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live earth

Like millions of people, I tuned in to Live Earth this weekend to see performers rock from all corners of the globe. Most people were looking at their favorite bands, or maybe you are an Al Gore groupie- whatever. What I found myself staring at, analyzing, and admiring was the branding around the event.

The SOS theme was smart (stands for Save Our Selves). The logo is brilliantly simple (a circle) which simultaneously represents the planet, the ‘O’ in SOS, recycling, what’s-old-is-new-again, and the circle of life- all in one icon.

The creative elements from the broadcast that were most memorable: the 3-d typographic globe which was used as a segue from one venue to another and the audio treatment around the morse code for SOS (… — …) I’m assuming these pieces were created not by the Live Earth branding agency, but by the main broadcaster (NBC). Either way, I’m very curious to know who did the work.

I’m also desperate to get another look at the typographic globe. Any ideas? Send me any info to help me in this quest and I’ll send you some swag. Good swag.

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Car ArtNo suspense here. It’s Dresser Johnson. I was introduced to them about 2 years ago thru the ‘car art’ of Kevin Dresser, one of the partners. Then it seemed like they started popping up everywhere.

First- they were recognized for designing the hand-style typeface for Typecon 2005. Earlier this year there was that feature article in HOW’s Typography Issue. But mostly what intrigues me is the work itself- oh, and the bunny cam (you just have to see it for yourself.) Their typography work extends into every possible industry. (personally, I love the Radio City Music Hall sample).

Typecon TypefaceGot a favorite firm (today)? Tell me. If I connect with them, I’ll send you a Brooklyn Bunny T. Yes, for real.

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NDAI always enjoy seeing what ‘professionals’ think is good design. It also introduces me to up-and-coming stars in their space that I’ve never heard of.

The Nation Design Awards come from a rather credible source- the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (somehow connected to the Smithsonian). Admittedly, some of these winners are too predictable. Case in point: VP of the design team at Apple, Jonathan Ive, won in the product design category. Culture-defining work, to be sure, but hardly a shocking win. Adobe Systems won for Corporate Achievement, presumably linked to the CS3 launch. (Note: the site also shows their HQ building with the semaphore art.)

But I’ve mentioned the product design (and marketing) for Method products in the past. And I am pleased to see that the designer for their packaging, Karim Rashid, is a finalist in that same product design category. Give them a look.

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Fusion Gang AdWell- no one here, that’s for certain.

Remember I gave a shout out to the guys at Zig a few months back (based on their writeup in Applied Arts). Well, they’ve done some great work with us which has been written up this week in the Chicago Sun Times.

It very fulfilling when people get it. It’s not about fonts. It’s about art.

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Widmer Brothers Brewing social site

At Ad:Tech this year, it was very apparent that the hottest trend in advertising is the inclusion of social media ventures into whatever advertising effort possible. Whether it’s blogging, forums, social networks or other ventures, it’s increasingly important for companies to connect and interact online.

I was recently forwarded a new site created for local Portland company, Widmer Brothers brewing. The site is a clone of many other social networking sites that allow users to upload, comment, rate and embed videos (ala GooTube). They seeded the site with a number of interesting videos of people putting lemons into their hefeweizen, and so far a few others have done so too.

So, if beer ostensibly makes you more social in the physical world, will it make you more social online? Who knows, but after watching a few beer videos I am getting rather thirsty…

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After being back for a week, I’m finally able to take a moment to write about the plethora of freebies, giveaways and tchotchkes (chochkies, chochkees, etc.) available to attendees on the show floor.

We had a fun little prize wheel, from which we were giving away some software to lucky spinners Portfolio 8, as well as Suitcase Fusion or Suitcase for Windows. Alternate prizes were a long sleeve t-shirt or nifty brushed aluminum covered journal.

Ad Tech 2007 - Extensis aluminum covered journal Ad Tech 2007 - Extensis long sleeved t-shirt

As far as I know we were also the only people on the show floor giving away those little graphite filled devices used so frequently in elementary schools – pencils! While pens may be more ubiquitous, I find that there’s a definite comfort in knowing that I can hit the original backspace key and erase something that I’ve written in pencil.

