Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, originated after the American Civil War. Before it became an official federal holiday in 1971 in honor of service men and women who gave their lives in service, American advertising had long connected the day of remembrance with name brands. A great example of this is Seagram's Beverage Company who, in the mid-1960s, created a backyard barbecue guide complete with drink recipes, party tips, and more ideas for entertaining your favorite people. Joe Kaufman, a notable commercial children's book illustrator, created the colorful and uplifting imagery of the American family. Since then, it is debatable that the original intent of the holiday has turned into a holiday similar to the 4th of July or even Labor Day, where Americans can enjoy a day to rest from the long workweek and be with their families and friends. Regardless of how it is celebrated, it's undeniable that advertising plays a vital part in this longtime tradition.
Did you know?
The first Photoshopped image was of co-creator John Knoll's wife Jennifer while they were on vacation in Tahiti. The story goes like so: John and Jennifer traveled to Bora Bora after wrapping up work on the live action/animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and John snapped this photo just before proposing to her. (Anyone in the animated/digital arts fields knows how long those hours usually are, and destination getaways are a must. ) Post-vacation, John's brother Thomas was working on software that was similar to the "Pixar Machine" photo manipulation technology that John had encountered at ILM (Industrial Light & Magic), yet didn't cost thousands of dollars nor required a specially-trained operator. With their new hobby in motion, they needed more digital images for their demos, which were naturally scarce at the time. So while visiting friends at Apple's Advanced Technology Group lab, they were able to use their rare flatbed scanner to scan John's 4x6 photo of his wife—which is the only photograph he had available at the time.
Now ILM's Chief Creative Officer, it's important to consider how much their innovation has become vital to the world's creative fields—and advertising—forever. Sometimes the best inventions happen when it starts out as a hobby.
More on John's story (and a recreation of his demo) here.
On this day in 2014, ad man (and co-founder of AMV BBDO) David Abbott had passed away.
For those who don't know, he was the man responsible for the eye-catching red and white print ads that make The Economist iconic. When David Abbott was hired to design ads for a small British newspaper, he captured the essence of their product in a simple, memorable way.
Since then, this formula has been used time and again for hard-hitting cultural messages that grab readers' attention and delivers thought-provoking insight all at once.
As of 2017, KFC boasts 21,000+ locations around the world. Founded in 1930 out of North Corbin, Kentucky, the Colonel has been charming us all for what feels like a lifetime. What may not be widely known is that Colonel Harland Sanders was, in fact, a real person who actually started the chain. The governor of Kentucky during Sanders' time had even designated him a colonel. More about his life here.
Have you ever heard of the industrial musical? Neither have we...until the Tribeca Film Festival, that is.
The Tribeca 2018 Albert Maysles Award for Best New Documentary Director went to Bathtubs Over Broadway, centering on the growth and fulfillment of former comedy writer of The Late Show With David Letterman, Steve Young. Young was a longtime fan of obscure "industrial musical" records which he wrote into the Letterman program for a segment where they lightheartedly poked fun at these vintage records. Directed by Dava Whisenant, who is a former editor at The Late Show, takes the audience through Young's quest and ultimate dream of meeting, interacting with, and ultimately honoring the people who made these musicals happen.
As the documentary progresses, you can feel the shift in Young's life from the ending of the Late Show and the shift from a fun hobby to fully immersing himself in the culture and people he's investigating. And what turned into a 2013 book was also a filmed experience for us to see it all after the last curtain call. There's this entire world of advertising-meets-entertainment that the world at large did not know about and it's an intriguing adventure from the get-go.
