Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Deck Week: Alienware

Alienware is a manufacturer that specializes in gaming computers with a unique look. Well, unique is a rather lame way to say it. More like Kick Ass. Bomb. Whatever your kids say when they mean "f'n sweet", that word applies. Alienware knows they make a great looking product, so much that they even have a Make-Your-Own-Wallpaper App on the site.

Choices include all their desktop and laptop computers, game characters, backgrounds etc. Sizing, skewing etc allowed of course.

Staying true to their gaming soul, Alienware also has their own Digital Network of video channels.
Topics range from their tie-ins with gaming tournaments, execs answering questions and satisfied customer stories. A quick check on YouTube shows that they indeed have a channel there, along with all the same videos it seems.

To the Product! Each product page has...prepare to be surprised...a masthead! Since I know we're going to be seeing alot of our dear friend the Flash masthead, I'm going to talk about them as we see them. Maybe we'll find something new and exciting in Flash masthead land.

The mastheads have a fair amount of CGI video, and hot-spots that offer up video demos instead of static images. Ah, Hot-spots, the dry hump of interactivity. The videos that open the page do a good job of cementing the high-tech feeling of the systems though.

All the above aside, this is a retail site. And the little turquoise button at the right sucks you into Customizing. There is nothing like customizing your product, knowing you can click a button and buy it right there. Unlike the Car industry where the BYO's only give you a brief fantasy reprieve from visiting the dealer.

Must....click....buy now....

The most notable thing, which isn't really a web thing, but is great business, is that they have a selection of 21 top games you can buy along with your laptop. They come already installed. Remember when you just got Solitaire and Minesweeper?


Monday, March 30, 2009

Candy Week: Cadbury

Wrapping up Candy Week is Cadbury UK. Or more appropriately, their A Glass and Half Full Productions.

You've probably seen the Gorilla playing drums Ad that passed around a year ago.

Over 3 million views is pretty damn good for a 90-second spot. Viral, check.

The home of Productions is a 3-D experience.

The modeling is well done, simple and elegant. I was a bit astonished by the amount of ideas held in the confines of this space. Other than an obligatory video section, a repository of old Cadbury adverts, the site holds quite a bit of work over the last year.

The STUDIO holds the Gorilla commercial, but also has a thumbnail gallery and link out to all the remixes of that spot on Youtube. A nice way to embrace your community.

The HANGAR holds two things: A "Tricked Out Trucks" promotion, and a game.

The Trick Out Trucks allows you to pimp out your own little milk truck.

The options are quite extensive, allowing for some serious customization. There's a promotion attached, but I'm not sure what you win for best design, as the judging is happening now.

The Game, while looking better than a majority of other adver-games, is more style than substance. And it's a bit disconnected, unless it's supposed to be connected to the Tricked Out Trucks, which would make sense considering it's placement in the site. And you're driving a truck. Just still seems disconnected to me.

The FACTORY holds yet another promotional type device, although I think it's really just a clever way to get your email address. This time you select three ingredients to make a candy bar. If the bird likes it (and I'm sure he loves them all), they ask if you want to join an email list. The "Best" recipes are listed on the site.

The PADDOCK holds a whole section based around another spot featuring two kids about to take a portrait. The kids wag their eyebrows to...well you might as well just watch it.

There are two notable web components to just this one spot. One, was a contest asking people to submit themselves wagging their eyebrows to that song. The site says 5,500 people participated, which isn't anything to scoff at. The second is a web app that allows you to place eyebrows on any site on the web, and watch them dance on it. Goofy, but I did it anyway.

The VAULT is password protected. It informs you to find letters throughout the other sections to gain access. I think it's the gamer in me that simply loves this mechanic. Nothing gets me hotter than seeing "0/10 secrets found". The integration of this mechanic within the site is well-done. Each "Letter" is a 3-D object in each scene. An "O" is a tire leaning up against the wall, etc. Nothing about this site was thrown-in.

