March 30, 2006
"why do we start from a position of assuming that traditional media must be the core of a marketing plan, and that non-traditional elements can be added in only after clearing some threshold of justification?"
If you read the questions a few times it will become clear that this is not simply a question about what comes first rather he is questioning the entire advertising industry as it is today.
Traditionally you have your big agencies using smaller firms and even smaller firms and then even using freelancers to handle what until now was considered the minor part of the campiegn, the "web".
For years I have been having to justify the web to many clients and how its importance to advertising is basically biblical. I would get questions from old timers asking "is the web here to stay?" or "it a passing trend" to "no one really pays attention to those annoying ads anyway"... on and on and on...
Guess what folks, not only is the web here to stay, and not only is internet advertising extremely effective but it has now surpassed television as the pipeline into our minds. More and more people are watching television on the web, downloading movies, and looking for fresh and entertaining content rather than another Seinfeld rerun. YouTube, Google video and similar sites have become serious competition to the same old syndicated crap on TNT or TBS, im talking 12 - 15 million viewers. Even sports has become a popular web content viewed on screen along with its many statistics and interactive components, watching sports on the web will become something more and more common. Look at this years College Basketball tournament.
So when you examine Jim's question you have to really appreciate what he is asking. Why start with traditional means of advertising, print or TV? Why not start where it is most effective and then base your print and television ads on the interactive content and viral aspect of your web initiative?
Genious! Finally the power is starting to shift and us "web people" now have the ball in our court.
March 29, 2006
"Even if you're not a genius, you can use the same strategies as Aristotle and Einstein to harness the power of your creative mind and better manage your future."
The following eight strategies encourage you to think productively, rather than reproductively, in order to arrive at solutions to problems. "These strategies are common to the thinking styles of creative geniuses in science, art, and industry throughout history."
1. Look at problems in many different ways, and find new perspectives that no one else has taken (or no one else has publicized!)
Leonardo da Vinci believed that, to gain knowledge about the form of a problem, you begin by learning how to restructure it in many different ways. He felt that the first way he looked at a problem was too biased. Often, the problem itself is reconstructed and becomes a new one.
When Einstein thought through a problem, he always found it necessary to formulate his subject in as many different ways as possible, including using diagrams. He visualized solutions, and believed that words and numbers as such did not play a significant role in his thinking process.
3. Produce! A distinguishing characteristic of genius is productivity.
Thomas Edison held 1,093 patents. He guaranteed productivity by giving himself and his assistants idea quotas. In a study of 2,036 scientists throughout history, Dean Keith Simonton of the University of California at Davis found that the most respected scientists produced not only great works, but also many "bad" ones. They weren't afraid to fail, or to produce mediocre in order to arrive at excellence.
4. Make novel combinations. Combine, and recombine, ideas, images, and thoughts into different combinations no matter how incongruent or unusual.
The laws of heredity on which the modern science of genetics is based came from the Austrian monk Grego Mendel, who combined mathematics and biology to create a new science.
5. Form relationships; make connections between dissimilar subjects.
Da Vinci forced a relationship between the sound of a bell and a stone hitting water. This enabled him to make the connection that sound travels in waves. Samuel Morse invented relay stations for telegraphic signals when observing relay stations for horses.
6. Think in opposites.
Physicist Niels Bohr believed, that if you held opposites together, then you suspend your thought, and your mind moves to a new level. His ability to imagine light as both a particle and a wave led to his conception of the principle of complementarity. Suspending thought (logic) may allow your mind to create a new form.
7. Think metaphorically.
Aristotle considered metaphor a sign of genius, and believed that the individual who had the capacity to perceive resemblances between two separate areas of existence and link them together was a person of special gifts.
8. Prepare yourself for chance.
Whenever we attempt to do something and fail, we end up doing something else. That is the first principle of creative accident. Failure can be productive only if we do not focus on it as an unproductive result. Instead: analyze the process, its components, and how you can change them, to arrive at other results. Do not ask the question "Why have I failed?", but rather "What have I done?"
March 14, 2006
Flash 8 has provided developers the ability to really produce some amazing games for the web. Coprorations are jumping all over this to create brand expieriences for users to come and play games that will not only make the corporate brands more recognizable to them but online games usually feature a send to a friend outcome that allows the user to pass the game on to friends and family.
