Blogorama: Agency Interiors

This Ain't New Disco is a new blog documenting ad agency interiors (see a few examples below). You can show off your digs by submitting pics here. If you are interested in the entire topic of spaces and creativity, Russell Davies made a number of comments some time ago.

Here are a few good books on the subject:

The Hive Cooperative, Denver

Naked Communications, Australia

Clear Blue Day, Australia

Blogorama: CAVI Digital Experience

Inspiration: 300 Game Mechanics

If you are into advergaming design, are tired of the endless Bejewelled brand-skins, and are looking for inspiration, check out the 300 Game Mechanics challenge with Sean Howard posting one entirely new game mechanic each day for almost a year. Idea #22 -- an entire adventure game in a 81x31 banner.
-- via Kotaku

Altoids Clues Game in Google Earth

Altoids launched "Where's Cindy" game where you have to follow clues around Google Earth to locate, well, Cindy. There's no immediately available back story explaining why you should care about her besides the suggestion that she's "super hot", but it's an interesting attempt that highlights the difficulties around creating interactive applications around Google Earth. The gameplay, at least at the early stages that saw, is about showing you a drawing of a location and asking you to type it into the "passport" to download a kml file with the corresponding placemark in Google Earth. The placemarks don't do much besides showing a link back to a different page on the website with a new clue, so there's a lot of switching between the program and your browser as each clue has to be downloaded as a separate kml file. Also, it is not entirely clear why Altoids chose Google Earth over the much more convenient Google Maps.

Spiderman 3 in Google Earth

Apes Talk, Understand Brands

credit: abc news

ABC News: "The residents of the Great Ape Trust are part of groundbreaking language research where the apes are being taught to communicate with humans by pressing 350 lexigrams -- symbols that appear on a screen and represent thoughts and objects."

Something tells me monkeys will be back in the next year's SuperBowl ads:

"I read Kanzi [one of the apes] a series of words, and then without fail, he hit the corresponding lexigram symbol on a touch screen.
I said "Egg."
He pressed "Egg."
I said, "M and M."
He pressed 'M and M.

Google Gears Powers Offline Apps

"Google Gears is an open source browser extension that enables web applications to provide offline functionality." Search Engine Roundtable shows how Gears work to make Google Reader accessible offline. "Meanwhile, the company also plans to add other programs such as e-mail, calendar, word processing, and spreadsheet to its list of Gears-enabled offerings. As of now, Google has partnered with Adobe Systems to use "Google Gears" in their products." (TechTree)

Google Maps Get Street-Level View

Google has added street-level pictures for major cities (NYC and SF among them) to its Google Maps service. See the Time Sq. billboards?

NY Times on Consumer-Generated Crap

NY Times on Heinz's "create an ad for us" YouTube contest gone not quite as expected: "Companies have found that inviting consumers to create their advertising is often more stressful, costly and time-consuming than just rolling up their sleeves and doing the work themselves."

I don't think it's about agencies wanting free ads. It's more about brands trying to open up to participatory culture and letting fans into the institutionalized part of the meaning-making world, but the YouTube tool is often way too blunt for the purpose. It's also a convenient short-cut: "Hm, so how to we let people interact with the brand? Oh, why, let's do YouTube." I still don't understand why the contests should be about video. How many "user-generated" print campaigns have we seen besides Nikon's?

Anyway, YouTube has a special contest page; there you'll find Samsung, Cingular, TaxCut, among others.

Thoughtvertising on eBay

"Bid to sponsor ThoughtVertising. Successful bidder to provide me with the brand message, logo or product. Every hour on the hour for an entire week I think about your brand regardless of the social situation or circumstance."
-- via AdRants

Sony Patents Telepathy
Dream Machine and Subliminal Ads?
Future: Product Placement in Dreams

Apple Angry Over iGasm Posters

You've seen these popular interpretations of the silhouette Apple iPods ads before -- used for everything from political satire (iRaq et al) to promoting church services. Now, Apple is unhappy about this particular one for the iGasm vibrator:

"Women all over Britain are saying yes, yes, yes to the £30 iGasm that plugs into a music player and delivers good vibrations that pulse to the beat. But shocked iPod bosses are iRate—demanding stores take down all posters for the gadget or risk a fight in the iCourt."

Gotta love the tabloid copy, too.

-- via MacWorld

Blogger Testimonials in Ads

On the topic of using internet celebrities in advertising: just saw this banner ad (click it to zoom) on Digg: "In our very subjective opinion, AskCity has become the best mapping product on the internet." The quote is by Michael Arrington, the founder of the TechCrunch blog with over 400K RSS readers that covers tech start-ups. The URL behind the ad was this; it was dead last night when I clicked it, but I'm curious to see what the landing page is.

