Made Me Think

December 22, 2009

The Moment Jars

Every year, our team collaborates on a winter book. Mark writes the story, Lure Design designs the book, Kim Fox does the illustrations, and Drive New Media develops the website. This year's book, The Moment Jars, is about a man who captures the special moments in his life and places them in a jar. It's a wonderful story, probably my favorite one yet (though I seem to say that every year) and a beautiful book, but what really set this year apart from the others was the success and far-reaching impact of the website.

The Moment Jars is a pretty simple site, with a pretty simple idea: share your own special moment and add your virtual Moment Jar to the collection.

Moment Jars web

The response has been amazing. First, we shared it with friends and family, who were great about adding their own moments and memories. But it was the mention in Swiss Miss (recently named one of the world's most influential design blogs) that really gave us our big break. Soon there were moments rolling in from all over the world. We had Italian moments. Spanish moments. Even one from all the way in Japan. There were moments about having kids, and moments and about being a kid. Moments about leaving home for the first time and moments about finding home in unexpected places. There were many, many moments about falling in love. Almost as many about falling out of it. At last count, there were over 500 moments in all. Most were short and sweet, though one was too long to leave in a jar. As one blogger pointed out (in a very sweet post which I can't seem to find again), not a single one was about money, possessions, or any other material thing. A great reminder, especially at this time of year, that life's most precious gifts aren't anything you pick up at a store.

Now here's the funny thing. While the website proves that people all over the world want to capture the moments of their life in a tangible way, the story the book tells makes you question that desire. How? You'll just have to read it to find out.

Share your moment, and purchase The Moment Jars book here.

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?

May 18, 2009

Big Cheetos and Mini Coopers

When it comes to powerful packaging and perspective, Medium is mediocre. Why do we respond to the micro and the macro? Are we naturally drawn to these things because of the feelings they evoke? Are we wired to prefer one over the other? What do you think?

Lots of small talk:
- Altoids minis
- Mini Coopers
- IPOD nano
- A patch of grass
- Big "small" predictions from the past

Big mouth strikes again:
- Giant cheetos
- Big gulp
- Super-size fries
- The solar system
- Elephants
- The comically large