Sunday, January 31, 2010

Perception in the balance.

Every person with a normal inner ear is equipped with the ability to sense balance. Your vision and spatial perception also collaborate in this upright process. Maintaining balance is a basic human survival instinct. We're all born with a fear of falling.

What happens when balance gets thrown off? The combination of low blood pressure and general squeamishness has led me down the fainting road a time or ten. It was worse when I was younger. When faced with the spelling word "vein", it was all I could do to get my shaky hand to spell it out. It wasn't until fifth grade that I had my first real battle with balance composure. My science teacher was graphically describing the bleeding difference between cut veins and arteries. This seemed to go on for an eternity. Tunnel vision kicked in and I could only see her and her hand gestures. My breathing and her echoing rant were amplified. Lightheaded, pale, and dizzy, I made my way out of there as inconspicuously as possible. I didn't officially pass out until I reached the school nurse's couch. From that point on, I tried to recognize the fainting symptoms early and deal accordingly.

Funny thing is, I'm a horror movie fan. The only time this juxtaposition went awry was at the theater, after Hannibal. If you remember the last scene… lots of audio clues as to what is going on, but you are left to your imagination for quite a while. Then when you finally do see everything, it is beyond disturbing. I made it outside and thought I had things under control, but no. Darkness ensued. I came to with my concerned friends hovering over me, cell phones at the ready. Being the advertising-type that I am, the first thing I said upon consciousness was, "I just sold a shitload of tickets to the next show."

So physically, we can agree balance is a good thing. Conceptually though, should balance be offset? Can we leverage what we know against new connections?

"Give me a lever long enough, and a fulcrum strong enough, and single-handed I can move the world." - Archimedes
Balance is synonymous with stability. Stability is a desired trait, but not usually associated with new thinking. Aesthetically, off balance things are more intriguing. Creating new perceptions while juggling existing beliefs builds forward-thinking momentum. Figuratively speaking, let's not be afraid of falling and walk the edge every now and then.


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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Modular creativity from Puma. Well played.

What would happen if Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, and Wes Anderson decided to advertise athletic shoes and apparel? The spots would certainly feature a catchy track and be high concept (maybe even involve Legos). They might turn out something like this:

Directed by Jared Eberhardt with collaboration from National Forest, "The Games We Play" concept combines playful live-action with a fully illustrated stage set. The four videos featuring golf, fitness, motorsports, and running each bring their own spin to the idea. Puma has positioned itself as being more about active play, and less about serious competition. Athletic marketing tends to be result-focused and powerful. Puma offers a refreshingly quirky sense of humor to the intense sports arena.

Check out the rest of the videos along with the director's interview. Eberhardt takes you backstage and shares how the project came to life.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Let's exchange the experience.

In case you haven't seen it yet, the FEED is now on SlideShare:

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Idea execution.

The 99 Percent built their method of operation around the following quote:

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” — Thomas Edison

They're all about what happens in the aftermath of inspiration. Digging out of the creative rubble, dusting off the core idea, and actually making the idea happen. In this article and their upcoming book, they make an interesting point:
It’s no coincidence that “execute” has a double meaning, indicating both “to carry out fully and “to put to death.” Truly making your ideas happen requires equal parts creation and elimination.
Sounds a little medieval, but the bad idea probably deserved it… right? As much as we try to skip the bad idea portion of creative, there they are – obnoxiously clouding our thought process. They demand to be acknowledged before we can move on. Best to take care of them quickly and discreetly. Then get on to the good idea they were inevitably covering up.
“Art is the elimination of the unnecessary” — Pablo Picasso

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

The digital cloud versus the rain forest.

As the virtual world and our daily routines become more connected, I start to wonder if I could handle the idea of disconnection. Even briefly, it makes me nervous. There's a stretch of dead zone that I cross on my way to work each day. I get a sense of relief after I'm safely through it. Besides, who knows what could happen in those vulnerable five minutes or so?

There was a time when I was completely off the communication map. As part of a month with my aunt and uncle in Ecuador, we spent three days in the rain forest along the Amazon River Basin. Just getting there involved a treacherous mountain road descent, a makeshift wire-hanger car engine fix, a couple of crater jumps, and a barely-fordable river. (FYI, Honda Accords were not built for that sort of terrain punishment). When we arrived, I noticed the cabins were on some pretty high stilts (evidently for good reason beyond standard flood protection). The showers were supplied from rainwater collected off the roof. I almost tripped over something that looked like a caterpillar, that is if a caterpillar were a small dog. General rule, everything in the rain forest is super-sized and will probably catch you off guard. Or just stalk you, either way, at some point you will freak out. I once woke up to find a large, furry tarantula starring at me – eye level. Sending it on it's way required a rolled up magazine along with some herding skills.

The night was another story. Darkness was all-encompassing. The forest came alive. Echoing wildlife sounds, things crashing into the cabin walls, and what seemed like a massive nature explosion. It was almost deafening at times. You would finally relax and then, "BANG!" "What the hell was that?" and "It did NOT get in here did it?"… "I don't know, I can't see anything."

Alright, back to the society connection of this post. The next morning, we paddled hollowed-out tree canoes over to a tribal community living in the heart of the rain forest. Smiling children anxiously greeted us as we came to shore. They were excited to show us their museum and classroom. The buildings were grass huts and everything they needed to survive was raised on-site. There was an undeniable feeling of happiness throughout the tribe. Also, a shared pride in what they created. It made you think, maybe simple is better? They had no use for a virtual world, but had a strong social community. Could the "digital cloud" be clouding our real world and experiential connections? I probably won't be disconnecting anytime soon to find out.

[All kidding aside, I am forever grateful to my grandparents who were brave enough to take my cousin and I on this crazy Ecuadorian adventure.] 

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Creative. For sale by owner.

Developing creative is the fun part. But, selling creative and keeping it sold are the crucial parts. Have you ever witnessed an original campaign and wondered "How the hell did they sell that to the client?"

In a perfect world, we would be able to chanel the charisma of Steve Jobs at will (provided you sign the waiver agreeing to only use his power for good). His undeniable persuasive capability even has a name: reality distortion field. Apparently, anyone who stumbles near this area (even if they are aware of it's existence) might as well just give in. So far, proposed techniques for grounding this force of nature have been unsuccessful.

"In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he's not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic schedules." - Bud Tribble on working with Jobs
Joking aside, the man radiates passion. He does what he loves and success follows. His presentations are well-rehearsed and ooze with authentic emotion. The audience can feel it.

To sell creative, you have to truly believe in the creative. Check out how Mad Men's Don Draper pitches the Kodak Carousel. Brilliant.


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