Arrington wrote about AskCity's launch last December in this post, but the banner quote is not from there and it doesn't come up on Google as published anywhere else.

Online Celebrities in Ad Campaigns
Product Placement in Lonelygirl15
Bruce Willis on iChat

Google TV Ads Beta Sign-Up

I was googling around when this set of AdWords came up (see if you can find the right search string yourself):

Google's own ad leads to, the sign-up page for the pilot TV advertising program announced last month.

Text Ads on

This looks fairly new: apparently, Yahoo has extended its text advertising program to its social bookmarking service that it had acquired back in 2005.

I wrote before that ads on social networking sites should acquire some of the social properties as well, like the gadget ads Google is currently testing, and many others. For, it would make sense to add "save this" button on each ad unit.

KFC Edits YouTube Clips into Spot

Instead of goading people into creating videos for the company, KFC started from the other end and scoured YouTube for clips it then compiled into a spot.

USA Today: "On Tuesday on American Idol, KFC will air an ad built from snippets of consumers' Web videos. The ad, called "Celebration," shows people pumping fists, flipping, jumping and generally going bonkers, ostensibly for the chain's new menu of chicken with no trans fats.

KFC evaluated 400 videos and got approval to use 35, before making the final cut to clips from 13 people, including a vegetarian." See the video.

Online Celebrities in Ad Campaigns
KFC Claims Secret-Message Ad Successful
ABC Rejects KFC Ad As Subliminal

Inflating YouTube Stats

YouTube has just the kind of thing that's been promised to advertisers for years -- the exact number of times a commercial has been viewed. Here are a couple of articles about how these numbers can be artificially inflated: a new one from InfoWorld, one from January in ZDNet blogs, and an example at PR Blogger. Why bother? Because crowds draw in bigger crowds; the most viewed video gets promoted to the front page, driving more views.

And it's not an exclusively YouTube's problem. "The study identifies,,,,, and as the beneficiaries of spyware-driven traffic," writes IT News.

Study: Customer Service Boosts Stock Price

A study published in January 2006 in Journal of Marketing: "It is possible to beat the market consistently by investing in forms that do well on the ACSI [American Customer Satisfaction Index." Consumerist, which has a pdf copy of the article, explains, "Companies at the top 20% of the the American Customer Satisfaction Index greatly outperformed the the stock market, generating a 40% return."

Interesting. Would it be possible to beat the ASCI's quarterly schedule by ordering your own Net Promoter surveys for selected companies? Is anyone doing this already? Comments? (moderated).

Update: here's a study from London School of Economics that links Net Promoter Score and company (and stock) performance.

Joost Invites

Get Joost invites right from the web here and here.

Friday Special: 40,000 What Jobs?

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

PSA: Magazine Calls for Ad Addicts

Since you are likely to be interested in ads, I'm forwarding to you this email I just received:

"A nationally syndicated news magazine is working on a story about this unique subculture of super ad-fans. They are interested in interviewing someone who can wax poetic about advertising all day long and rattle off One Show "Best of Show" winners like nobody’s business. If you feel that you are this person, please contact me at 212.255.8455 or Meredith (at) rosengrouppr (dot) com."

Ringtones on Paper

The Mechanical Music Box: "Make your own music box melodies with this mechanical music box set. Comes with hand-cranked music box, one pre-punched music strip that plays the "Happy Birthday" song, 3 unpunched strips (48cm), a hole punch, and instruction manual to have you creating your own music box melody in minutes." About $15.
-- via Cool Hunting

Wired Video Umbrella

"Pileus is an umbrella connected to the Internet to make walking in rainy days fun. Pileus has a large screen on the top surface, a built-in camera, a motion sensor, GPS, and a digital compass, and it provides two main functions; a social photo-sharing and a 3D map navigation."

What kinds of ads would work on this situational display? Exotic cruises to sunnier places? Aspirin?

A few other media umbrellas:
iBrella - an iPod controller
Music umbrella

Concept: Wi-Fi Billboards

Offtopic: Inspirational Photoshop

Every time I am down, my old (6.0) trusty Photoshop is there for me. "Be a man, buddy", he tells me. "Show character."