So, on to the parade of Ad:Tech tchotchkes!

We’ll start out with the traditional. Pens, pens and more pens. They came in practically every color of the rainbow.

Ad Tech 2007 - more pens Ad Tech 2007 - pens

Of course, one pen had to shine above them all, and that honor goes to the fine folks at Casale. It’s a heavy metallic pen that’s filled with a smooth writing ink cartridge. Heck, Casale always seemed to have something else new out on their table when I walked by – hats, notepads, Post-its, etc.

Ad Tech 2007 - the best pens at the show

We move on from there to the good old standby freebies, the mug and the water bottle. Microsoft had a decent clear blue bottle, and Rackspace had quite an impressive stainless steel coffee mug (I coveted one, but wasn’t able to talk myself into one. Darn.)

Ad Tech 2007 - water bottles Ad Tech 2007 - stainless coffee mug

Consumables, can we consider something that you can eat or drink a tchotchke? Why yes, yes we can. The Affiliate Summit was one of about 5 or 6 booths that had a keg at their booth for quite some time. A very polite staffer from Aptimus was kind enough to warn me that the beverages she was offering were spiked with vodka. These booths were, as expected, very popular; typically with hordes of people very chatty people around them. Not sure if those hordes remember much about the products and services that day, but that’s what brochures are for, right?

Ad Tech 2007 -  We've got beer! Ad Tech 2007 - We've got energy drinks spiked with vodka!

Speaking of energy drinks, Aptimus wasn’t the only company who was offering a bit of pep in a can. I found at least three companies who were passing out energy drink cans that had been custom-wrapped with their logo and graphics. By far my favorite artwork was the custom pinup artwork on the CPX Interactive can. I can tell you that this did more for their advertising buck than anything else. You could see those pinup cans at practically every booth on the show floor.
Ad Tech 2007 - Energy drinks kept me peppy

Megan was happy that the Chocolography folks (aka had dropped off a sample at our booth. I could see this type of thing taking off, but as a branding item that is pretty much immediately consumed, it’s staying power isn’t all that strong. What a fun way for a quick sugar boost.

Ad Tech 2007 - chocolates with pictures on them

They’re always a hit, and ClickPath had them in spades, yes, it’s the light-up bouncy ball. I seem to remember the dot-com days when some of these actually played a little tune. I’m actually glad that this one doesn’t do that. In addition, ClickPath was giving away these fun flapper-style fuzzy hats. Well, since I don’t know my fashion history, I’m assuming that’s a flapper style.

Ad Tech 2007 - bouncy balls Ad Tech 2007 - Furry hats are fun

Flip-flops from Starmedia were by far one of the strangest things being given away. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, flip-flops are for locker room fungus prevention, not fashion. Of course, they had other giveaways including lanyards, which are always handy when you’ve got a conference badge to keep from misplacing.

Ad Tech 2007 - Flip Flops? Ad Tech 2007 - it's a lanyard

Yet the winner of the strangest of the strange goes to When we arrived at the booth on the second day, everyone in the hall had been tchotchke-bombed with these strange little packages containing a reflective “thingy.” At first, we couldn’t figure out what it was. I saw more than one person prop the thing up onto their head, coming to the conclusion that it was some form of hat that would protect their neck from the sun. It could have been a dashboard protector, but being so small, that surely wasn’t the case. We finally came to the conclusion that it was apparently to keep the sun off the steering wheel.

Ad Tech 2007 - I think that I know what this is

Since I’m from Oregon, where the sun pokes it’s happy little head out of the clouds a mere three months per year, this one isn’t of much use to me. Maybe if I were from Tuscon. Not sure if they hit their messaging on the head here. The phrase was “It’s time to turn the traditional web marketing model upside down…”. Is the “upside down” part referring to a steering wheel? Or is it because what they’re giving out is just so darn strange?

Here’s a different item, a little tiny chair, about five inches tall. This was given away by eType, and despite their company name, as far as I can tell they have absolutely nothing to do with typography. I think that this chair is meant to make your pet hamster all comfy-cozy, but I could be wrong.

