Moms Demand Action, a gun-control group backed by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, has launched an advertising campaign asking retail chains to refuse service to shoppers who openly carry assault rifles into their establishments. In response to retailer claims that doing that would violate their customers’ civil liberties, the ads point out that retailers have had no qualms about enforcing a ban on shirtless shoppers, eating ice cream cones and skateboarding. This series of ads targets Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the U.S. So far, nearly a half dozen national restaurants and stores have reversed course in response to Moms Demand Action advertising and publicity campaign. No word yet from Kroger.
Public service announcements (PSAs) mean well, but often times they play on people’s fears, guilt or soft-heartedness to get viewers to pay attention. That’s why these PSAs from the British Heart Foundation are so refreshing. Produced by Grey London and directed by Steve Bendelack, the new Mini Vinnie CPR ad is a sequel to one done featuring British actor/pro football player Vinnie Jones. Embedded in the spoof are some valuable tips on how to give hard and fast hands-only CPR in an emergency. These entertaining ads follow in the tradition of the British Heart Foundation’s PSA, starring British actor/playwright Steven Berkoff on how to identify the symptoms of a heart attack. They are all about stayin’ alive.
These commercials aren’t selling what you think they do. They were created by London-based John Nolan Studio/Robot Factory, which boasts an impressive portfolio of film assignments including “Dr. Who” and “Where the Wild Things Are.” The Nolan’s Cheese and Nolan’s Nuts brands don’t exist, but John Nolan’s animatronic design and FX services do, and the videos show off the firm’s talent and capabilities quite effectively – little wonder that they went viral online. The cheese video came out first, and a nutty variation of the idea followed.
Sometimes a literal visualization of a message is the most effective one. These billboards by creative agency Extra Credit Projects in Grand Rapid, Michigan, promote the services of Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, an 80-bed rehab center in Grand Rapids. On the all-text billboard ads, the ailment to be treated is clear; nothing more need be said or shown to improve understanding.
As an aside, the name of the hospital itself has a fascinating origin. In 1891, a group of women in Grand Rapids sought to provide medical care for people with limited financial means by asking everyone named Mary, as well as those who knew anyone named Mary, to donate money to secure a free bed in one of the local hospitals. The so-called Mary Free Bed Guild went on to raise funds for convalescent and orthopedic centers for disabled children. In 1966, the program, expanded to care for spinal injury and stroke adult patients, was renamed Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.
Would you like history better if everything wasn’t so old? This ad campaign to promote UKTV Yesterday Channel’s new 14- part series called “The Secret Life of…” makes over famous figures to help us understand how they might present themselves if they were alive today. The Yesterday channel — which uses the tagline “Entertainment inspired by history” — commissioned award-winning author/historian Dr. Suzannah Lipscomb to work with a team of digital artists to give classic portraits an up-to-date twist. Queen Elizabeth I looks like an “iron lady” CEO who enjoys downsizing under performers.
The new advertising campaign for Whiskas from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in the UK is built around the premise that big cats (i.e., leopards, lions, jaguars, etc.) and little cats share the same natural instincts. Understanding this behaviorial link, Whiskas says it gives domestic kitties all they naturally need in one pet food product. I love the ads, but question the connection. My cat sleeps all day and won’t take on anything more dangerous than a fake mouse and a ball on a string. But I can imagine that when my cat daydreams, she sees herself stalking a herd of zebra, cozying up to lions, taunting an elephant, and running as fast as an antelope. In her dreams, she’s untamed and courageous and keeping company with wild beasts. She’d love these ads.
Old Spice men’s fragrances has a new executive marketing director, and he’s a real wolf. This commercial made by Wieden + Kennedy proves that the global ad agency is having far too much fun to call it working. It’s interesting that unlike most men’s scent ads, there is no real plug for how sexy and desirable the product will make you. No, women in cleavage-revealing gowns running their red fingernails teasingly over the man’s firm unshaven jaw. No hint of pheromones wafting through the air, leading women like Barbie doll zombies in search of the source. No, these ads are snarky and tongue-in-cheek funny. And like an increasing number of marketing campaigns, they don’t stop with one ad. Wolfdog has his own website/blog, Twitter account, homework “service,” and Call of Duty game. Will it make men rush out to buy the product? Don’t know, but it will raise awareness of Old Spice and get people talking.