Who doesnt love to play games? I recently played a game that was created for the console video game called BLACK. The game can be found here http://www.myblackvalentine.com this is certainly a great example of an addictive game that embeds the product into the mind of the player. I played this game for about 15 minutes. The firm I work for has developed similar type games for companies that are lots of fun. Another absolutely addictive game is http://www.sithsense.com for all you Star Wars lovers out there. YUP we did that one...
Get online and look out for games like these from some of your favorite brands. Building a relationship with the brands you use and enjoy is not only fun but informative. In my case whenever i find a product i love it always becomes harder to find once i am absolutely addicted to it but now with the Web you can always find and order the hard to get stuff you cant live without.
March 13, 2006
What surprised me was that even new search engines are coming out, with Google in town you would think everyone would shaking in their shoes but I guess that's what we were all saying when Yahoo once ruled the web. I recently took Acoona (supposed to be some play off of Hacoona Matata the single most annoying term to ever come out of the 90's) for a spin. Apparently these guys have 100 million dollars to play with and some people are actually impressed! http://www.acoona.com/
I created a search engine like that in 98 called BigLinx and learned that people simply don't like refining their searches, even though our minds may tell us we do, we are creatures of habit and refining anything especially the all mighty instant gratifier, the web, is simply too much. What irks me is that when they designed this thing they completely copied Google, if your going to get in the ring for a fight you better bring something different or people will just see you as some cheap knockoff of the real thing. A search engine is where the web starts, its home page should be elegant and classic in design, the web has been around long enough for it to start taking on some of the more traditional looks of our culture. Google is boring, simple, the way geeks would design everything if they could. You'd think with Google's BILLIONS they would put a tad more effort in engaging some more users by offering many points of entry based on what a person or genre wants... for example, how about a Goth point of entry? A Fashion Mod point of entry? A Sports fanatic point of entry? Each point of entry being sponsored by the top name in that genre. Imagine sports fans! An ESPN sponsored Goggle home page that offered you sports related news, stores, scores, etc... your page could look like this...
We don't need more search engines, we simply need better branded ones. Take a look at today's New York Times and you will see the pathetic pings of another technology boom, just like gadgets on my desk the world will always want the next latest and greatest until they figure out that another one is going to come along a few months later and it will be better. Very few things today stick, the iPod stuck! The Playstation stuck, DVDs stuck, energy drinks stuck, the flip cellphone, sushi, jeans, cigarettes, pizza, beer and i cant leave out coffee. All those things have been around since they have been invented and their popularity has only grown since. There seems to be a trend in the technology world that challenges everything that emerges, and that's a good thing, but we need to not let it become this Junior High School lunch time routine... remember in lower school when food would come out and you all grabbed for fear there would be nothing left? Exactly!
March 10, 2006
I was talking to some family members the other day and was trying my best to explain exactly what I do. I mentioned the word "viral" as part of the type of advertising/marketing that I am involved in and they all stepped back for a second and said to me "Are you the one who is sending out all these viruses and destroying peoples computers?"
WHOA!!! hold on! NO NO NO not viruses, viral! like spreading out like a virus. They looked at me as if i were some rapist, chold molestor, killer, or even worse A VIRUS INFECTOR!
It seems that one of the biggest downsides of the computer age is that so many people who are barely computer literate own computers so they can have access to the WWW yet they surf and click on any link that comes their way, they download and install all kinds of tool bars, cute (annoying as fuck!) cursers, themes, icons and all kinds of other shit from the web. They will download smiley faces, illeagal music, desktops, screen savers, animated gifs and oh the clincher, PORN!
Companies like Norton, McAffee, Microsoft and Virex along with a host of others all make million of dollars on these poor fools because they infect, contaminate, spread and email their viruses all over the place. They infect their computers, external drives, jump drives, XBOX, Blackberry, cell phone someone even told me a story about how they thought that their TV caught a virus from their computer and trust me this person was serious.
Computers are like toaster ovens, VCRs and other devices that require responsability and care. My brother often calls me up yelling at ME! because i know about this stuff and accusing me of causing his computer to be filled with viruses, why me? BECAUSE YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS STUFF! What a rediculous answer! He along with my mother, friends, grandmother, ex-wife and a host of others all feel that they can freely surf the web and click on any damn link that flashes its wares at them and then expect someone like me to fix it! Well IM DONE!!
