September 28, 2008

Parish is On The Money!

Nick Parish's latest article entitled "The Price is Right (Isn't It?)" in this months Creativity is so right on the money.

(excuse the pun)

It never fails.

At the onset of every project that a large agency outsources to a smaller digital agency like ours there is this afterthought called a budget.

We are all well aware of the media buy, the TV spot and print budgets.

When the agency partner tells us that we have exactly 4 weeks to come up with the most amazing kick ass website that fully integrates every aspect of the campaign, and oh by the way, we usually are not brought in from the onset to make sure that there is a bridge between the offline and online creative, and its a budget that is a minuscule fraction of what it is worth in terms of its importance to both the campaign and the work provided.

This always ends up being a sore point in the relationship.

When a relationship is entered into on an unfair foundation it is bound for a rocky road ahead and this is what typically happens 90% of the time when larger ad agencies work with smaller digital shops.

I have heard so many complaints from ad agencies towards digital shops regarding a disconnect between communication, creative suffering, deadlines not met, expectations not delivered and so on.

If the digital agencies were compensated fairly so many of these issues would be solved. We work through the most adverse conditions because our direct line of communication is blurred by the lack of transparency with the source.

The relationships in general would be healthier if there would be more partnerships in the entire creative, the website and the online video production would benefit immensely.

If the digital teams were not thrown the scraps of the larger campaign we may be a bit more enthusiastic about the whole process.

It seems like no one wants to admit that the website is now the anchor of the campaign.

The website serves as the heart and soul of the "new age" of advertising, the television spots and print ads are simply driving traffic to the websites and the spots have budgets that are in the millions and the website, that has its own custom video produced by the smaller shops, is a mere 100k.

How does this seem fair?

The scales are way too unbalanced.

Ad agencies will get millions from a client to do a site that they will pay a small digital agency MAYBE a few hundred thousand for.

Digital agencies have limited resources, time, budgets and accessibility to the client directly all come through day in and day out, by the skin of their teeth, every time producing the great work we see online every day by constantly jumping through hoops and having to swim through way too many layers than necessary.

Oh and by the way did I mention that we have to also educate our agency partners through the entire project so they can sound like they know what they are talking about to their clients.

I have gotten so many emails saying, “can you help me explain this better?” or “Our client wants to know about hosting, is that something we need for this site?” or a week before launch I get “is this site in Flash or HTML, our client wants to know.”

Anyone at a digital shop will recognize these question and know exactly what I am saying.

Us digital shops actually like working with the big agencies and are totally open to working together and collaborating, however once the client gets wind of all the drama involved, and the price being paid, and how much better the work would be if those layers were removed and we were compensated properly, they will simply start coming directly to us digital agencies for service just like they would any other specialty agency.

The larger ad agencies don't have the dedicated expertise or the specialized teams in house to properly execute or even explain the nature of this highly technical and creative work, this is why 85% of it is outsourced to smaller digital shops.

In my experience, every time the client came directly to us the work was infinitely better, the budgets were better and the relationship was amazing!

Its been 10 years now and I think its time that the digital agencies start getting paid fairly!

Nick Parish’s article in this months Creativity is a wonderful voice for the cause and will hopefully open a lot of eyes to the unfairness that has a strangle hold on the relationship between the traditional and the digital agency.

As our economy continues to struggle and budgets are tightened I think we will see a huge shift of dollars to the internet because you simply get more bang for your buck on the web.

The ad agencies will no longer get the type of quality work they want to deliver to their clients if those budgets continue to insult.

Time and money are the only two barriers between decent work and great work. With the right amount of time and the right budget almost anything can be achieved online and in the most exciting and dynamic ways.

Everyone will look like rock stars!

I think that the digital agencies have been hazed enough and it is time to pay us fairly for what we have worked hard for. We are officially "Mad Men" now too.

If traditional agencies want to continue the relationships with the digital shops, they need to create more of a transparency within the entire campaign and allow digital teams to get in from the onset and help budget the time and those dollars correctly.

It will be only a matter of time until someone really smart at a big brand realizes they can go directly to the digital shop and will start the trend towards contacting smaller digital agencies directly and taking the entire bulk of the digital budget out of the hands of the ad agencies who are handling the offline portion of the campaign and putting that money into the hands of the people who are actually doing the work.

