Thursday, 20 December 2007

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Ipswich TV Advert 2

Get your viewing clobber round the previous advert's prettier younger sister:

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Ipswich TV Advert 1

Get your viewing clobber round this people:

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Simplifying Communication

Communication may have evolved in the past several thousand years, but new challenges constantly emerge.  A key challenge is in IT.  As I mentioned earlier, communication has evolved when faced with the internet and modern technology.  But a whole subset of new words has sprung up - some user-created, and some created as a means of communicating about the new technology.  People often find these terms confusing - even as a regular internet user, I often find myself looking things up.  Could a device to help people be created?  A dictionary? Some kind of translation tool for older folks or cave-dwellers who've never used the internet?

Friday, 16 November 2007

Examples of written communication, and how it adapts to survive

Written communication is so prevalent these days you absorb thousands of words every day. But how has it evolved with the development of technology, and does it still have a place in the modern world?

Since Gutenberg's bible in 1450 revolutionised the reproduction of the written word, standards of grammar and letterform have decreased and increased. Words have become easier to read in some ways, and more difficult to read in others.

As printing developed, the letterforms and typefaces moved slowly away from the emulation of handwriting and into a style of their own. Serifs came and went, and came back again. Sans-serif fonts were developed. And then came the advent of the Biro, the Internet and mobile phones.

The biro has a lot to answer for. It was created by a newspaper editor in the 1940s as an alternative to his fountain pen which often tore up his notepaper and took a while to dry. László Bíró created the most popular pen in the world, the Biro, and handwriting standards plummetted. Because people had to make less effort writing, they took less care over it. Handwriting either became incredibly basic or very scruffy, with little standardisation. But thankfully the printed word was still around to ground the letterforms.

The internet has warped and twisted communication more than many would have thought possible - so much so that there is a entire argot of slang called 1337 (or Leet). Leetspeak originated on the internet forums of the 1980s where a 'leet' (or e-lite) user would be respected for his knowledge, and it was handy in getting round word filters. Nowadays, Leet can be seen all over the internet, and is used by nearly everyone in some form or other. Smilies and expresions such as 'LOL' (laugh out loud) are especially popular. Additionally, character substitution often occurs - for example - "l33t sP33k is U8er keWl 4nD eA5y wehn u 7hink 1t tHr0uGh."

Leet has migrated and evolved onto mobile phones, where the constraints of a very basic text input method, a small screen and a character limit forced texters to innovate. Common expressions include 'C U l8r' (for 'See you later').

It is interesting to consider whether these evolutions of language have any affect on formal writing. Certainly they do, but does formal writing have anything to fear? Obviously it would not be appropriate to write in l337-speak in an essay, but what's wrong with time-saving?

This brings me on to George Orwell's 1949 novel, 1984. Besides being an incredible work of dystopian literature, Orwell raises some relevant points. For example, the administration of the book's setting, Oceania, have created a language called 'Newspeak' which basically involves ripping words apart to increase efficiency. Is this a bad thing? Is the decrease in variety acceptable at the increase of speed and fluency?

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Written Communication

What exactly is written communication? To define this I must define communication.
Communication is the process whereby information is transmitted using a common set of rules. There are various ways this can be accomplished, and the simplest method is speech. But obviously speech isn't always practical, and that's why written communication exists. Written communication is all around us - on signs, product packaging and the like. And it has adapted and evolved to represent the needs of the society that uses it.

Written communication has its origins in cave paintings - some forty-thousand years old. The purpose of cave paintings is not known, but it is speculated that they had religious/spiritual significance, and were used to record events. Until six thousand years ago, man had relatively little need for written communication, but this changed as trade and finance developed. There was simply too much information for all of it to be stored in the memory, so people began to record it in a permanent form. The mesopotamians had a system of clay tokens to representing commodities, and by the fourth millenium BC this had evolved into using a stylus to carve numbers into soft clay. The mesopotamiams then started carving pictures to represent what was being counted, and the development of written language began.

There are broadly four methods of writing; Logographies, Syllabaries, Alphabets and Featural scripts. Logographies represent words with single symbols that look like what they are representing. Chinese is an example of this. A Syllabary language is one that represents syllables with single characters - Japanese for example. An Alphabet language uses letters to form the basis of words - for example, English. And lastly, a Featural language uses symbols to denote certain sounds.

The world's oldest known alphabet was developed by the Egyptians in 2000BC from their hieroglyphic system, and it spread to Canaan and eventually the rest of the world. As it spread, people realised the importance of a system of language that was easily constructed by everyone and could be written with the most basic of tools. Written language continued to develop as technology improved. Letters and words were carved into clay and wood, and then into forms of paper. The invention of printing in the mid 1400s by Johannes Gutenberg revolutionised the written word even more. Letters became more standardised, and the idea of different typefaces emerged.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Sony Ericsson - I Love Music

I've noticed this ad campaign around in the past few months, and I've been impressed with how clever it is. Let's have a look at one of the TV adverts:

The great thing about this ad campaign is that it subverts what we expect to see with what it wants to advertise. Try saying one of the phrases; for example "I (sony ericsson logo) the rain" without saying "I love." It's just natural. The heart symbol is so often used as a substitute for the word Love that it's imprinted in our conciousness. It's much like the fact that it doesn't matter what order the letters in a word are because the brain recognises the word by the first and last letters. It doesn't matter what you actually see here, your brain tells you different.

The agency to thank for this are Wolff Olins, a branding agency with over 40 years in the business. They also do a lot of work for Orange, and are responsible for the questionable London 2012 logo.

"Mobile phone brands all talk about technology, backed up by fashion imagery that usually shows unattainable lifestyles. We helped Sony Ericsson to be different, and to talk to customers not about handsets or fashion, but about the things they love doing. Not MP4 but music, not megapixels but taking photos. We developed a vibrant range of colours which stand out and allow the brand to constantly refresh itself."