Over-all, this is a very good example of well-rounded creative. The site isn't a one-off to accompany a traditional campaign, but a home for the campaign. The Gorilla spot itself makes me think they were thinking YouTube first, BoobTube second. While there is nothing innovative (although the Gorilla spot is one of the best ad virals so far, I think), the complete package is built on a solid understanding of where advertising is online, right now.

And with that I'll leave you with this image. Which for some reason made something happen in me. Not sure if I was disturbed, if it was unexpected, or if it stirred some old childhood thing.

/.bugs bunny in a dress.\

Friday, March 27, 2009

Candy Week: Butterfinger

The Butterfinger home site is your standard product presentation site. Masthead, promo boxes etc. Little bit of sound, butterfingery design.

They are currently sponsoring a Comedy Channel on Yahoo!, where I found a promotion for their new Butterfinger Buzz candy bar. Apparently it's a Butterfinger + Caffeine. They're sticking caffeine in everything now.

The promotion is actually kind of interesting. They give you a stencil to download, and you upload a picture of it cut into your head and painted with orange. The only downside is that all you get is a coupon for a candy bar. What's this bar going to cost - a buck fifty maybe? at most? Or it could cost you a head of hair, unless you really have the man-pair to walk around with Buzz carved into your head for a few weeks. I know times are tough...but I don't think they're that tough. I wonder how many pube "buzz" pics they get.

They also had live events where people came for a chance to win 2,500$ and a trip for 4 to Las Vegas. Now there's a prize. And the majority of their photos i'm wagering.

Oh, and there's a little game there on the right. I played it in my head and got the best score on the planet, so I didn't even need to click on it.

/.sticking with redbull.\

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Candy Week: Skittles

This is the homepage for Skittles.com. Notice the floating menu box in the upper left.

If you click CHATTER, you are taken to the Skittles Twitter page.

If you click FRIENDS, you are taken to the Skittles Facebook page.

If you click MEDIA+PICS, you are taken to the Skittles Flickr page.

If you click any product within PRODUCTS you are taken to a Wikipedia page on Skittles.

While this isn't completely unique - the ad agency Modernista uses this same set-up for their company site (and I'm sure there's more) - it's a completely brilliant trend. Especially for a product that doesn't have extensive feature information.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Candy Week: M&M's Part 2

M&M's also have a solid base on Facebook.

They have two apps, both built off of tried-and-true formulas - "poke a friend" and "which X are you". I'm surprised that they haven't connected their "Build Your M&M" app to facebook yet. Would add a nice level of personalization, not to mention cohesion.

Promotions are apparently the number one priority on their docket right now. They are selling solid color packets, but if you find one with mixed colors you can win instantly. The promotion has a small movie that opens it and gets you on to redeem your prize. If you don't have a winning packet, you can still have a chance at a second-string prize.

It looks like the contest is only for Australians or New Zealanders (i thought this was a made up country?(1).) Seems odd having this on their global Facebook fan page.

I'm sure there's a lot of reasons why they might not be selling those packets in the US or other countries (or that they might not have rolled it out yet, or i'm completely wrong about it being just in Austrailia). But they could add a simple flash site that allows you to open packet after packet of online m&m's until you find a multi-colored pack. Or "hatch" a package - if you want to use a mechanic that's growing in popularity. Then give them a third string prize, like access to a different Facebook app, or just a unique avatar image. Then your isolated contest could reach everyone.

EDIT: And after my input above I find the "Hunt For Yellow" interactive "Instant win" game (you still need a UPC off a product). For US residents. I humbly withdraw my little ideas.

I'll wrap up with their fan count: 713,692. Eat your..chewy center?.. out Snickers.


1 I think Murray has become my favorite character.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Candy Week: M-Ms Part I

M&M's are quite the busy netbee's. Today we start at the source, the official site.

Standard masthead with "news". Check.
Standard promotion boxes below masthead. Check.
Great creative assets to work with. Check.
Safe? Check.

