Monthly Archives: December 2008

Mobile Phones FINALLY Get Smart ??? Kinda


Apple’s iPhone has inspired a flood of next generation smartphones
It’s almost, as Yogi Bera would say, “deja vu all over again”. 7 years ago, after Apple first introduced the iPod, there was a rush of “iPod-killers” that flooded the market in order to compete. However, few of these devices ever caught-on long enough to realize any real commercial success and mount a serious challenge to the dominance of the iPod.This time around, with the mobile market, Apple is something of a late entrant with its iPhone. In 2001, MP3 technology was still relatively new and no MP3 manufacturer had yet created a device ??? or desktop music management software ??? capable of establishing it in a dominent position. Not so with the mobile phone market. Last summer, when Apple first introduced the iPhone, it immediately faced stiff competition against entrenched and established manufacturers such as Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Nokia.That said, since the iPhone was released in July 2007, it has enjoyed a remarkable climb in market share, skyrocketing from 4% at the time of its debut to 23% to date. It therefore comes as no surprise that, once again, the popularity of Apple’s device has spawned numerous immitators from RIM/Blackberry’s Storm to LG’s Voyager.

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The End of Print, As We Know It.

In the year 2009, is this what newspapers SHOULD look like?
Newspapers are dying. Magazines are very, very sick and have a very bad prognosis. How bad is it? Mike Elgan of the site Datamation sums up the grim situation in his recent article Media Companies Have Only Themselves to Blame:

The Tribune Company filed for bankruptcy Monday. The company publishes the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and other daily newspapers. The New York Times Co. intends to pawn its shiny new Manhattan building to borrow a quarter of a billion dollars just to stop the bleeding. Other major dailies are either for sale, or rumored to be so, including the Rocky Mountain News, the Miami Herald and others. The Cox newspaper group is closing its Washington bureau. Most newspapers have announced layoffs, or will do so soon.Magazines are faring a little better than newspapers. But the industry is all doom-and-gloom, and everyone is predicting a bloodbath in 2009. Newsweek has reportedly lost between half a million to a million subscribers from its 2.6 million rate base and has announced layoffs. TIME layoffs may total 600. National Geographic, The Economist Group and Doubledown Media are all laying off staffers.Even books are suffering. Simon & Schuster has laid off 35 people. Random House, Inc. killed its Bantam and Doubleday divisions. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced that it would not take on any new authors.

How bad is it? Bad. Newspapers and magazines are getting hit especially hard during the economic downturn. But why? How did we get here? I remember the parade of “The End of Print” articles that were written two booms and 10 years ago. Didn’t newspapers and magazines have ample time ??? and money ??? to get their collective acts together? Or did the digital revolution, which we ALL knew was coming, sneak up only on them?

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Designing the Holidays


Throwing star magnets could make the perfect gift
With a little more than a week before Christmas, are you still struggling over what to buy that one realative whom you never know what to buy for? Fear not! Core77 has just published this year’s 77 Design Gifts Under $77. Beware, if you’re anything like me you may struggle not to buy some of these gifts for yourself! In fact, the only reason I haven’t already bought the Shuriken Throwing Star magnets shown above is because they’re apparently backordered until the middle of January!


This is another interesting gift idea for that creative who never likes anything you buy for them. Most of these gifts are pretty reasonable in price (even an iPhone app for $2.99) and most are pretty good ideas, even if only for a late stocking stuffer for yourself..chris{}