They've really hit the nail on the head here. It's kind of like what happened when Apple stopped selling computers and started selling lifestyle accessories. Suddenly, the consumer could identify with and understand the product. People don't want to know about the specifications of a product - they want to know what it does and what it looks like.
Since the campaign was introduced, the company's sales ballooned. Although Sony Ericsson have always had a trendy, stylish image, they had struggled to win market dominance from the likes of Nokia, and at last, they had an ad campaign that was memorable and clever. At last, someone at Sony Ericsson realised that the key to selling large quantities of anything is to sell it as a lifestyle accessory, and not just as a tool. To sell it as something people want to be seen with, and as something that allows people to appear as more than they actually are.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

FAO Paul Wilson...Design that Inspires

Choosing two pieces of design that I really like is hard, but I found this one recently whilst browsing a packaging book. It's a CD cover design for an independant record label, showcasing the best of British. Instead of merely covering it with funky photoshopped graphics, the designers Stylo Studio went for a meat-packaging spoof, replacing the words "British Beef" with "British Beat".

The promotional CD came in the above package, a proper meat tray with the correct labelling. An image of beef was used on the actual CD. The general release product came in the following package:

This design is obviously much more conventional, but I still like the way they've followed the theme through, by maintaining the same print out on the CD and using the meat label as the front cover.

I guess I like it because it's a very simple idea, executed in a very concise way. Nothing is over the top, and everything comes together to make a piece of work that is clever, and fairly humourous too.

The other piece of work that I really like is the following:

The simplest and cleverest work is what appeals to me the most, in all of design. There's not much to think about, it's just pure concept executed perfectly.

Monday, 24 September 2007

28 Weeks Later

Watched this film again last night, and once again I really enjoyed just how visceral and pacy it is. I've been a fan of the franchise ever since I watched 28 Days Later a couple of years ago. I loved how fast-moving it was and just how ridiculously violent it was in some places. And strangely, I also really liked the complete sense of hopelessness that pervaded throughout the film. That sounds odd - how could you enjoy being depressed - but the way the film is shot and directed, you really feel for the characters and the situations they are put in.

I really like the long shots of deserted London - it's so surreal seeing London completely empty, like a ghost town - completely and totally un-natural, and really really eerie. Seeing Wembley stadium with grass a couple of feet high is just weird. The times that they chose to film these shots - often dusk and dawn, make them so much more powerful.

The film makers used circus performers and dancers to play the zombies, and the shaky, cross-cutting camera work really adds to the sense of reckless, horrible evil of the infected humans. Make-up was spot on too, with bleeding eyes, missing limbs etc. etc. And in the second film, Robert Carlyle looks scary as f*ck when he keeps appearing all over the place.

Another thing that struck me about the film was how good the music was. There's only really one major theme, but it's a great guitar-driven piece, full of slowly building momentum that gives me goosebumps everytime I hear it.

Lastly, the graphic design that went into the packaging and posters for the film creates a great presence. It's grungy, rough-edged design, with high contrast colours and desolate imagery.

All in all, this film franchise is an excellently packaged piece of work, a piece of work where all the important elements come together to create something bigger than the sum of its parts. Good stuff.

Tobacco - it's worse than you think

Found this advert the other day, and thought it was pretty good. It's by Portugal's Young & Rubicam. The theme is obviously anti-smoking. You look at it first and think "oh it's just a cigarette" and then realise what it's made up of. I love the way the copy is perfectly echoed by the image - it's clearly a cigarette made up of one part heroin, one part cocaine. Apologies for the bad shot.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Halo 3 Believe

This is an awesome promo site for the new Xbox game, Halo 3. The designers have gone beyond the usual approach of providing a couple of screenshots and a nice flash interface, and actually built a model of a battle, which is fully interactive. The story is that it is a monument to a great struggle, and you can walk around it. You can control the camera to look at whatever you want and click on points of interest which add depth to the story. These include videos and first-hand accounts of the battle. It's really very impressive as a piece of website design - once again, an attempt at immersion, at telling a story or a message by way of interactiion. It's well known that if you tell someone something they're far less likely to remember it than if you made them do it. The whole concept really helps to add to the story and atmosphere surrounding the game. The music is also very fitting; the sort of sad, wistful piano music that suits the sadness that the designers wanted to create here.

I spent about half an hour looking at everything; there's a lot to see. You can download wallpapers, watch videos, take screenshots etc. It's very interesting and very well done, very believable. It's great to see designers taking so much effort to blend story and visuals together for something as simple as promotional website.

Dave - 'the home of witty banter'

In an interesting move this week, TV channel UKTV has announced it is rebranding its G2 channel 'Dave'. The channel carries programs such as Top Gear and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. The reasoning behind this name change is that 'everyone knows someone called Dave'. Dave's boss, Steven North, added: "Changing the channel name to Dave enables us to create a strong and noisy personality for the channel that immediately aligns us with our core 16-34 male audience."

I quite like the promo material for this, as shown above. Clarendon is a good choice for a font, being pretty trendy at the moment...and then you've got the giraffe indoors...crazy! The slogan is good as well..."the home of witty banter" - exactly what the core market is interested in. I think it's a good idea; the only other male-oriented channel is probably Men & Motors, which has a pretty tame channel presence in comparison. It will be interesting to see what this develops into.

I also like being credited as the home of witty banter ;)

Saturday, 15 September 2007

And now on Weetabix...

These TV adverts have been on for quite a while, and are a nice spin on the usual TV channel idents. The basic premise involves a shot of some Weetabix combined with a meal idea; for example Weetabix with fruit. The presentation is great; the Weetabix is shot against a blue background and there are some nice shots of the milk splashing over the 'bix, making them look a lot more appetising than just chunks of dry wheat. The background 'muzak' is exactly right as well; basically tuneless ambience just like most TV idents. I think my favourite ad is '6: Pudding' where the fruit comes out from underneath the Weetabix like the tools in a Swiss Army Knife. I just think its really clever.

The website continues the TV theme. The main navigation is contained within a television, a menu system similar to Sky's interactive controls. You can view all seven of the TV adverts, look at recipes, and enter a competition to win a stupidly large TV (presumably to watch while eating your Weetabix). The TV adverts are in the 'Commercial TV' section.

It's good to see Weetabix putting some effort into rejuvenating their brand. Especially when it's as well produced as this. Too many cereal companies rely on shooting mums and kids eating cereals at the breakfast table...which is dull frankly. The presentation of these new adverts encourages you to examine the possibilities in the humble 'bix. Instead of just treating them as the pappy wheat slabs they are. Setting them as TV idents catches your eye as well; to my knowledge no-one has tried this before. First time I saw one I wondered if ITV had been taken over by the evil cereal industry. But alas, thankfully not.

Good concept, clever methodology and good execution make this a winner.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

HP Blackbird 002 Gaming PC

HP have just launched a new PC. And normally this would hardly be cause for notice, but this is not just any PC. This is the Blackbird 002. And it's pretty special. It's HP's first attempt at designing a PC to appeal to PC gamers and enthusiasts, and there's a pretty cool website behind it.

HP's design concept here seems to have been to make it look as like car advertising as possible. Everything's sleek. Everything looks really professional and stylish, with an industrial look that complements the case design. It's all rather good looking.
Maybe the website isn't particularly inventive, but it's nicely done. There are little touches, such as the "HP Labs 2007, Level 5 RAID/1.1KW Power, 10,000RPM Raptor Drive, 533MHz - 3000MHz" at the bottom right of the page. It's just like a car manufacturer boasting about their new sportscar.

I like the 'industrial-lite' theme that the site has - with the darker, subtler colours, stripes and stenciled sans serifs. The intro to the website is good as well; with the panning shots of the grilles and power buttons, you really think you're looking at something powerful and almost dangerous.

It's good to see PCs being marketed as more than just beige boxes.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Javier Ferrer Vidal

Javier Ferrer Vidal is a Spanish photographer with a really excellent website. It's fashionably stylish without being cliched. I especially like the way your view of the grinning kid changes as you move the mouse, and the fact that your cursor is the menu button.

Ms. Dewey

Ms. Dewey is a website created in 2006 by Microsoft to promote Live Search, Microsoft's answer to Google. The website features a talking character who provides feedback on the terms that the user enters into the search box, and makes random actions while idle.

Developed by graphic designers McCann-Erickson San Francisco and developer EVB, the website appears to be a means of trying to create more immersion with the internet. Most people simply spend their time on the internet inputting data into small boxes, so it's nice to see something interactive based around such a simple premise.

It's sort of in the same vein as Burger King's 2004 Subservient Chicken website, but much slicker. The background is of a stylish cityscape, and the character, Ms. Dewey, is a smartly dressed businesswoman with a bit of 'sass' about her.

I was ruminating on the potential of immersion within website design a couple of posts back, so it's nice to see a big player such as Microsoft experimenting with this. It's certainly a big step forward from Google's very empty home page. However, Microsoft seems pretty loathe to promote this, relying instead on press coverage. It's a shame really considering how much work seems to have gone into this. There are 600 video clips of Ms. Dewey - surely enough content to allow it to quite literally 'speak for itself'? Or is Microsoft afraid of appearing too forward-looking? Do they prefer to present a more recognisable face as they do with their main Live Search page? That is certainly much more Google-like.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Adobe Creative Licence

Here's Adobe's minisite for their CS3 products. Pretty simple, professionally done (as one would expect from the mainstays of creative software engineering), and did I mention, I love the CS3 box designs! The rubix cube of programs is cool too.

Sonja Mueller Photography

Here's a great website with a lot of subtle style. Sonja Mueller is a German photographer who lives and works in Berlin. For her portfolio site, she commissioned international web design firm Less Rain, and the result is a good one. The website's main menu is situated behind trees in a forest, and as you move the mouse the perspective changes, allowing you to see more options. When you click on something, the boxout blossoms, quite literally, in a branch or flower shape containing the information. The ambient background music and mouseover sounds add to the experience. It's a good balance of style and substance.

The designers, Less Rain, have a showreel worth checking out here:

I particularly like their playful use of weather symbols. They look almost japanese-inspired.

The Unseen Video

I know this has been on the main GLOG, but I thought it was worth mentioning here as well. The Unseen Video is a weather controlled, dynamic music video for Mike Milosh's - You Make Me Feel song. The site works by hooking up to a weather server near you using your IP address to tell where you are, and this influences the look of the video depending on what your weather is like. Surprise surprise, it's usually dull and gloomy whenever I access it.

The aim of the German designers who created it was " create new synergies between the music, the video and the surroundings of the viewer." And this got me thinking about immersion, and the role that it plays in how a message is received. For example, if you can't hear something properly, you won't understand it properly. But conversely, if you're absolutely and totally immersed in something, you'll not only remember it well but'll allow it to really penetrate your subconscious. So obviously a good thing for advertising monkeys.

How could a large company acquire this kind of depth of immersion? Could we see TV adverts that react dynamically in the same way that this video does? There are limitations on the technology, but why not? In the future can we not expect completely targeted advertising, as seen in the film Minority Report? Advertising that genuinely speaks to you on your level, instead of having to be pitched at a general audience? This is definitely something has got to happen. Advertising needs a new 'wow' factor.


A friend recently referred me to the Flash game Facade. Facade was released in 2005, and is a story-based interactive game. So far, so

The game was written by two artificial intelligence researchers, Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern, who work at the University of Georgia. It took five years to create. So what's so special about it?

