Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Your own worst enemy

Following on from our post about the fear of failure, we've come across an article in How Magazine's May issue where professional designers like Chip Kidd, Paula Scher, Stefan Sagmeister and Robynne Raye share tips for picking ourselves up when we are down.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Have a giggle

A new 'Lady-friendly' website has caught the eye of us girls in the studio. Actress/musician Zooey Deschanel, producer Sophia Rossi and writer Molly McAleer have created Hello Giggles, an entertainment destination for smart, independent and creative females. Filled with musings such as the 10 Best outfits in Disney Films, The Husband Hunt and Lady Gaga's new album, this site is definitely a no go zone for the opposite sex.  

"Everything hosted on this site will be lady-friendly, so visitors need not worry about finding the standard Boys Club content that makes many entertainment sites unappealing to so many of us."

You go girls.

Secrets of the Superbrands

Fashion novice Alex Riley investigated the world of clothing superbrands on Tuesday night for the BBC, to find out how these billion dollar global organisations have invaded our wardrobes and our minds. On the way he met some fashion acolytes, including some handbag obsessives who are willing to spend £100 a month just to rent one. 

But what are we trying to say when we fork out £2,000 for a Louis Vuitton handbag? Alex asked a Neuroscientist to analyse the brain of a designer-fashion fan in an MRI scanner showing her pictures of handbags from Primark then pictures of expensive designer handbags. The cheap bags didn't register but the expensive ones lit up her "pleasure centre", an area associated with addiction. 

Buying and wearing designer brands signals to others that we are genetically fit, because we've accumilated so many resources, we can afford to waste a couple of thousand pounds on a handbag.

Secrets of the Superbrands: Fashion, delves into the reasons why we are obsessed with brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Nike and Diesel. Abercrombie & Fitch started out as a sports outfitter in 1892, but in the 1980's they were taken over and given a brand new look, only the name and date were kept the same. Their shops are like nightclubs, dark and full of assistants who could be models. Some of the male assistants even go topless. This kind of shopping experience is called retail theatre. They want to be seen as exclusive, only letting the cool kids in. 

For those who cannot afford the exclusive, high quality clothes at the top of the "Pyramid Model", the masses are able to buy the perfumes, scarves, sunglasses etc at the bottom of the pyramid. While luxury brands use the exclusive products at the top of the pyramid to build the image of the brand, they exploit the branded products at the bottom of the pyramid to bring in the cash.

So, what is the secret - luxury brands offer something so universal that everyone at all layers of society want it, whether they can afford it or not.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Posters in Amsterdam

Today we caught a tweet from Matt Dolphin (for CR) about a project called Posters in Amsterdam. Created by Jarr Geerligs, the site acts as a catalogue of photographs of posters on the streets of Amsterdam. Geerligs has been documenting the posters since 2002 and has developed various different categories on his site which users can search through. It's a great collection and well worth a look, it would be great to see this extended in other European cities!

Tree of Codes: the making of

Following on from our 'Great looking stories' blog about publisher Visual Editions, here is a video of the production of writer Jonathan Safran Foer's 'Tree of Codes'. Curious to explore and experiment with the die-cut technique, Jonathan decided to use an existing piece of text and cut out a new story out of it using his favourite book 'The Street of Crocodiles' by Bruno Schulz.

Printed by Die Keure, 'Tree of Codes' is as much a sculptural object as it is a piece of story telling.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Rain campaign

Agency Fresh Green Ads have created a new eco-friendly advertising mechanism which reveals ad campaigns when it rains. The technique is used for relevant campaigns such as that for the Sea Life centre in the Netherlands. Not only does the water logged message reflect the nature of the centre but visitors are also more likely to visit on a rainy day. (See below)

When the street dries the message disappears. Each message lasts for up to eight weeks.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Great looking stories

Visual Editions is a publisher based in London which is dedicated to the creation and production of beautifully crafted books that use visual writting. Founded in 2009, one VE's latest books includes The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne. Originally published in the late 18th Century the book was briefed out to design studio, A Practice for Everyday Life, who were asked to 'breathe new life into the book's design' and add new visual elements. The result is a stunning and delightfully tactile version of the book, bringing it's contemporary nature into full view.

