Flickr Interlude

hattiesburg 132
Originally uploaded by Kristin Brenemen

There’s a lot to get to in the Murketing Flickr pool. I’m already behind. More in the days ahead.

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In Consumed: A For-Credit Course

Chase +1: To gain campus recognition (and customers), a bank hooks up Facebook.

About a year ago, JP Morgan Chase started a new credit-card program aimed at college students, working with Facebook, the social-networking site. “We felt Facebook would be a good partner for us, since they had such strong credibility in the students’ world,” explains Sangeeta Prasad, who oversees branding for Chase Card Services. “And we felt, you know, financial institutions lacked credibility. Students don’t see credit-card issuers or financial institutions in general as meeting their needs.” Thus the company started offering a new card it called +1, primarily by way of a “sponsored” Facebook group….

Continue reading at the NYT Mag site.

Flickr Interlude

it pays to advertise
Originally uploaded by Maproom Systems

“They say that some things just sell themselves. Some things will apparently just have to.

“found in our dumpster
ypsilanti, michigan.”

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How best to brand a murky, weaponized, extragovernmental organization?

Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that you’re starting a business that happens to be more or less an extragovernmental army. Your employees will be weaponized, trained to kill, and available for hire. Your accountability will be murky at best. In fact the whole organization would be kind of secretive and vague. It sounds a little scary. A little sinister. A little dystopian sci-fi.

What would you call your organization? Wouldn’t you want to go for something reassuring? Sort of the way that lobbying organizations adopt innocuous, feel-good names? Maybe you’d go with something like Blue Sky, or Sunshine, or Tranquility. Something that would suggest to anyone who heard about your organization in passing: “That sounds pleasant. Nothing to worry about there!”

Would you, under any circumstances, call your organization Blackwater? Maybe it’s just me, but that name kind of suggests, I don’t know, sinister bad guys in a sci fi movie. That seems bad for PR. Especially when your organization becomes involved in a deadly firefight that mushrooms into an international incident. Don’t you think?

On the other hand, I guess it makes for cooler merch.

Flickr Interlude

Larger Than Life 00

Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Another fine Flickr contributor, lorenzodom captions this one: “The errors of great men are more fruitful than the truths of little men. — Friedrich Nietzsche.”

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Announced: Murketing Flickr group

As mentioned earlier this morning: I used to post what I called “Flickr Interludes” on this site all the time. I did so because I enjoy looking at Flickr, and I’m consistently impressed by the stuff I see there. I always linked back to the originals, and credited each image as a Flickr photo by [whatever the photographer’s user name is]. The point of the Interludes was to show off cool work that I think is relevant to the subject matter of this site, and obviously giving people full credit is intrinsic to that, so that’s why I always did it. Also, I only used an image here if the “blog this” feature was enabled.But I stopped when I got some mild static once or twice and didn’t understand what it was about.

Someone explained to me that it was indirect fallout from this apparent controversy: was taking images from Flickr and using them without any particular creidt, and at first responded in an asshole-ish way to complaints. Soon the Consumerist guy wised up and backed off and more or less made amends and promised to give people credit and all that, so the controversy blew over. But it all still made me decide not to do the Flickr thing for a while. Credit or no credit, maybe some people just don’t want their images on this site.

Finally I found the time (okay, it only took five minutes, but still) to create the Murketing Flickr pool. I created the group Wednesday night, and it already has 53 members and 159 images, which is cool. As is clearly explained there, it’s open to all kinds of images of consumer culture, defined as broadly as possible, and I will post highlights on this site from time to time. So if you don’t want to see your Flickr work highlighted here, don’t join. But if you do want to help brighten up Murketing — join in.

More early highlights later today and this weekend and on into the future.

Meanwhile: If you’re a Flickr person and I have highlighted one of your images in the past and you don’t want it used here, just say so, and I’ll take it down. Fair enough?

The democratization of product placement

You know what all those amateur-hour grassroots-creative videos on YouTube are missing? Paid product placement!

Luckily, an outfit called Brandfame now exists, to broker deals between people making homebrew mini-films, and corporations. They are “the premier product placement agency for video-sharing web sites.” Maybe if those Billiam guys get their product line off the ground, they can be clients.

Here’s the Brandfame site. Via Influx. I’m definitely going to keep an eye on it.

Meanwhile, maybe I should disintermediate and offer a cash prize to the first person who mentions in a YouTube video. Hmm…

Flickr Interlude

Originally uploaded by M. Brum

I used to publish Flickr Interludes all the time. Then I stopped. Now I’m starting again, and I’m pleased to do so with an image by my Flickr pal M. Brum. More on this later today.

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Yet another low-utility wristwatch

That’s right, it only has one hand. Courtesy of Coolhunting: “German watchmaker Klaus Botta’s design makes seconds and minutes irrelevant; with the Uno, be on time-ish.”

Earlier low-utility watches here, here, here, here, and here.