Brands... We have good accountants too!

It is advantageous for both the traditional and the digital to work together NOW to find a fair ground so that digital production is paid for fairly and that better work, more creative design and better deadlines can be established.

Right now the marriage is suffering and traditional and digital will want a divorce pretty soon. Divorce is not fun and everyone loses.

September 26, 2008

All Shook Up

Interactive development has been steadily evolving since the day the web allowed the public to post their own websites.

People have been intuitively finding new ways to make things happen, shake, blink, move, react, click, rollover and so on.

There are people like Carlos Ulloa, Mathieu Badimon, Andy Zuoko, Tim Knip, John Grden and many others who are doing great work and continue to develop amazing new ways to manipulate animation and add new dimensions to the online world.

However I feel that one area that seems to continue to lag behind is interactive design. Where are the designers who are innovating interactive design?

I keep seeing the same executions flashed up, placed into grids, thrown onto a lit surface, papervisioned and tweened.

There is no real experimentation with how we communicate visually to the public.

Just because you throw a circle in the z axis doesn't change the fact that its still a circle. We need new ways to communicate online. Websites today embody too much influence from print and frankly its a waste of technology to make something so flat simply move around.

Navigations have been explored in a bunch of inventive ways but in the end clients will always go back to the traditional navigational schema because of the fear of their audiences not being able to find something.

In the early days of Flash when people like Vas Sloutchevsky and Yugo were experimenting with design that fully utilized the show/hide, physical and dynamic, motion driven and curious nature of what Flash truly offered us as an animation platform.

Just go take a look at the early portfolio of the first 5 years of Firstborn where there are many executions that Vas Sloutchevsky had taken corporate designs that were outside of the normal flat executions he never designed out of fear of not communicating properly.

Clients trusted him then and they still do now.

He makes sense of his work and thinks out every single detail.

Vas is now doing that again on some new very exciting projects coming out here very soon at Freedom + Partners.

Its exciting to be producing projects that are truly interactive in both their design and their development.

Not just an interactive Colorform board.

Yugo is also one of these rare talents who truly understands this method of design. He constantly produces work that is fully born from the interactive womb.

Flashing up flat jpgs or turning them into 3D is just not exciting anymore.

Similar to the way Apple designs products that are wildly addictive to not just technophiles but the general public, we need to design in a similar fashion for websites that move, inform, entertain and communicate to a wider audience.

It is our job to make our audiences and the web more sophisticated.

Being handed comps by a client and making them move, in my opinion doesn't constitute good work, at this point anyone can accomplish this.

I have worked at shops where we were overloaded with amazing flash developers who were wasting their time and prime years coming up with algorithms and flashing up lame designs and flat creative, that once animated, was really not that much more impressive than it was when it sat in its original flat Photoshop layers.

Some sites are exact rip-offs of others!

Tim Nolan pointed out to me yesterday that this site named Quarantine is an exact rip off of the Big Spaceship HBO Voyeur site they did for BBDO.

He also pointed out a site that was so original and so inventive in its nature where the content and site were perfect compliments to one another. It was for the new Wii game Wario.

See it here.

We need to back track a bit and return to the philosophy of designing interfaces that are designed specifically for the web.

We need to think of exacting and smart solutions that work and not to just "make it move."

People aren't fooled anymore, you cant fake it these days. The web is scrutinized to the umpteenth degree, your not going to get away with letting people think that they are customizing something and then show them a result that is canned or "fake".

The web is now fully enveloped into our culture, our kids are already sophisticated users.

My 9 year old daughter can point out very subtle, but to her, obvious flaws on most websites. Its intuitive, the way our generation looked for "fakes" in movies, people now see in the web.

Retrofitting designs and campaigns has become tiresome and frankly its a cop out.

Lines that move, squiggle, dance in the shapes of animals and squirm when you touch them are just lame gimmicks.

The web expects more from us.

Lets not litter it with sites that have no real substance or foundation.

Every site deserves thought, strategy, enthusiasm and dedication to its perfection in both design and development.

September 21, 2008

PC Response

Crispin has ditched their Jerry & Bill campaign to respond to Apple's MAC Vs. PC spots that have been sweeping the web, TV and print.

Who would have thought that the once mighty now feels they must respond to those they once looked down upon.

This shift is happening all over the place.

Even in our small space (interactive) the once mighty seem to be feeling the sting of the creative at heart that has been holding steadfast just waiting to emerge.

Check out the new ads from our friends over at Microsoft

Strange how confident Bill looked shaking his ass, guess the world is tired of his sorry ass.

September 18, 2008

True 3D

I highly suggest going out and finding a pair of 3D glasses.

Trust me on this one, this site is unbelievable.

Go check this out now!

These are the kinds of sites that simply impress.

This site is one of the reasons I love the web.

Just think of the possibilities!


VectorVision takes vectors in Papervision to a whole new level.

We are using it at Freedom + Partners on a number of projects and it delivers!

September 11, 2008

Im Right Here

Social networking has become a phenomena that has suddenly inspired the world to go online.

Grandmothers who couldn't program their VCR 20 years ago are suddenly able to create complex profiles and communicate with friends and family.

Teens have ripped through the likes of Facebook like a veracious storm swollen up over a patch of warm water in a tight gulf just waiting to devour anything in its path.

The business world has embraced social networking as a means of making business relationships a bit more personal and to show a lighter side of who they really are.

I suddenly know that my lawyer is bummed about his deck, my client is heading towards destruction and my coworker is super duper psyched'aroony.

We all are glued to our small screens for second by second updates of the happenings that are occurring in the lives of our closest 200 friends.

Its the new reality show. The new sitcom. However you spin it, its entertainment.

Little tiny golden nuggets raining from cyberspace down on our curious little minds to help quench our curiosity for that which really isn't our business.

I do it, we all do it. Shamelessly updating everyone we care to update about the play by play as we go about our day.

Some are playful messages aimed at inspiring fiends, others are alerts for ones state of mind, some are the insecurity that lays deep within those who never reveal it, some are vicious attacks towards a competitor or enemy and some are loving reminders to friends and family that they are thinking of you.

What about social stalking?

The ability to see who your friends and their friends' friends are now friends with.

Social networks have aggregated new business, reunited friends and family and have leveled the social playing field.

I am no longer not there.

I am right here.

September 10, 2008

Goodbye Cruel World

The events that will take place in a remote area of Switzerland during the unknown hours of September 10, 2008 may forever change the world.

Similar to the early morning darkness when the incredible destructive powers of the atom were first unleashed and what had been merely theoretical became reality, today the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will be switched on, accelerating sub-atomic particles to nearly the speed of light before smashing them together.

The purpose of this experiment is to re-create the very moment 13 billion years ago when scientists believe a tremendous explosion known as the "big bang" created the universe.

But what if, 13 billion years ago, there was no explosion?

What if they are wrong and the big bang was none other than the hand of God or some other mystical occurrence?

Im going to be a little nervous today, sitting in the Embody and working on our latest projects, hoping that within one fell swoop we don't all get decimated.

When those two opposing beams of protons charged with approximately 7 TeVs of energy hit, and they produce the God Particle, producing mass to vector bosons, I seriously hope everything we have worked towards as humanity isn't decimated...


Why is this allowed to happen?

Is there someone we can all call and say "HEY WAIT!! NO!!!!!! DONT DO IT!!"

Well world, if at some point you cease to exist today, its been great.

I guess the fact that Google's picture today isn't of the Earth exploding.

That could be seen as a positive thing right?

Google would know, wouldn't they?

September 8, 2008

Walking the Guideline

Since its inception in May 2000, The FWA has continued to exceed expectations on the Internet by generating a groundswell of excitement for the best that the interactive community has to offer, and continually bring us inspiration per diem.

Rob Ford, the patriarch of the most visited destination in the interactive community, has now compiled a book based on the success of his website.

The title of this new book is none other than “Guidelines for Online Success."

Before I even opened the book I spent a good amount of time examining the design.

Taschen has always been a champion for not just great content but also beautifully designed books for the very community that contributes to them.

“Guidelines” is no different.

From the choice of color to the tabbed chapters and the glossy finish, this book had already impressed me as a true embodiment of what it was created for; to be a showcase for the most successful websites on the Internet.