VE are about to publish a new re-imagining of the first ever 'book in a box' - Composition No.1 by Marc Saporta. Designed by Universal Everything, the book will work as per the previous editions. The book is presented in a box as loose leaves which the reader can read in any order they choose. Check back here to buy and find out more.

Advertise here, quick!

It's not often that you see a creative add for billboard space - more often that not, dull 'advertise here' slogans are found on the back of cinema tickets and car park stickers. Perhaps if they adopted a more forceful technique such as the above, we wouldn't see these so often. 

Interbest, a provider of large billboard space created a buzz recently in The Netherlands when agency Y&R Not Just Film created these billboard ads to promote their media space. The man could be seen wearing less and less clothing each day with the line 'The sooner you advertise here the better'. I wonder which company followed these persuasive ads?!

Monday, 23 May 2011

The fear of failure

Following our New Blood blog post, we recently read about an innovative graduate exhibition campaign from Berghs School of Communication over on CR. In case you missed the story here's a quick summary to something which we all found inspiring, not matter how much experience we had.

Every year art and design graduates hold an exhibition to present final year work and to communicate with industry. This May Berghs students based their exhibition on the theme 'the fear of failure', with the aim to equip students with a new perspective on failure.

The students approached prominent design figures and asked them to record messages/advice on the theme using webcam. The results are below. The most influential and inspiring of these - you'll have to agree - is Milton Glaser's response, who discusses simple life lessons for 8 mins, well worth a watch!

Paulo Coelho – on the fear of failure. from Berghs' Exhibition '11 on Vimeo.

Stefan Sagmeister – on the fear of failure. from Berghs' Exhibition '11 on Vimeo.

Wally Olins – on the fear of failure. from Berghs' Exhibition '11 on Vimeo.

Milton Glaser – on the fear of failure. from Berghs' Exhibition '11 on Vimeo.

The Best TV Ads Of All Time: PART 1

CWith the possibility of reaching billions and becoming ingrained in public memory forever, TV advertising is still the big fish in the advertising sea. The average Brit watches four hours of TV a day, with exposure to an average of forty-eight adverts a day. With these figures in mind, it's no wonder how memorable these adverts become. Television advertising is a unique artform, and one that is at the forefront of more people's lives than any other.

I'm sure I'm not alone in deciding my own Christmas Season has begun by the legendary "Holidays are Comin'" Coca Cola advert lighting up my television set. I also doubt being the only one who sees the DFS, MFI and Homebase January sales adverts as a festive apocalypse.

But now to the adverts I like, the adverts I love, and the adverts that I remember.

Although I was only a mere 9 years old at the time of it's release, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO's legendary adverts for Guinness, Surfer, is as close to high art as I have ever seen on the small screen. From it's pulse-raising soundtrack to the Crane-esque white stallions galloping on the tide devouring the optimistically fearless surfer protagonists, Surfer has all the components needed to make television advertising history. Instead of ignoring the fact that Guinness does take a while to order at the bar, AMV BBDO decided to embrace this and make it the focus of the campaign. "Good things come to those who wait" is now a phrase that will forever be associated with Guinness, and Surfer will forever be remembered as the epitome of the prestige of the legendary beverage.

The zenith of TV advertising has to be the world's biggest brand, the corporation that has challenged and dominated the computer, mp3 player, mobile phone and tablet industries - Apple. For years Apple's television adverts have matched their products in terms of innovation and iconic status. Who can forget the break dancers silhouetted against a profusion of bright colours hawking the iPod? Or Mitchell and Webb (Justin Long and John Hodgman to you Americans out there) pointing out the seemingly never ending failures of PCs and highlighting the graceful simplicity and functionality of the Mac OS? Apple's advertising has consistently reflected their ethos as a brand, presented something that we all want and turned it into something that we need. Apple's piece de resistance came far earlier than these more recent campaigns. The advert that marked their change from 'Macintosh' to 'Mac', from an alternative to a competitor, has to 1997's Think Different campaign.

