In Case You Wanted One Of Those Cool Stickers From Apple's Latest Commercial...

Monday, July 28, 2014 by

Apple’s latest ad features a stop-motion style video of MacBook Airs adorned with unique stickers. In shot after shot, the stickers cleverly interact with the Apple logo on the MacBook’s lid -- showcasing not only how cool it can look with a decal applied but also the the passion people have for all things Apple (our Charlotte marketing agency included).

Apple features some of the playful stickers from the spot on their “Stickers” page, but Mike Wehner of The Unofficial Apple Blog has gone trough the trouble of tracking down 74 of the stickers featured in the spot for you to purchase. Since some of the stickers aren’t actually available for purchase anywhere, he's even found similar alternatives for you. Check them out here.

Logo Interpretation

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 by

You don't have to be a regular on NPR to be familiar with the Sharing Economy and how it's playing a role in our everyday lives. People are constantly talking about new companies like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb. So it wasn't a surprise when people REALLY started talking about Airbnb's new identity created by London branding agency, DesignStudio.

The new logo, called Belo, is said to represent three things: a person with their arms above their head, a location marker, an upside down heart. People, places and love - as well as the letter A.

As a branding agency, here at birdsong gregory, we're very aware of what can happen when branding is done without proper homework and research. There seems to be mixed emotions about the newly presented logo. We like it. What do you think?

Say hello to the Mandroid – Old Spice's newest pitchman

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 by

With a comically crude humanoid reminiscent of something the Jawas on Tatooine might have assembled, the Old Spice "Mandroid" will be popping up in a variety of channels this summer to promote what might be the first fragrance worn by both your 80-year old grandfather AND your 12-year old son. In the first commercial, The Mandroid, a half man, half robot character, topples over and nearly crushes a woman lying on the beach. In another video The Mandroid meets a woman on the dance floor but his face inconveniently falls off. Completely.

But it doesn't matter because The Mandroid uses Old Spice products. He smells so good that a woman is willing to overlook minor details like the fact she's talking to a hybrid creature whose face just fell off in front of her.

Old Spice has a history of producing zany, over the top commercials that often go viral, as with the renowned The Man Your Man Could Smell Like ad. Even by those standards though, the latest ads, created by Wieden + Kennedy Portland, may veer a bit too far into the bizarre for some peoples' tastes.

The beach commercial will run on TV, while the nightclub spot will be shared online only. Several other Old Spice commercials are slated to come out over the next two months.

And if you find this crudely assembled humanoid, with his bad toupee and cheesy pick up lines, to be over the top in terms of grossness (the general consensus at out marketing agency Charlotte), then you're reaction is intended.

According to a five-year study published in the Journal of Marketing ResearchArizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business, if you really want to get people to act, disgust is much more powerful than fear. Perhaps that's why consumers have seen a recent slew of commercials with high gross-out factors.

Another online retailer gets real with brick and mortar

Friday, July 11, 2014 by

Birchbox, the previously online retailer that sends monthly beauty and grooming sample boxes to more than 800,000 subscribers, is opening its first store today in Manhattan.

In case you're not familiar with the service, Birchbox is a monthly membership service. It costs $10 a month and you receive 5 deluxe size beauty samples in the mail. You can cancel the service at any time, although, the Birchbox fans at our Charlotte marketing agency eagerly anticipate their monthly beauty assortment.

Unlike a startup like the jewelry site BaubleBar, Birchbox doesn’t sell products under its own name, but the company had such a strong response to the popup store it creeated during New York Fashion Week last September, that they decided to open a brick-and-mortar location to give a new dimension to its “discovery retail” model.

According to Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox’s co-founder and co-CEO, “Silos force you to shop a brand.” So in order to merchandise the way customers shop, the new store will be arranged by category rather than brand (eyes, blush, hair, etc.) — which is distinctly different from the plangogram of a department store or a speciality retailer like Sephora.

