Thursday, September 29, 2011

Animal Magnetism

A beautifully conceived German ad campaign for ültje uses Safari animals to entice you to go grab their nuts.

Ready for a smile? As an adman, I must say that I am pretty jaded when it comes to most American advertising, American culture is pretty uptight when it comes to things like humor, perspective and sexuality. So when I skim through online ad resources of international advertising forums for inspiration, I commonly run across gems like this campaign for ültje Crispers; 'Chakalaka', a flavored brand of coated peanuts that claims to make you "feel like you're in Africa" (that's from their web site). While I don't fully understand the motivator behind the line "Discover Africa's spiciest secret", I kind of don't care.

The real beauty of this campaign comes in the form of African wildlife revealing their naughty side as a qualifier for the sensual, lust-filled sensations you will experience when popping ültje's nuts in your mouth (yes, American reader, I just wrote that).

Aside from the sheer inventiveness and compelling quality of these three illustrations (and the fact that Giraffes are my favoritest animal ever!), the suggestion that eating these coated peanuts can take you to another place – one of ecstasy – is just terrific. There is nothing shameful or wrong about the messaging and what's more, the ads need our own, twisted familiarity with fetishes, lingerie and adult toys to complete the messaging. Some of my favorite kind of messaging by the way (the personal connectivity part – get your head out of the gutter!).

This campaign won't win a Gold Lion at Cannes or sweep 'best of show' at the Art Director's Club in Hamburg (much less New York) but it does remind us that the world of advertising can be wild, untamed and fun. I applaud a consumer company – albeit a European one – to take a "position" like this. If you feel offended, please don't. It's just an ad – an ad with entangled Giraffes licking each other. What's wrong with that?

Advertising Agency: Kolle Rebbe, Hamburg, Germany

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Random Life–Installment One: On Deck in San Diego

Note: The following blog is the first in a mini-series (a 'sub-blog' if you will) tracking the totally random events that happen in my life. Branded "My Random Life", these postings chronicle some pretty interesting – if not utterly haphazard – things that happen to me, something we can all relate to. They will eventually feed into a forthcoming web published compilation, some time from now.

Now enough with all that Felgurcarb, on with the blog!

Saturday, August 16th, 2011. I was in San Diego for a weekend tradeshow hosted by the new company I create marketing for. After the day's activities were done, I shuffled around to several of my new co-workers to see if anyone wanted to hang out in San Diego, near the convention center. After all, even though everyone else would be there through Wednesday, I was there just Saturday night. No kids, fun ocean-side town. Who's with me?

Apparently, no one (insert sad emoticon here). Evidently, everyone else was tired from working two days of prep beforehand and had NO interest in hanging out with the big guy. Was it me? I showered right? Well whatever. Off I went into the cool early San Diego evening, in search of adventure.

Walking down to the waterfront, I hailed a man-taxi (one of those three-wheeled bicycle dudes who pedal you anywhere for a fee). "Take me to the Aircraft carrier!" I stated and off we went. If you must know, I’ve had an odd fascination with Aircraft Carriers since age 8. I love the idea of a floating airfield – but that's another posting.

My new pedal pal lets me know he has moved to America from Turkey (Istanbul, actually) and begins to share his impromptu comparison of Istanbul to both New York City and San Diego. Okay, why not.

So my new friend-on-wheels takes me to the USS Midway aircraft carrier Naval Museum. Complete with a deck full of fighter planes and cool historical war installations! I am sooo there! I tip bike-boy and head down the pier to pay my way to Midway.

As I approached, I noticed the admissions window is closed. Damn! I wanted to be on the Midway. I was about to turn tail and call it an early night but the commotion at the elevator to the gangway caught my notice. People were going in! Maybe I still had a shot. A card table was set up with two people situated to take money and dole out tickets. I made my move.

"What’s going on?" I ask. "The museum is closed for our theater company’s musical review of the 20th century," said a very grandma-like elderly woman with thick glasses. A Broadway-esque musical review on the deck of an aircraft carrier in San Diego Bay? I'm all in! "How much for a ticket?" I ask her as I reach into my pocket, ready to plunk down nearly any amount for this experience (wouldn't you?).

"We're all sold out, dear, I'm sorry." she said, my heart sinking like a 40-ton Anchor. "Tell you what, though…" she says in what could only be described as a Mean-Joe-Green moment, "…there's almost always someone who doesn't show, so if you can come back in an hour or so, I just might have a ticket for you." Sold! I hung there, not moving a muscle (let's face it, where was I going to go?), waiting. The hour ticks by as I make calls on my cell phone, briefcase and sport coat slung over shoulder, still looking super duper in my trade show threads.