First they accuse me of being the one to spread this shit, now they want me to fix it. I tried to explain to my brother once that I carefully set up all my computers to have seperate partitions for applications and for files, that i only go to sites i trust and i hardly ever download anything that i havent purchased from a reliable source. He looked at me as if I were mad! People today feel like they can simply ride the web without harm, this is simply not true.
So now i am officially branded within my family as a Virus spreader, no matter what I say to them they will never think otherwise because they are limited in their minds and cannot seem to think beyond their limitations in understanding technology. Isnt it ironic? Well for all you nerds out there im sure you have been in similar situations... lets hear some of your family computer nightmare stories... send em in!
March 9, 2006
Technology is so cool, as a kid I was always enamored with Times Square. Today the place is full of digital billboards that stream all kinds of content. For all of you who would love to see yourself or a loved one posted on a huge billboard in Times Square check out www.lifecomesatyoufast.com you can post an image and if your lucky it will be chosen. Its a really cool site, and im not just saying that because my firm did it, ok it is cooler because we did it, but really how many times do we small folk get an opportunity to see our ugly mugs up there with Gisele and P.ditty. Take a look at this picture of my daughter Maia who was chosen and her beautiful face adorns Times Square each day at 4:30. Now thats cool! As a designer I always wanted to design a huge billboard, I guess in a way I did.
Sarah was also chosen and posted in Times Square, there is a Jewish term called Nachas, it means to be proud, muco nachas here!
March 8, 2006
I figured a simple introduction would be in order. My name is Craig A. Elimeliah. I am a producer at a NYC interactive agency. I am also a writer (working on a novel now) and an artist (always working on something) as well as a father (2 amazing kids, soon to be 4 when my GF and I wed this summer). I am 30 years old and have lived quite an unusual life to say the least. My past has taken me around the world and back, then around the world again and back in both spiritual and physical. Needless to say life is just beginning AGAIN for me. I assure you that this blog will not be boring.
I promised myself that I would use this space to let my mind go and simply write whatever came to mind as my day, week, month, years passed by. I have been so busy working with a major client that I havent had time to even think. Tonight I go home to pick up my laptop and finally dedicate myself to updating and consolidating my writing and this blog... stay tuned its gonna be a blast!
I am officially posting my banner, my flag for my own personal voice, revolution, coup, whatever you want to refer to it as. I would love to see more people creating images of themselves as if they were a country or a state of some sort. With rules, morals, goals, budgets, visions and passions that they would like to share with the world. Wake up people, join the culture that will finally empower you to be heard. Say something worthwhile, share a feeling or an emotion. Become angered or aware about something you never thought about, read the news and pick a topic, become more educated, better read, expose yourself to something new each and every day. The Internet is here to stay and it houses worlds of opportunity for each and every one of us. Lets hear what you have to say!
I have read so many books and articles on design and on art, what it is and how it should be executed. I must admit that since becoming a Producer my designing days have taken a backseat to management, i enjoyed being a designer and now I enjoy working with designers as well as every other aspect of production. I was at home contemplating what the difference between design and art is and I think I have come up with some pretty clear lines between the two and have also identified where those lines have become blurred.
Now it is my understanding that design in the commercial sense is a very calculated and defined process, it is discussed amongst a group and implemented taking careful steps to make sure the objectives of the project are met. A designer is similar to an engineer in that respect and must not only have an eye for color and style but must adhere to very intricate functional details that will meet the objectives of the project. The word "design" lends itself to a hint that someone or something has carefully created this "thing" and much planning and thought has been executed to produce the imagery or materials used for the project.
On the other hand Art is something completely separate, any good artist should convey a message or inspire an emotion it doesn't have to adhere to any specific rules, the artist is creating his own rules. Art is something that can elicit a single thought or feeling such as simplicity or strength, love or pain and the composition simply flows from the hand of the artist. The artist is free to express themselves in any medium and color scheme, using any number of methods to convey their message. No artist ever has to explain why they did something a certain way other than that this is what they felt would best portray the feeling or emotion or message.
Many designers are artists and many artists are designers, the line between the two is complex and intriguing. I was perusing some art books and something strange caught my eye, i had noticed that many of the artists were not creating a unique, almost chaotic portrait of their innermost selves or inspirations rather they were clearly using popular trends to capture the attention of the viewer. I noticed that many of the pieces being shown were "throwbacks" of past artists styles or color and simply refreshed for public consumption. The very fact that older artists inspire newer artists seems to contradict the whole definition of art. These artists are following a method, a pattern or a standard that has already been established by another artist and therefore they are not creating something completely new rather following instructions laid down by a previous artist rendering that piece to be more design than art.
I can completely appreciate the paths laid down by past artists who establish a style or method but at this point it seems that when that style or method is used the art then turns into design. I looked through some older books and saw a rather obvious occurrence in the art being displayed, many of the newer artists were simply copying things from the past. I admire a persons talent for picking up a brush and creating an image that has an impact on its viewer but when i see it over and over again by different people who are all claiming to be "of the school of...", and that this is legitimate, unique art, i find that a bit hard to swallow. If the artist said "I have designed something in the standard of Picasso" and this is simply a design based on his style but a new twist has been added then I would feel more comfortable accepting it for what it is, a design. But when an artists style and methods are completely the same as someone else's and even if the message is different I feel that this cannot be passed off as art because the newness and the chaotic nature of it simply flowing from the source seems to be absent and it becomes more like a paint by numbers project than a creation that has never been seen before.
I do not claim to be an expert on defining what art is and what it is not but i do know that if we look at the differences between art and design we will see a very clear line drawn between the two. An engineer, if given the exact coordinates to place different colored pixels in specific places could render a beautiful web site or ad simply by following instructions, most design projects have a detailed set of instructions and most design is based on current trends and influences. An artist on the other hand could never be given any specific instructions in creating a new chaotic and unique masterpiece because his emotions and soul is dictating the movement of his hands and the impulses for the usage of the medium. No art director is going to yell at an artist for producing something completely unique because that is what makes an artist an artist and not a designer.
I feel that designers who are passionate about their work should try and dedicate time to create "art" for art sake and train themselves to express emotion and feeling through their designs. Uniqueness comes from passion and not adhering to any rules that may force the artist to make even one stroke that was unintended. Commercialism has been dictating the course of design and has made a clear and thick line between the artist and the designer. Following trends and applying imagery based on specific needs and goals is the easy part, allowing yourself to express a message or emotion free of any specifications is where true beauty is born. Designers who are looking for the next big trend or who want to be the one to create that trend must create chaotic and truly original pieces to display their artistic prowess and then apply those unique methods to their design at work and i think this will create a truly harmonious balance between art and design.
Many young designers tend to start off on their own as a freelancer or small business owner in order to establish their footing in the industry. I think that this is a great way to establish an identity and to learn the ins and outs of the entire project development process. Going out and getting clients, billing properly and delivering on time can be a full time job on its own. Making sure specs are adhered to, programmers are hired out, money is in the bank and resources are being used properly are all important aspects of any project and should be seen as important if not more important than the actual design itself. When dealing with smaller companies you will find that assets don't exist or are delivered via fax or snail mail on paper! Images are often stolen from the web or misused, fonts and logos are not properly saved out and overall a general state of chaos is usually there to meet you as soon as the contract is signed, the euphoria of signing your first client quickly diminishes and now your left with the mess.
Most designers haven't thought of the fact that producing a project requires many other skills other than using a Wacom Pad. You can't organize a project schedule using Adobe Illustrator and invoices cannot be issued after you so beautifully designed them in Photoshop. Being a designer on your own is an advantageous and often times impossible task for most designers. I always found it to be refreshing when I met a young designer who is willing to take on any project just to get some professional work under their belts, I am sure every designer has that one website or print project that was their first project, applying the most complex and advanced techniques, using well thought out color schemes and carefully analyzing and designing a branded logo that would look great in Times Square, all this for Joe's Bait and Tackle Store. First of all Joe doesn't even know what the internet is, you have somehow convinced him he needs a website, he agrees and as the designer you felt you could change everything by applying your touch to Joe's 50 year old business. Wrong! But great place to try. Using small companies as guinea pigs is fun because they have no image to start off with and will generally let you do whatever you want.