The company, which counts Accel Partners and First Round Capital among its investors, has said its samples are 10 times more effective than the rest of the beauty industry in driving customers to ultimately purchase full-size versions of products. That’s critical, given that men and women are likely to stay with the same brands once they’re hooked. With this brick-and-mortar location, Birchbox will get to see how its full-size products perform right out the gate (and probably acquire more subscribers in-store).

Taking advantage of the new physical presence, Birchbox will also hold classes on topics such as makeup contouring, which will be free for subscribers, as well as hair, nail and makeup services for a fee. In the back of the store, customers can even build their own Birchbox, for $15. 

Remember when a store was a place where you just bought things?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 by

Obviously, you can still find plenty of good old-fashioned retailers where the sum of the experience is almighty commerce. From the dusty disarray of a big box merchant's "stack 'em high, let 'em fly" environment to the glass and chrome aerie of today's mall, most stores function as a cleaner, safer version of the warehouse (with some cool POS graphics thrown in to reenforce the distinction)

When a retailer figures out how to use their physical space to create a brand experience, however, the old buyer/seller relationship becomes a lot more interesting.

In my mind, Apple stores deserve much of the credit for really extending the continuum. Their stores were designed as a space where customers could interact with the brand on individual, more emotional terms, and while critics once questioned the ROI of dedicating an entire wall of prime Madison Avenue retail space to a free service like the Genius Bar, the intensely intimate and experiential nature of an Apple Store has since inspired its share of acolytes.

Online men’s clothing retailer Bonobos (where, full disclosure, more than one dude at our Charlotte marketing agency likes to get his style on) has built an enormously loyal following, and now offers something called Guideshops across North American and in the UK. In these "stores" -- if you will -- customers can't actually "buy" anything, but are welcome to try on the merchandise, choose different colors and patterns, and immerse themselves in all things Bonobos -- with the help of a stylist (they call them Guides) and a whiskey from the fully stocked bar. Brand enthusiasts can then march home and order online. 

What's the ROI on this kind of newfangled commerce? Bonobos is privately held, so it's hard to gauge.

But Mattel’s American Girl Place, which offers in-store restaurants (where little girls and their even smaller dolls can order a three course meal, or -- get this -- an in-store hair salon where your precious Bride of Chucky doll can get some 'lights and a blowout) generates more than $1,500 of revenues per square foot, one of the highest in the industry (behind leader Apple, and in the company of stores like Tiffany and Coach).

Compare that to a paltry $240 for Toys “R” Us.

Clearly shopping no longer has to be just about the transaction.

Until it's time to check out, that is.

A Global Packaging Design Agency Plants a Flag in Charlotte

Monday, July 7, 2014 by

At birdsong gregory, we've known for years that Charlotte is a great location from which to find and support North American CPG clients. With a bunch of retailer and manufacturer brands already headquartered here in the Queen City, Charlotte also offers (or, at least, used to) an easy air connection to most major U.S. cities. 

So we weren't surprised when Team Créatif Group, a marketing and design firm based in Paris, announced plans to set up its U.S. headquarters in Charlotte, with an eye on adding 40 workers over the next three years. According to a Charlotte Chamber release, the company will lease 3,000 square feet somewhere downtown.

In case you haven't heard of Team Créatif, they're an international design agency with offices in France, Brazil and Indonesia. Their global clients include the Mars family of brands (Pedigree, Royal Canin and Whiskas) and Danone (Volvic, Actimel, Activia and Nutricia, etc).

As a native Charlotte marketing agency, it's gratifying to see how our creative community and our metropolitan area now have international cachet. And on a personal level, Brady Bone, a very talented freelancer we've worked with for a long time, will serve as this French agency's North American creative director.

Way to go, Monsieur Bone!

Creativity isn’t about the end product, but the process of making it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 by

That was our Charlotte marketing agency's big takeaway from this fantastic new short film created by Liberatum, directed by Pablo Ganguli and Tomas Auksas, and presented by illy.

