General

General Stuff about the house.

Taken – David Bowie by Duffy

I’m a sort of fan of David Bowie. When he’s on, he’s on, when he’s off he’s off. I’m fascinated by his chameleon ability to change personality on a dime and change up musical genres and style at the drop of a hat. He was a true artist that transcended definition and refused to be pigeonholed into a single category. Not only that he was able to continue to be an influence across decades of activity. Not all of his music did it for me, but I have to admit there are certain tracks that will always be in rotation on one of my playlists.

A new touring exhibition documenting the collaboration of David Bowie and English photographer Brian Duffy over a five-album period (from 1972 to 1980) becomes all the more intriguing with this promo by Scottish motion director Chris Bain. The trailer does an excellent job of capturing what is in the exhibition, David Bowie’s transition over time from Ziggy Star Dust to the Thin White Duke, and all points in between. Nice motion graphics and animations paired with photographs from the exhibit combine to create a trailer that gives just enough insight to grab your attention without revealing too much of the show itself. Audio is provided by Box of Toys and gives a solid nod to Bowie’s musical style during the period without being overpowering.

Created for Nomad Exhibitions, Bain has done an excellent job of setting up the exhibition and capturing the mood of the period.

“The trailer celebrates two of the 20th century’s most celebrated creative minds. Five iconic photography sessions, across a period, often referred to as Bowie’s golden years – Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Thin White Duke, Lodger, and Scary Monsters.

“The exhibition presented by Nomad Exhibitions in partnership with the Duffy Archive and curated by Paul Morley, will bring to life Bowie and Duffy’s legendary creative process through interviews, music, film, artifacts, photography and also include innovative multimedia displays and immersive projection.”

Art Direction & Animation: Chris Bain Design
Client: Nomad Exhibitions
Music & Sound Design: Box of Toys Audio


 

Heinz Canada Challenges You to Draw Ketchup.

When people think of ketchup, almost inevitably they think Heinz. Even if Heinz ketchup isn’t the brand you have in your fridge or your favorite. Everything from the shape of the bottle to the label are part of that collective consciousness that an established brand brings to the table.

Heinz Canada wanted to engage consumers in a new and unique way, leveraging social media and a multichannel campaign giving them a chance to win a customized bottle of Heinz ketchup. To do this Heinz asked followers to submit a drawing of ketchup via a Heinz microsite that is linked to their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. In addition, Heinz turned to outdoor with strategically placed billboards in Canadian cities.

On the social media sites, Heinz Canada posted a short video showing the experiment featuring people drawing ketchup. The result in the video, pretty much everyone drew Heinz ketchup. The video includes the hashtag #drawketchup and a link back to the microsite where budding ketchup artists can share their masterpieces through January 31st. 250 people will be selected and receive a custom box and bottle with their drawing on it.

This campaign uses the power of Heinz iconography that is known world wide to not only promote the product, but as an opportunity to gather more first party data. The latter which is definitely a larger priority for brands these days that might be losing losing access to audience tracking methods like third-party cookies and device identifiers.

One unique aspect to the campaign itself is the fact that entrants aren’t required to share their artwork on social media for a chance to win. This probably means that the campaign has less of a chance of going viral like other hashtag challenges that you see on popular platforms like TikTok Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Consumer engagement has become a bigger challenge for Heinz in recent campaigns. in 2020 Heinz ran a campaign that asked users to share TikTok videos of Halloween preparations for a chance to win a bottle of its limited-release Heinz Tomato Blood Ketchup. This was tied to the hashtag #HeinzHalloween hashtag which had generated 4.8 billion views os of January 25, 2021.

All of this comes as Heinz continues to see a downturn in sales in Canada which is contrast to sales in both U.S. markets and internationally. Hopefully this will help rebuild momentum for the brand in Canada. What will be really interesting to see if they do any follow up to this and release the data on how many people drew and submitted a Heinz bottle versus the competition.

LA Trance by Ben Radatz

I’m going to date myself with this post. Back in the early 1980’s, probably 80 or 81 I was at a shopping mall and happened to be in some store that sold home furnishings like plates, containers, small appliances, glassware and such.

The reason I remember this so well is because at the time I was blown away by row after row of teal, baby blue, and cinnamon-colored plastic items that looked like a mash-up of 1930’s art deco, and mid-century modern. It was as though the designer of this particular line of products had been channeling 1930’s Raymond Lowe and 1950’s George Nelson, and filtering them through 30 to 40 years of separation.

It was as though a faded memory of what these periods were like, or a memory that somehow blurred the line between the two periods and imposed a kitschy rendition of what it must have been like to have been there a few decades back.

This was common in the early 1980s. Look back at TV graphics from this period and you’ll see the same 1950s aesthetic applied with loads of pink, black, and teal all run through a New Wave blender creating a unique look that lasted a few years. Maybe I’m feeling more aware of this because of the album covers of bands I listened to back then.

Ah New Wave records from the early 1980s. 1980 to 1985 was such a good decade.

The reason I bring this up is that the video below brought all of this back to me this afternoon. The video itself is really well done, featuring some solid animation, great illustration qualities, and an electronic music soundtrack by Four Tet. The thing is though, it feels like a 2020 take on a 1980’s take of something from the 1950s. And there is nothing wrong with that. It just got me to thinking about all of the trends that get resurfaced, reworked, and filtered through decades of separation and made into something new.

The timing and transitions to the changes in the music are fantastic. The style of the illustration while reminiscent of something familiar to the late 1970s and early 1980s is original to Ben Radatz with an elegant look to them. The color pallet enhances the feeling of the 3 minute short and captures the city of Los Angeles. He even features Miss Donuts and Circus Liquor (an LA icon you should go if you are ever in the San Fernando Valley area)

Subscribe to This – I Don’t Think So.

About two weeks ago, the iPhone app that I use to talk to my car stopped working. For the last 18 months, I have been able to use the BMW Connected app to do things like climatize my i3 before I get in so it’s cool or warm depending on the weather. I can track my driving habits to see how efficient I am and get tips on how to improve my driving to extend my electric range. Or send destinations to the car so when I get in, it knows where I’m headed, and the navigation system is ready to go. Like I said, this all ended a couple of weeks back.

My first I thought it was an app bug since iOS had recently upgraded. My initial thought was OK BMW simply needs to upgrade their software to work with the latest version of iOS. This however turned out not to be the case. What happened is, BMW like so many other companies in the world have gone to a subscription model requiring me to make an annual purchase in order to get the most features out of my car.

I have a couple of issues with this. First off cars aren’t cheap and if I’m shelling out a large chunk of change for my daily driver, I should get all the features that came with the car in perpetuity. Second, it’s not costing BMW anything for my iPhone to talk to my car. There is no proprietary network involved, no server farm to maintain, no hardware to be upgraded. It’s my phone, communicating directly with said automobile. So, in my opinion, this subscription sucks.

The problem I have is this. BMW knows how many people depend on the Connected Drive service. They also know that as cars become dependable and last longer, they require less service or the need to replace them. The average car is now on the road for 10 years or longer. That means BMW has to make up the revenue somewhere else and asking their customer/drivers to pay up for software as a service was a logical step.

The thing is, I’m getting tired of being nickeled and dimed to death by company after company asking me to open my wallet on a monthly or yearly basis so I can access something I already paid for or would like to buy once and upgrade as needed. It’s why I buy my iPhone outright and upgrade every 3 to 4 years. Yes, I don’t need a new iPhone every 12 months.

Another great example of this is my home security system. I have multiple Arlo Ultra cameras installed at my house. I bought the hardware; I have everything backing up to the base station via a memory card. I got the Arlo set up because it has some great features like package detection, monitoring zones, HD recording, etc. The problem is most of the features you get with the camera die after one year unless you are willing to pony up more money in an annual fee. Money for things that really don’t require anything on Arlo’s end like package detection, push notifications, 4K recording to your base station, two-way communication to the cameras via my iPhone.

Once again, I bought the hardware and because Arlo knows that is probably a one-time purchase, or a repurchase that will only happen if the hardware were to fail after the warranty runs out, they need or I should say want, another revenue stream. Like BMW, they got me hooked on the feature set and now want to charge me for it. It feels like that classic drug dealer scam, “I’ll give you a taste and if you like it you can get some more from me later”. Get them hooked then charge them for it.

It seems like everyone is going to the subscription model and I don’t see any company ever going back. It’s like the 21st century form of leasing a product that is designed to make you think you are getting the benefit of new shiny stuff on a regular basis, when you really don’t need it. I get subscriptions for streaming services. You are paying for content, infrastructure, storage, bandwidth, convenience. Services like Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Spotify are what the cable companies used to be. Software companies like Adobe and the Creative Cloud subscription offer the convenience of having the latest feature set, and individuals are making money off of what they create using the software provided.

Subscriptions like these seem more logical to me. I’m paying for content or software not hardware and related services that are not dependent on cloud-based storage, streaming, or bandwidth. I’m paying for features that allow me to get the full functionality of that pricey piece of hardware that I purchased a year or so ago. It just seems a bit skewed to me. More about greed rather than providing an actual benefit. I know, you are probably saying “But you are paying for the benefit of being able to have your phone talk to your car and get notifications from your security system”.

My point is, neither of these examples really require anything from the manufacturer of the product. My phone and car don’t directly interact with some cloud-based system controlled by BMW. My security system is not communicating directly with Arlo because I don’t store any recorded video to the cloud. The Arlo services are simply turned on and interact with the base station in my house, on my Google Fiber network.

I don’t know about you, but I’m already getting tired of it, and unfortunately, I think we are reaching the point of no return on subscriptions. Hell, there are even car companies that now allow you to subscribe so you can get a new car as regularly as every month.

Here’s a thought. Add up everything you subscribe to now, and ask yourself is the subscription model slowly making me poor and allowing me to own very little? Is it worth it?

I’m spending about $2500.00 a year on subscription services. I have a feeling I’m using about $500.00 worth.