Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BOR 90, aka DoGZilla, BMW Oracle's America's Cup Ticket

I'm working away on my America's Cup infographic and to be honest, when I got the idea of creating the graphic, I really didn't know that much about the event. I had some ideas and had heard a lot of talk about it living in Annapolis, sailing capital of the U.S., but I didn't really know the details. I thought I'd share a little about what I learned as a preview to the infographic crit, and some background information on design in a very 3D sense.

The aerodynamics and research that must have done into this the building of these racing yachts is unreal, let alone the cost of the actual construction. Overall, we know know that Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle and owner of the winning yacht, BOR 90, spent over $400 million dollars on his team's America's Cup campaign- that's twice what they spent in 2007 when there were eliminated in the Louis Vuitton series. The boat itself is rumored to have most more than $50 million, including the backup and spare pieces that were produced and never used. Apparently with pieces of this size, the team had to build backup sails in case any were damaged. The initial budget was said to be somewhere around $10million when planning began in 2009, but that number quickly sky-rocketed. Each sail was said to have cost hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, and each has a life-span measured in hours.

BMW Oracle made headlines everywhere when they decided to go with a fixed wing- only the second to be used in an America's Cup race. Also taken into consideration was the number of hulls on the boat-- three for this trimaran, as opposed to its competition (Alinghi of Switzerland)'s catamaran with two. According to a variety of articles I've read, the fixed wing was initially designed to be 80% the size of a Boeing 747 wing, but in its final production was over two times the length measuring in at more than 220 feet. The vessel is the size of two basketball courts.

There is so much more that goes into the design of one of these things, I am hardly knowledgeable enough to go on, but this article does explain a little more about the technology
they have been developing and are using.
*Sources: CNN.com, Wikipedia, AmericasCup.com, SailingWorld.com

Princess Di Infographic

I am not very interested in the Prince William and Kate situation. In fact, I had to Google his name to double check as I was writing this blog, which doesn't say much about my knowledge of current events. But anyway, I feel like Kate-Princess Diana comparisons are popping up all over the place now (US Weekly is going nuts with the trivia and Kate v. Princess Di articles), and what I am interested in seeing out of this scenario are infographics. Last night, when I was mulling over the organization of my America's Cup infographic, I got to thinking that maybe a more timely infographic would have been one about the Princess and soon-to-be Princess. The information is available now more than ever, and I'm thinking that if I don't make it out of my America's Cup graphic alive, I might potenitally think about switching topics, or creating a second one (very ambitious idea) for practice/potential portfolio work.

I Googled "Princess Diana Infographics" this morning to see if anyone had already gotten started on the idea, and though I was surprised to find that there weren't any published recently, this little tidbit was everywhere. It's called "The Last Day of Princess Diana." I am still not sure that I know the qualities of a good infographic, but this one is certainly interesting. I imagine some would say it's too 'decorative' and that the various photos don't really offer any additional insight, but I personally was intrigued and disected the whole thing when I found it. I think maybe the true sign of a good infographic will be one that makes a boring/uninteresting topic come to life. Maybe I'll never be able to distinguish between good and less good (but probably terrible) infographics concerning topics of interest to me.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Tribute to Chris Henry

I hope y'all saw this before the Pats/Lions game on Thursday, but in case you didn't, I'm posting it here. The video was made as a tribute to Chris Henry, the NFL (Bengals) player, who passed away last year after a fluke car accident. I thought the video related to class both because of its relationship topic-wise to my campaign pieces, and also the construction of the video itself. In addition to the video here, at one point during a mid-game commercial break, they did a short campaign commercial in which Henry's mother, Carolyn Henry Glasby, said "I'm Carolyn Henry Glasby, and this is my family now," as the shot panned out to include about 20 people from four other families. At the end the clip showed the Donate Life logo and website.

I think that we'll probably be seeing a lot more of campaigns similar to these now.

Check out the video.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Show and Tell: Infographics: Good, the bad, the ugly...

I found this little nugget by google-ing "bad infographic."

First of all, I feel like if you are going to use percentages and circles, let's put them in one. Isn't that why we have circular graphs? Yes, I think it is. Also, the colors are awful and arbitrary, and finally- let's talk about the side-by-side size comparison. Why make the 25.5% bigger? Why? This is just poor, poor planning.

This one below I think is a little gem, but I'm not sure if it's because of the subject, which creeps me out as equally as it does intrigue me, or if it's because I bleed orange. (Go Vols!) Whatever it is, I think the information is laid out as simply as it could be (there is a lot of information here), the graphics are clean, and I don't feel overwhelmed by numbers. Also, I'm happy to see that the numbers correlate with the sizing of the color blocks.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Photoshop Tricks

I found these while I was looking for a stamp font for my project six box. There are some pretty interesting things on here, but mostly it just made me feel really bad about my photoshop abilities haha. Ohhh, so much to learn.

