Thursday, April 30, 2009

Silver Screen #4: Terminator Salvation

It seems like only the geek's get cool stuff online when it comes to movies. Yay for us.

Full-screen video seems to be the weapon of choice. The scrub bar is neat, it's worked into the design - you can see it above the video in red.

Like Star Trek and Wolverine there's a lot going on here. There are two web games, one your more traditional "game" and the other is an Alternate Reality Game. The traditional one had some troubles connecting right away, and I was too interested in the ARG, so I can't report much about it.

The Alternate Reality Game asks you to choose between:

The Resistance

Or Skynet:

There's a strategy game connected to this that has the two communities building resources until they have enough to go to battle. I didn't dive in too deep, but you can check out more here. A quick stop over at leads me to believe there's an undercurrent of complexity going on here, more so then what you see on the website.

ARGs completely fascinate me. At their heart, they're just a game. But there's something about them that falls beyond your "Advertainment" genre. When an ARG is created for a true "creative" product, like a Film or TV show, it not only promotes that product, but extends the entertainment. I would say it's actually more of an extension than it is a promotion. An ARG takes a 2 hour movie, and makes a 20-100 hour "experience" depending on the depth at which they take the story. That's a helluvah lot of value for a 8 dollar movie ticket (if you even go to the movie).

I missed this the other day, but there seems to be a Star Trek ARG as well. I think it started off with this photo:

No joke. There's a really odd URL on the wall to the right green lady. You can see more on this here.

/.arg means i love you in pirate.\

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Silver Screen #3: The Multiplex

Today is tough, I'm working late so I don't have too much. However, it was designs and some nice flash-use that stuck out today while I was quick-surfing movie sites. Here's a few of what I found:

LinkHA. Did you think I was kidding yesterday! This site was very true to it's chick-flick roots. Light and fluffy. The use of large individual shots in the foreground, and side-scrolling was something i might steal some other day.Link

Next up:

This site is both Fast and Furious. Faked full-screen video rages while zooming you to each section of content. There's not much loading time that I could tell, which is probably why they made the half -screen video look like it was full-screen. Nice trick.

The navigation for the site was worth mentioning as well:

Menus are the new pre-loaders.

And to finish us off today:

I liked this because it's got a Saul Bass kinda feel to it.

/.and run.\

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Silver Screen #2: Star Trek

I will try to defend myself to say that I am not picking particularly geeky content, even though I am indeed a geek at times (most times). It just so happens the only movie site I looked at today that had anything interesting going on, was Star Trek. Tomorrow I'll swing by that Matthew McConaughey "A Christmas Carol Gone Chick Flick" movie site. Just to even things out.

The Star Trek homepage looks like it started out really cool and then some account person forced it into it's current Bargain Basement attire. The site opens on full-screen, and after you choose a section from the nav the site reveals itself to be full-video as the camera zips you down the halls of the Enterprise to the appropriate room holding the content. Bargain Basement look is gone, and at that point the technique does it job of making you feel like you're on the ship.

The Enterprise itself was always one of the primary characters on the show, and it seems that this was where a lot of the work went online. In the "Panoramas" section you get quicktime 360's (don't see those that often anymore) of certain sections of the ship:

Like the Bridge:

Or the hallways:

I show them both because they're pretty cool. I don't think they're CGI but actual sets.

Taking the focus on the Enterprise even further, it looks like they asked designers around the world to give their own take on the classic ship.

25 different designs, each a different take on the ship.

I think this one is my favorite.

Lastly, finally getting away from the ship, is something I haven't seen before. Paramount set up photobooths and had fans(?) get their photos taken. Then uploaded them and created mosiacs of the characters with them.

The interface is interesting, you can mouse over to get the actual images used (seen in upper right), you can also zoom in, or adjust the detail of the picture. The only fail i found here was that the "Locate a Photo Booth" link just says "Coming Soon" when you mouse-over it. I'm guessing there won't be anymore.

Facebook fans: 183k
Myspace friends: 14k

Wolverine has Star Trek beat in those channels pretty badly. However, Trekkies probably have their own versions of Myspace? I'm really interested in seeing how these differences in numbers correlate to ticket sales.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Silver Screen #1: Wolverine

I don't watch enough TV (as I should), but even I cannot escape the bombardment that is X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So much that I rode like Doctor Strangelove onto the web looking for its aftermath there as well.

Flash and Movie Sites are like peas and carrots. Your usual movie net-gear here, wallpapers, some trailers, character bios. And a link to a web game...

That is one of the better ones I've seen. The game has you playing Wolverine through 4 major wars, collecting "intel" in order to open exclusive content.

I couldn't help myself, I played at least one level to see what the exclusive content was. The first one was just a trailer with scenes I hadn't seen yet. The second one was a coupon for a blowjob from Storm. I stopped there to mail it in.

What's better than a fancy web game? Two fancy web games!

The X-Men Origins facebook game asks you to create a mutant, pick powers and then challenge your friends to battle. Upgrade, battle, repeat.

This game looks good but I couldn't really find any strategy behind what moves you pick to battle your friends. Interesting for a few minutes, then it's the same grind you get out of Mob Wars and all the other games of the same type on Facebook.

With 2 web games, and a console game coming out soon, we are officially red-lining the game meter. Makes me hope the movie is interactive too.

The movie itself has 57k fans on Facebook, which is good, but pales next to the 1.6 million it has on Myspace.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Story-Tellers #2: Stephen King

A friend of mine thinks Stephen's got control of some sort of black hole that allows him to bend time and space and kick out novels on top of novels on top of novels. No doubt the man is prolific. His enthusiasm for creation seems to rub off on his fans as well.

On Stephen Kings' site is a section called The Office. It was created by the fans for the fans, and is a 3D interactive tour with plenty of clickable thingys to keep a fan busy.

The modeling is clean and elegant.

There's a creepy little alien thing wandering around. At one point he jumps up at you and takes up the screen. Twice I tried to screenshot him, and twice I got a blank screen. Just a little weird.

The site contains various trivia spots, and keeps track of the ones you answer correctly. You're told in the beginning that "bronze" members can log-in. I'm assuming you become Bronze by finding everything in the site.

You can say this is great user-generated content, or call the whole community a perfect example of Social Media working (albeit secular), but really it's just a product that inspires others to create and King has the wisdom to embrace that effort.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Story-Tellers #1: J.K. Rowling

I must confess I have not read the Potter books, but the movies have been a guilty late night pleasure as they appear On Demand. I'm sure the books are probably better, but I'm more of George R.R Martin fan.

I don't know if this topic will last the rest of the week, but considering the gem I've found here, I have hopes that I'll find at least one more ("Ka" if you will).

The site consists of a cluttered desk top that begs to be explored. The desk concept as an interface isn't new, but choosing to use an illustration style vs a photo-realistic style really builds an atmosphere.

There are plenty of content nooks and roll-over crannies.

Odd doors and light switches that seem to do nothing but turn the lights of the site on and off. I have a feeling (mostly due to a tiny clock you probably can't see to the right of the door) that there is a time-based event system here. If you visit at a certain time of the day you might find some more content.

The HELP button tells you to look for "Potterania" hidden throughout the site, which when found, is stored in your scrapbook. Just clicking around didn't reveal any of these to me, which tells me this site is more like one of the large volumes of Potter than a light fluffy Flash piece.

Even the links page has a story to it.

Being a story-teller and bringing that in some fashion to your online presence, makes so much sense it almost seems like magic.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Boob Tube #3: Philips Cinema

The Boob Tube series ends (for now) with a really great piece of brand interactive. It's microsites like this that keep me loving what I do.

After choosing a viewing mode (HD full-screen recommended) a movie title sequence totes the product as the World's First Cinema Proportion TV. What follows starts like a movie but is actually one continuous shot, frozen in mid-action.

The camera moves slowly through the frozen action of a blow-out battle between the police and a group of bank robbers wearing clown masks. If you mouse-over the movie you find you can control the motion of the camera along it's path. Dragging can move the camera forward or back, or stop to check out some crazy piece of action.

At several points in the scene there are spots where you can choose to stop and a key member of the film crew will walk out and talk about an important aspect of film-making. Each topic also relates to a selling point of the tv set, whether it's the lighting or the ability to see the whole picture.

The concept is beautifully simple. The scene has some really cool nooks and crannies. Someone put some love into crafting this scene. And if you watch it completely you realize there's a narrative, a simple story from beginning to end.

I'd recommend checking it out for yourself.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Boob Tube #2: Toshiba Regza

The word Regza means "Brilliant". I'm not sure in what language. Marketish?

The Toshiba Regza Showroom site is a step up from yesterdays site.

Their showroom opens up to the width of your screen and you're greeted by a video avatar (in this case the lady in the suit).

This is a screenshot of one of the longest introduction sequences I've ever seen. This lady has quite a bit to say, and my 10 year-old attention span couldn't keep up.

However, after the introduction there's a nice FAQ-like layout for accessing deeper content. I've always thought this was a smart way to layout navigation - in context rather than a straight menu system. FAQs are great because they don't make you think up the question yourself, and make the process more friendly.

Most of the content beneath the questions has an interactive mechanism that supports the benefit explained. In the case of this site it's a slider "compare" mechanism. It's a simple mechanic but does a good job of reinforcing the difference between crappy pixels, blurs etc. Of course, some of the instances look a bit exaggerated.

Under the Room Planner section is a simple interactive piece that seems like it's the beginning of an app that all these sites should have.

It might be tough to see, but you can basically drag two sliders that depict the distance of the chair from the TV and the size of the TV. Using these two helps determine the size you'll need or amount of space you'll need. It's not enough of a pay-off for the grand statement "We'll help Plan Your Room", but it's a start. It's the kind of idea that could end up being it's own site or application.

That's one of the pitfalls to creating microsites. Usually you're trying to put a lot of information into these, and if you're not careful you end up with a lot of cool ideas that could be great ideas if you just make the tough decision to focus.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Boob Tube #1: Samsung 8 series

Much like the Computer industry, there isn't much online for Television sets that you would call advertising. But I did manage to gather a few sites. I will be honest though, this topic was inspired by a rather new site that hit thefwa today. We'll get to that one later.

This first site I also found via thefwa, but not before searching throughout the official Samsung site for a link to it. It's for the Samsung 8 series, and the official site only goes up to 7. So I'm going to guess that they don't link to it from their official site because it's not for sale yet? They don't want to confuse shoppers?

The site went up in January, so maybe the campaign is pending.

The concept for the site is becoming increasingly common, full-screen video presentation. A simple navigation that is basically a scene-selector. The videos end with a few hot-spots that open up a bit of copy.

The video compression that is key to the execution of these sites is well done here. Although there is a bit of wait time, which isn't helped by the lack of a percentage or countdown type mechanism.

Nothing too exciting here for a monday. Simple technique that makes sense for the product.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cup O' Joe #4: Starbucks

Starbucks is named after the first mate from Moby Dick. I did not know that. I got sucker punched by a trivia tidbit!

Ah our old friend the homepage Masthead. Starbucks goes big or goes home, or goes big on home, or something like that. They treat their homepage masthead as a photo/video gallery that you can make full-screen if you want. The simplicity of the rest of the page makes those photos and video pop really well.

Starbucks also has a microsite for their coffees:

You can Explore their coffees, Find your perfect coffee, or visit the Barista Gallery. The site has a "chalkboard mania" vibe to it, with all the animations fitting that. Don't see the connection to Coffee, but it's got a nice atmosphere.

"Explore" coffee is just your basic "click and see an image/copy".

Finding your own coffee is a question type set up almost exactly like the Caribou Coffee one we saw earlier this week, except much more designed:

We've got SLIDER ACTION! Kiss those buttons goodbye as you take a vacation to Slider land. Well, at least until you need to click continue.

Once you've made all your decisions you're given the same Image+Copy that you would've got if you'd just clicked on one of the bags. But they don't have a direct link to buy the coffee.

The Barista gallery is a collection of artwork created by ... baristas:

The artwork is pretty cool. Why not take one of those (like the chicken above) and bring it to life? Or take all of the artwork and bring it to life, and make that your site. Have the coffee information sprinkled throughout as visitor explores. Otherwise, these would be better off on Flickr.

That's about as interactive as it gets on Starbucks. As for Social Media they have a Facebook page, YouTube channel and a Twitter account.

Over 1,300,000 fans on


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cup O' Joe #3: Tim Horton's

I've always considered Tim Horton's to be a Fast Food place, but apparently they're primarily players in the coffee market. I guess I make too many assumptions based on a drive-through window and turkey sandwiches with a cup of soup.

Other than their official store site, Tim's has a Coffee micro-site:

Tim's wants you to tell story? I'm not sure what kind of story they want, they don't make that very clear. But after clicking some of the words in their tag cloud to view the stories, this is the kind of results I see:

I can't find anything with a date on here, so I'm not sure how long this has been up.

Here's an example story:

You probably can't read it - but it's basically "Me and my husband went to the Falls and got a cup of hot coffee because it was cold."

I cried.