Featuring 21 artists and cultural figures from art, fashion, film, design, technology and music, the film is an insider's perspective on inspiration from the minds of leading creative personalities including:

Through the authentic interpretation and responses from these individuals, the overall project communicates what inspires creative thinking and behaviors for nurturing inspiration, while provoking thoughts on how culture, society, and technology continue to affect creativity.

Although the film interviews some of the most talented individuals in their fields, architect and designer Karim Rashid argues that everyone is naturally creative:

"Children, for example, who have no past, no baggage, no pre associations, are all creative. The first thing a human being wants to do is create. The minute they have an opportunity to put something in their hand to make lines or draw or paint or break something or make a model – it’s in all of us. It really means that you could argue that the meaning of life is to create. We are all here to contribute and we are all creative."

We hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

A Water-Front Sunset on Your Screen

Friday, June 27, 2014 by

Artist and developer Joseph Gray created a mesmerizing interpretation of a water-front sunset using Google Search API to find images of sunsets and then applies the discovered color palettes to his composition. The shimmering effect recalls a hazy, late summer afternoon overlooking a sunset on the ocean. Infinite Sunset subtlety shifts palettes every-so-often keeping things interesting. Gray’s intention is for Infinite Sunset to run continuously, projected at a large scale, for long periods of time. Check it out here, but don’t blame me if you find yourself yearning for a chilled glass of wine and a fluffy lounge chair to kickback and relax.

The Magic of Advertising

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 by

The Cannes Lions Festival this year took place from June 15-21. If you're not familiar with Cannes, it's an amazing seven day global opportunity for creatives and clients alike: full of networking, interviews, workshops - and of course - awards. This year, our Charlotte marketing agency was excited to see that the Marmite ads, shot by David Sykes for Adam & Eve DDB, won a gold! Yes, I had to look up what Marmite is, but David is an exceptional photographer and it's exciting to see him run with the big dogs.

If you have a few minutes, it's well worth your time to cruise through the winners. You should definately find The Magic Of Flying campaign for British Airways, and be reminded just how magic advertising can be.

Shaking the Dust Off the Cooper Hewitt

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 by

charlotte ad agency

After three years of being closed, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum will reopen its doors December 12th as a completely renovated museum with 60 percent more gallery space and a new identity designed by Pentagram partner Eddie Opara and team. From a typographical perspective, the sturdy, utilitarian wordmark (based on a customized version of Galaxie Polaris Condensed) has even been turned into a custom typeface, appropriately named ... wait for it ... Cooper Hewitt.

The Museum is even encouraging the public to use the new typeface (developed by Chester Jenkins of Village) in their own designs, making it available as a free download on cooperhewitt.org.

The renovation and rebrand consisting of a new name, graphic identity, typeface and website serve as an effort to draw more visitors to the museum. Cooper Hewitt, housed in the Andrew Carnegie Mansion in New York City, is a historic landmark but but seems like an awkward place to go view contemporary design. The Museum’s director, Caroline Baumann is hoping to change that. She says, “We’re really taking the dust off the place and making it an exciting destination for people.”

So next time you're in NYC, make sure you check it out.

It's time to watch some soccer. Finally.

Monday, June 23, 2014 by

Four years ago, 3.2 billion people watched the World Cup - or roughly half the world's population. Even if you don't enjoy the sport, that demographic demands some respect. Only an event like this can bring a ceasefire to a nation's civil war. It's a big deal. Advertisers understand this, and know that if you want something heard, you should say it during the games. 30 seconds of advertising time during the World Cup is running a whooping $250,000 - compared to a $100,000 30 second spot during the Stanley Cup Finals, so they better make it count. And all the soccer fans at this Charlotte ad agency are excited to see what 30 seconds looks like when they cost two hundred and fifty large.