Cool Photoshop Tricks

Ad Irony

Last week I drove by the Ethan Allen store in Annapolis and stopped at the traffic light right out front. I've never been inside an Ethan Allen, but I thought to myself, 'based on what I know about EA, if there is one still thriving after all these years, Annapolis surely hasn't been hit economically as much as other cities.' Then I got to thinking about their sign-- I think their logo is so simple and pretty, and in the 20 years I've lived in Annapolis their signage out front hasn't changed a bit. I thought 'that is a logo that has withstood time, and apparently, done it well.' I took a photo of it with my camera phone with the intention of blogging about the store's classy logo later.
Yesterday I drove by the store again and there was a giant, yellow, "Going Out Of Business Sale, Thank You For 20 Great Years" banner draped over their pretty sign. Haha. Ohhh irony.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Subtle Christmas Advertising

I love a good deal. I'm a sucker for advertising (and I have a years' worth the Omaha steaks in my freezer to prove it.) Put the two together and I am Groupon's target audience. I'm pretty sure the inventor of Groupon watches for my username to show up and then snickers to himself as I spend my last dollar on the day's next great deal.

I especially love (other than the killer good deals) the tiny blurb that Groupon writes about the company on the bottom left half of the page - you know, after the list of deal details.

Anyway, more than all of these things I LOVE Christmas advertising. So when I read Groupon's little sarcastic/morbid tagline for Ethan Allen I was caught off-guard and laughed out loud. Today's groupon read:

"Every time someone sleeps on a floor, eats dinner off a cardboard table, or uses a Rubbermaid tub as an ottoman, an angel gets sucked into a jet engine."

Don't get the Christmas connection? Think 'It's A Wonderful Life.'
"Every time time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings!" (Sweetest line from a movie ever.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Show & Tell Narrative Package

I am not a big fan of Vitamin Water itself but I think their packaging is great. They reach a large but specific audience with the narratives on their water bottles, which are always hilarious. The color-coded products are also great and in line with their competition, Gatorade.
My only issue is with the fact that "product" is a widow and I think the entirety of the first paragraph should fit in the color block. I hate that the sentence/paragraph cut by the white. To me it looks awkward and like bad planning. I do like the lack of capitalization, but I have no explanation for that.

Otherwise I think the two components: narrative and color, work well together. The design and color of the packaging is toned-down, it's not too crazy and it helps to broaden the consumer scope, and not alienate older, (or younger) or more serious consumers. I also appreciate that the narratives are different on each bottle, so you might be more likely to experiment with their different flavors to read them all. Also, the narrative really kind of makes a certain segment of consumers think they need the water. Like it was produced specifically for their set of needs. In reality, the vitamins in each bottle aren't that different and all really do the same thing. But if you read each of the labels, you might think you need to buy the whole lot of them for all your different hydration scenarios.
This blog article outlines six different reason Vitamin Water marketing has worked.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Everybody loves a woodchuck

I've always thought that Gieco missed the mark on their advertising. The Gecko is okay (mostly because of it's mysterious accent), but otherwise I've felt like their concepts are a little out there. Their new commercials though, are phenomenal.
The first, with the pig crying wee wee is pretty popular, but I actually didn't really get the humor until I saw the woodchucks, which I think are hilarious. Now that I get the humor I think the entire campaign is awesome- I wish I'd gotten it sooner.

Funny though, how some pieces of a campaign resonate with different people.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

God Bless Texas

About once every three weeks I share something that has absolutely nothing to do with design or the other contents of this blog, but something I found while looking for something to add to this blog. Because I find it on blog time, added to the fact that I'm pretty consistent with my inconsistency, I feel justified.
This week's deviation from the design path is pretty awesome. I'm sure you've all seen this as it's gone totally viral in the past week, but in case you missed it, here it is.
In Texas football is so huge that even middle school football is huge. Granted, I get paid to follow middle schoolers (and younger) around in their athletic endeavours but trust me when I say in Texas, it's ten times the deal it is here. You can tell, even, because this video is shot so high up I'd imagine these kids were playing in a legit high school or college stadium. If not- they have sick middle school fields. There are no "stands" from which to shoot footage from such an angle where our little tikes play here. Anyway... the QB told the line to hold really still, and the rest you can see here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Another Blog, New Conan

I came across this blog tonight and I think it's pretty great. It was actually started by another design student, I even checked to see if it was a UBalt grad, but I don't think it was.


Anyway, there are several topics this blogger touches on, and posts can be searched by category. It looks like right now he/she is doing a typography series, and this week's post is on Baskerville which I love (thanks, Marie).

An earlier post the blogger compares Conan O'Brien's old logo and his new one. How did I not see this before? I absolutely love (not just amy-love) the new logo. Normally I hate more than one text color (especially on the same line) and I also usually hesitate to use white text, but I think both work great here. I think playing on his iconic red hair is brilliant and the design is really clean and simple.

I'm a big fan.

A Doggone Good Story

Since I know you all love Garden and Gun so much I wanted to use this opportunity to pull a fun narrative from it for our show and tell.

Every issue, there is a section called "Good Dog" in the magazine. I'm not much of an animal person myself, but this particular story really tickled my fancy.

The Canine Criminal is a about the writer's childhood dog, Max, who was particularly mischievous. The smart, witty but kind of dry, sarcastic humor made me laugh out loud. Several of the writers in Garden and Gun have this same tone/style, and this story was no exception. The conclusion is definitely cute and funny, although I do wish it had a little bit stronger; I wish it rounded out the narration a little stronger, or gave me an indication of what eventually happened to Max. I have more questions about the little guy. What else did he do? How long did he live? Did he have any Max Jr.s? So maybe the conclusion is fine and I just wanted to hear more about the pup. You can decide.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Absolut Ads

Just a random thought...

We've all seen them; they are by far some of my favorite ads.

Does anyone have any idea who designed them? Are they from an in-house group, or an agency?