Current Affairs

February 09, 2010

Super Bored with Babies and Puppies

This hilarious Stop Babies and Puppies campaign from the AICP (Association of Independent Commercial Producers) comes just in time for the post-Super Bowl ad hangover. In it, they implore marketers to stop resorting to trite cliches in the name of pushing product. The site is packed full of goodies, including a Cliche Ad Machine that lets you create your own spot using stock footage of blankets-swaddled babies,  puppies frolicking in meadows and the like.

And make no mistake about it - while babies and puppies are singled out as the  scapegoat here, screaming zoo animals, frat boy beer humor and random hot chicks in bathtubs are just as guilty.  But let's switch gears and call out a few spots that didn't put me in the mood to break some bottles (your beer sucks anyway Budweiser), stomp a chicken (I wouldn't eat a Dennys Grand Slam even if they paid me) or boycott the sponsor once and for all (good thing you're so cheap, GoDaddy). 

Dodge Charger - good. Google - very good. But my favorite spot of all came from a most unlikely source, the video game Dante's Inferno. I saw nary a mention of this little gem in all the post-game coverage, but its surprising union of brilliant, fiery graphics with a soulful Bill Withers classic made it rise above all the clucking, roaring competition that surrounded it. Just like that 3rd quarter onside kick, it's an excellent example of how beautiful (and successful) an unexpected move can be.

June 23, 2009

The Real Transformers


Let's set the whole matter of legality aside for a minute. We can learn a valuable lesson from North Carolina University student Joe Carnevale, the infamous "Highway Monster Artist" who created this sculpture (and now faces criminal charges for it). We are all - companies, agencies and individuals - looking for new ways make an impression. To attract attention. To get people to stop what they're doing and give us a few precious seconds of their time. Most are looking to the neverending stream of new technologies to get the job done, and certainly, that must be part of the strategy. But could we be overlooking some very powerful tools simply because they don't look like tools? No one's talking about them. There's no buzz surrounding them. That's not what they're there for. But as Joe Carnevale proves, the world is full of opportunites to transform ordinary things into extraordinary attention grabbers. It just takes courage, creativity and the willingess to do something unexpected.  

June 10, 2009

Apple puts iPhones on sale, but at what price?


Forget the 3GS's speed and video capabilities. The real news out of Apple this week was that they were cutting the price of the 3G model to $99.  I get it. We're in the middle of a recession. The market's flooded with cheaper alternatives and a lower price point will lure in buyers who would have settled for one of them. Sprint's about to launch what many have declared to be the iPhone's first real competition. In this climate, the decision does make sense. But in the long run, does Apple stand to lose more than they gain?

The announcement stunned so many people because it doesn't seem like an Apple move. Other companies may hold fire sales to jettison old inventory, but not Apple. They may release a vastly compromised version of something and sell that on the cheap (yeah, I'm looking at you iPod shuffle), but to take the old gold standard and simply throw it in the bargain bin? Not Apple. So why is the company that trained us all to think different suddenly acting like everyone else?

I will admit, the stubborn refusal to drop their prices used to annoy me. I've owned 3 iPods, each twice the capacity as the one before it, and I paid $299 for all of them. When the 80G came out, I remember wondering, what happened to all the 60Gs? They don't go on sale, they don't go to Overstock, they just seem to vanish, replaced by something twice as nice at the same exact price.

But in the end, the decision was never about price. It was about value. And I'm not talking bytes for your buck. I'm talking brain value. Heart value. Apple appealed to best-hunters, not bargain hunters. People who believed these products were so special, so different, so much better than everything else out there, that they were worth the extra money. True or not, Apple successfully burnt this impression in the minds of millions. In fact, pre-price cut (and pre-Pre) they were shattering their own records with international iPhone sales, recession be damned.

Will a $99 price tag lure in new buyers at the expense of a loyal base who's been willing to pay any price all along? Will all those Apple-philes, who have been trained to never wait for the sale, hold off on the 4G in hopes the the 4GX will bring about a big discount?  Worse yet, will more mass-market friendly pricing  eventually cheapen Apple's cachet overall?

January 08, 2009

Call for Papers (and pencils and crayons and other creative tools)

Think Creative is answering President-elect Obama's call to participate in a National Day of Service and we could use YOUR help.

