up to about 3500 friends, and he keeps making more in small batches, chatting with them, and sharing stuff.

And guess what? Tom Tom Club is about to embark on their first concert tour in years. I know because Chris keeps talking about his preparations.

That's right, kids, I've been social media marketed to. And I don't mind at all.

Why? Because Chris is just like anyone else on Facebook. He talks about his life, his loves and his past. He shares jokes and links and pictures of pretty actresses. He promotes his work too—but then again, so do I. This is the same guy who played for small audiences at parties and clubs in the mid-70s, and gradually expanded his network of friends and supporters. He's just updated his venue.

In short, he's doing it right.

The moral of the story is that there's no better way to sell yourself online than to just be... yourself.

UPDATE (from FB):

Thursday, September 9, 2010

These carrot ads are actually good for you

Last week, CP+B unveiled their newest brand reimagining plot, this one for the US carrot industry (actually Boathouse Farms).

As AdFreak points out, CP+B have plenty of experience marketing actual junk food — from Coke, to Dominos Pizza, to Kraft Dinner — and of course to all that bizarre Burger King stuff they're famous for.

But does any kid really buy the idea of eating baby carrots like junk food? My little guy like carrots anyway, but if I tried to bait and switch the occasional treat expectation of chips for veggies in "extreme" packaging, I'd have a problem on my hands. They're not fooling anyone.

I was initially disappointed by what seemed to be a very dumb packaging idea coming from such a famous creative shop. But then, of course, I gradually appreciated the irony encoded in the campaign. After all, my son isn't the one shopping for snacks to put in his lunch — I am. And the carefully-done parody of junk food marketing is appealing enough to get me to think about buying carrots specifically as snacks just a little more often.

And then I saw the TV/online video campaign, which is much more blunt in its irony and (in one case) much more adult in its appeal:

Nice work.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Old Spice ad kind of stinks

Very few sequels equal the originals. A few (Empire Strikes Back, Godfather II, Road Warrior...) actually outshine them.

In the case of Old Spice, though, we have what I would consider a sequel fail.

Trading in the brilliantly suave camp of former wide receiver Isaiah Mustafa for the shouty cartoon delivery of linebacker Raven Ray Lewis, the commercial marks the death of one of the greatest viral campaigns of, well, ever.

And, like many sequels, the new one also ups the ante on special effects and outrageousness, instead of refining writing and delivery.

Oh well. Some acts are just too hard to follow.

Thanks, Copyranter, for the link.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Double letdown, all the way!

The news that the Double Rainbow guy had cashed in on his viral fame was not surprising. The fact that Microsoft had hired him was kind of cool.

But what blew my mind was how sucky the resulting ad really is:

I mean, what the hell? His performance is lacklustre, the dude himself has a real face for voiceover, and the ad lacks any sort of interesting concept, execution, or even apparent effort.

Let's review:

Double Rainbow was a great organic viral.

The autotune version was hilarious.

The parodies are even good.

So how does Microsoft screw this one up? What does it mean?


Pakistan floods prompt swift action by the U.S. Secretary of State and Lara Croft

With thousands dead and some 10 Million people left homeless by flooding in Pakistan, the event is being called "one of the worst humanitarian disasters in UN history".

Without time to concept and execute fancy PSAs, fundraisers are turning to celebrity testimonials to get the message across. Here are two that launched today, one from Angelina Jolie for UNHCR and the other from US Secretery of State Hillary Clinton for the US Government's donation texting campaign:

I will be giving to the Pakistan relief fund at Canadian Red Cross.

Please, do what you can. Things are only going to get worse over there.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Step away from the alcohol!

The English-speaking world's relationship with alcohol has changed significantly in the last few generations. I was reminded of this when I found this old hand-painted glass slide from a travelling preacher's "magic lantern" show:

Alcohol then, in the days of the Women's Temperance Union, was the curse of the working class. The moralistic view was that it turned men to vice, robbed their families of household income, and resulted in domestic abuse. (All of which were, to some extent, true.)