Fifty-five minutes later, the woman waves me over letting me know a bleacher seat has opened up and I was welcome to take that one if I would like. How much? “No charge, dear” Free? Of course it is. You can’t go wrong with that price, so I make my way through the innards of this way cool, decommissioned super-warship on my way to the hanger deck and the evening’s entertainment.

I settle in and start chit-chatting with the family next to me. The weather was a perfect 70º so I was happy to escape the blistering 112º of Phoenix. Moments later, the man that was seated at the admissions table (some six decks and two flights of stairs and a two-story elevator ride away) came to find me in the bleacher seat. He said someone had seen me waiting to get in and donated their unused ticket to me, obviously sensing I was a distressed fellow theater lover. Again, free find me. So, as I say goodbye to my bleacher buds and mosey on down to the second row, I take measure of my evening. Someone saw me waiting, patiently, off to the side of the admissions table and donated their ticket to me. How cool is that?

I am sitting – thanks to a free ticket – in front of an elevated stage, with lights, speakers and a full 19-piece band against the conning tower on the deck of the USS Midway, watching a sold-out singing and dance review of the musical influences of the 20th century. Folks, does it get any more random than that? I didn't think so, either.

The show was stunning and afterward, I had opportunity to hang out on the flight deck with an entire armada of naval military aircraft, from an F4F Hellcat to an F-18 Hornet. And to top it off, as I walked back to the hotel that evening (it was easily 10pm by this point) I witnessed a fireworks display put on over San Diego Bay by none other than my company's trade show. I thought to myself "boy, I’m hungry!"

And thus began the next phase of my totally random evening.

I asked the doorman at my hotel where I could find a good burger and a beer that wasn't where all the nightclubs and crazy party activities were. He sent me on my way to a standing-room-only sports bar dive with Hip-hop videos playing on every screen. I ventured in and wouldn't you know it? In a place packed with night-clubbers, obvious first dates and random groups of people who had already drank waaay too much, there was an empty booth, right in the back of the restaurant, beckoning to me.

As the waitress serves me a juicy burger, crispy onion rings and a frosty beer, I reflect on the events of the evening while people-watching as the clock ticks toward midnight. I reminded myself it was time to get back to the hotel since the next day was slated to be a long one.

I shared every detail of that evening with my kids when I got back home. There were two key points I emphasized as they were fascinated to hear every detail of the evening. First, though I tried to join others, the evening yielded quite an adventure for me all by myself. The point being that sometimes, the only person you need to have a good time is yourself.

Second, sometimes – and I do mean only sometimes, here – the best plan is to have no plan at all and let life take you where you were probably headed all along.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Reliving our modern "Day of Infamy"

This past weekend realized something that is probably difficult for many Americans… the reliving and remembering of the events of September 11th, 2001. I was working out at the gym the day before and I realized I was not 'over it'. A roll of those who had lost their lives on that awful morning came up on CNN, thousands of faces; Moms, Dads, Sons, Daughters, Uncles, Aunts, Wives, Husbands, Friends. White, Black, Asian, Hispanic along with representatives from more than 80 countries.

I began to tear up. I mean I began to get really emotional.

While a romantic at heart, I am NOT easily moved to tears and even when I came home that terrible evening and watched and re-watched in horror the tragic events unfold endlessly on cable news channels – as did every American – the gravity was lost on me. I was in too much shock. How could this have happened? And why? I'm not sure we have those answers even today, but I do know I have a deep, incredible sadness in my heart that may not ever go away.

To that I say "Good". Those poor people died for no good reason and those events have torn a lasting hole in the very fabric of our cultural memory. And they should NEVER be forgotten.

So you could imagine how breathless I became when one of my sons told me he wasn't really sure what 9/11 was. I was floored. How could he not know? Granted he was all of 16 months old on that day, but had schools and the general media eluded him for 10 years? Regardless, we got right down to it and hit the internet.

Previewing the news reports of the plane impacts, the towers collapsing, the Pentagon attack and the thwarted hijacking and crash-landing of Flight 93 in a small Pennsylvania township, made me remember it all over again. The footage of these events have been branded into my memory but reliving it this way made them no less moving.

I will never understand these events fully, but I do know one of the best ways to honor the fallen is to remember them. We can all at least do that.

And now, so will my son.