Thursday, October 30, 2008

Teamwork is about skulls and flaming coffins

This past weekend kicked off with my participation in this years Emma Crawford coffin races, just down the road in "weird" Manitou Springs. I was invited to join in the fun and support a friend of mine whose teammates had backed out last minute. The idea of this annual event centers around Emma Crawford, who lived in Manitou, then died, something about a coffin and a hill, halloween costumes, I don't remember exactly, but you can get the real story here.

What I found amazing was how 5 people who didn't all know each other could get together and sprint an 80 pound coffin on wheels up a hill for 250 yards and be so excited to do it. Within minutes of meeting we all knew what roles we were going to play, our positions on the coffin and after a short while we had a full blown strategy. It was so cool to see how quickly all 5 of us came together, devised a plan and executed it, sort of. Something about a clear, common goal, the overall energy of the environment and knowing that everyone had to excel in order for us to succeed was what motivated us. I wonder how the simplicities and effortless coordination in moments like these could be incorporated into the daily business environment? Just a thought...

And if you are wondering, we placed 19th out of 49 coffins. Not bad for a team that didn't really know each other, nor practiced, and in my case, had no idea how that flaming coffin was going to handle.


New Holiday Inn spot

This is great, enjoy!
via the the denver egotist

Monday, October 27, 2008

Creepy crawlies just in time

The setting sun provided great light on this banana spider so I decided to capture the moment. Hang tight little dude...


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Free airline tickets? Sweet!

I'm so gullible. The other day I received a suspicious looking letter in my mailbox; printed on the outside in black and gray, sealed on all sides by tear-away perforations and adorned with an icon reminiscent of the US Supreme Court building, above, the words Department of Internal something or other; I thought it was something official. Actually, to be real, I thought the IRS was after me.

So I open the the letter and what do I see? Two giant logos, one of United Airlines, and the other of Directly in the middle of these logos is a simple "Congratulations, you have won two airline tickets!", a confirmation number and some statement about me previously signing up via email for this. Yeah, ok.

The thing that got me I suppose was this reference to me initiating contact and the giant logo, clearly signifying that this deal came from Cheap Tickets, a company everyone knows is legit. At this point the visual of the Supreme Court icon should have come back to me, but it didn't. What did I do? I called them.

Here is how the conversation went...

Me: "Hi, I got this letter and it says I'm supposed to give you a confirmation number to claim my free airline tickets?"

Scam artist: "Uh huh, are you married?

Me: "Uh, yeah"

Scam artist: "What is your annual salary?"

Me: "What?, why would you need to know that?"

Scam artist: "We need you to attend a 3 hour long seminar, free of charge in order to receive your prize..."

Me: Click.

So why am I writing about this? Three words, deception in advertising. Some shady company hired some shady agency to put this piece together for them. The concept? To plainly and simply trick the recipient into believing this was something in which it wasn't. I'm sure the creative brief read something like, Objectives: rip off US Government document look, insert two logos from credible companies (i smell a lawsuit) and suggest that the viewer instigated this communication. Have you half-wits no ethics?

Sure, there are tons of these "scam" mailers out there. And I am usually pretty good at weeding through them. But as someone in the advertising industry it made me stop and reflect. Let it be known that should any client come to our door seeking to consciously deceive their market, they will promptly be escorted out. At Handcrafted we take pride in producing material that is ethically responsible and we stand behind what our clients have to say as truth.

I know, I'm gullible. But, if these sort of advertisements continually evolve in this direction, we will all just become cynics and come to believe that everything is a lie, when it isn't.

Miles McIlhargie

The ultra typophile?

I'm not sure what this all about, but it sure is funny, maybe more so for you designers out there. The video is also superbly well done...

Thanks SwissMiss

Monday, October 20, 2008

A few weeks back I went mountain biking for the first time in 7 years... in the dark. Needless to say I fell a few times, but damn was it fun.

When Miles had asked me to go I was a little hesitant but I'm definitely glad I went. It was a very surreal/awesome experience. It demands 100% of your attention, balance and agility among many skills. There's no way I could have done it if I wasn't riding behind Miles and in front of his good friend Jason.

Which brings me to the picture, we decided to do this at the end of the ride. We're all pretty happy with the outcome I think.