In the meantime, Brazilian artist and graphic designer, Cristiano Siqueira, was commissioned by ESPN to design custom posters for each of the 32 countries within the World Cup. The posters have been brilliantly executed to show players and crests from each country. Even if you won't be jamming yourself into overcrowded bars to watch a match, there seems to be something for everyone to enjoy.

You can check out all 32 of the international posters here.

Our Charlotte Marketing Agency Adds Some Fresh Skills from App State

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 by

Marcie

Our Charlotte marketing agency has some fresh new designer skills on board!

We are excited to welcome Marcie to the team as our 2014 Summer Design Intern. Born the same day as Paula Scher, Marcie feels she was destined to become a designer. She recently graduated from Appalachian State University where she realized her passion for hand-crafted typography. As both a dog lover and Netflix junkie, she fits right in here, joining the office discussions of the latest season of Orange Is the New Black and doesn’t roll her eyes at us when we post yet another office dog photo on our Instagram. We're pretty pumped to have such an awesomely talented intern for the next couple of months.

Sign Painting, A Lost Art

Monday, June 9, 2014 by

Everyone is up in arms about the Web putting our beloved print out of business, but there hasn't been much talk regarding what affect the print industry has had on other trades.

Sign Painters, is a well-written documentary that showcases some of these present day practitioners and the the quality, craftsmanship, and appreciation for design they still maintain. Filmmakers Faythe Levine and Sam Macon tell the stories of dozens of sign painters across the country and how the corporate desire to do things more quickly and cheaply is resulting in a lost art  The film takes a close look at the struggle with technology that these artists face thanks to the growing use of die-cut lettering and ink-jet printers. Take a look at the movie below, you may reconsider going with that off the shelf vinyl banner.

(The above image is of New York's Colossal Media's Sky High crew at work on the corner of Metropolitan & Driggs in Brooklyn NY)

 

Making the Self-Driving Car a Little More Consumer Friendly

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 by

There is a lot of talk going on about Google’s new Self-Driving Car Project recently introduced at the Code Conference last Tuesday. While reading all the speculation swirling around the features and how these cars could potentially be used, I came across this interesting article by Ben Johnson talking about the name shift from “driverless” to “self-driving” cars, and it made me appreciate the genius of Google even more.

Johnson brings up the point that the term “driverless” suggests something out of control, while “self-driving” suggests independence and efficiency. Combine that with the fact that these cars don’t even look like cars anymore, but rather a happy vehicle out of a children’s cartoon, you start to see the subtle marketing at work. New technology can sometimes make people nervous, especially when your life is in the hands of a self-piloted vehicle (check out the clip from “Silicon Valley” below), which is probably why Google is not only nailing down what a self-driving car should look like, but how we refer to it and how it is marketed to consumers. Working at a Charlotte advertising agency, it is interesting to see marketing at work from an outsider's perspective.

A Design Icon Passes on to that big Studio in the Sky

Friday, May 30, 2014 by

Massimo Vignelli, an Italian-born designer whose iconic subway signs, business logos (American Airlines), shopping bags (Bloomingdales), books, and furniture became reference points of daily life and touchstones in modern design, passed away this week. He was 83. 

Mr. Vignelli, trained largely in Milan, came to the United States in the 1960s with his wife, Lella, and together they formed one of the most celebrated design partnerships of the postwar era and beyond. Here's what he had to say about design:

Design is a profession that takes care of everything around us. Politicians take care of the nation and fix things — at least they are supposed to. Architects take care of buildings. Designers take care of everything around us. Everything that is around us, this table, this chair, this lamp, this pen has been designed. All of these things, everything has been designed by somebody.

Profound words. Especially as I sit here in the offices of our Charlotte marketing agency looking up at a huge Stendig calender.

Designed in 1966 by Massimo Vignelli and immediately included into the Design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, this beautiful and exquisitely produced calendar remains, 46 years later, an example of excellence in modern graphic design.

A timeless way to measure time. Thanks for all your passion and inspiration, Mr. Vignelli.

