Monday, 30 November 2009

Chunky or Smooth?

Kraft Canada ended a two-year absence from advertising with a multi-media promotion featuring artistic expressions found on the breakfast table. Peanut butter expressions on toast is a nice, simple idea that resonates with consumers and uses social media in a interesting way to give back to communities and help people share their creamy emotions. Some more information on the campaign...

Billboards across the country featured a variety of nine symbols, including a heart, a peace sign, a smiley face and LOL, all engraved in peanut butter on a piece of toast.The campaign also extends online, where you can send your drawing on peanut butter toast to a friend at

Consumers can also chose to send a bear hug on the site, and Kraft will donate a jar of peanut butter to food banks across Canada for each hug. Kraft has already reached their goal of delivering 50,000 jars (more to come next year).

Jordan Fietje, senior product manager of marketing for Kraft, says the campaign evolved from a number of focus groups held by the company. "Consumers have all these emotions tied to Kraft Peanut Butter. Many Canadians grew up with it. They love the whole peanut butter experience, especially melting peanut butter on toast. We’re putting those feelings into the peanut butter and showing it back to you. That’s what’s resonating well with the consumers. It’s not us making something up, it’s us repeating what they already feel," he says.

Via Brandchannel.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Painted Veils

Perhaps sparked by the debate over head scarfs and hijabs in Western societies, or because she believes that polemic needs to be infused with a little irreverent humor, challenge and intrigue, Princess Hijab uses guerrilla art to leave her provocative mark on posters in metro stations across Paris. When asked by the Wooster Collective why she chose the veil as subject matter, she replied:

Guerrilla art is innocent and criminal, ancient and dystopian, intimate and political.I chose the veil because it does what art should do: It challenges, it frightens, and it re-imagines.

Read the interview here, and see GOOD's review here.

There is definitely a need for a more dynamic, inclusive and open discussion about how Islam 'identifiers' and culture are regarded in Western countries, and perhaps a combination of Princess Hijab's work and news of the first Muslim contestant running for Miss France, named Juliette Boubaaya (who doesn't wear a head scarf, but refuses to judge women who do), will ignite this dialogue...

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Lists & Mortality

In a recent Spiegel interview, Umberto Eco postulates that we make lists to avoid thinking about death (the article is fascinating, read it here). The accumulation of stuff, our collections, our drive to create routine and order out of utter chaos, is a cry for security in an unknown universe. I often think of the cosmic joke, the fact that we're born into a world that holds no answers about where we come from and where we're going (if you catch my drift). I like the juxtaposition of the ethereal and commonplace, and it tends to be a reoccurring theme in my writing (a taste of a poem below).

Eco's also curating a new exhibition at the Louvre in Paris on the essential nature of lists, poets who list things in their works and painters who accumulate things in their paintings.

Some excerpts from the interview:

The list is the origin of culture. It's part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order -- not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart's librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. We also have completely practical lists -- the shopping list, the will, the menu -- that are also cultural achievements in their own right.

We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That's why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It's a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don't want to die.

A poem entitled: Cover-up

Scents of patchouli, verveine and lilac
stir, pace and circle like a testosterone-injected pit-bull
at the bottom of stone-encrusted crystal
refusing to crawl and creep slowly to the edge,
to jump into the chamber of experience.
Existing solely to fill the gaps,
to conceal the putrid stench,
camouflage the intoxicating smells:

a rotting apple, yellow pools that sway in broken brown eggshells, moldy discarded bread crusts, shriveled red onions, slabs of rejected fat still shiny with grease, orange cigarette butts caked with dust, shredded ConEd bills, wrinkled and stained Sunday papers, crusted beige prophylactics, ripped toilet paper soiled with red kisses, rusting banana peels, coffee grains and plastered pieces of fettuccine
that give the black plastic an interior design,

all of it neatly concealed & held together with thick dark Glad easy-tie bags.
Evidence covered and closed,
only the scent remains.

I also came across this interesting piece by artist Simon Evans, called Everything I Have, which is basically a list of everything he owns, further underscoring this theory of lists and feeling alive.

Definitely casts a new light on the things to do list...

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Gobble Gobble

From free turkey to no turkey, a few ad highlights for the season.