When I first heard about the book before its release, I was a bit apprehensive about how overwhelming an endeavor it might be to undertake a project of this magnitude.

How could anyone capture the best of the web when the web is constantly out doing itself on a second by second basis?

The very impetus of The FWA is to serve as a testament of the daily evolution of this creative network we all contribute to each and every day.

As I began to examine through each page and peruse the various projects and personalities that made up this festschrift, I was immediately impressed by the selection of projects that captured a slice of time that served as a period in which the industry grew leaps and bounds.

This phase will forever be defined as a foundation of the many incarnations that the web will embody tomorrow and well into the future.

The book opens with a quote from none other than Albert Schweitzer, a man who nourished hope in a mankind that was even more profoundly aware of its position in the Universe.

“Success is not the key to happiness.
Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing,
you will be successful.”

What an apropos way to start off a book about an industry where happiness is often disguised with the sweat and tears of the toil that make up the sites in this book.

An industry that is still too new to have a defined set of process and rules; its bible being written at this very moment.

This quote is directed towards an industry and a group of professionals who are also profoundly aware of its new position in the universe.

Within the second paragraph of his introduction, Rob so graciously steps aside in order to spotlight the trove of talent he has collected.

By the time the ink dried at the printer, just as many websites have been launched that make the sites in the book look ancient. But perhaps that can also serve as a tribute to the veracious appetite the web has for creativity.

Surely Rob knew as he was compiling the sites showcased that they would all quickly be replaced by newer incarnations. Personally, knowing Rob, I am positive that his intentions were indeed to try and capture a slice of time where the projects would profoundly influence the culture of the web.

"Guidelines for Online Success" opens with an eloquent greeting by none other than industry darling and CEO of Big Spaceship, Michael Lebowitz, who introduces us to interface and design.

As a producer in this industry, this chapter resonated deeply with me as a clear and concise documentation of exactly what is important when formulating a successful interface and approach to design.

The second chapter covers marketing and communications. Martin Hughes and Jordan Stone of WEFAIL knocked me off my feet with their hilarious introduction to this section.

They pulled no punches in truly telling the story of the typical project drama.

Staying true to the WEFAIL style of web development, Hughes and Stone crafted a wonderfully written introduction that embodies the collective consciousness of the industry. Using their brand of humor, they eloquently set the stage for this very important chapter.

Each section following features one heavyweight after another, outlining for us the most valuable advice in the industry; how to achieve true success.

Each page is wonderfully strewn with powerful images of websites that have burned themselves into our minds as models of perfection, which all hold us responsible for outdoing at the onset of any new project.

The last chapter was introduced by none other than Freedom + Partners CEO and former Firstborn co-founder Mark Ferdman.

Mark ends off this book with a journey through the history of commerce from its very inception until its new cutting edge.

Just when you thought you knew it all, Lars Bastholm of AKQA then delivers an Afterword seeded with some of the most valuable advice you will find anywhere.

Lars’s ultimate conclusion is that in order to be successful online one must not only adhere to the tenets laid out by each of the super friends who contributed to this amazing book, but that one must also have a passion and be firmly integrated and active in the online community.

I want to thank Rob for this wonderful volume that will forever stand the test of time. It is a complete contradiction to the ever-changing nature of the web and in that lays its beauty and profound essence by capturing the very foundation of what makes a successful website.

I suggest you all go out NOW and buy this must have book edited by Rob Ford and Julius Wiedemann.

Get it online here.

September 5, 2008

Hate to say I told you so...

Well the first spot came out and sorry folks but the "future" paired with Jerry Seinfeld (washed up comedian) and Bill Gates (washed up monopolist) isn't "delicious" and this spot sunk within the very first sight of Jerry eating one of those nauseating mall sticks called Churros.

Did Crispin really think that inserting Bill Gates into the random musings of Jerry's world and make him one of the Seinfeld "friends" will make him more endearing and sell more software?

Bill Gates cannot be softened, the man abused his power and is now trying to cozy up to sell more broken operating systems by hanging out with Jerry?

I'm lost.

I'm sure tons of research went into this, or maybe not, but this campaign is so flawed.

Nothing can save this sinking ship, not even Jerry.