Easter Eggs in Products
Ads in Game Easter Eggs

Dog Welcomes Customers to Store

credit: weird asia news

From the "Aww, cute!" department: this dog was dressed up by the leather store owner and sits at the front door welcoming customers in. "And when a customer is leaving, he will bow, expressing thanks." How do I tag this post: formats or devices?
-- Weird Asia News via Trendhunter

Quote of the Day

Fort Wayne Gazette (Indiana) on consumers participating in ad creation process:

"We can’t blame the outsiders, the brainwashers, the clever admen, when we are all complicit, when we are all One of Them."

Firefox Extension Replaces Ads with Art

If you enjoyed AdWordless Google yesterday, here's more ad-avoidance goodness: AddArt, a Firefox extension prototype, replaces banner ads with art. A write-up in NY Times; via Stay Free! The NY Times piece also mentions this piece of trivia from Forrester: "53 percent of consumers had ad-blocking software on their computers in 2006, up from just 21 percent in 2004." That probably includes all the pop-up blockers that come bundled with browsers these days, though, but I'll post more if I find out something. The Forrester research is this one, if your organization has a subscription, and here's more info in Information Week.

NewsBreaker Theater Game: Video

The video of the NewsBreaker game in an LA movie theater is now posted on YouTube. Besides the techno coolness involved, I think it is (or could have been, I'm guessing here) a case of brilliant social engineering. You don't really have to train the motion sensor or the camera on the entire audience (an exercise that must be costly and complicated). You can point it only at one individual and have the game react to his or her motions only, while people in the audience think it's their collective effort that directs the paddle -- and they wouldn't know any different unless they somehow move in perfect sync in the opposite direction.

Come to think of it, you don't need any motion sensor at all: just have the paddle move automatically according to some algorithm, and have a couple of your people in the audience to stand up and pretend they are playing to get the crowd going. In this case, it will be the paddle controlling the crowd, not the other way around. Maybe that's why Brand Experience Lab calls the game Crowd Control.

Search Google Without Ads

Here, make your own dent in GOOG's stock price -- Google search without AdSense AdWords.
-- via techeblog

Playboy Soon in Second Life

Playboy Island in Second Life is opening soon. Look for Playboy in group search, join, and you too can be a playmate (that's the title group members get automatically). I bumped today into someone who said the island was actually open, but when I tried, the teleport failed. Don't you love the island's shape, though? It's one of the few businesses for whom Second Life is a natural fit, given how many of the residents spend most of their time.

Weekend Movie: Doll Face

You have to see the Doll Face video, either on YouTube or as a Quicktime on the makers' site (higher rez). The execution of this very familiar theme will give you shivers.

By the way, if you haven't seen the hilarious spoof of Dove's Evolution spot, see it on YouTube and also visit the Campaign Against Real Life site.

Bruce Willis on iChat

Credit: FreezeDried Movies

You signed a celebrity to endorse your product, you put him or her on your ads, even though you secretly know that the power of celebrity endorsement is declining. What's next? I don' think I've ever seen a brand opening access to its celebs, but see the reaction to Bruce Willis's appearance on fan forums and an iChat session.

The Pop-Up Book of Celebrity Meltdowns
Online Celebrities in Ad Campaigns
Product Placement in Lonelygirl15
Offtopic: Chavez's Endorsement Pushes Chomsky To Top of Charts

Salon: Where's The Future?

credit: tales of future past

Salon runs an excellent feature reviewing a book titled "Where's My Jetpack" -- an illustrated catalog of undelivered techno-prophecies -- and musing about the bleakness of the future as we imagine it today. The author, Simon Reynolds, writes: "From the trusty traffic meters and sturdy blue mailboxes to the iconic yellow taxis and occasional cop on horseback, 21st century New York looks distressingly nonfuturistic. For a former science science fiction fanatic like me, this is brutally disappointing."

A couple of good sites on the subject: Paleo Future, Technovelgy, and Tales of Future Past. And something from George Carlin: "The future will soon be a thing of the past."

Screenshots: PlayStation Home

Credit: PlayStation Universe

As you might know, Sony is building Home, "a real-time 3D, networked community that serves as a meeting place for PlayStation 3 users from around the world, where they can interact, communicate, join online games, shop, share content and even build their own personal spaces." PlayStation Universe has some new screenshots. More details and a video on Joystiq, and more info on Wiki.

YouTube Tests Embedded Ads

Credit: NewTeeVee

NewTeeVee reports (with more screenshots) that YouTube is testing a new advertising format with text ads appearing inside the player. Once clicked, the ad expands to the full screen. Compare this new format to the idea first voiced in this post last December, and also to AdBrite's execution.

A mock-up from the December post.