Big thanks again to Jason and Miles for inviting me on one heck of a ride (not to mention making the picture happen, they're the two bikers in the shot).


P.S. As usual, if you're curious as to how I shot the picture, you can click on it above and read the description on flickr.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Funny - Redesigning the Stop sign

This is one of my favorite bits. Ever. It doesn't matter whether you're on the agency side or the client side, everyone will get a kick out of this. Please take time and enjoy...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Color. Not just for crayons.

Imagery conveys the message, words tell the story and colors set the tone. Color creates an alluring ambience and acts as a key component in any design; color complements all other elements and aids in distinguishing your brand from the competition. Color, in all it's subtlety, has been shown to have an immediate impact on the viewer, and in many cases, has acted the catalyst in regards to whether or not a product or service is bought or sold.


--Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on color alone.
Source: CCICOLOR - Institute for Color Research--

--Color increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent.
University of Loyola, Maryland study--


Often times, more than not, color is trendy, an after-thought and many times, misused. With all of the fancy tools designers and creative developers have at their fingertips, e.g., tools making layout easier, tools making image manipulation less tedious and tools to streamline web scripting, many lose sight of and fail to fully understand the influence of this most basic element.

When used properly, color plays an integral player in the overall message being delivered. It works in harmony with the words, images and overall structure of brand elements. There is a science to color choice, a strategic game plan to picking just the right palette. From your logo to print collateral and television commercials to websites.

I feel more time should be spent on analyzing color in every usage. We should stop and think, "How does this shade make the consumer react", "What impulse does it generate", "Is this color appropriate within this context". Let's move beyond the pure "feel" aspect of it and explore what reactions the viewer will have when introduced to this color. The question to be addressed is, "Does this color palette represent my brand and does it assist in effectively communicating to my audience?"

Ask yourself, is orange always the best color for stimulating an appetite? Is green the best choice for selling all things organic? Maybe so, maybe not. Here is a great article about color choices and usage, enjoy.

Miles McIlhargie

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Study of Symbolism and Tradition in US Presidential Logos

So if the creative brief deviates away from red, white and blue, your candidate is going to lose.

So refreshing...

And completely in context. I might vote for this guy based on his sign alone.

Thanks Swiss Miss

Monday, October 6, 2008

Wolves are people too

This shot was taken at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center this past weekend. For those of you that live in Colorado I highly recommend a visit if you have not done so already. Being surrounded by these beautiful and powerful creatures is something of a spiritual experience.

One of the most fascinating aspects of wolves is their ability to communicate fairly complex messages to each other, and do so in a simple, precise manner. For instance, the Alpha male in a pack is typically the only one that mates with "his" partner. However, if reproduction in the pack is suffering and weakens, due to offspring not being born, the Alpha will grant "permission" to one or two other males (betas or subordinates) to mate with his female. That's right, he grants them "permission". How they communicate that is quite astounding.

Another little known fact is that wolves mate for life. That kind of loyalty is rare in the animal kingdom.

There must be a million analogies to advertising communication in here somewhere...


Friday, October 3, 2008

Analog to Digital

Because it's Friday, we've worked hard all week, and it's time for something funny...

Courtesy of

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Relational vs Transactional Advertising

One of the hardest things to do in this business is determine whether or not a client has the patience to "build a brand".

I recently purchased a series of web videos by Roy H. Williams that clearly listed the difference between the Transactional SHOPPER as compared to the Relational SHOPPER.  (Shopper is emphasized because which shopper you want to attract is the determinant for what time of advertising you do.)

Transactional Shopper:
Thinks short term
Cares only about today's transaction
Enjoys the process of shopping and negotiating
Fears only "Paying too much"
Is willing to spend lots of time investigating
Considers him or herself to be the expert
Hinges every transaction on price

Relational Shopper:
Thinks long term
Considers today's transaction to be one in a series of many
Does not enjoy comparison shopping or negotiating
Fears only "making a poor choice; buying the wrong one."
Hopes to find an expert they can trust
Considers their time spent shopping to be part of the purchase price.
Is likely to become a repeat customer.

While it is true that most clients love to have the relational customer walk through the door, when it comes to advertising... most want transactional traffic and they want it now (otherwise they feel the advertising was a waste of money.) 

More on this as I get through more of the series.

David Pippenger