Hot Turkey links:
* You can adopt a turkey for the holidays.
* See celebs prepare Thanksgiving dishes.
* Check out Draftfcb's spot produced by The Mills that was orchestrated using a mix of real iPhone footage and 500,000 CGI apples.
* Don't know whether to love or hate the Sexy Pilgrim.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Much too much

Bring back the magic ball and coin toss. I've got some decisions to make. I'm facing a dusty crossroad, and unsure about what's next. I really believe that life can be whatever you wish, will or imagine it to be, and with that realization comes responsibility and massive choice. Give me a die already...

This line of thought reminds me of an old post by Graham Creative about choice in the modern world, where he quotes Charlie Brooker from the Guardian, (a snippet below), which inspired a post about things, items, kit, that helps us make decisions (for lack of a better source).

Every day we humans gleefully churn out yet more books and films and TV shows and videogames and websites and magazine articles and blog posts and emails and text messages, all of it hanging around, competing for attention. Without leaving my seat I can access virtually any piece of music ever recorded, download any film ever made, order any book ever written. And the end result is that I hardly experience any of it. It’s too much. I’ve had it with choice. It makes my head spin.

Here’s what I want: I want to be told what to read, watch and listen to. I want my hands tied. I want a cultural diet. I want a government employee to turn up on my doorstep once a month, carrying a single book for me to read. I want all my TV channels removed and replaced by a single electro-pipe delivering one programme or movie a day. If I don’t watch it, it gets replaced by the following day’s selection. I want all my MP3s deleted and replaced with one unskippable radio station playing one song after the other. And every time I think about complaining, I want a minotaur to punch me in the kidneys and remind me how it was before.

Let's start with the mundane and somewhat irrelevant, the Halloween costume.

400 Costumes to Die For is GS Design’s 2009 annual self-promotional piece. Designed to help recipients decide what to be for Halloween, the piece consists of two custom-made, 20-sided dice – one with 20 modifiers, the other with 20 nouns – that together offer 400 possible original costume combinations (Zombie Elvis, Kung-fu Jesus, M.C. Mollusk, etc.) - Still too much choice!

Images via Lovely Package

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Looks good, tastes better.

My mother was a caterer when I was a kid (now she works as a Speech Pathologist). I can remember bits and pieces of that experience, especially the choice of quiche or duck pate for dinner, when all I really wanted was a burger from Mickie D's (which was completely against the law in my house).

Instead, she ended up making me her version of the Quarter Pounder - a huge gristly, oddly shaped burger that secreted juices every time I took a bite, which ran down my arms, stained my shirt, and left an aroma of charcoal on my skin and clothes hours after digestion. The english muffin masquerading as a bun would be subsumed by the massive beast of a burger that was topped with tomatoes, lettuce, onions and mustard (no Ketchup allowed in my house either - I had to steal the mini Ketchup packs from random fast food restaurants, which served as my hidden stash) and rendered into patches of pink mush.

I also remember my mother imparting some important advice about making dishes look beautiful, from the way food was arranged on plates to the colors of the dish itself. I took this seriously as a kid, and had a lot of fun decorating plates and thinking about the look of meals.

We judge our environment with multiple senses, and sometimes I think we forget to catalyse all five. Something may taste great, but if it looks like a bowl of sick, it's unlikely that we'll appreciate it. Now that doesn't mean that good looks are everything. I had a Pad Thai dish at a raw food vegetarian restaurant in London, which consisted of julienned vegetables with crushed peanuts and a red and green sauce that twirled around the edges of the big white plate, which looked like Martha Stewart's handiwork, but left me famished and unsatisfied.

So, after that most circuitous route, what I am trying to convey is my belief in design when it comes to both preparing meals and packaging design. It can only make a good product look better, rather than dressing a turd in a ballerina outfit, but I do appreciate it. (But maybe I'm just a sucker for great marketing).

Some beautiful examples below:

Images via: Dieline and Lovely Packaging

Monday, 23 November 2009

It's Shit.

The Sprinkle Brigade discovered the power of shit art, not just the smell, but the infinitesimal variations and iterations of this medium. Established in 2005, the SB is composed of a group of guys that still live in their parent's basement.

With no further ado, I present The Sprinkle Brigade:

Grow it.

I remember my first Movember over 3 years ago at an agency in London. It was a time when young men attempted to grow patchy facial hair, a time when upper lips separated the boys from the men. It's back. And unfortunately, I have yet to see sprouting curls or stained jaw lines (actually there's a new guy that works in the back room, who has a thick, burly moustache and no hair on his head (a common phenomenon); kinda reminds me of Kojak). This post is a shout-out to all the moes out there.

Viva Movember!

And if you can't grow it...fake it: