Experiences Shaped

Quick Read: 3D replicas can make a killer demo of not just products but also experiences.   

Vincent van Gogh’s bedroom in Arles, France is arguably the most famous bedroom in the history of art.

It also held special significance for the artist, who created three distinct paintings of this intimate space from 1888 to 1889.

(Van Gogh’s Bedroom Painting, Source)

Earlier this year, the Art Institute of Chicago was to throw open an exhibition called Van Gogh’s Bedrooms containing 36 of his works including paintings, drawings, illustrated letters as well as a selection of books and other ephemera known to have been in his possession.

As part of the promotional campaign for this exhibit, the institute did something innovative.

It recreated his famous bedroom in Chicago’s River North neighborhood and threw it open for rent on Airbnb.

Result: the first block of nights sold out in 5 mins on Airbnb. It helped generate massive buzz about the exhibition that saw 200,000+ visitors in just a few weeks making it the highest attended exhibit in 15 years.

See this video for a sneak view into this initiative.

Commissioning 3D replicas to drive awareness and trial of a product is nothing new. Examples like the above show that they can also make for a killer demo in the realm of experience marketing.

For these are professional grade art works at the intersection of consumer psychology, complex 3D modeling, con art and story telling.

Or take the world of shokuhin samples – the hypnotic world of fake Japanese food. 

In Japan, fake food can look very, very real. It’s called “shokuhin sample” (食品サンプル) or “food sample”, and it appears outside restaurants so customers can know what they are ordering.

And it is a damn big deal.

Shokuhin samples have become such an intricate part of the Japanese dining experience that many people stop in front of glass cases filled with fake food, decide what they want, and then enter the restaurant. Some Japanese even complain about the lack of fake food when dinning abroad—that they don’t get to see what they are ordering beforehand!

shokuhin-sample
Shokuhin Sample (Source)

Most shokuhin samples are still hand made by highly skilled artisans whose painstaking craft – honed over several years of training – results in textures and colors that are so precise that it’s often difficult to tell real food from the samples.

Today shokuhin sample manufacturers fiercely guard their trade secrets as business is lucrative; the plastic food industry in Japan, by conservative estimates, has revenues of over 10 billion yen per year.

Unsurprisingly there are also stores that sell this fake food. Ganso Shokuhin Sample-ya  is one such shrine dedicated to all things fake food. It has been producing plastic replicas for display in restaurant windows since 1932, but in recent years it’s even wisened up to the tourist trade by selling fake food keyrings, magnets and phone straps as souvenirs.

640px-food_samples_1
Shokuhin samples in a restaurant, source

Journalist Yasunobu Nose has a theory that links the plastic replicas to the visual aesthetic of Japanese food appreciation. In his book titled “Me de taberu Nihonjin (Japanese People Eat With Their Eyes),” Nose writes that food samples are part of the Japanese tendency to “first ‘taste’ dishes by sight, then eat with their mouths and stomachs.” (source)

With such a strong visual aesthetic underpinning the Japanese way of food appreciation, it would be a massive opportunity lost if the food brands (all kinds from ingredient brands to ready to eat brands) in the Japanese supermarkets do not leverage the power of shokuhin samples in their visual merchandising on the shelves.

After all, this is serious performance art that seeks expressiveness of deliciousness and a sincere pursuit of reality as its objectives. While being rooted in local culture.

Can you think of any other multi sensory experiences that can be brought to life with the help of 3D replicas?

Other than sex dolls, I mean 🙂

(Featured Image:  Van Gogh’s bedroom replica as listed on Airbnb)

Time Travel Democratised

Quick Read: Time travel, branding and public sentiment indices could have a lot in common. To know more, just ask Zlaty Bazant (the Slovak beer) for a test drive to the 1970s. 

Here’s an exercise. Think of any science fiction story. Anything.

Now take a few seconds and reflect on its theme.

Chances are that its theme might not be the future. You would notice that the genre uses the future only as a canvas on which to imprint its real concerns—the present.

The insight: Counterintuitively, time travel stories are often those tales that are most anchored in the present.

Similarly, stories that transport you to the past do so only to provide the necessary distancing effect for the narrative to be able to metaphorically address the most pressing concerns of the here and now – the present.

This has an interesting corollary for brands.

Na zdravie, Slovensko (“Cheers, Slovakia!”)