Web Design Training for Art Directors


It’s not always easy for traditional art directors to pick a web designer
I had a two-fer today. Not only did I find an interesting new blog, the blog from web design firm DSGN + DVLP called the chronicle of a designerd, I also read one of the entries and learned of a course that the blog author ??? Daniel Schutzsmith ??? had been teaching at School of Visual Arts called Web Design for Art Directors. Now I don’t know if the course is still being offered ??? the link provided in the entry only leads to an error page, not to a page offering a description of the class ??? nor do I think that I personally would be interested in taking the class. I do, however, think the course is a great idea.With interaction design now such an integral part of almost every marketing, advertising, branding and communications strategy, many art directors and creative directors are grappling with the challenge of of needing to step out of their comfort zones and at times lead projects that involve significant digital components. Years ago, these creatives would have been secure in the reality that such tasks would fall on the web team down the hall and that they would be relied on to lead projects for which they had been trained and had years ??? if not decades ??? of experience but today that is not the case.So where to begin? For someone who doesn’t do this every day, how can they evaluate the skills of web designers? How do they evaluate interactive design strategy to decide which is best for their client? An even better question is, where does one easily find the information they need to bring them up to speed in digital design 101, not from an entry-level designer’s perspective but from the perspective of a senior creative?For this there are no easy answers. A course is a good idea because over the length of a semester concepts, terminology and case studies can be presented without overloading the course participants. I even think a digital course wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Not everyone is in NYC where they would have the ability to take courses at School of Visual Arts. Also, digital courses would indirectly provide an extra case study for the course, which could illustrate the potential of digital and interactive techniques.During the early to mid-90’s, I essentially gobbled up every book, magazine article, web tutorial and internet discussion I could in order to make the transition from traditional design to print. How great would it have been if there was some sort of resource that could have helped me along? If anyone out there is currently putting something like this together, I’ll gladly help spread the word!.chris{}

Kudos for December 2008

Some kudos for this month. We just found out that our amazing digital team just racked up another set of MerComm iNova awards. Each of these sites represents a total team effort and I couldn’t be more proud of all of the uniquely talented, dedicated people I’m fortunate to call my co-workers!See the work below:Jennie-O Turkey Store: Gold winner.


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Cherry-picking Obama’s Successful Digital Tactics


The Barack Obama campaign web site
Shortly after President-elect Barack Obama won on November 4th, I met with a few of our clients and advised them that it wouldn’t be long before companies began to analyze and emulate many of the digital strategies employed by the Obama campaign during the 2008 elections. I fully expected companies to thoughtfully study the various aspects of Obama’s digital strategy, evaluate them and integrate the aspects that best suit their businesses in order to bring their digital efforts into the 21st century.Silly me!What I had not anticipated was that clients would begin to cherry pick Obama’s strategies, acknowledging those with which they already have a predisposition while downplaying others altogether. The Obama campaign successfully wove together an outreach and engagement strategy that utilized external social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Meetup, etc.), internal social networks (My Barack Obama), messaging via YouTube, email and SMS (text messaging) in order to excite and mobilize it’s massive base of eager volunteers.Recently, however, I’ve had the experience of meeting with clients and having them reduce Obama’s digital strategy into one single tactic or killer app: “Obama won because of Twitter!” “Obama won because of all those YouTube videos!” “Obama won because of his SMS campaign!”

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Case Study: Interacting with Hormel


Hormel Brand Interactive Kitchen
Recently our team, in conjunction with our partners at Hormel Foods, launched the new Hormel Brand web site. We were challenged with the task of both creating an engaging and memorable interactive experience while also giving information about the wide variety of products housed within the Hormel Brand.The resulting site features prominently on the home page, an interactive kitchen where users can zoom around and explore areas of the kitchen where they can learn more about Hormel products. We even included an MP3 player where users can preview and download musical mixes to play in the background while they entertain friends and loved ones and serve meals made with delicious Hormel products.I’m grateful to be lucky enough to have a ton of great clients and client projects to work on every day but this was one of the most satisfying for me for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that we really tapped into the deep reservoir of creative resources at our disposal at Burson-Marsteller. From visual designers, to copywriters, to Flash animators/developers, to developers, to project managers, etc. This project represents a phenomenal effort by everyone involved and I was proud not only to be a part of it but also to have such wonderful clients who truly partnered with us to create something really special..chris{}