They do have a "make your own" m-m. Not a terrible surprise really. But not terribly bad either.

It screams animate me, but that is missing. I want to see my blue m-m strutting around arrogantly in his "I melt for no man" kind of way.

The Character you make follows you throughout some other sections of the site. Most notably the "Games" section. The Games section has almost made it's way into the standard vernacular for sites nowadays. A distant fourth after the now standard "videos" or "media". I don't understand why companies insist on making their own games though. They usually don't have the budget or the connection to make an actually interesting game, and fall short. There are so many great games, and small time game companies out there making great games.

However, I will concede that their 50 Dark Movies visual puzzle game has an original flair about it.

I love M&M's. And the characters are fun. I want to enter the site and be hanging out in their pad. Watching them do what they do all day. Whatever that is. Ask them questions, have them respond. Play a game with one, instead of an imitation of some other better cheap game. I want Green to try to seduce me to the Dark side. Make me spend some time to earn a spot in their little club. Give me an M&M for every thing I find, and tell me that I'm still X M&M's short of a full packet.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Candy Week: Snickers.com

This week, I'm going to check out what the Candy industry does online. First up is Snickers.

Obviously they're diving into the fun side of the candy pool(1).

At first, like opening a real snickers, I thought I was in for some deep chocolate exploration (2). A minute later and I'm staring at an empty wrapper wondering where it went, but feeling oddly satisfied nonetheless.

The little nougats, like mousing over the bush next to the fountain and sending an endless stream of tweeting birds into the brown sky, or the speakers and getting a Snickerlish quote, gives the site a playful tone, and gets me in the mood to explore more.

However, there isn't very much content, even though it offers multiple ways to get to the same two sections. So there's 4 different types of Snickers, and Snickers sponsers NFL and Little League. Can I fly that helicopter up there?

This is a perfect example of the clash between the business mind and the interactive creative. You end up with sites that become compromised mash-ups between the two instead of going all in to one side. And in the process, keep fueling the war over Flash use.

If you want to have a fun, interactive site. Don't pull punches, go nutty (3). Make me find little thing after little thing until I find myself in my car going to get a Snickers. Make me learn all the ingredients to a Snickers incidentally, hide them in sound clips, under nooks and crannies.

Or if you think paragraphs of copy are a necessity - don't put them in areas where you have to scroll a tiny window to read everything. Keep your Flash as a masthead, and build that content into the HTML below. Makes it a lot easier to get indexed by search engines.

Beyond all that, there is one thing that stands out. And it's the link to a facebook page for Snickers, where you can leave something on their wall. Over 40k fans so far.

A little cursory poking around and I found this tidbit, after finding the tweeter that coincides with the article.


1 yea, it's a Caddy Shack reference..the intro made me think of it
2 that's what she said
3 couldn't help myself

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The first time I had a brain

Brains are good right? If you were to eat one, would you be metaphorically munching on someone else's thoughts?

This is my first post, so I'm going to be brief and to the point. I'm an ACD at a large Ad agency. I'm officially a Digital ACD, but in my private life I only allow for 3-word labels for myself.

What will proceed in the lifespan of this blog is opinions and thoughts on what's going on in Advertising in the digital space (or what passes for advertising currently). All expressed through interpretive dance. Ok probably through pictures, drawings and these word things.


Grey Matters

I'm a Digital ACD in Advertising land. I have been in love with the internet for over 10 years now. And I have a Red Bull problem. There I said it.

I travel around different industries every week or so and look for interesting and tasty interactive bits. I hope to make this a place for ad folk to keep up to date. And I just enjoy the spelunk.

Brain Pieces from Me

"There is a creative solution for everything."

"Sometimes, to be successful with Social Media, don't start a conversation. Start an argument."

"This is no longer the Age of Information, it's the Age of Opinion."

"The work that comes out of an Agency is the result of not going crazy while doing it."

People Who Probably Read My Blog