Adbrite Launches Customizable Video Player
Idea: How to Put Ads into YouTube
Follow-up: Embedding Ads into YouTube Players

Motorola Patents Smell-o-phone

"Motorola was recently granted a patent for a way of making a handset release scents by heating a special cartridge. It was inspired by the way plug-in air fresheners work." See the patent. Also read about smelltones.
-- New Scientist

A Bottle of New Car Scent
Smelly Packaging Encourages Impulse Purchase
Marketers Should Create Multisensory Campaigns
Smelly Postage Stamps
Hasbro Bottles Play-Doh Fragrance
Smelltone Ringtone
Movie Screening to Be Enhanced With Scents
WSJ to Offer Smelly Ads
Flashback: Perfumed Ink for Smelly Ads

More Details on NewsBreaker Live Game

A couple of pictures from the LA premier of Spiderman 3 and the NewsBreaker Live game that is played by the audience interacting with the movie theater screen. Brand Experience Lab that's been working with the SS+K agency (+ Fuel Industries) on the project will be uploading a video here, and offers a few additional details.

Credit: SS+K / Sam Mazur

Credit: Brand Experience Lab / David Polinchock

Oh, and regarding the Joost invites: I think I sent them to everyone who'd left a comment, but I'm keeping the comments hidden so that your email addresses don't get spam-botted.

NewsBreaker Goes Live in Theaters
Interactivity in Movie Theaters
Fiat Advertises With Interactive Movie in Brazilian Theaters
New Gaming Media: Movie Theaters and DVDs
Movie Screening to Be Enhanced With Scents
Theater Combines Stereo Projection with Live Performance

Two Articles on Marketing Ethnography

Two articles on agencies doing ethnographic research: in Goodby (2005) and BBDO (2007). Also, if you are not familiar with lifelogging, check out this article for some history and background.
-- thank you, Nicole

Camera Tracks Eye Movements from Distance

"A camera that monitors eye movements from up to 10 metres away makes it possible for smart billboards that track the attention of passers-by. Until now, eye-tracking systems have only worked over about half a metre." Developed by Roel Vertegaal, a Canadian professor, the device is called eyebox2 and costs $999. More at and New Scientist Tech. Tech specs (pdf).
-- thank you, John

Glasses Track Eye Movement, Ad Exposure
Nielsen to Measure Billboard Exposure with nPod

Business Card for Debt Recovery Agent

A business card for a debt recovery agent on an X-ray film of a broken finger, in India (direct daily). I am collecting business cards (virtual and real) and will be posting them as more come in, but if you know of a good one, please drop me a line. Also see concept cards by Ideo, for a divorce lawyer, for a dentist, and made of lock picks.

More Details on Joost Advertising

Some time ago, I posted a general overview of ad formats in Joost. This was before the company announced the product's formal launch last Tuesday carrying some 30 advertisers who'd signed up for the three-months trial. I thought I'd pop in and see who's doing what.

The advertisers are Coca-Cola, HP, Intel, Nike, Electronic Arts; Esurance; Garnier Fructis; Kraft; Lionsgate; Microsoft Corp.; Motorola Inc.; Nestlé Purina PetCare; Procter & Gamble; Procter & Gamble (Hugo Boss Fragrances); Sony Electronics, Inc.; Taco Bell Corp.; United Airlines; US Army; Visa; and the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company (Orbit, Extra, and Eclipse), General Motors Europe with Opel and Vauxhall brands; IBM; L'Oréal Paris; Nokia Nseries; Unilever's Magnum Ice Creams; Virgin Money; Vodafone; and Warner Bros.

You can type in their names in Joost's search field and get a list of the respective ad content. Alternatively, you can also use this (new?) content search feature on the Joost site. Not all of the advertisers have uploaded their stuff onto Joost; either that, or they are tricky to find. Searching for Coke and its derivatives returned only a comedy clip "Mentos and Champagne". If you don't have Joost, you can see the clip on this site.

I haven't seen any video content created specifically for Joost; but some of the recycled material works better, I think, with Joost playlist format.

Esurance is using its Carbon Copy animated series, and it works better than on the web: you can sit back and watch all the episodes at once without having to click and wait and click again (the web version requires Windows Media Player or Quicktime). If you click the "hand raiser" -- that semi-circle area on the top -- you'll get the interactive pull-down thingie with interactive features.

Here, things look a bit raw: the Spy option's effect is not immediately clear, and the eSurance logo at the bottom-left corner seems clickable but again does nothing (it could've been a problem on my end or one of Joost's glitches this weekend).

The most interesting feature is the insurance rate quoting applet: when clicked, it takes you to a kind of mini-browser where you are invited to enter you zip code. The feature wasn't working well either; when I typed in the "2" in my 0213* zip, Joost simply kicked me out and into some other channel.