 

 

Simplified Big Brands

Friday, May 30, 2014 by

Simplifying Big Brands

We’ve all seen how a brand can start to simplify it’s identity as brand recognition becomes universal - the ubiquitous Nike swoosh and the iconic Target bullseye for example. In his ‘Big Brand Theory’, designer Ewan Yap takes that idea a step further, reducing big brand identities to just a cropping. The design team at our Charlotte marketing agency likes how these experimental packaging designs are fun to look at but also maintain the brand’s integrity and recognition. And it’s pretty cool how you only need a to see a cropping to recognize the brand.

See how many you can recognize here

Celebrating Cinco De Mayo Like an Adult

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 by

Cinco De Mayo falls on a Monday this year, and although that may not be conducive to multiple margaritas or shots of Patron, it shouldn't mean the day should go uncelebrated. Check out these oh so cute adult treats. Some fresh lime juice, sugar, tequila, and some Grand Marnier conveniently served up in lime rinds. If you're looking for a respectable way to bring jello shots to your friends dinner party (and who isn't) this is it! See below for the ingredients and check out Brit + Co for the step by step process.

  • 6-8 limes

  • 3 ounces fresh squeezed lime juice

  • 1 ounce water

  • ¼ cup sugar

  • 1 package Knox unflavored gelatin (2 teaspoons)

  • 3 ounces good quality tequila

  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier or Cointreau (or triple sec if you must)

  • sea salt and/or large crystal sugar, for garnish

Movies need designers too

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 by

Working in the world of Charlotte advertising agencies for the entirety of my career, sometimes I forget about the other worlds in which designers work. So when I stumbled upon this interview with Annie Atkins, the lead graphic designer behind all of the props of Wes Anderson’s latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, I was reminded just how diverse this field can be and how awesome some of the jobs are.

Pulling inspiration from 1930s Eastern Europe, Atkins worked side-by-side with Wes Anderson creating props for the entirely fictional country, the State of Zubrowka, that Wes had written. Atkins was responsible for creating everything from documents, flags, bank notes and postage stamps to the materials in the background that aren’t really for camera, but simply help create the right atmosphere on set.

This type-rich film is truly a feast for the eyes, I highly recommend seeing it!

 

Social Media Thanks Moms

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 by

We live in a society of social media. It's how we get our news and entertainment. It's how we stay in touch with friends and family. And it's become a part of our career progression and, at times, regression. There are currently over 1,310,000,000 active Facebook accounts with over 640,000,000 minutes being spent on Facebook each month. So it's no wonder that more people are aware of a viral YouTube cat video than a worldwide catastrophe. Or that some people know more about Kim Kardashian than Crimea. Our Charlotte Ad agency knows the value of social media, and we believe that when done right, it can be very powerful. But, of course, when done wrong - it can be an epic failure with devastating results.

This Charlotte marketing agency also knows, however, that sometimes it really is just good lighthearted fun. Which is why, even though Mother's Day is still two weeks away, we're happy to continue the progression of this successful viral video. With over 15.7 million views on youtube, coming in second on the Viral Video Chart and a constant social media presence, you've most likely at least heard about it. Take a few minutes and watch, because really, who doesn't appreciate Mom?

Art for Good

Friday, April 25, 2014 by

As a resident of Charlotte's "Final Frontier" of development, my heart aches as I watch the deforestation taking place around me. While I hate to see the destruction of the beautiful forests, I really hate to think about all the animals that are losing their homes in the process. That is why when I saw these beautiful paintings of birds, it struck a heartstring.

London-based street artist ATM paints rare and endangered British birds on the facades of decaying housing estates, brick walls, railway arches and unglamorous spots around London in order to raise awareness about the negative impacts of urban sprawl.

Inspired by the work of 19th-century illustrators like John James Audubon and John Gould, ATM creates huge and colorful paintings often close to the location where the birds were originally found.