Ad Tech 2007 - a little chair

Here’s a great visual messaging device that’s likely headed directly for a child’s toy chest – some foam building blocks. They’re about three inches across, and are spongy like a Nerf football. If it were me, I’d build a fantasy world where there’s a very colorful wall just waiting to be knocked down with my speeding Lionel train. A memorable item from Acxiom Digital.

Ad Tech 2007 - The spongy building blocks of fun

W3i provided us with many fun things, including snacks and this great little set of headphones. The headphone cords retract into a little spool for ease of transport. For something that probably didn’t cost them that much, it’s definitely something that I’ll be carrying around regularly.

Ad Tech 2007 - snacks for those with the munchies Ad Tech 2007 - headphones

Mints? Did you say that you wanted a mint? Why we have plenty to go around!

Ad Tech 2007 - MINTS

And SmartSearch Marketing treated us to little tins shaped like Jelly Bellies, containing what else… Jelly Bellies.

Ad Tech 2007 - Jelly Bellies

Media Traffic had the best business cards of the show. Each one was a double-side folded piece, and in the inside there was a line drawing of the person who’s card it was. I picked up Advertising Manager Andre Zouvi’s card, and did a double-take because he was sitting right next to me! I also just noticed that he’s on the home page of their site too. Man, that guy’s everywhere!

Ad Tech 2007 - best business card by far

While this might look like migrating mini-robots, it’s actually a herd of razor-thin LED flashlights from that are meant to be stuck onto the back of your cell phone. They’re actually very bright, so it could double as something to fend off any attackers by temporarily blinding them. had a combination flashlight/keychain/screw driver that wins the prize for the tchotchke that does the most number of things.
Ad Tech 2007 - Flashlite for your cell phone Ad Tech 2007 - Flashlight or screwdriver? Both!

Need to burn something? Webair has got you covered.

Ad Tech 2007 - I need to burn something

How about a three-winged flying device, boomerang-thingy? UpSellIt had people running around in circles with these flying gadgets.

Ad Tech 2007 - boomerang

Can you hack it? Mochila wants you to.

Ad Tech 2007 - Hackey sack

Blackdot had stacks of DVD cases filled with advertising-based video games. What I’d like to be able to do is create a celebrity deathmatch style game where I could choose competing brand icons and have them fight it out. “And the Peanut M&M’s guy has the Cadbury bunny in a headlock… Oh no! Where did Mister Goodbar come from? That’s gotta hurt….”
Ad Tech 2007 - video game

For those who had perhaps imbibed too many of the free beers & cocktails, our booth neighbor Secure A Quote was giving out these nifty hangover kits.

Ad Tech 2007 - hangover kit

Everyone loves the electronics. Here’s a little USB hub that fits into the palm of your hand from Rackspace.

Ad Tech 2007 - USB Hub

So, coming to the end of the bounty, here’s my second favorite item from the show, it’s a lanyard… with a 125MB USB flash drive attached on the end. I love this little guy. It’s something useful from AdOn Network that I’ll have in my pocket every day.

Ad Tech 2007 - lanyard with USB flash drive

And, finally, here’s the hit tchotchke of the show.

Ad Tech 2007 - the most kick'n toy on the show floor

Doesn’t look like much does it? I took a picture of it next to the back of a business card so that you could get a sense of the size of the item. It’s actually a pair of extremely strong hematite magnets. What you do is throw them up into the air slightly separated from each other. When they are drawn together, they slap together rapidly, emitting a quite noticeable buzz. When someone heard the noise, they were inevitably drawn over to find out just what “those things” were.

Kudos go to ABCSearch for coming up with by far the best tchotchke at the show. Even though it’s not very apparent, their logo is lightly engraved on each of the magnets. These definitely drew most of the attendees to their booth, even if the buzzing does get slightly annoying after a while. Keep them away from all ten year old boys, or you’ll be buzzing 24 hours a day.

I’m sure that I’ve only shown you a quarter of the tchotchke items at the show. We definitely had people at our booth who were more of a collector than I am. Frequently with the items above, I was more than happy to leave with just a photograph. After all, how many toys do I need on my desk at work… well, I’d rather not answer that.

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