Microsoft has uploaded its "Defy All Challenges" machinima videos promoting the new software suite, and it, too, works well in the playlist mode.

Sony Electronics has a bunch of funny ads for its gadgets. Its "hand raisers" are customized for each individual commercial and offer more info on the product advertised at the very moment. Smart, but strangely, no clickable link to the main site.

Many "hand-raisers" have little more than a "visit our site" link which opens what seems to be a browser embedded into Joost. Although it's not working too well -- you see error messages and the site's background falls off and becomes see-through -- it's an important development. Advertisers can potentially include direct buy-it-now links (would work for impulse purchases such as ringtones or music) and interactive content (games?).

Finally, Joost has raised the invitations limit to 999. Leave your first/last name and email address in the comments (moderated) if you need one. There is no bulk invite feature yet and manual invitations are somewhat laborious, but I think I can handle 20 or so.

Joost Launches
Screenshots: Advertising on Joost
Joost's Advertising Model
Joost Runs on Apple TV

Visa Launches World of Warcraft Card

A year ago, Phillip Torrone wrote in MAKE: "Very soon, credit card companies and game makers will reward their customers who spend money in the real world using private label "rewards" credit cards. They will use gifts of virtual currency such as Blizzard's World of Warcraft gold and Second Life's Linden dollars."

Now, Visa teamed up with Blizzard Entertainment, the makers of World of Warcraft, to offer a credit card that rewards WoW players with playtime if they make a qualifying purchase: "for each $1 spent on their WOW Visas, players will get $0.01 credit toward their $14.99 monthly subscription fee" (GameSpot).

QJ blog reports there are still some wrinkles to be ironed out: "The sign up page asks players to enter their WoW account names, but an error pops up if account names have a number on them. The error: Please enter only Alpha characters for your World of Warcraft Account Name. But if players chop the numbers off their account names, it wouldn't be theirs at all."

Monopoly Switches to Plastic
Visa in "The Game of Life"

PSA: Sources for Story in Contagious

The sources for the story in the Contagious Magazine (annual subscription: $1,900) about behaviorally targeted ads in Second Life:

I know it's probably an honest omission, and I am not perfect about sourcing everything either, and I hate to be so uptight about it, but come on, not a single link?

Update [May 8, 2007]: The matter's been settled and the mistake corrected. Thank you, Jess (see comments).

NewsBreaker Goes Live in Theaters

source: Brand Experience Lab

NewsBreaker, the's Breakout-style game that is played by the audience interacting with the movie theater screens went live in LA this weekend. Stay tuned for details and pictures, and if you are in LA, try it in "The Bridge theatre inside LA’s prestigious Howard Hughes Center" (Contagious Mag). A couple of brief blog posts from the creators here and here.

Interactivity in Movie Theaters
Fiat Advertises With Interactive Movie in Brazilian Theaters
New Gaming Media: Movie Theaters and DVDs
Movie Screening to Be Enhanced With Scents
Theater Combines Stereo Projection with Live Performance

Idea: Self-Powering Billboards

A concept by an Arizona State Uni student to turn overhead signage on highways into turbines "that will be powered by the turbulence created from the passing cars."

Of course, you can always hook your billboard to a stationary bike or a treadmill.

Usable Conference Badges

To continue the series about designing attendee-friendly conferences: Mike Davidson suggests a better design for conference badges -- the Socially Optimized Badge, as he calls it. Something I also suggested before: "Lanyard contains name of conference instead of being sold to a sponsor. No one cares what the lanyard looks like, so go ahead and sell it to Yahoo or something."

Designing Usable Conferences
Rant: Conference Blog Coverage Aggregation

Steve Jobs Movie Posters

A couple of entries from "Design a Steve Jobs Movie Poster" contest held a couple of years ago on a blog, posted here to illustrate the point that videos are not the easiest type of content to ask "users" to "generate".

Cupboard Made From Ad Signs

"A cupboard built out of turning advertising signs so the expression of its surface changes."
-- Front Design

Balihoo: Search Engine for Media Buyers

Just stumbled upon this future product that is supposed to come out in a few months: "Balihoo is a vertical search engine for cross-medium ad opportunities enabling the quick and efficient discovery of best-suited media."

Joost Launches

"Joost, the worlds first broadcast-quality Internet television service, today announced that it has commercially launched."
-- press release

Their website is yet to be updated, though.

Screenshots: Advertising on Joost
Joost's Advertising Model
Joost Runs on Apple TV