At first this commercial for Temptations Tumblers cat treats by adam@eveDDB/London seemed like a brazen effort to hook viewers in by combining two of the most popular subjects on YouTube — top athletes and adorable cats. The first half of the “Time to Play Ball” Temptations commercial did look like an ad for Nike or Adidas, with not a furry paw in sight. But then the shared attributes of jocks and cats came into focus. The athletes looked steely, determined, alert and focused. Even the hairs on their neck stood at attention. The cats, presented in elegant slow motion, exhibited the same kind of single-minded concentration. Nothing distracted them from the tiny Temptations Tumblers tossed their way. The comparison came together nicely and worked. (It didn’t hurt to be able to feature cute cats and buff jocks either.)
This video is not an ad for Nike+ FuelBand, but it is an offshoot project that fuses technology, human movement and music. The “Field” video is based on HTML technology and requires Google Chrome to let viewers control the experience through the use of a keyboard and mouse to change colors and dot patterns. Nike created it in collaboration with Dazed Digital Magazine and Nosaj Thing, the Los Angeles-based music producer, and FAIR, LA, the design/technology collective led by Julia Tsao. It was produced with Swedish interactive studio, DinahMoe.
Engaging users is also key to the Nike+FuelBand, a matte black rubber-coated wristband that tracks the wearer’s activity through a sport-tested accelerometer that translates every move into NikeFuel – a point system to measure progress against a pre-set goal. The wristband notes every movement – walking, running, jumping – and the amount of calories consumed. Each day users set the goal they wish to attain, and the LED display indicates how well they are doing by changing color from red to yellow to green. Users can upload the data onto their computer or send it via Bluetooth to their smartphone. The FuelBand changes users from passive to active participants in setting and meeting their fitness goals. It becomes a one-person sport challenging users to exceed their personal best.
Made by Wieden + Kennedy from 100% recycled ad footage, the Nike “Better World” campaign features giants like Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong and exhilarating sports feats. The two-minute video’s message is that sports inspires hope, fights prejudice, combats disease and just makes the world a better place. The recycled angle is getting a lot of media play, but that part seems misleading and irrelevant. The film clips are classics. They weren’t recycled out of necessity; they were just too good to remain stashed away, gathering dust in the archive.
These posters won both the Grand Prix for Design in Cannes and the A&AD design awards in 2009. Asked by Nike to create a call-for-entry poster for the Nike Basketball League Competition, Hong Kong’s most prestigious basketball league, McCann Worldgroup turned the poster itself into a spirited competition. McCann selected images of the top 10 players in action to create printing templates and then invited the players to a silkscreen shop in Hong Kong to print their own image randomly on top of one another. The process of overprinting became a battlefield in itself, and the 350 posters made by the team players became one of the hottest Nike collectibles around.
Apple identifies itself with an apple; McDonald’s with its golden arches, and Nike with its swoosh. Does Starbucks’ green mermaid enjoy the same graphic brand recognition without accompaniment of its name?
In unveiling its new no-name logo yesterday, Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ CEO, explained that the 40-year-old company had moved away from its core coffee offerings and the new logo was “more suitable” for the future of its business. Signaling that the company has broadened its branded product line by dropping the word “Coffee” from its identity makes sense, but why drop “Starbucks” too?
Editor’s Note: Alan Webber, who co-founded Fast Company magazine in 1995, has long recognized the role of design as the great differentiator in business. In his most recent business book, “Rules of Thumb,” Webber shares insights gleaned from his own life and work experiences over the past 30 years and distills them down to 52 rules of thumb. Webber’s rules aren’t the end of the discussion; they are the beginning, with readers invited to add their own rules. Here we reprint Rule #28. Webber’s other 51 rules are just as pertinent and interesting.
Good design is table stakes.
Great design wins.
In the last few years since I left Fast Company and started traveling a lot, I’ve noticed a global leitmotif, as if the same piece of music were being played in different countries all over the world.
In Tokyo at a conference on innovation I sat down with an old friend, a business sociologist and strategist for leading Japanese companies.
“Japan used to be a low-cost exporter of manufactured goods,” I said. “But those days are clearly over. What’s Japan’s new national strategy?”
“We don’t think there’s a problem,” she told me. “Japan intends to compete globally on the quality of our design.”
It made sense to me. Japan has an exquisite sense of style and presentation.