Facade is completely interactive. You're in a 3D room that you can walk about in, and just like in real life, you can speak, and your words influence the actions of the people in the game.
The basic premise is as follows; you're a long-time friend of a married couple, and they've invited you over for dinner. As the evening progresses however, they start arguing about their marriage, and your objective is to make them understand each other properly and reconcile their differences. However, it's very easy to say the wrong thing and get kicked out of the appartment. Not only that; if they decide to split up, you lose as well.

The artistic style of the game is fairly basic, and you kinda feel it's been designed more by scientists than designers. But that doesn't detract from the novelty of how unique the game is.
The temptation to ask the characters inappropriate questions is a strong one, but if you persevere it's really fun, and pretty difficult too. It's great to have a snapshot of what the future of gaming could look like, done in something pretty basic like Flash.

Game website:

Gameplay demonstration:


Indie band Hard-Fi's new album cover features simply the band's name, the album title; 'Once Upon A Time In The West' and the text 'No Cover Art'. The cover is a response to the band to their debut album, 'Stars Of CCTV' which featured the silhouette of a security camera and won Best Record Sleeve of 2005.

Frontman of the band, Richard Archer, said "The significance of album covers is becoming little more than a centimetre square on an iPod screen. The sleeve used to add another dimension to an album, but that seems to be disappearing, which is really sad. We don't need some airbrushed band shot just because it might be expected. Fuck that. This is about the music."

The first single from the album will feature the words 'EXPENSIVE BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO OF BAND NOT AVAILABLE'.

'No Cover Art' on the front of the album is quite subversive. When I first spotted this in HMV, I wondered if it was a pre-release or something. But then you notice the stylish typeface and realise it can't be. Archer makes a good point; so many record sleeves are simply about a moody photo of the band, reclining in uncomfortable poses. It's nice to see something a bit different.

However, I do fear the decline of the record sleeve. For me, half the fun of buying a record is the packaging and design. The packaging helps reinforce the aural message that the record gives. Downloading music is not something I favour because the music usually just feels soulless without the accompanying artwork. Will the iPod be the death of the record sleeve? I hope not, but these days it seems it's only a minority of us that enjoy good design.

David VS. Goliath

In 2003, Levis threatened to sue small welsh clothing company Howies. It seemed that Levis had a patent on the position of the labels on the back pockets of their jeans. And Levis felt that even though Howies' Jeans were a different style, had a different coloured label and put that label on the other back pocket, consumers would get confused between the two brands. Howies couldn't afford a long legal battle, so they launched a PR campaign: Operation Tickle.

They introduced a colour-blind test for people buying their jeans, to tell if people could recognise the difference between the Levis label and the Howies label. They set a spelling test; could consumers spell words like oppresion and corporation, and they distributed stickers to cover Levis labels. They gained so much publicity from this that Levis couldn't stand it, so their lawyers called a meeting to stop it. Howies said they'd need a room big enough to fit all the press in, and Levis weren't too keen on that. So Howies suggested that they should arm wrestle for the results, and Levis clearly decided their money-grabbing fat cats weren't really up to that kind of physical exercise.

It's great that a small company can stand up to a big evil corporation. It's great that Howies were so focussed and original in the way they did it. And it's great that they won. Hooray for David!

Thursday, 6 September 2007

This is a site I was introduced to a few years ago. Since then it's changed, but it's still an example of stylish and sleek web design which is the kind of thing I really like. Everything's very trendily laid out, the shapes and lines are all very clean and I love the sound as you mouseover the menu buttons.

Maybe nothing particularly remarkable, but it's smart and stylish and sometimes that's all that matters.

L.E.D. not I.E.D.

In January of this year, the television channel Adult Swim planted a series of small electronic placards around the Boston area of the USA. The placards displayed a battery-lit cartoon character from the animated television series Aqua Teen Hunger Force giving a middle finger to the audience. They were placed in such areas as traffic intersections and railway stations, in order to gain maximum exposure to the intended market.
On his way to work on January 31st, a commuter spotted one of the placards at a traffic intersection and called the police. The bomb squad were summoned and the entire area was sealed off. An investigation was launched to find the other placards and whoever was responsible.

It took the police six hours to realise that the devices were not dangerous, but this was not before part of Boston was brought to a standstill as major traffic routes were closed. The police found that the placards shared several characteristics of improvised explosive devices, but not the actual explosive itself.

The two men responsible for the devices, artists Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens, were arrested and put on trial for using a hoax to incite public panic. The trial went on for a few months, but when it became obvious that the two men did not intend the devices to incite harm, they were let off with 60 and 80 hours of community service. The marketing company, Interference Inc, and Turner Broadcasting were ordered to pay out $2 million in damages. And Aqua Teen Hunger Force got a hell of a lot more publicity than they expected.

As an exercise in gorilla advertising, it's a great example. The ads were placed in obvious places and were very distinctive. With a lack of copy accompanying them, those unintiated to Aqua Teen Hunger Force were left guessing what on earth the placards stood for. And besides the legal complications, the campaign was very successful due to the added publicity it gained from being an apparent bomb scare. One wonders if this was not the intention in the first place; after all, it wouldn't be the first time an advertising campaign was created to deliberately cause controversy.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

The London Underground Map

The London Underground map is one of the most enduring pieces of graphic design the world has ever seen. London's subterranean rail network was first built by seperate companies in the late 1800s, but it wasn't until 1906 that anyone produced a unified map for it. Early maps, however, tended to contain a lot of information (such as streets and other local features) and were not consistent in their design.

The first proper map was designed in 1933 by Harry Beck. Beck was an employee of the Underground who realised that as much of the travel took place beneath the surface, the physical locations of the stations were irrelevant to travellers who simply wished to get from A to B. Thus, the best design for a map was to make it as simple as possible, making it topographical. Initially, the map and used the minimum of symbols, a tick mark for a station and a diamond for an interchange. Corners were all at 90 or 45 degrees.