This attitude soon led to Prohibition, which in turn gave rise to organized crime in North America. That didn't work out so well.

In the post WWII era, drinking got sophisticated, and being a functional alcoholic was not necessarily a career-limiter.

(yes, I know that's modern satire)

Fast forward to the now, and alcohol still brings with it a host of issues, including dependency, poor health, impaired driving, and other horrible things people do when they're inebriated.

So what should we do, prohibit it again? Or can we actually get people to exercise self-control around demon liquor?

This brings me to today's featured campaign, which I saw on The Drum. It's from National Health Birmingham East and North, and it takes the smart approach of encouraging harm reduction through simple lifestyle changes:

I love the '60s style design, but I'm an even bigger fan of social marketing strategy. The campaign site just asks its target audience of older, stay-at-home women to go three days a week without drinking.

From the homepage:
Nowadays, many of us have got used to drinking regularly through the week. However evidence shows that this everyday drinking can lead to serious liver disease, and can actually be more harmful to the liver than the ‘binge drinking’ most of us associate with unhealthy drinking. The 3 days booze free challenge is a great way to reduce the risks to your health. Just having 3 booze free days a week gives your liver a break and can help reduce the risk of alcohol related illness.

Okay, so there's some 1960s sexism there as well, with all the examples of housework. I can't see any reason to defend that. But for what it's worth, according to Britain's Institute of Alcohol studies, in recent years, the growth in average consumption and in heavy drinking has been more marked in women than men. And with unemployment high in the UK, more than 30% of working-aged women (pdf) are not employed outside the home.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Does a bear shoot in the woods?

For the five or six of you who haven't caught this on AOTW,
Copyranter, or elsewhere in the ad blogosphere yet, here it is. But put on the headphones if you don't want everyone around you hearing naughty language:

So, did you shoot the bear? What then? What words did you try? (I suggested "love the bear"...)

What's really important about this, though, is its great and innovative use of YouTube's more interactive features. Now that the genie is out of the bottle, expect a lot more of the unexpected on there...

UPDATE: People are saying this is the work of French agency Buzzman. My hat's off to you, mes amis!

The Wilderness on My Browser

Yesterday, Amanda posted a cool link to Acart's Facebook page. It's about a new experiment by Google to integrate some of the company's online assets to create a personalized user experience while watching an HTML5-generated (and Chris Milk directed) video of Montreal band Arcade Fire's "We used to wait" using Google Chrome.

Basically, once you click the link, you are prompted to enter the address of the place where you grew up. The experience then takes over your browser (assuming you're using Chrome, that is!) and:

• HTML5 Canvas 3D engine renders a flocking bird simulation that reacts to the music and mouse.

• HTML5 audio plays music and keeps track of timecode.

• Sequence system controls and synchronises effects and windows to the timecode.

• HTML5 video plays film clips in custom sizes.

• Choreographed windows are triggered by the music and placed relative to screen size.

• Map tiles are rendered, zoomed, and rotated in a scripted 3D environment.

• Animated sprites are composited directly over maps and Street View.

• 3D sky dome is used to render Street View with scripted camera control.

• Procedural drawing tool allows the user to create velocity influenced tree branches.

• Generative typeface triggered by keypress, uses an SVG path reader and individual canvas compositing for each letter.

• Google Maps API for fetching dynamic routes to destination and checking Street View content at points along the route.

• Street detection for animated trees composited dynamically in place over Street View.

• Color correction by combining canvas blending modes to enhance contrast and tint.

Or, in layman's terms: the song plays, birds fly to the beat, some dude runs around on the street and pretty soon you realize he's running towards your childhood home. (Or, in this case, Acart.)

It also asks you to interact:

Pretty cool stuff. For today. But I'll bet a year from now, this will look as lame as pre-Star Wars special effects. Such is the digital age.

Anyway, enjoy.