On Monday, January 19, (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) we will host a supply drive to benefit Page 15, a non-profit organization committed to providing supplemental reading and writing education for all students living and attending public school in Orlando. They offer, among other things, free after-school tutoring and creative writing workshops dedicated to enhancing communication skills, encouraging personal creativity and inspiring a lifelong passion for the language arts. Such passion burns bright  in our offices, and we are happy to support efforts to ignite it in the next generation. If you feel the same way, you can help by donating items for students to use in their creative projects, including but not limited to:

  • poster boards
  • letter stencils
  • large construction paper
  • printing paper
  • pens
  • pencils
  • calculators

We will also accept monetary contributions, which will go towards the purchase of magazine subscriptions for the Page 15 reading library. 

Please bring donations directly to our office at 1001 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL through January 19, or if it's easier, contact us to arrange a pickup. Thanks!


December 18, 2008

Now, I’m no Nostradamus, but. . .

As 2008 transitions into 2009, America, too, is transitioning. In 2009, we will see a new president tried, we will watch as a recessionary economy (hopefully) rises, and we will retain our optimism that gas prices will continue to fall. Here is my unscientific forecast of trends for 2009.

Getting hands dirty and needle-pricked.
People have always touted the benefits of handmade items. Even if a creation is askew in shape and looks nothing like what the mind’s eye envisioned, the flaws give handmade items their charm. And did I mention, ignoring the cost of materials, items made with your own hands are free? How economical! While wearing a scarf made by some Fifth Avenue designer may give you style points, wearing a scarf you made will give you delight and make all your friends introduce you as their “ridiculously talented friend.” Magazines such as ReadyMade or blogs such as Design*Sponge’s DIY section, can put you on the path to creative genius.

Benjamin may look nice on that hundred-dollar bill, but he isn’t buying your product.
If there’s one good realization to come out of this economic crisis, it’s that companies know they can’t make money in the long-run when they alienate and manipulate consumers. Expect more customer rewards, coupons, requests for surveys, followed up by gifts for completing those surveys. This is not a change rising from a sudden desire for corporate goodwill, but rather an act of necessary desperation during a time when companies go from Fortune 500 to bankrupt between the ringings of the Wall Street bell. There are several websites, such as Retail Me Not, that provide coupon codes for virtually all virtual stores.

The future, and your surroundings, will be bright.
The general consensus is that the economy has hit bottom and cannot get much worse. Paradoxically, this makes many people hopeful. America’s economy is on clear foundations, and practically anything will be positive growth. Expect to see brighter colors in design reflecting optimistic attitudes. But don’t think the muted earthy tones will be buried. Despite the near over-saturation of eco-driven sentiment, the polar ice caps are not growing, and touting environmental friendliness will still be a strong selling point.

All the tea in China, and Uganda, and Bangladesh.
One thing you may not know is that I work at Starbucks. Over my nine months there, I’ve made many observations, most of which aren’t pertinent to this blog. But one thing is certain: the popularity of tea is on the rise. Not only does tea have health benefits and come in about as many flavors as you have days in your life, but it’s cheap. I could go into all the ways to gussy up a cup of tea, but I will leave the experts at the Tazo tea website to do that.

Those are my hypotheses for trends of 2009. What are your predictions?

November 18, 2008

2008 Altoids Eating Championship Award Winners Announced

Curious and strong, Cliff Manspeaker recently won our first annual Altoids eating competition. Peppermint flavor (of course). 10 pieces of crumbly,burning, minty goodness. We are seeking participants for next year’s contest. Do you have what it takes? If so, drop us a line. Winners receive a special edition Altoids can lined with a secret message.

Warning: Think Creative and their contest associates are skilled participants in random office challenges. Do not attempt to eat multiple Altoids without proper supervision.

September 11, 2008

Thank you Wislawa.

Where were you September 11, 2001? Before the tragedy, I remember it was a beautiful sunny day and only recall the weeks that followed as somewhat of a fog. What I can’t remember though is whether or not I appreciated the beauty of the morning on that morning. Today, the weather here is cloudy/rain-ish, but not dreary enough for me to forget I am blessed with family, friends, coffee, delicious Vietnamese food--the poetry that makes up a life.

June 06, 2008

Tree Hipsters.

“They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.” Finally Joni, someone is listening. And It’s official. Going “green” is cool. No longer reserved for the patchouli peace-and-lovin’ spoonful set, everyone is talking to everyone who is listening about the virtues of globally-conscious living. The “nightmare hippy girls” and their hippy-haters are most certainly going nuts over Treeless Squirrel.

What’s not to love?