Despite the complexity of the work, Beck was paid only 5 Guineas, but continued to on it up until 1960. The design has been updated and modified in certain ways, but Beck's design is still very much key.

For the legibility of the typeface, we have Frank Pick, Chief Executive of London Transport (1913-1938) to thank. Pick was very interested in the visual arts and was responsible for commissioning the font and the iconic Underground logo. Pick asked calligrapher Edward Johnston to design the font in 1915, and after collaboration with Eric Gill (he of Gill Sans fame), Johnston Sans Serif was produced.

The legacy of the map lives on with many tube networks around the world adopting Beck's simple and effective design. The map now stands as a symbol of London, with 60 million reproductions by merchandise companies every year. Additionally, artist Simon Patterson's 1992 work The Great Bear is an excellent spoof of the map, replacing the station names with those of famous characters throughout history.

Lastly, a quote from Frank Pick:

"The test of the goodness of a thing is its fitness for use. If it fails on this first test, no amount of ornamentation or finish will make it any better; it will only make it more expensive, more foolish."

Very true.

Oxo Tower, London

On a recent trip to London I went on a boat tour of the Thames. The guide pointed out lots of significant landmarks, but one I found particularly interesting was the Oxo Tower on the river's
south bank.

This building was originally constructed in the late 19th Century as a power station for the Post Office, but was subsequently acquired by the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, makers of Oxo beef stock cubes. The building was heavily modified in an Art Deco fashion by the company architect, and the plan was to build a tower that would be festooned with advertisements and the company logo. However, planning regulations were pretty restrictive, and Oxo was refused permission. As a result of this, a tower was built with four sets of three vertically-aligned windows, which just happened to spell out the company's name.

As you can see, it looks pretty stylish even now and is a clear advertisement for Oxo stock cubes without breaking any rules. It's a great example of good design's capability to get around a problem. I think the methodology actually adds to it; placing big billboard advertisements showing the logo and product were getting pretty old even then, and the subtlety of this makes it look pretty unique.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Nissan Qashqai by TBWA

The Nissan Qashqai is a new car from Nissan that's attempting to mix two established genres of car; the hatchback and the 4x4. Nissan decided that the best market segment to target this at would be young to middle-aged men, and so an advertising campaign was required to target the product correctly. TBWA came up with the idea of showcasing the cars in the fictional "Qashqai Car Games", a sport much like competitive skateboarding, where the cars would be driven off ramps and perform tricks.

The campaign started before the car's launch with a series of viral advertisments in which the cars, drivers and settings would be introduced. One advert shows some young men on the way to see an event hidden in a container dock, only to be rumbled by the police, and them running away. The stunts that the cars perform in the adverts are clearly extremely dangerous, not to mention largely impossible, so the advert is clearly computer animated. But I don't think the stunts lose too much from this; the urgency and speed that the computer animation lends them makes them look like real skateboards. It makes the cars look really nimble, which is exactly the point of a small 4x4.

Besides the fact that I personally find 4x4s morally reprehensible, these adverts are pretty damn good. They really work as virals because they're well enough shot as to create an illusion of reality surrounding the 'sport', leave you curious, and wanting more.

The rest of the campaign consisted of print and television advertisements, most notably the television ad being the one of a man standing on a Qashqai, 'skating' it around a city. The advert showcases the agility of the car, and finishes with the skateboarder sliding it perfectly into a car parking space.

It's nice to see car and advert producers doing something a little bit different, not only for the prospective consumer, but for everyone else who has to sit through adverts.;1

Camouflaged Bibles

Picture the scene. You're a hunter out in remote mountains, with just your rifle for company. You see what could be your prize of the day, a large deer, and decide that before trying to bag this catch you'd like to pray with God. Problem is, you've only got a standard Bible with a rubbish red cover that would easily arouse suspicion. What do you do?

Never fear, Christian Outdoorsman is here. Offering a selection of camouflaged bibles for the hardcore Christian hunter, including the 'NIV Bible In Realtree Camo' ("It's finally here... a Camo bible in NIV! It is also The only Bible in Real Tree Hardwood Green!") and boys and girls models. What a crazy idea for a USP. Still, you gotta love people who are willing to chance strange ideas; after all, that's what entrepreneurialism and creativity are all about.

Only in America though.

"It's all swings and landmines to me"

"On Sunday 1st April artist and activist Will St. Leger placed 100 fake 'landmines' made from stenciled metal plates in (a) park around Dublin, Ireland. Will St. Leger: "The reason for doing this was to get people asking themselves "what if the world I walked in was littered with landmines?" By planting the fake landmines Will wants to highlight the lethal threat they pose to millions of people in 80 countries every day. " The only time that people really think about things is if they encounter them in their daily lives." A sticker on the back of the devices provides information on landmines. "They're nearly all gone now, the Police took away most of them when a tourist called the emergency number to report 'Landmines'. Afterwards, I wondered who the people of Laos, Cambodia and Iraq gonna call when they step on real landmine?"

A great idea for an ambient media campaign. As Leger rightly points out, people often fail to see things until they're right in front of them, and what could be more eye-catching than a bloody great landmine? Especially in such a setting, an oasis of calm where parents hope their precious ones are safe and sound. I think it would definitely have an effect on me. Kids can and do get blown up by landmines regularly, and the tradegy is that its all old news these days. Everyone's apathetic. In a Fathers For Justice stylee, this is exactly what needs to be done to get people's attention.

Leger calls himself an "artivist", a fusion of artist and activist.

Brands of the World & Ads of the World

Two invaluable websites that contain databases of famous logos and advertisements. Logos are all vector format, and images large JPEGs.

New RAID advert

Very nice and simple, good work Draft FGC.

Too old to be in an anti-aging ad...

It seems that the USA has banned Dove's new Campaign For Real Beauty TV ads. Why? Because they feature "too much skin". Someone rightfully pointed out; "How can it be that Ms. Spears is allowed to gyrate in a bikini top on MTV with a snake whilst singing "I'm a slave for you" to 12 year olds, but 50-something women are not allowed to be shown sans clothes in what I would argue is a completely tasteful, if not downright elegant manner?".

Opponents of the adverts claim the use of female nudity to sell products under any banner is exploitative of women's sexuality, which is frankly rubbish because that is exactly what certain other parties in the media do everyday, without challenge. Let's take "r'n'b" music for example; a genre practically based upon the use of nudity to shift records. The songs themselves have practically no artistic merit.

This whole debate boils down to what people find acceptable and what people simply turn a blind eye to. It isn't about a reasoned objection to the nudity of the adverts, it's simply a knee-jerk balk in shock. Interestingly, the campaign has been allowed to continue in women's magazines - underscoring the importance context takes in the reception of an advertisement.

It's not surprising the uproar that this has created in America; a country sometimes so ridiculously keen to start an argument about something that they go around invading countries illegally. It's a shame this has happened really; Dove has an advertising campaign that focuses on showing women for what they really are, and not simply trowelling them in make-up and turning the lighting up to eleven. This campaign has been successful so far, creating a USP and positive image about Dove products that other companies have not been able to emulate.
Detractors continue their opposition with "Their message basically says: 'Use our product and even if your body isn't perfect, our lotion will make you beautiful.'"; yes people, exactly the point. Instead of simply creating an image of perfection like so many other adverts do, these promote being happy with yourself instead of wanting what other people have.
Unfortunately, the television adverts seem to have disappeared completely, and no-one's had the foresight to YouTube them. If Dove's intention was a ban, they've not done very well.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Channel 4 Idents

Love 'em. No other channel has such diverse, intriguing and stylish idents, or channel presence for that matter. BBC2 used to be the best, with their variations on the '2' (robotic 2, flying 2 etc. etc.), but 4Creative's launch of these idents a couple of years back was a great idea. They took the traditional segmented 4 logo, and dragged it into the 21st Century, without losing its sensible look.

Don't Lose Your Sense Of Wonder

I found this photo on Paul Neave's Flickr page. I think it sums up creativity pretty well. Isn't our sense of wonder what provides the fuel for our ideas? Isn't it what makes us question the world around us, and the possibilities therein? Definitely.

It's our sense of wonder which makes us curious. We question "what would happen if I put that over there" or "what would happen if I used that colour, instead of the boring blue that I already chose." Our sense of wonder is what inspires us everytime we see something new. It's why we appreciate the spectacular and the diverse. And it's key to creativity.

Thinking about it, it's probably children who have the biggest sense of wonder out of all of us. They're the ones who have no inhibitions, they just throw a load of paint on the floor and don't really care. But this gets hammered out of us as we get older and inevitably more jaded with what we see around us. It's this seeing things without inhibitions which is key to creativity. The best creative experts will tell you never to bound your ideas with what is possible and what isn't possible. Phone network Orange, for example, don't even include technicians on the design staff, therefore avoiding 'idea-killers'. And isn't it the strangest and simultaneously most creative people who always create the most incredible pieces of work, be they art or science?

Taking the ideas of others and being inspired by them doesn't mean simply ripping them off. It means you take the underlying message, or emotion, or merely the buzz of seeing it, and apply it to your own work. This is key to remaining capable of producing work that is both fresh and unique.

Following on from the Optical Illusions video, I backtracked to find the source of this malarkey. is the website of Paul Neave, self-described "serial Flash fettler and interactive designer". One look at the site is enough to send a Flash fan into spasms of envy at Neave's creative skills. This guy knows his Flash.

On display are a selection of retro games lovingly recreated, Neave TV (where I found the beforementioned video), a random flower generator, your imagination, a planetarium, Flash Earth, a really trippy strobe, and my personal favourite - a graphic representation of whatever music you're playing.

The site is immaculately designed. I really like the way that the edges of the main menu morph depending on what you mouseover. His Flickr photos are worth checking out too.

Optical Illusions

A pretty cool video detailing some common (and not so common) optical illusions, with the added twist being that the instructions are in time with the guitar notes. Rather cool.

Eduardo Recife

Misprinted is the personal website of designer Eduardo Recife. It's a site that I've used quite a lot over the past few years, mainly because of the excellent collection of free fonts. Recife's fonts tend to be quite distorted, but place the emphasis on the beauty of the characters themselves and emphasising the message they are intended to communicate. Virgin Megastores are among the companies that use his typefaces; Downcome features on some in-store advertising. His fonts are great if you want to create a dirty look that still retains elegance.

Recife's corporate website shows an impressive variety of work for clients such as HBO, Rip Curl and the band Panic! At The Disco. Very graphic in style, it makes use of photos and textures along with type to create images that verge on the abstract.

I particularly like this t-shirt design; especially the typography as its so well visually balanced. The blue is just the right shade too, and the subtle gradient helps it to stand out.

The above image is great because of how it manages to balance retro aesthetic with more modern design principles and ideas. The background is nicely textured too; subtle but a good touch.

Los Logos

For my birthday a couple of months ago I got Dos Logos, the second book in the Los Logos trilogy by Die Gestalten Verlag. These are a series of books that contain thousands of logos by respected designers the world over, and as a source of inspiration are so much more than merely coffee-table material. The books are sorted into sections detailing logos designed for different purposes. On display is some really good work.

Los Logos, Dos Logos and Tres Logos are available for around £25 each.
Here's an interesting article about the publishers by Computer Arts:


I recently picked up a new game for the PC, BioShock. This game has received a lot of hype over the past few months because of its unique setting in an underwater city gone mad, and the amazing art deco look that the designers have worked into the game. It's great to see games designers creating something that isn't simply a succession of grimy corridors, and instead an environment that really feels alive. Some parts look amazing.