From Xerox to bathroom fixtures, the limits are endless when it comes to advertising and the musical numbers you can create for them. It was a small pocket of time before digital when companies showed their sales people rewards through high-production entertainment to get them excited for another quarter or year of selling. The line between advertising and entertainment is often blurred, and that's never been more true today. Though a few shows are still in existence today (like Walmart), it's still not really talked about in popular culture. And most of the records that Young collected are rare and often the last one in existence, it's amazing that he and a few other individuals thought to help preserve such important history in advertising and show business. What often helped pay the bills for entertainers also helped them do what they love when other jobs were scarce. For creatives and professionals in the industry, this film and book are a must-see and must-read for a fascinating era of pride and energy that still has roots in the business today.
Look how far we've come.
In the news: a federal judge ruled Tuesday that the U.S. must keep DACA and accept new applications. Next up: Trump's Travel Ban goes before the Supreme Court today. To align with these momentous decisions, we're taking a look back at Lin-Manuel Miranda's 2017 Hamilton Mixtape: Immigrants, which was inspired by "Yorktown" from Hamilton. In addition to a campaign benefiting the Immigrants: We Get The Job Done Coalition in the form of a contest, his 2015 hit musical was started by a 2009 mixtape he had created. Then, another mixtape of those performances was recorded, followed by this 2017 release focusing on the plight of refugees.
There were also manifestations of protest that was expressed through art. The first, an art installation by Los Angeles artist Camilo Ontiveros, is a piece made up of belongings left behind from Juan Manuel Montes, who is believed to be the first dreamer. The second, an installation by French artist JR, whose black and white installation at the border is essentially a striking billboard with a higher purpose. "His imagery — dramatic photo crops, intense close-ups, cinematic poses — all rendered in a black-and-white palette on a very large scale and relying heavily on repetition, borrows heavily from the language of advertising." During a Culver City discussion about the piece, the artist gave his thoughts on why he suspected it was so impactful. "The fact that it was a kid...seemed to break all barriers.”
IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW, It's 4/20.
Marijuana has come a long way. Before being openly celebrated annually on this day alongside instantly gratifying munchies and the greasiest fast food hits, it was widely difficult to obtain because it was mostly imported. When raw botanical medicines became scarce during WWI, Americans turned to growing at home. Here's a 1917 print ad which supports American-grown cannabis as a near-equal substitution to the foreign variety.
Oh, How the Turntables Have Turned.
Audio brand Technics put together an all-star ensemble of the world's top turntablists (DJs) like DJ Qbert, DJ Kentaro, and 2017 DMC World DJ Championship winner DJ Rena. (Rena is the youngest to have won the title at just 12 years old.) Check out this orchestra of talent where each artist is using the iconic Technics SL-1200 series turntable.
For hip hop fans new and die-hard, going to scratch sessions was a big part of your social life. From the early beginnings à la Grandmaster Flash and his student Grand Wizzard Theodore (who is widely accepted as the inventor of scratching), the mid-to-late 70s was the birth of an epic time in music history. Once DJing caught on, getting your hands on a turntable, building your record collection, and starting your own crew was the dreams of so many young kids. Ads like these would keep such dreams alive.
For more on the beginnings, check out the reimagining of that time period with Netflix and Baz Luhrmann's two-part musical drama series The Get Down, which covers a time in New York's history where the city was on the brink of bankruptcy and concurrently gave birth to hip hop, disco, and punk. Though the series was short-lived, it put a spotlight on a scene that's never really stopped.
If you’re a working creative in the industry, you’ve most likely created your fair share of banner ads. If you don’t remember or weren’t around—ever wonder what the first banner ad looked like?
Hosted by HotWired, it had a 44% clickthrough. "The ad set off a chain reaction that altered the course of the advertising industry—and any other industry that overlapped with it. ('It’s almost like a prank that was played by the technology industry on the media industry 20 years ago,' Chris Dixon, the tech investor, told The New York Times in 2014.)'"
Bringing users from the banner ad to a landing page was a landmark event for advertisers. It got them to see what else customers would do. Hence, how ever-present they are today.
Of course, there has been backlash ever since, due to the eventual creation of "pop-up" ads that are even more disruptive.