In celebrating so many great minds and personalities, Apple weren't just inspiring aspiration in consumers - they were aligning themselves with them. Perhaps it isn't unfair to say that Apple were acknowledging that their open challenge to Microsoft did in fact make them the "crazy ones". Suffice to say an affinity and appreciation for Apple spread through the consumer market like wildfire, and the Think Different campaign can be seen as a bench make moment for the corporation. BTD and ADT, if you will...

So concludes PART 1 of our Best of TV Ads Of All Time series, it won't be long for PART 2, where we'll explore more of the best, brightest and most innovative TV ads ever.

Friday, 20 May 2011

New blood 2011

Causing a slight stir amongst D&AD worshipers in the studio, our New Blood invitation arrived this morning featuring a pastiche of religious materials. The creative for this campaign is interesting because it could perhaps be interpreted as a mockery of religious values or even suggest that designers should take the D&AD to be their deity - if so, they have a very tough challenge to fight off rival Apple! Just this morning British illusionist, Derren Brown, blogged about a recent documentary in which UK neuroscientists suggested that the brains of Apple devotees are stimulated by Apple imagery in the same way that the brains of religious people are stimulated by religious imagery. You can read more about the discovery here and see some of the evidence yourself!

We're getting off topic now... the D&AD campaigns are always subject to criticism and often rile non-supporters to comment upon the values of the organisation. 2010's creative is a prime example - blogged by CR here. The latest news that the D&AD will now be awarding 'slices' of the yellow pencil for smaller awards and a white pencil for particularly eco-friendly projects seems to have drawn a sigh from many in the creative industry.

Although the campaign is very open to interpretation, the wording unmistakably promotes the future generation of art and design and is fantastically articulated. Our invitation is beautifully designed and finished. New Blood gives graduates the opportunity to showcase work in graphic design, visual communication, advertising, digital media, illustration, photography and other commercial creative arts. This year the exhibition will be held at the Old Truman Brewery, London from 30 June to 4 July.

"Those that burn the brightest shall be the best and they will inherit. Prepare to meet the future'.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


Those of you who are looking for a more dynamic way to track your web finds will find Pinterest the answer to your prayers. An invite-only site, it combines the simplicity of sites like Tumblr and Twitter, and the visual stimulation of those like Ffffound.

Inspired by the bulletin board, users can create virtual "Pinboards" devoted to specific interests - as a new user, a page with preloaded categories like Books Worth Reading, For the Home or Style helps kick things off. You can invite collaborators to contribute to your boards and follow others' feeds to create a visual catalog of interests.

People use Pinterest to collect all sorts of things - favourite t-shirts, designers they admire, recipes they'd like to share... the list goes on.

Request an invite, but be warned, it is addictive!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Wim Crouwel - A Graphic Odyssey

On Wednesday I visited the Wim Crouwel exhibition at the Design Museum, and it was truly inspiring. 

The first floor has been opened up and painted white, making Crouwel's posters look amazing even from a distance. Wide white tables fill the room where work is carefully arranged. It all looks very simple, clean and ordered, representing the grids to which he designed and studied. 

The exhibition includes original sketches, posters, catalogues, and photographic archives of Crouwel's career and represents his "legacy and influence on contemporary graphic design".

On until 03 July 2011, this is a must see. You can buy tickets here.

About us

As children we had the freedom of imagination and creativity with no boundaries. At school and as adults we are encouraged away from imagination and day dreaming, to think in a structured, process driven way. We disagree with this. We challenge this. Imagination and creativity are gifts that we are all given, and we can develop and encourage them, not throw them away. Free Thinking® is our approach to life, to creativity, to advertising campaigns, to graphic design. We challenge the way things are done, created, agreed, made. If you've got a post to share email us at Visit our main site at