The game takes influences from Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged; both books about mankind's quest for perfection that ends in tradegy. This is a setting that allows a rich diversity of storytelling and character development, and the experience is quite a harrowing one. The desperation of the last remaining sane inhabitants is communicated through a series of audio diaries, and slowly a tale of best intentions mired by the basic flaws of human nature surfaces, quite literally, from the deep.

The artwork featured in the game is well produced, really helping to add to the illusion of immersion in another world. Sound design is excellent too - often an overlooked feature in video games; here it comes alive with a score that adds so much feeling and emotion to the game. You really believe you're actually there.

The designers even released a downloadable artbook which contains the key stages of artwork development that went into the game, including the logo design.

"Everyone should be able to experience the beauty of BioShock, see the concept art and visualize the evolution of building such a revolutionary game."

All in all, an amazing piece of work, and if you can you should pick it up. The game's out on PC and Xbox 360.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

The Beetles

Another example of some excellent print advertising is the following piece from Volkswagen. Everyone has seen the cover of The Beatles' final album, Abbey Road, with its iconic photograph of the four band members crossing the street by their recording studio in August, 1969.

Norwegian creative agency Bates Reklamebrya saw this, and clearly decided it was ripe for parody, replacing the band with five different coloured new Beatle cars.

The copy reads simply; "The Beetles".
Excellent again for it's sheer simplicity and strength of concept. The length of detail is also impressive - they've parked an old Beetle in exactly the same place as it is in the original photo, and an old van on the other side of the street. The association that comes with this parody is worthwhile; the Beatles have always been seen as cool and laid back; the icons of a generation, and Volkswagen Beatle has a similar image, tending to be driven by elderly hippies and students.
Simplicity is the key. If you remove the need to process the information (such is the requirement with an advertisement heavy on copy), you remove the ability for the subject to add as much of his own feeling and opinion to it.

Fiery Fries

This is a great print ad that I came across today whilst reading an advertising book. It singlehandedly manages be both incredibly simple and yet very clever at the same time; which in my opinion is exactly what any advertisement should strive for.

Clearly, it's a chip dipped in sauce, designed to resemble a match. The copy is so simple; just 'Fiery Fries' and then the Burger King logo. It's a great example of the phrase "A picture tells a thousand words." There's no need for any more copy because the image does the job perfectly. Since words are often substitute for images, Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore decided to jump straight to the point, and avoid unnecessary waffle.

It's a map...but not as we know it Jim...

Who would have thought the London Underground map was so versatile? Burberry even have a version!

I especially like the "Knives and broken bottles are restricted to the front carriages only" and "Handbags are stolen Wednesdays to Thursdays. Wallets and mobile phones at all other times."

It's another testament to the visionary design of Harry Beck's original 1933 Underground map.
In fact, that's probably worth writing another entry about.


Long winter (-ish) nights getting you down? Bored of the standard swirly Mac wallpapers or that rubbish fake-looking green field in Windows? Have a look at:

The new 2007 collection has just been launched, and it's really impressive. Great, if like me you have a fetish for rampantly abstract brightly coloured awesomeness. I have a feeling that I might spend more time staring at my desktop than at Photoshop now. Oh well, at least I'll be staring at something worthwhile.

"This film is inspired by actual events..."

I recently had another look at, a website I used to frequent during my A-Level days, and I seem to have missed a lot of decent content.

First on my list of notables includes a short film (seventh down on the page) based around events that took place one evening in 1886:

"On March 9, 1886, as Verne was coming home, his twenty five year old nephew, Gaston, with whom he had entertained lengthy and affectionate relations, charged at him with a gun. As the two wrestled for it, it went off. The second bullet entered Verne's left leg. He never fully recovered. Gaston spent the rest of his life in an asylum, and the incident was hushed up by the media."

I really like the way this is filmed. They've taken the basic premise of the story and worked their own style of art direction into the piece. It sort of reminds me of a piece of opera, in the way that the story is portrayed in means other than just acting. Art of course, is basically just a representation of an object or scene, infused with the artists own extrapolations, feelings and skills. And that's what they've done here. The sound design is great; it tells part of the story instead of merely being an accompaniment to it. The moody crackles that are in the background at the start of the film set the tone for its events; is it the similarity to the sound of thunder that helps this along?

Additionally, take a look at this:

It's really weird, but I like it. I'm not sure what to make of it really...but isn't that the point of abstract art?

Monday, 2 July 2007

Who would have thought you could make a motorcycle out of cutlery?

'Lunch With A Helmut On' is an absolutely awesome piece of work by the Japanese artist and sculptor Shigeo Fukuda. It's a sculpture made entirely out of knives, forks and spoons which casts the shadow of a motorbike when illuminated correctly. Check this video out:

Vorsprung Durch Technik

Audi are a brand who continually innovate with their television advertising, especially with their performance RS line. And I don't define innovation as strapping balloons to cars (like in Ford's new Mondeo advert, but as creating an advert that really engages you emotionally, and leaves you gawking at the telly.

Their best two adverts are probably this one:


And this one, which is my favourite:


I just love the way that they've defined what the car should be, and then depicted this visually, in such a way that you can make no mistake what the car is like to own. Both adverts start off slowly, making you question what is going on. But they slowly build, and give you an idea of what to expect. The best part of the Spider ad is the bit at the end where the spider runs straight at you only to metamorphose into the car itself. The advert ends with Audi's slogan 'Vorsprung Durch Technik' (German for 'progress/head start through technology') spelt out in web.

The Bull advert is great because of how it slowly builds and slowly builds - at first, you don't know what's going on, but because of the soundtrack you know something very powerful is around. Then the bull breaks through the fence and you know this is an awesomely powerful beast. At the end, you see the bull sidestepping to the left, slowly but surely, which indicates that while the car may be very powerful, it has great control too.

Great stuff. It's good to see car adverts that actually look like car adverts.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Those bloody Mac adverts again....