"The person who created the first pop-up ad is similarly sheepish about what he wrought. 'I’m sorry,' Ethan Zuckerman, who coded the first pop-up ad, wrote for The Atlantic in 2014. 'Our intentions were good.'"
For more reading, visit the original article from The Atlantic.
For the latest on what AT&T is cooking up, head here.
Meme, according to wiki: The word meme was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene as an attempt to explain the way cultural information spreads; Internet memes are a subset of this general meme concept specific to the culture and environment of the Internet.
If you're like most people these days, memes are such a part of your daily routine that sometimes you don't catch yourself sending one to your friend until the reply with a fitting emoji. The idea of a meme is really an idea itself: or a concept, activity, catchphrase, or media that spreads with humorous purpose, often in mockery. If you remember, early memes with riddled with intentional misspellings, cute animals in jest, and even as GIFs. It would be easy to say that the first memes were emoticons, but if you're in the camp of a meme having to be highly influential, then we'd have to go with "All Your Base Are Belong to Us" from the SEGA Genesis 16-bit game, Zero Wing.
In 2013-4, advertising was also inspiring meme culture.
As of this year, memes have largely taken the form of tweets, Instagram posts and the like. What seems to be sticking is an empathic message of "that is so me right now" to elicit feelings of rapport and common ground about anything under the sun, often at the expense of celebrities, public figures, and the like. It's constant, addictive elixir that heals the banality of everyday life, so to speak. This leads us to meme culture connecting to the idea of self-branding, which is of course, not a new notion but has been packaged by social media as something to strive for.
The 2018 Tribeca Film Festival is set to screen The American Meme (a play on the notion of the American Dream) further supports how impactful the spread of catchphrases and images are — and continue to be. Written and directed by Bert Marcus, it also takes it a step further by exposing the often unglamorous life of major internet influencers while they desperately try to gain or maintain the spotlight with their followers. Self-branding takes on many forms and is, in and of itself, a major aspect of advertising. The selling of ideas and identity in exchange for notoriety or profit is still at the helm of popular culture, and the social impact is a direct commentary on our collective identity and changing values.
But attributing meme culture to fame and money would be too simple. According to a 2011 Smithsonian Magazine article What Defines a Meme by James Gleick, the basis for these sparks of lightning-fast pieces of information come down to a scientific level of understanding.
"Memes emerge in brains and travel outward, establishing beachheads on paper and celluloid and silicon and anywhere else information can go. They are not to be thought of as elementary particles but as organisms. The number three is not a meme; nor is the color blue, nor any simple thought, any more than a single nucleotide can be a gene. Memes are complex units, distinct and memorable—units with staying power."
March of Our Lives, a movement to speak out against existing gun laws and to demand safety first, is scheduled nationally for March 24th. Ad Age partnered with The Gun Safety Alliance to gather posters and social media imagery from the students themselves, filled with powerful messages of immediate reform.
Here are a few of the submissions:
This isn't the first time in our nation's history that we've had hard-hitting messages about gun reform. Here are a few from 1968 which catalyzed the gun debate, in response to the 1963 shooting of JFK (and subsequently the Robert F. Kennedy assassination).
2017 marked the 30th anniversary of SxSW, an annual multifarious festival celebrating film, interactive media, music, and conferences that take place in mid-March hosted by the city of Austin, TX. What started out to be a focus on independent music and art has branched out to represent the ingenuity of all creatives. Advertising continues to represent the sponsorship of such talent, taking form in every consumer touchpoint from out-of-home marketing to intricately planned activations that showcase not only the diversity of brilliant ideas, but the endless contexts with which strategic thinking plays a key role for shaping our culture and economy.
This is a still from a 2018 Oculus film that debuted at this year's SxSW titled "The Evolution of Testicles", which is a compelling VR film created by director Ryan Hartsell for the Male Cancer Awareness Campaign. This is a great example of how VR can be used to generate empathy for social change, revealing the positive impacts of technology. More here.