If all the holiday ads featuring Christmas trees were planted side by side, they would fill an entire forest. So it is refreshing to see some companies give their own creative spin to this overworked visual cliche. The message is concise, amusing and not cloyingly sentimental – and the ads are free of reindeer, rosy-cheeked Santa, and overly cute children in bathrobes and fuzzy slippers running to their presents under the Christmas. A nice change of pace. Merry Christmas!
In the UK, CBS Outdoor has been trying to convince advertisers to think outdoors in the city by running an in-house branding campaign on buses, trains and the London Underground. Called “Outdoor by Name, Urban by Nature,” the strategic ad series features animals and birds made up of silhouettes of familiar regional landmarks in the UK. The ad running in London, for example, depicts Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, Wembley Stadium and other urban icons. Citing data from ONS and TGI surveys, CBS Outdoor says that “87% of urban respondents have seen Outdoor advertising in the last week.” This is nearly double the number of city dwellers who are exposed to ads via newspapers and radio.
These viral videos are actually ads for New Era Cap Company, which is the exclusive manufacturer and marketer of caps for all U.S. major league baseball teams, minor affiliates and more than 200 U.S. colleges and universities. The videos don’t mention headwear until the close, but viewers recognize the rivalry, antics, jabs and banter of sport fanatics just by seeing the logo on the caps. The Chicago Cubs and White Sox caps make clear each wearer’s team loyalties and “tribal ” identifications.
Starring popular character actors Craig Robinson and Nick Offerman, the series of video ads are hilarious – and probably very close to reality. The ads follow on the heels of another Brooklyn Brothers ad series for New Era, starring actors Alec Baldwin and John Krasinski and the rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox.
City-dwellers know that we are constantly bombarded with graphic messages. It’s the “white noise” of urban living. Most of us tune it out like the omnipresent sound of traffic and pedestrian chatter.
This 2006 award-winning film, made by Netherlands-based Studio Smack for Museum de Beyerd in Breda, has become a classic. Like an x-ray, the film “Kapitaal” zeroes in only on the graphic stimuli encountered by an “unseen commuter” waiting on a platform for the train, riding the subway and walking through the city. Everything but the graphic information is reduced to black silhouettes. Signage, logos, ads, train timetables, graffiti, posters and packaging labels stand out in stark white contrast. There is no voiceover commentary, just the claustrophobic visual assault pressing in from every direction. It begs the question: How much do people really notice in a world of information overload? How can designers and advertisers avoid adding to the visual clutter and give the public something they really want to see?
When you consider standard car ads, you can pretty much imagine the scenario – beautiful young couple driving over curvy scenic roads or attracting envious stares from suburban neighbors as the car pulls into the driveway. So it is refreshing to see how Volkswagen Phaeton has elevated its ads to fine art in order to convey the handmade quality of the luxury sedan. In India, DDB Mudra Group in Mumbai suggested the artisan’s pride of craftsmanship and attention to intricate details through the use of a traditional Indian art form. The way the Phaeton is integrated into the art is both surprising and memorable. More importantly, this isn’t a “foreign” ad jarringly adapted to an Indian audience. It speaks directly to India’s rich aesthetic heritage.
San Francisco-based photographer Ryan Heffernan took these dramatic shots for a Japan Rags ad campaign. What looks like a freeze-frame photograph captured with split-second timing is actually a composite of three different stills.
Today design trends ricochet around the globe instantaneously, thanks to the Internet. But a look at these posters, advertisements and magazine covers produced in Japan in the 1920s and 1930s show the integration of art movements from European cultures, including Constructivism, Surrealism and Cubism. The graphic works — which appeared in “Modernism on Paper: Japanese Graphic Design of the 1920s-30s” by Naomichi Kawabata – represent a period when communication design was emerging in Japan. The posters and ads from this period are sometimes referred to as “city art,” because merchants wanted to appeal to urban consumers by departing from traditional pictorial naturalism and embracing message-driven avant-garde visuals that implied that they were keeping pace with styles from the West. The aesthetics and composition communicated this awareness of the larger world and established many of the principles of early graphic design in Japan.
The World Wildlife Fund, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2011, has produced some terrific ads over the years. This is a series that we hadn’t seen, although it was produced by BBH Shanghai in 2008. The ads address the misconception in China that the World Wildlife Fund only protects Giant Pandas that are native to the mountain forests of central China. To raise awareness of WWF’s other conservation activities in the country, this black-and-white print and outdoor ad campaign integrated WWF’s panda logo (and China’s national symbol) into images of antelopes, forests and water.