Q&A: Indie branding, the thesis

A few months back I got an interesting email from a graduate student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Greta Ackerman. She was working on her thesis show, “The Ironic Brand.” It centered on the indie clothing brand Barking Irons, which she’d read about in the brand underground story last year.

Surprised as I was to hear this (I’ve had articles cited in academic papers and articles and books and so on, but this was a new one for me), she was even more surprised to learn that I live in Savannah. So I was quite happy to chat with her at the time, and to check out her actual thesis show here last month. It was impressively comprehensive, exploring print ads, online material, outdoor, even direct mail. The over-arching theme was how an underground brand can sell more without selling out.

Ms. Ackerman was of course at the opening, too — but she had to come in from out of town. She’s now a designer for Merkley i.D., a division of Merkley + Partners in New York. I decided to pester her with a few quick questions about the thesis project, and she graciously obliged.

Q: Let’s start with the obvious: Why this thesis subject, and why this brand?

I’m a fine art student-turned-advertising-designer, so I’ve spent a lot of time toggling between art for art’s sake and art with a commercial purpose. People, especially design students struggling to find a voice, often harp on designers who have “sold out,” applying their design skills or their artistic vision to a corporation to help them draw a profit.

The way I see it, there’s no shame in making a living, but there’s a lot about big business and the way it advertises and brands itself that turns me off. I was attracted by a group of brands on a mission to sell without being perceived as sell-outs, who had a greater purpose than simply profit (although some profit would be nice). I wanted to find out if that was even possible, and if so, how advertising could play a role, even a nontraditional role, in that process.

Barking Irons spoke to me as a brand trying to grow without losing its integrity, but it stood out against some of its fellow indie brands because of its old aesthetic. Read more

Uninsu(red) gets lawy(red)

In the most recent installment of the Murketing (Journal) email, I promised to give away one of the UNINSU(RED) T-shirts mentioned earlier on this site. This was misleading. In fact, I am giving away two. The winners were Scott L. and Mike D., both New Yorkers.

Since the earlier post about the T’s, a new development: The makers have already received a cease-and-desist from the Product Red folks, according to New York Magazine’s site. Given the small scale — the shirts were available only at The Reed Space — and the overall intent of the uninsu(red) T, I’m a little surprised about this. I don’t see how it hurt or undercut Product Red, and there’s nothing offensive about it. It was promoting a discussion of health care, not pornography or something. In any case, the upshot is that the giveaway Ts are now collectors’ items, in a way. Either that, or they’re magnets for trouble from Product Red lawyers. So to the giveaway winners, congrats — and watch out!

On Geico’s ad icon shilling for some other brand

Earlier this week a favored Murketing reader drew my attention a curious magazine ad from Weatherproof Garment Company. The print ad shows a caveman in a Weatherproof jacket. Of course this makes us think of the Geico cavemen who have moved from ads to a forthcoming sitcom (see earlier Consumed on that). The tag line on the jacket ad is “Weatherman Approved.” Normally, I guess, Weatherproof uses Al Roker in its ads.

I haven’t seen the sitcom, but this post on the site that is associated with Conde Nast’s business magazine, Portfolio, says that because the show “features a Cro-Magnon TV weatherman (he’s the token minority on a local news show), Weatherproof apparently thought it would be funny to have him play the Al Roker role in its new campaign…. But who pays for [the ad]? Weatherproof? ABC? Geico? All of the above?”

I asked a contact at the Martin Agency (creator of the Geico ads) about this. He mentioned that someone was writing an article on this very subject, so I’ve held off for a few days, but I still haven’t seen that article and I need to get this off my to-do list.

According to my contact, not only was Geico not involved in the Weatherproof ad, they didn’t know about it until the Martin Agency pointed it out. So Copyranter is correct in guessing that this is not a tie-in: “It’s just bald, blatant, shameless appropriation.” And certainly paid for by Weatherproof alone.

It’s not immediately clear whether anybody can own the idea of a caveman, and even if ABC or Geico could claim some kind of intellectual property theft, they’d be pretty crazy to do so.

Reader Braulio wondered what I thought about all this. Here’s my answer.

First, I think it’s a fairly astonishing tribute to the icon status of the cavemen. Clearly Weatherproof assumes that pretty much everybody is up on the cavemen, or the ad would make no sense at all.

Second, if it’s true that this is a reference to the idea that one of the sitcom cavemen is a “token minority” on a news broadcast, then it seems pretty weird for Weatherproof to have him stand in for Al Roker. What, exactly, is the parallel we’re supposed to draw?

Funny — but keep it away from children

A peg-puzzle product titled “Branded,” from Atypyk: “Because it’s never too early to learn what’s important in life.” Via Counterfeit Chic.

Weirdly appealing: Rubber vase

It’s a vase. Made of rubber. Designed by Henriette Melchiorsen, at Scandinavian Design Center. Via Better Living Through Design.

Excellent illustrator

Okay, I’m almost caught up with stuff I wanted to post about but haven’t had time for. Here’s the last one: Pascal Blanchet. Wonderful illustrations. Via Drawn!