If I get Mitchell and Webb sanctimoniously telling me how Macs are 'for the fun stuff' one more time, I'm taking a machete to wherever they're filming series five of Peep Show and removing some heads. Macs are Fisher-Price activity centres for adults. I don't want one, thankyou.

Some excellent reading:,,2006031,00.html

Monday, 18 June 2007

What a shambles.

Recently an unsuspecting British public was exposed to something horrible. Something really horrible. And the cock-up in question? Wolff Olins' brand new identity for the London 2012 Olympic games.

Here it is in all it's hideousness:

It doesn't work. It looks amateurish. It's confusing. It's just poor. I'd like to know what on earth they were thinking when they designed this.

Here's Lord Coe talking some marketing rubbish he's being fed from an autocue:

"London 2012 will be Everyone's Games, everyone's 2012. This is the vision at the very heart of our brand. It will define the venues we build and the Games we hold and act as a reminder of our promise to use the Olympic spirit to inspire everyone and reach out to young people around the world."

And Tony Blair:

"When people see the new brand, we want them to be inspired to make a positive change in their life."

The focus behind the logo seems to be aimed at young people, as the Olympic board feels that young people don't do enough sport etc. etc. (which is something we've been told for years and years). So they've got honourable intentions, at least. But I just don't see why it has to be so bad. Wolf Ollins are a world-famous branding agancy, responsible for Orange and 3, two great-looking brands. And then they come up with this. Have a look at other youth-orientated brands; Adidas, Nike etc, and you'll see they look slick, modern and the epitome of 'cool' - the failure here is that the logo tries too hard to look cool.

Remember that kid in the playground that always tried to look cool but never did? Well that's who the London 2012 logo is. And I should know, I was one of those kids.

If Tony Blair is indeed serious about wanting it to inspire people to positive change, he's been successful; there's been an enormous public backlash, and the BBC website has literally dozens of alternative designs sent in by readers (here: and reams of derision (here: It's amazing to see ordinary people become so worked up about design; it's something we rarely see, and it's great to be vindicated by Joe Public.

Sometimes I wonder if design isn't just all a big con; a fallacy designed by those more visually-literate as a warped kind of elitism. But this has put my faith back in the founding principles of aesthetic beauty once again; they DO matter, which is why it's all so much more painful when those responsible for setting visual benchmarks fail so spectacularly.

Only time will tell if this logo makes it to the finish line, but either way, we're going to learn something along the way; all of us, not just the designers in the room. And for that, Wolf Ollins should be applauded.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

A Nice Advert From Nike

There's been a pretty cool advert on TV lately - the "I Am Addicted" Nike Plus advert featuring a voiceover from Edward Norton. I really like this because everything fits really well to create a piece of work that melds together and really flows. Here's the copy:

"I am addicted, I've collected footsteps before dawn, Seen places I never knew existed, Run to the moon and back, Been a rabbit for the neighbourhood dogs, Obeyed the voice in my head, Let music carry me when I couldn't, Raced against yesterday, Let the world be my witness, Measured myself in metres, Kilometres, And finally character, I've plugged into a higher purpose, Left this world and come back changed. I am addicted."

I love the sign-off: "I Am Addicted" and then the music kicks in's a great example of selling the 'taste' of a company rather than simply one of its products.

Agency: W+K/Amsterdam
Soundtrack: A-Bomb

The voiceover and music are really key here as well. They contribute to the slowly building prose, with Norton's flat tone making you appreciate the words themselves and what they mean. A-Bomb have actually had so many requests for the soundtrack they're considering releasing it professionally. With an average soundtrack, the advert would have been alright, but it wouldn't have communicated the slick image that Nike wants, and it would have quickly faded away.

I really like Edward Norton's voice. Fight Club is one of my favourite films, and I find his incessant narration quite enjoyable. Maybe I'm strange, but as Marshall McLuhan said, "The medium is the message". I just think it adds a lot to the film and this advert.

Derivative T.V. Advertising Does Not Float My Boat

So, the other day I was watching "Dog The Bounty Hunter" (or somesuch daytime nonsense) and an advert for came on. I tend to blank out most television adverts because they usually bore me rigid, but something in this one felt strangely familiar. I couldn't put my finger on it until I realised; it's a rip-off of the 'Construct' scene in the original Matrix film.

In this scene, the character 'Trinity' enters the basis of the Matrix computer program in order to familiarise the protagonist, 'Neo', with it. In's advert, the camera angles, the way that the objects in the advert rush towards the viewer, and even the costumes of the actors, are all exactly the same. It's all kinda dripping with a 1999-esque "Hey guys, we just saw the Matrix for the first time, and DAMN, is that film cool!" sentiment.

Check it out here:

Clearly, the work experience boy was ill that week, and the designers didn't get their coffee. What a lazy concept for an ad! "Let's nick this idea, because the film came out ages ago, and no-one's going to notice we're too dumb to think up our own concepts!"

But wait! There's more! Fiat's new "Italian Job Remixed" is guilty of this apparent trend of film parodies/clumsy rip-offs, albeit to a lesser extent (looks like there was some coffee available here). In this advert, red, green and white Puntos nail it around somewhere foreign-looking (Italy presumably), going down escalators and all manner of crazy things that you can('t) do when you get your own Punto. The advert ends with the tagline; "The Italian Job Remixed".

This is actually quite a good advert - I like the sounds that the ignition and the doors closing contribute to the soundtrack, and snappily shot which is always a good thing. It holds your attention well, and the concept isn't as lazy as the first advert. At least they've tried to do something different.

But I still dislike it for not being 100% original. Maybe I'm just a perfectionist, but I prefer to see creativity I haven't seen before. It just seems lazy to copy someone else, unless you're going to parody it in an amusing way. If you're doing a funny parody, you're adding an element of your own creativity that is sufficiently different and removed from the original to show you're using it as just a starting point for creative exploration.