I have come across some amazing sites on the web that get absolutely no views, no one even knows they exist. They belong to small businesses that couldn't care less if they had a website or not. I have even seen ads in small community papers that were beautifully designed for laundromats, corner stores and tire warehouses. Every time I see a killer site or ad for one of these obscure businesses I say to myself that this must be a young designer getting his feet wet and trying to make a name for themselves. I always enjoy seeing these types of projects because you know that the designer put all of their blood, sweat and tears into this project. That the client was probably difficult and unresponsive to the artistic layout and aesthetic beauty of the project or the complex style sheets and table usage on the site. Perhaps this is the first project this young designer ever worked on or one of the first. Its almost like a first novel of a great writer, you can see the rawness and youth seeping out of the design.
I recommend any young designer to take this route as a way to better prepare yourself for the business world. To understand and appreciate the role of the producer who often times hides all of the budget issues, re-scheduling and ups and downs from their designers as to allow them a clear mind to do what they do best, design. But a designer who knows what it is like to run after money, prepare proposals and go to countless and often time meaningless meetings can serve their firms better by understanding all of these other aspects of a project. I have worked with designers who complain about a client wanting small changes or another direction, they will get moody and upset after the producer nicely delivers the change request, yet little do they know that the request they are getting is scaled down a hundred times over and delivered on a silver platter only after the producer has spent hours and hours negotiating and making sure scope is adhered to and that it fits the budget and that the client understands all the ramifications of this change, the last thing the producer wants its another challenge especially from someone on their own team. A designer who appreciates the role of the producer will understand what has taken place and will approach the change with a different attitude.
Young designers should know that their value is increased if they can not only impress the firms they interview at with their killer designs but can also show a better understanding for the entire project lifecycle and that they can ease the pain endured by the producers by knowing that what seems like an annoying design change is something that has been battled through between the producer and client rather than become defensive and think that the producer just wants to make their lives hell. Designers who appreciate the fact that the producer must manage the budget, schedule and all parties involved in the project, can sometimes be many third party printers, programmers, other freelancers, media management companies, and so on, as well as all contractual and legal issues and their own bosses can add value to any design firm. The designer should already know what the producer goes through and can at times offer some kind words to the often worn out producer. The designer can better appreciate how much work has gone into this project even before one pixel has been designed and the producer feels better knowing that their role is appreciated by their team.
So all you young designers out there, perhaps a year between graduation and your first job freelancing would make you a much more desirable hire by showing the staff at your next firm that you can appreciate everything they do and that you will think twice about complaining about a design change or making your producers life harder than it needs to be. Also gaining this experience will help you advance in your career by establishing yourself as a team player and someone who has weathered the harder parts of the production process. Great design is only as good as the designer who created it and in my opinion a good designer is one who understands the process behind a project and can work with their producers without becoming another issue for the producer to handle.
Every year I look forward to the slew of ads that are debuted during the Super Bowl. Ever since I was a kid I always stayed glued to the television set waiting to see what new funny and amusing ads would be introduced during the most watched 4 hours of television all year long. I must admit as a kid I was a commercial junkie, very few forms of entertainment were able to keep my attention as well as those cute snippets of genius. I always knew deep down that these tiny clips contained massive amounts of research and targeting to its intended audience. My mother would explain to me how much money and planning would be spent to create 36 seconds of powerful impact that could make or break a corporation for that year. As I got older and started t o analyze the lineup of ads I started getting very depressed. Why?
I will explain.
The 4 hours of television called the Super Bowl is probably the single most carefully planned 14,400 seconds all year long. Every moment of football is carefully choreographed so that its momentum keeps its viewers enthralled in the action and glued to their television screens. Football analysts can take even the most boring game and make sure that enough drama and excitement will keep people coming back for more. Local restaurants all have their Super Bowl Sunday spreads ready for delivery, pizza places, hero joints and meat palaces across the USA all know how to help set the mood for this special Sunday. Wives turn into best friends, shedding their worries and cracking open another cold brew and a refreshing that plate of wings for their husbands, neighbors save up all year long for that new 52 inch plasma that will qualify them as the host for this years party and friends come walking in with a case of beer in each hand to contribute to the all day celebration. The Super Bowl seems to be the most carefully organized event in history and every year they seem to out do themselves.
Over the last few years I started to get very depressed at Super Bowl time, I could no longer enjoy the game nor was I able to appreciate the commercials. I am not a very negative person and I always try to see how I can turn negative experiences into positive ones my disenchantment with the Super Bowl was my new mission. My issue with the Super Bowl is the same issue I often times have with other shows that I watch, the commercials!
Being in the advertising industry and understanding what goes on behind the scenes I tend to watch commercials and look at ads differently than most people. I tend to turn their message around and see if it applies to me. If I am on the train or at a certain place and I see ads that directly concern me or that draw my interest in the service or product I will feel better about what I am watching or where I am because I obviously belong there, the ad agencies and research companies have carefully figured out who I am and where I should be and targeted their ads at me in those places or during those times. If I am watching a television show and the first commercial is about tampons, then the next about gas medicine and then followed up by life insurance, no matter how good the show is I flip the channel, I realize that this show is not for me based on the ads that are presented.
This year I didn’t watch the Super Bowl and my decision not to watch it was based on 2 things. The first reason I didn’t watch it was because my fiancé decided that she really needed my full attention at the exact time the Super Bowl was on and that it was the only time we could discuss our future, and second reason was because of the line up of commercials for the game. I went through each one and carefully analyzed who should be watching the Super Bowl and that guy is simply not me. I don’t drink American beers and have very little to do with horses and carriages and cant figure out what they have to do with beer, I don’t eat meat so that ruled out what was in my opinion one of the most offensive commercials for a $1 hamburger I have ever seen. I wont get into it but it involved women dressed up like the various parts of a perfect hamburger and then jumping on top of one another. The line up went on to include deodorant, soda and energy drinks, over sized SUVs, toilet paper, pizza and oddly enough environmentally friendly cars.
The two ads that really stood out in my mind were the Dove real beauty campaign that is obviously trying to make women feel better and men look beyond the surface and then there is GoDaddy.com, I am not sure who watching the Super Bowl is buying internet domain names on a regular basis but its obvious that they are.
So were talking about a person who guzzles American beer (I say guzzle based on the number of beer commercials shown), rents their DVDs through the mail (cant be trusted to return videos and probably has run up hundreds of dollars in late fees), eats lots of fast food burgers and wants them to somehow be sexy, wants to drive an Escalade or at least know someone who does, thinks his deodorant will withstand any pressure, likes to snack on nuts, is possibly thinking about the environment, drinks lots of energy drinks, has the need for cheap domain names, thinks Hummers are cool, may watch the World Baseball Classic, needs life insurance, needs Mike Ditka to explain toilet paper usage and secretly wants Jessica Simpson to feed him pizza. Without getting too descriptive I think you can see where this is going. I didn’t fit into the profile of the person who should be watching the game, I always felt left out when my buddies would go nuts over the stupidity that was obviously marketed directly to them, I would often times leave the game feeling left out or excluded for some reason.
Perhaps ad content is too targeted, perhaps it is excluding those who don’t fit within the target and it will ultimately exclude someone like myself who would like to watch the Super Bowl but just cant get into the whole experience. Am I not a man because I don’t drink American beers? Because I don’t wish to have an oversized, excessive, luxury SUV? Should I be poisoning my body with new energy drinks or have I been misusing toilet paper all these years? I don’t need to question my existence just because I want to enjoy a big football game. I like football I would like to be able to enjoy the game with friends without it being so obvious that we differ so drastically in our choice of consumer products, one year I actually got into a fight over the usage of women in one of the ads. The Super Bowl seems to not just bring people together but easily separate those who don’t fit into the profile of who should be watching the game, I said to a friend of mine that the Super Bowl should be available to a few different networks and to allow them to run the carefully targeted ads towards those who they want watching their programming. I was thinking of recording the game and splicing in commercials and content that interest me, perhaps TIVO should have people fill out profiles and then commercials can be filtered based on the profile of a household, otherwise YOU ARE WHAT YOU WATCH, and I personally would not want to be the target that the commercials of the this years Super Bowl catered to.
Remember you are what you watch.