Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Crisis in Darfur

Having just wrapped up a project with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum I got peek another project, which is now live - Crisis in Darfur. If you don't have Google Earth, you'll need to download it, which you can do for free here. Google Earth alone is worth the download, but the USHMM extremely rich presentation built into the foundation of the program is remarkable. Not to be preachy, but this isn't just a remarkable interactive piece it is also a cause - take action.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Crowdsourcing with the interweb

With the ushering of Web 2.0 and giants like Flickr and YouTube, the hot thing in interactive advertising is user created/generated content. Merging entertainment with utility, the companies launching these sites have managed to create low-overhead by placing the onus of fresh, engaging material on their own user base. The fact that this even works in the first place is pretty impressive, considering cited malaise of internet users, and moreover is exciting in the fact that it demonstrates the millions of online users want something to do. No one has been more successful at converting this desire to "do something" into direct profits than Threadless. On the online t-shirt retailer solicits designs from their user base. Every single t-shirt Threadless produces was designed by a member of the site, who was rewarded with $1,500 in cash and another $500 in merch.

Today's Post, which can be woefully out-of-date in reporting the goings on in the interactive front, has a decent article chronicling Threadless' rise as well as tracking how other companies are trying to leverage the burgeoning internet work force into doing all of the work for them. For each company that achieves wide-spread success there are a dozen more that failed miserably attempting the same.

What separates one campaign from another?
Clearly, to achieve some kind of success with user-generated content your offering needs to fall into one of two categories:

  • 1. pay money for winning submissions

  • 2. provide content that is intrinsically desired by online users ~ which probably has a traditional market analog (video, imagery, video games)

  • The idea of paying for the material is becoming even more dominant as firms look to pay at least a small proceed to producers of ideas, video and imagery that contribute. By paying a premium for fresh content from your users, you in turn drive up traffic, which results in higher advertising returns. It's akin to banking loans. The bank pays you a small amount of interest to keep your money in the bank, which they are then able to loan out at higher rates. Banks are really profitable. An model that follows a bank's model is good. Ergo, paid user generated content is good.

    Simple. As. That.

    Incidentally, my buddy Eric designed a shirt that Threadless produced. It's almost out of print though, so better get it now.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Interview with Lee Clow

    It's pretty hard to not recognize Apple's 1984 Mac advertisement as a fundamental shift in advertising communications. It was (and still is) evocative, rich and even has a narrative. The man behind that ad was the legendary Lee Clow who at the time was working for Chiat/Day. Anywho, Ad Age interviewed Lee. And when Lee speaks you really might want to listen. Read the full article (.pdf).

    Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    BFI: Abolitionists of C-Clamp Websites

    You'd have to really dig to find out that Big Fat Institute is actually located in sunny Kentucky, which is probably a wise secret to keep, but these guys do a ton of things right. They coined the term "C-clamp" websites; C-clamp sites being those generic, two-column, way-to-pervasive sites that are locked in that all-to-familiar header, left nav, footer layout, which resemble a 'C', hence "C-clamp". The term not only captures the visual semblance, but also the utilitarian aspect - utilitarian, but no value added.

    Question from audience: Isn't this a C-clamp site?
    Answer: No. no. This is a C-clamp blog. Check out the site if you're looking for user experience.

    The site itself plays out like a 50s instructional video, which is pretty well done, but also reminiscent of WDDG's site that uses a WWII-themed instructional video. Anywho, these guys currently hold the campaign for iRobot and a couple other national brands and are definitely doing justice by their clientele. More importantly, they're killing the enduring C-clamp sites one at a time.

    "So you're in Kentucky?"

    "Yeah! Have you heard about the burgeoning creative towns coming out of KY?"


    "Hmm. me either."

    * not an actual conversation. just assuming how each client meeting must start out.

    Monday, June 4, 2007

    "Sam was once a unicorn from outer space"

    When that's the opening line of one of the founder's bio you know this the site's gonna be unique. The site is a portfolio site for FriendsWithYou, which is collectively Samuel Borkson and Tury Sandoval. With a manga style of illustration the site is insanely sticky. It's pretty ease to burn 5 minutes just messing with the navigation header alone. For tech heads, it's a great mix of Flash and AJAX - again proving you can use both and not be flamed at the WWDC.