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Photography

Hilarity Ensues as Everything Goes Catastrophically Wrong in an Ad for Etisalat

February 22, 2021

Grace Ebert

Strap on a helmet and fasten your kneepads before watching this ad for international telecommunications giant, Etisalat. Nalle Sjoblad’s “Moonwalk” uses brutal Home Alone-esque sequences of poor planning, office rage, and failure to appreciate even basic spatial relationships in order to remind us that the most uncomfortable, humiliating scenarios only last for a moment. Based in Helsinki, Sjoblad approaches a variety of commercial and personal projects with his distinct style of humor, many of which you can watch on Vimeo.

 

 

 



Animation

A Brilliant Studio Ghibli-Style Ad for Travel Oregon Imagines the State as an Adventurous Dreamland

January 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

Imagine Oregon’s hot springs, hiking trails, and sand-dune escapades “only slightly exaggerated.” An advertisement for Travel Oregon entertains that enhanced view of the western state as it paints it in a magical light, Studio Ghibli-style: cloud figures saunter through the sky, a rock pulls a lever to shift the world from night to day, and packs of dogs frolic in the countryside. Evoking the aesthetics and fantastical imagery of the iconic Japanese animation studio, the promotional piece is the second ad for the tourism agency by creative agency Wieden+Kennedy, production company Psyop, and animation house Sun Creature—watch the equally whimsical 2018 iteration on YouTube—and is issued with a playful reminder that Oregon is “a 100% real place you can visit.” For those of us not traveling any time soon, the agency also released free downloadable stills from the animation to fulfill our wanderlust from home. (via Kottke)

Update: This article originally failed to mention that Wieden+Kennedy helmed the creative behind this ad.

 

 

 



Dance Music

A New One-Take BBC Ad Brilliantly Interprets the Feelings of Music Through Clever Choreography

October 7, 2020

Grace Ebert

It’s well-documented that music moves us, and an advertisement for BBC Sounds takes that research literally. A project of Rogue Films, the one-minute clip opens on a woman riding a city bus before swooping into a responsively choreographed dance enhanced by visual effects. Each subject, including an unassuming dog, sways and spins to the diverse array of sounds pumping through their headphones or the speakers in a coffee shop. Two women twist in double-helix, a figure floats calmly mid-air, and another stares at hovering objects while she listens to astronauts in space.

Based in London, the production company says on Twitter that the socially distant advertisement was shot in one take on a cordoned-off city street.

 

 

 



Design History

A New Book Chronicles the 125-Year History of the Button, Its Design, and Its Role in Cultural Change

September 10, 2020

Grace Ebert

The cover of Button Power. All images © Christen Carter and Ted Hake, shared with permission

If something is “fit for the back of a postage stamp,” it’s generally understood as lacking depth and nuance. A similarly sized object, however, has been upending that saying for 125 years. From political campaigns to punch lines to keepsakes, the button has packed bits of incredibly rich history into just a few inches. “It seems like a niche little object, but it really tells a very general American history,” collector and manufacturer Christen Carter tells Colossal. The wearable item is, in fact, an entry point into the complexities of the past.

Carter recently co-authored the forthcoming book Button Power—which is available for pre-order on Bookshop—with notable dealer Ted Hake, who’s been collecting the objects for around 60 years. Through composed displays and black-and-white photos, the tome delves into the item’s history, spanning its invention in 1896 to contemporary usages. “Early on people were wearing buttons, and mostly it’s a temporary thing. It’s a moment in time,” Carter says. “They connected you to something else. One-hundred-twenty-five years ago, images weren’t as prevalent as they are now.” Button Power compiles a diverse array of notable figures, from Shirley Chisholm and the Ramones to Rube Goldberg and Muhammad Ali, each represented through the wearable item.

 

From the Obama Inauguration 2012

Originally a casual collector, Carter now is responsible for the world’s only museum dedicated to the medium, which is housed in the Chicago-based manufacturer Busy Beaver Button Co. The institution currently boasts more than 40,000 buttons and is accepting donations. Currently, it’s closed because of COVID-19, although a virtual archive of about 9,000 is available to scroll through on its site.

A medium with popularity perpetually in flux, the button has risen and fallen since its creation and notably surged in the 1960s and 1980s as it was used more widely for countercultural movements and protests. Of course, mainstream efforts from political campaigns, public figures, and large-scale events generally still sought out buttons to share their visions. Many of the slogans and broader undertakings of alternative movements that may have evaded popular narratives, however, also are preserved by the object. “It’s a people’s history, too. There are so many things I learned,” Carter notes. One example involved a series centered on transportation. “What is this ‘good road’ stuff about?” she wondered. “I learned that before there was income tax, there was a movement to have infrastructure built.” Telling a story she didn’t learn in school, the buttons offered a glimpse into the advocacy of previous decades.

 

While the manufacturing process and function hasn’t evolved much, the objects’ value has. Carter notes that when they first emerged, people regarded them as collectibles that were prized as a piece of printed matter. Today, they remain a symbol of the wearer’s political affiliations and interests.

Even social media hasn’t eclipsed the ephemeral object. Although the pithy messages and quips prevalent on sites like Twitter function similarly to the sayings of the button, they lack a material presence and are subject to being deleted or lost when a platform folds. The physical item, on the other hand, has a lasting effect. “It creates a momento,” she says. “It’s not something you can as easily forget about like a Tweet or something like that because you’ll come across it in your sock drawer.” They’re also a more intentional medium, Carter notes, due to the design, manufacturing, and distribution processes and the effort those require.

 

From 1981

Overall, buttons are overwhelmingly uplifting, inspiring, or humorous in messaging, even when centered on serious topics or issues. One tells people to “hang in there” while displaying a rendering of a cat clinging to a rope nearby, while another (shown below) simply is emblazoned with the words “I Love Ringo.”  The optimism helps to start the inevitable conversations from a constructive point. “More positive buttons make them more wearable,” she says. “A button you have to stand behind. Where online stuff can be pretty anonymous, there’s something about having some skin in the game.”

Despite the mediums’ changes during the last 125 years, the ability to provoke conversation and inspire change is constant.  “The person-to-person stuff is just so important, and I think it’s something we’re missing. I would love for buttons to help bridge gaps between human beings because I think in the end, we all want a lot of the same things,” Carter adds.

 

From 1964

 

 



Art Design

Solve Your Life Problems with These Outlandish Remedies by Artist Dana Wyse

May 5, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Dana Wyse

Dana Wyse has a cureall for, well, everything. Can’t make the bed properly? There’s a pill for that. Need to be a bestselling writer ASAP? An injection is all you need. Struggling to figure out the meaning of life? There’s a capsule for that, too.

The Canadian artist dreamed up Jesus Had a Sister Productions, which she describes as “a fictional pharmaceutical company specializing in quick-fix medicines, dehydrated space food, discount time travel, spy electronics, transistor radios, invisible things, sneaky life hacks.” She’s designed various pills, solutions, and DIY kits in humorous packages meant to remedy any problem with a single dosage.

In an interview with Konbini, Wyse said she first thought of the utopic series in France.

In Paris, I was surprised to find three pharmacies on every street. As I explored the city, I found small packages of unopened medicines on the sidewalk. So I picked them up and wondered what they could be. Imagine if these pills were magic ?! If I swallowed them all at the same time, would they make me speak French or play Barracuda on the electric guitar?

Her discarded findings launched the ironic project that hearkens back to American advertising from the 1960s, which vehemently enforced stereotypes. The fictional company’s tagline reads, “Helping you to create your own reality. Since 1786.”

See the full collection (NSFW!) on Wyse’s site, and follow her future remedies on Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

 

 



Illustration

Witty 'Coronavirus Tourism' Posters Advertise the Thrilling Adventures of Staying Home

April 2, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Jennifer Baer

Global travel may have stopped almost entirely, but the “Coronavirus Tourism Bureau” is ramping up its latest campaign. The creator of this fictional entity, California-based graphic designer Jennifer Baer, illustrated a set of coronavirus-themed posters promoting the most luxurious of staycation activities in an effort to support social distancing practices. Bask in the warm waters of your own bathtub, get out of the sun by shading yourself with a houseplant, and ride the waves of your couch cushions. Snag one Baer’s posters from Society 6, follow her on Instagram, and support her topical work on Patreon. (via Kottke)