Central and eastern European countries faced the scourge of communism for most part of the last century. So it’s only natural to expect that the people in these countries would not want to be reminded of those darker times.

Yet, a curious trend seems to be suggesting the contrary in recent times.

Retro is seriously back with a bang.

  • Polish hipsters are lapping up retro furniture of the Jaruzelski era.
  • Lidl stores (the German supermarket chain) in Czech Republic have sales of imitation communist products in their now popular “Retro Week” promotions
  • Even the communist era beers are getting resurrected across the region

(Retro Products at Lidl. Source)

As The Economist article frames it, communist nostalgia is not new, but it does seem to be having a new wave of resurgence. While this makes some sense in Russia, which ruled the empire, it is puzzling to understand its relevance among the central and eastern Europeans whom the Soviets ground under their boots.

And to frame this irony even more acutely, this affection for the socialist era products seems embodied even in the consumer products that are marketed by Western multinationals!

For example, in May this year a Heineken-owned Slovak brewery, Zlaty Bazant, introduced a premium version of its beer based on a 1973 recipe, priced 20% higher than its standard line up. Even its slogan Na zdravie, Slovensko! (“Cheers, Slovakia!”) vaunts its local roots as opposed to typical beer marketing themes that emphasize Europeanness and modernity.

zlaty-bazant
Zlaty Bazant Ad. Source

Yet, this doesn’t necessarily reflect a desire of these people to return to the pre-1989 era. That’s where it becomes a bit complicated (in terms of their relationship with these brands).

The insight here: As Ivan Klima, a Czech novelist, puts it, “nobody is nostalgic for the communist era, but many people are nostalgic for their youth”.

Why?

Most people in the region are believed to be discouraged about the future.

In fact according to the recent Eurobarometer survey, just 30% of Slovaks and 26% of Czechs have a positive view of the European Union. Poland and Hungary are more pro-European, but have elected governments determined to check the power of Brussels. (source)

And these themes of insecurity and pessimism in the current socio political context manifest among the central and eastern Europeans as an inexplicable longing for brands of the bygone communist era. As if returning to these good old things could bring about a sense of security and stability amidst the slipping sands of the current times.

So if a Serb is seen enjoying a 1973 communist era quaff like the Zlaty Bazant, he is perhaps not so much contemplating nationalizing the auto industry as he is struggling with his attempts to reconcile with his current times.

Almost like the fascination with that time travel story to the past that is fueled by the strifes of the current times.

This could have interesting implications on brand building.

Public sentiment index (or their proxies) can perhaps be a lighthouse for brand builders. If the sentiment is low for a prolonged period of time in a market, brand builders there could perhaps do well to dust the grime off legacy brands and shine a light on them.

And may be even charge a premium for the same, as it is after all time travel, only packaged in a little bottle.

(Featured Image: Zlaty Bazant saying “Merry Christmas, Slovakia!”)

Repeat After Me

Quick Read: Some deep seated cultural values that we project on to our children are in need of a massive over haul. Nike and Dove have brilliantly brought this to life in their recent campaigns. 

Handwriting just doesn’t matter.

Or does it?

For a long time it was believed that cursive writing identifies us as much as our physical features do, revealing something unique and distinctive about our inner being.

But over a century, the focus on cursive handwriting in schools actually ended up achieving the opposite. Mastering it was dull, repetitive work, intended to make every student’s handwriting match a pre-defined standard.

In fact in the 19th century America, students were reportedly taught to become “writing machines”, holding their arms and shoulders in awkward poses for hours to get into shape for writing drills.

Or take this Lego ad from 1981. See anything unusual here? 

1981+Lego+Ad

(What it is is beautiful. Source |HT Seth Godin “Stop Stealing Dreams“)

Those were the days when LEGO blocks were sold by the “bucket” with blocks of different sizes and colors thrown in together and labelled “Universal Building Sets”.

This approach celebrated a child’s creativity regardless of what she has created. As the ad copy above goes on to say..

“…how proud it’s made her. It’s a look you’ll see whenever children build something all by themselves. No matter what they’ve created”

Sadly this approach didn’t sell a lot of LEGO blocks presumably because it required too much risk on the part of parents and kids—the risk of making something that wasn’t perfect or expected.

So what did LEGO do?

They switched from these all purpose “Universal Building Sets” to a lineup that included more of predefined kits – models that must be assembled precisely one way, or they’re wrong.

Why would these pre-defined kits of LEGO blocks sell so many more copies? As Seth Godin says, it is because they match what parents expect and what kids have been trained to do.

Lego Products Page

(The LEGO products page today, with a disproportionate focus on predefined kits)

These discourses on cursive handwriting or LEGO are metaphors of what’s happening with schools around. 

By the turn of the 19th century, the biggest challenges of our newly minted industrial economy were two fold.

  1. finding enough compliant workers and
  2. finding enough eager customers

The school system – that most of us would have been brought up under – evidently solved both problems.

But the world around has changed into a culture that celebrates ideals like ingenuity, connection, ideas, courage and risk Vs one that only promoted values like conformity, obedience and risk aversion.

Sadly our schooling system has changed little from that originally envisaged for a completely different era. (More in Seth Godin’s must read manifesto ‘Stop Stealing Dreams – What is school for?’)

So a scene with a class full of students repeating ad nauseam after their teacher, rhymes or lessons that only serve the purpose of further perpetuating outdated or worse still outlandish values against today’s realities is certain to provoke anger and perhaps even instigate an active change in our world view. 

Two brands have recently used this very scene, to demonstrate how deeply we have tried to graft our misplaced conceptions of ideas around individualism and beauty in our children.

Nike’s Minohodoshirazu

Earlier this month, Nike Japan  launched a new campaign with a spot that redefines the phrase ‘Minohodoshirazu’, which translates to “Don’t know your place.” While the term is typically used as an insult towards the overly ambitious, the anthem ad tells viewers that not knowing your place can instead be a mindset for athletes to strive for. (source)

Created by W+K Tokyo and directed by Omri Cohen, the ad manages to contrast the values being embedded in children with shots of athletic achievements that run counter to these messages of compliance and obedience. Video here.

Dove’s Is That You? 

The famous nursery rhyme ‘Chubby Cheeks, Rosy Lips…’ is used as the background score for this video created by Culture Machine (and subsequently pitched to Dove).

The rhyme and the contrasting visuals make you wonder if this is how we have sought to institutionalize a misguided set of beauty ideals in generation after generation of young girls, every single year. Video here.

It is always interesting to see different brands, different agencies from different parts of the world adopt a similar executional approach to land their respective ideas.

(Featured Image: Source)

Isomorphism

Quick Read: Cooking up amazing food and language translation could have something in common. Isomorphism. 

Chef David Chang – the famed American restaurateur who owns the Momofuku restaurant group shares a great insight on what characterises amazing food.

When you eat something amazing, you don’t just respond to the dish in front of you; you are almost always transported back to another moment in your life.

He believes that food – like fragrances – has a set of ‘base patterns’ that people inherently respond to. So, as long as you can string together the required base patterns of any given dish- no matter what the ingredients are – you are sorted.

So the formula for a hit, according to him, is to strip a dish down to its component flavours,  and re-compose the dish bottom up, by staying true to its constituent set of base patterns albeit with unexpected ingredients.

Think of it like making Bolognese, the Italian meat sauce but by using only Korean ingredients. (He calls it Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes, and when most people taste it, it reminds them—even on a subconscious level—of a spicier version of Bolognese.)

And that’s what makes his dishes the smash hits that they are.

He calls it his Unified Theory of Deliciousness. 

UTD_WIRED

(Source: WIRED, August 2016)

Featured as the cover story in this August edition of WIRED, David Chang’s give away is his insight into base patterns and how they constitute the building blocks of any given dish from around the world.

He draws parallels to the concept of isomorphisms – concepts that can be expressed in different ways while retaining their core form.

That’s how I feel about food. Different cultures may use different media to express those base patterns—with different ingredients, for instance, depending on what’s available. But they are, at heart, doing the exact same thing.

They are fundamentally playing the same music. And if you can recognise that music, you’ll blow people’s minds with a paradox they can taste: the new and the familiar woven together in a strange loop.

Now think of the concept of isomorphism for a moment.

It occurs to me that languages are perhaps the best examples of isomorphism.

Different cultures may use different expressions to communicate their ‘base patterns’—with different words, phrases and idioms, depending on what their language is. But they are, at heart, doing the exact same thing.

So a software that powers a good language translator has to be able to strip down a sentence according to it’s language’s base patterns and be able to construct them back in the other language for the user to be able to appreciate the original meaning.

Almost like how David Chang believes his hit dishes should be made of.

(Incidentally, Google Translate paired up with some amazing food earlier this year.

In April Google opened Small World, a curious pop-up restaurant in NYC with celebrity chefs like Danny Bowien, Eina Admony and JJ Johnson.

But, there was one catch: diners could only order their food using Google Translate. This recent video captures the essence of the campaign.

This short film documenting the restaurant’s run, “#EveryoneSpeaksFood,” was directed by Josh Nussbaum.)

(Featured Image: Momofuku Ssam Bar’s Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes – the spicier version of Bolognese made from all Korean ingredients)

 

Visceral Targeting

Quick Read: We love ourselves so much that even the Mona Lisa could use our face to appear more engaging to us. No, seriously! But does that tell us something about the future of advertising? 

You stand in front of the Mona Lisa, only this version is around three times the size of the original and has a blue sphere on a shelf that juts out from the painting.

In the blue sphere – called the Gazing Ball – you see a reflection of yourself naturally juxtaposed against the Mona Lisa.

As part of this exhibition, Jeff Koons has taken 35 masterpieces, had them repainted in oil on canvas, added a little shelf, painted as if it had sprouted directly from the image and added the Gazing Ball on top of that.

JK_Mona_Lisa

(Jeff Koons with the Gazing Ball (da Vinci Mona Lisa).Photograph: Fruity MacGuinty)

Presenting his artworks, Koons (fancily) says that while the gazing ball “represents the vastness of the universe and at the same time the intimacy of right here, right now, this experience is about you, your desires, your interests, your participation, your relationship with this image.”

Now, is the joke here on us or is it on Leonardo da Vinci that even in the master piece we have to be able to see ourselves in order to evince a higher level of curiosity and appreciation- the heady mix that all artists crave for?

Pop-culture has become more narcissistic in recent decades. And we, being the most narcissistic species on the planet, obviously help perpetuate the trend even further.

The Doppelgänger Effect

Popular wisdom tells us that opposites attract. But as this post suggests, all we need to do is just take a look around us and bear witness to the thousands of couple twins, boyfriend twinscelebrity couple lookalikes and even facial recognition dating sites, and we’ll start to realize that what we might be most attracted to is, well, ourselves.

Today there is mounting scientific evidence to prove that we are friendlier to people who look like us.

And this has interesting ramifications on advertising. 

One knows that it’s easy to algorithmically construct an ‘average face’ – a composite image that averages the faces of any given sample of people.

Average_of_two_faces_2

(Image Source: Averageness – wikipedia)

(In fact earlier this year, Benetton used this approach to algorithmically construct a ‘Face of the City‘ for each of 6 global capitals in order to celebrate their status as a melting pot of various races and cultures. Video here.)

In the same way one can construct a composite morph using weighted average of individual faces. For example, the ‘Tiger Morph’ below is a weighted average of a stock model face and that of Tiger Woods.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 8.21.56 PM

(Image Source: Personalized Face Composites for Implicitly Targeted Marketing)

Using similar means what if a social network were to subtly blend our profile picture  – almost on the fly- with that of a brand’s spokesmodel to make online ads more attractive?

Would these ‘Personalized Face Composites’ be more credible as spokesmodels in the ads?

And would such ads be more effective in increasing our purchase intent?

And let’s not even get started on user privacy. (Yes, I am looking at you Facebook!)

Welcome to the world of visceral targeting.

(H/T Austin Kleon: Jeff Koons Gazing Ball. H/T Rosie & Faris: The Doppelgänger Effect)

(Featured Image: United Colors of Benetton – Face of the City campaign )

Access Restricted

Quick Read: Want to generate footfall or demand? Sometimes all it could take is a board saying “Access Restricted”.

Iceland is renowned for its fairytale landscapes, waterfalls and dancing midnight lights. But of all the places, an unusual site has become one of its most talked about destinations – a site of a plane crash. 

Sólheimasandur beach in Iceland is a desolate site, but for the mangled remains of a US Navy’s C-117 aircraft. It was in November 1973 that the aircraft crashed at the site with the crew onboard having miraculously survived.

After the crash, the U.S. military removed everything that was salvageable in the aircraft and left behind the 10,000 pound shell by the beach. For over four decades since then nothing much happened around it.

The landowners of the site almost forgot about it and were perfectly content to let time and nature slowly eat away at the twisted wreck.

Iceland Plane Crash

(Photo Credit: Eliot Stein. Source)

But steadily over the years it has become a not so well kept secret among photographers – who lent it an extra air of surrealism, by way of their documentaries and photographs.

In recent times it came to be used as a location for destination weddings.  Not to be left behind Bollywood even managed to get Shah Rukh Khan to lean backwards, spread his arms while not forgetting to romance Kajol over its fuselage!

Dilwale

(Still from the song in Dilwale)

Hell even Justin Bieber skateboarded on the plane’s roof in a music video in November 2015.

Expectedly it led to a steady increase in visitors to the site and got people into driving all over the place with little consideration about the property around. So in March 2016 the landowners’ of the site decisively put up signs banning all access to the area. 

…and then things started to go crazy!

Google Search Trends - Iceland Plane Crash Site

(Google Trends showing a spike in searches for the crash site in March 2016)

All it took was a “No Entry” sign.

Now, hundreds of people every day are reportedly following GPS coordinates to a remote, unmarked gate on the side of the road and trekking four kilometers through a barren lava desert to try their chances at seeing the plane’s twisted remains.

How Hitchcock Got People To See “Psycho”

When Psycho hit theaters, critics weren’t given private screenings. Instead Hitchcock created buzz for the film by exerting an unusual degree of directorial control over the viewing experience of the audience.

Accordingly the showings of the film began on a tightly-controlled schedule in theatres in New York, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia.  And a firm “no late admission” policy was put in place.

hitchcok-rules

(A standee to announce No Late Admission policy for Psycho. Source)

Theatre managers initially balked at the idea, fearing financial losses. But Hitchcock had his way.

And he was right.

Long lines formed outside the theaters, pulled even more people in and Psycho went on to enjoy critical and commercial success.

Sydney Opera House says “Come On In”

Sydney Opera House is the most Instagrammed destination in Australia.

The challenge:  Only 1% of those who upload a photo ever go inside.

Sydney Opera House found who these people were, recorded personalised invitation videos on the fly, and got them to step in to experience the Opera House from inside with exclusive access and perks.

See the case study video here

While it is definitely a smart intervention that effectively leverages relevant consumer touch points on the fly to get people to step inside, I wonder if the management of the Sydney Opera house had considered the contra idea.

…that of putting up a sign saying “Access Restricted”.

(Featured Image: Sólheimasandur plane crash site by Eric Cheng. Source)

Modern Molinism

Quick Read: Want a sure shot ticket down a rabbit hole? Your bet: Choice Design. So much for free will. 

Morioka Shoten Ginza is a book store in Tokyo where you wouldn’t have a problem with deciding which book to buy.

Why?

Because in any given week it sells copies of a single title. Each title is displayed for six days in a row—Tuesday to Sunday—and then swapped out for a new book.

Yoshiyuki Morioka – the founder of this “single room with a single book” concept believes that focusing on a single book would help foster a deeper relationship between a book and its reader and drive up the pleasure of reading to a whole new level.

Additionally, every evening an event is organised to discuss the book and connect its author with readers, while pieces of art that relate to the book are displayed around the store for the readers to soak in and enjoy.

Morioka-Shoten-bookstore

(Morioka Shoten bookstore: Pic Source)

Unsurprisingly this approach of ‘choice design’ combats decision fatigue and stifles crippling indecision that customers tend to face in a conventional book store set up – online or offline.

Result: An invisible hand that influences its customers’ free will, subtly leading them from a cursory browsing mindset to that of a deeper meaningful engagement leading to purchase.

One customer at a time. And one book title at a time

According to Morioka, the store has sold more than 2,000 works since it opened last year and attracted numerous visitors from all over the world. (source)

Meanwhile at the other end of choice spectrum 

A unique adventure beckons you with the promise of debilitating you with mind boggling levels of choice at every turn of the journey.

Sample this.

You’re sitting alone in your apartment minding your own business when, out of nowhere, someone bursts through your front door. So what do you do? 

ClickHole

(Source: Clickventures)

So begins your adventure that starts off on a simple note.

But even before you realise, you will soon find yourself deep down a rabbit hole staring into frustrating levels of complexity and a ridiculous set of choices being thrown at you at each turn.

And surprisingly you find it addictive!

Clickventures, as they’re called, are exercises in absurdist escalation.

Despite the apparent air of triviality around them, each clickventure is an evil design experiment that lies at the intersection of comedy, interactive fiction, game design and behavioural research.

No wonder, brands are not far behind in tapping into this space.

For e.g, Old Spice has created a wild and wacky choose-your-own-adventure social experience on Instagram with Wieden + Kennedy.

The more you click, the further you go and the more wackiness you can experience. Exactly like in the Clickventures. Try out few of them here and see who wins.

Your “free” will? 

A basic tenet of Molinism is that in addition to knowing everything that will happen, God also knows what His creatures would freely choose if placed in any circumstance.

It’s essentially a doctrine which attempts to reconcile the providence of God with human free will.

Molinism is perhaps still going strong in the 21st century. It’s just that these molinists go by a slightly different name today.

And they subscribe to a doctrine that attempts to reconcile the providence of an invisible hand (also known as the ‘choice designer’) with human free will.

Now, did I just call marketers, the modern day molinists?

(Featured Image: Quote from the cult movie The Matrix)

Convergent Evolution

Quick Read: ‘Convergent Evolution’ while being a concept from the life sciences could actually be seen playing out with a greater degree of recurrence in creativity and arts.

What you see here on the left is the picture of a butterfly. But what what you see on the right, is not.

Convergent Evolution

(Pic source: The Economist)

In fact it is that of a fossil of a lacewing (an insect) called Oregramma illecebrosa. Supposedly it flew in the forests of the Jurassic period between 165m and 125m years ago, dying out 69m years before the first-known butterfly fossil. (source)

These are examples of Convergent Evolution: the emergence of similar bodies in unrelated groups of species, to permit the pursuit of similar ways of life.

Another example of Convergent Evolution is the Jurassic Ichthyosaurs and the modern Dolphin.

CONVERGENT EVOLUTION (1)

(Pic Source: The Dinosaur Store)

But that’s not the interesting part.

Convergent Evolution while being a concept from the life sciences could actually be seen playing out with a greater degree of recurrence in creativity and arts; where it can loosely be defined as follows:

Convergent Evolution in the arts is the emergence of similar kinds of ideas and creative executions from unrelated sources or disciplines, to permit the pursuit of similar expressions.  

Let us take two projects Futuristic Archaeology and Inherit the Dust and a set of OOH executions by Amnesty International as examples.

Futuristic Arhaeology 

Mongolia has long been home to one of the world’s largest nomadic populations, with more than a third of its population pursuing their livelihood on the vast Mongolian-Manchurian steppe. But in recent years, the grassland has been drying up.

Korean photographer Daesung Lee’s series Futuristic Archaeology explores what the desertification of their home means for Mongolian nomads through a series of fantastically staged images.

They feature landscapes-within-landscapes — barren, desert environments inlaid with decidedly greener ones.

futuristic-archaeology-1-1024x682

futuristic-archaeology-10-1024x683

(Images from Futuristic Archaeology. Full collection here)

These incredible scenes aren’t digitally orchestrated: Lee actually printed out billboard-sized photographs and strung them up on site, using former nomads as models. Inside the smaller images, people ride horses, herd goats, and go about their lives fenced in by red rope barriers. (source)

Inherit the Dust

Nick Brandt is as much an activist as he is a photographer. After spending 15 years working in Africa he was depressed by the changes he saw sweeping across the African landscape, like illegal logging predicted to eliminate some 30 million acres by 2030.

Thus was born his latest project Inherit the Dust a collection of  moody portraits of elephants, giraffes, and lions to call attention to Africa’s vanishing megafauna. Each picture in this project has been meticulously staged and exquisitely shot in black and white to bring to life these beautiful creatures wandering the landscapes they’ve long since been driven out of.

Brandt_04-1024x474Brandt_05-1024x474Brandt_008-1024x489

(Images from Inherit The Dust, Nick Brandt. Source)

While with Inherit The Dust, the quiet dignity of the animals that Nick Brandt photographs is shockingly juxtaposed against the indignity and disarray of our own…

…. Amnesty International flips this concept a bit

…by juxtaposing the shocking indignity of human rights violations against the backdrop of a quite dignified civic life that most of us easily take for granted.

Amnesty International_1

Amnesty International_2

(Advertising Agency: Walker, Zürich, Switzerland. More executions here, here and here)

As one reviewer of Nick Brandt’s Inherit the Dust puts it..

“These haunting photographs force us to think about what we are doing, and who is at stake.”

Now even at a nuanced level, if you come to think about it, isn’t this statement equally applicable for all the other projects featured here?

Perhaps that’s what makes them apt examples of convergent evolution.

(Featured Image: Wasteland with Elephant, by Nick Brandt from Inherit the Dust)

Fata Morgana

Quick Read: What do you call an ad that brilliantly grabs our attention – by its balls? Not the ones that are made to work like click baits,  but those made to create a meaningful and an impactful closure. 

Fata Morgana

This picture recently shot by one Mr. Nick O’Donoghue at 30,000 ft from a plane has been doing the rounds on the Internet this week. (source)

Seeming to be featuring what looked like some huge robot walking along the clouds, these pictures got Reddit rife with juicy speculations.

An alien? An Iron Giant? Some astronaut?

Well the suspense seemed to have been solved.

Weather experts say that the phenomenon can be explained by what is called as Fata Morgana – a specific kind of mirage. (some cool explanation here)

No wonder, throughout history few phenomena have both fascinated and scared the hell out of sailors, saints, warriors and vacationers alike as it did.

But Fata Morgana is great because of what it quintessentially succeeds at.

Over centuries every Fata Morgana has attracted our attention, invoked curiosity, set our mental models in search of narratives that could explain it, and sent us on a great deal of wild goose chase.

But all Fata Morganas have one thing in common. They all made complete sense once the underlying logic and rationale were brought to bear.

In modern marketing terms..

..Fata Morgana is like an ad that brilliantly grabs our attention – by its balls. But not like those click baits, or those that come with some cheap attention grabbing visuals or effects.

These are stories ensconced in narratives that are deliberately layered to challenge our conventional expectations and shake up our notions of rationality. Yet when the closure arrives, these make eminent sense and leave an indelible impact in our minds.

Let’s take Abby Wambach

The 35-year-old superstar is said to be one of the greatest soccer players to ever step on the field. Besides leading her team to World Cup victory, she also won two Olympic gold medals, became the world’s all-time leading goal scorer (man or woman), and was recognized as one of TIME’s 100 in 2015.

On 16 December 2015 she played her final game in New Orleans.

And on 16 December 2015 when she took the field for the last time, Gatorade released this commercial.

Her message? “Forget Me

(Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day)

Updated: Kobe Bryant seems join a similar discourse saying Hate Me for Nike.

(Agency: W+K)

(Featured Image: Fata Morgana.Louise Murray/Visuals Unlimited/Getty Images. Source)

Targeting Boredom

Quick Read: Marketers have always tried to dial up and capitalise on their consumers’ active interest and consideration levels. Now what if they could also leverage the lack of it? 

Let’s take boredom.

A common human emotion, boredom often makes us to instinctively reach out to our mobile phones.

With our attention spans thrown into a state of suspended animation, it is natural that we see ourselves seeking solace in the infinite scrolls of updates, tweets, videos, pics etc.

In fact there is research to prove that our boredom levels can be inferred from – surprise surprise – our mobile phone usage alone!

By leveraging features related to our mobile phone usage like recency of communication, usage intensity, time of day and demographics – the research has successfully built a machine learning model that can infer our state of boredom with an 83% accuracy!!

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Interestingly, results from this research also suggest that people are more likely to engage with ‘recommended content’ when they are bored than when they are not.

Why?

Presumably because our ‘conscious choice’ takes a back seat when we are bored making us open to nibbling at a bit of whatever gets thrown our way.

Now these findings could have huge impact on targeting possibilities for marketers.

What if we could target not just by conventional cuts like demo, psychographics, affinities etc, but also by temporal mental states like say being bored, being excited, feeling low, feeling on top of the world etc? 

Not too unrealistic a prospect. Is it?

But when that happens, we are looking at dramatic implications for brands from across a range of industries – be it for media platforms marketing content, or for e-commerce players seeking to deploy real time pricing interventions  etc.

Now that’s interesting.

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