You can make that image there your wallpaper if you want...

I started this blog with the intention of being objective, but it's turning out to be really tough. Instead of any more snide comments, I'm going to just talk about what's wrong. The single key thing that is wrong here is that the site is inclusive. It's making the same mistake most of these types of sites make. It's trying to be it's own little Social site, with all the tools the big channels have, but with 1% of the traffic. If you want this to work, you must use the bigger channels, the YouTubes, Facebook, Myspace, etc. The biggest step you can take with your product online is being honest with yourself. Field of Dreams was a movie.

Last thing on Tim's site, you can download the GPS coordinates of all Tim Horton stores. Er.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cup O' Joe #2: Caribou

Coming in second this week is the second largest chain after Starbucks, Caribou Coffee.

There is something on this page that I also saw on the Biggby site as well, that I hadn't seen in awhile. The "Trivia Question" widget. Do those work? I'm assuming the goal is to get someone to slow down and stay on the page a few seconds longer, and hopefully be enticed to shop instead of locate a store, or vice versa. The work on the web has come a long way, but it is still very much experimentation. How do Trivia Questions stack up against Flash games, or Intro Movies, or Polls etc. What's the success measure for them, increased stick time?

Using a device to increase Stick time, and comparing that time with your amount of sales on the site, or sales in general seems a lot like the guesstimate game of broadcast advertising. X impressions + X time = PROFIT. But you can track things so much better digitally.

Here's a test for the Trivia Question widgets. When someone clicks on it to see the answer, show them the answer plus a link saying "Find Out about X". Track that link. Give that widget a concrete purpose. If it's working, put promos in there. This is..of course...if anyone is clicking on the "answer" link. I would hope they are if the widget is still living on the page. Or, why keep them on the page at all? If they want to know the answer, direct them to a new page with the answer on it, and more interesting content.

Here's a page within Caribou that would be a great payoff destination for a Trivia link.

They ask you questions to determine what Coffee would be good for you. Now here's an app with a solid purpose. After you make your selections, it shows you the coffees with a Buy Now link. Homepage->Trivia widget->Recommender->Sale. Now your Trivia widget has a purpose, and if it doesn't work, make a small crappy Flash game! (jk).

Another note on their site, almost every page has a little video window box promoting their "Coffee Talk" videos. If you click to view, it opens up on the page you're on. Not rocket science, but a nice touch.

The last thing I found was an Email Your Boss app. "Demand Caribou Coffee".

Looks kinda boring. But I filled it out and sent to a friend to see what the end result is. It hasn't arrived yet though (after 20 minutes). I've got a hunch it's gonna be boring as well. Neat idea though - and with some good creatives you could probably have a lot of fun with that idea. Now that I think of it, have we seen that done before? hm.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Cup O' Joe #1: Biggby

I found a listing of the 10 largest coffee chains in the US dated from 2006. It listed Starbucks as having 8,000 locations, and the next chain on the list had 322*. I'm sure no one's caught up with Starbucks in three years, but I thought I'd surf around and see how everyone is using the web.

First up this week is Biggby coffee. It's a much smaller chain, but they're working the web hard, and I found some interesting ideas.

Holy crazy background. Someone stick a wallet in the AD's mouth please. Thankfully you can select a different know, in case you want to hang out here for awhile. But if you click past the wackiness and click on the smiling suit in the upper left you're taken to:

Yes, the B-Happy Lounge. Here you'll find their links to Facebook, Twitter (and recent Twits), YouTube, Flickr, and LinkedIn.

There are some interesting uses of the channels here. The first one is a Submit a Photo. You can submit a photo of you and your Biggby coffee cup, or just your cup somewhere in the world. With a chance to win a free coffee (personally..give em all free coffees!). The pics are up on their Flickr page.

Over 300 images, and after poking around I can say that the majority are people and their cups. Can't be positive that they're all from this contest, but cool nonetheless.

Another nugget is that their CEO, unsurprisingly named Bob, is traveling to each of their 96 locations and blogging about each visit.

Using blogspot no less. 46 followers, which isn't too bad, but 1185 on his Twitter. Judging by some of the comments, the employees are participating quite a bit in this as well.

On YouTube they have videos of Bob interviewing employees at the various locations.

So Biggby is not only working on opening a lot of locations, they're also using Social Media really well. Building and strengthening a community of employees and fans as they go.


*reminds me of a Bill Hicks joke about Iraq having the third largest army in the world.

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