Monday, June 30, 2008


Nearly eighteen months ago, we blogged about viral marketing.  Today, this news story arrived in my In Box.  Product placement in movies and TV shows has been around for many years, and while it's not exactly the same as viral marketing, it's certainly a close cousin.  I'm torn on the subject of sponsorships.  On one hand, as a producer who tries to help my clients find funding for projects, I have no problem with underwriting or sponsorships for programming.  On the other hand, I cringe whenever the naming rights to an event or venue are sold to the highest bidder.  I don't know why I have that reaction, I just do - I picture an endless loop of brand names and corporate logos intruding into sacred areas more than they do now.  The Budweiser King of Beers New England Patriots!   The FedEx Kinkos Boston Common!  Ick.  

I wonder, though, whether viewers really need to be protected against product placement.  Most of the time, I don't even notice what brand or product a character is using, unless it particularly fits (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck drinking Dunkin' Donuts coffee in Good Will Hunting) or it makes me laugh (Nicolas Cage stealing Huggies in Raising Arizona).  I guess we'll see.

We want to send out big congratulations to the always-wonderful Mandy Nelson on her profile in the Boston Globe Magazine this past Sunday.  We're flattered that Mandy included us on her web site, and we encourage you to check out her interview here.

Monday, May 05, 2008

What's That Sound?

It's been really nuts around here lately, but I thought I probably ought to put something on the blog, since it's been a while. We are in the process of building a whole new web site with our web guru Paul, and we're really excited to have something fresh. You may have noticed that we have less time to update the web site than we do the blog, and it's really in need of a facelift. We'll keep you posted.

I had a great meeting with our friend Malik Williams last week, and it got me thinking about music.  Coincidentally, a new client of ours is trying to brand a new business, and I talked with him about jingles and custom music, and how it can really make a difference.  My favorite advertising use of music are some of the old Volkswagen TV commercials.  They really knew their audience, and they nailed it with these spots:
Sometimes, the music choices are just odd.  I remember when Cadillac was trying to rock up their image.  It received a lot of attention, but I didn't think it worked that well, aesthetically.  I just thought it seemed weird.  But it helped, so it must've worked for someone.

So, do I have a point?  I think so... I think the point is: pay attention to the music.  It does matter.

Music is on in our office all the time.  Most of the time, that is.  Rich is our resident DJ, and as some of you know he's been very ill for the past several weeks, with this gnarly disease.  He's expected to make a full recovery, and I hope to have him back very soon.  Until then, though, it's very quiet here.  If you'd like to post "Get Well" wishes for him here on the blog, I know he'd appreciate it.

Finally, this is clever and helpful.  I hope other stations take the cue.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Be A Media Mogul

Thanks to an advertising-agency colleague, I recently checked out TubeMogul.  It's very cool - at least, I think it's cool.  I haven't had loads of time to experiment yet, but I do plan to upload and distribute some content.  If you have web video, it's worth giving this free service a try.  If you don't have web video (or any other video, for that matter), then what are you waiting for? Give us a call!

We've moved into our new space, in lovely Woburn, in the shadow of the Jell-O™ factory.  One day, after agreeing on the lease but before moving in, we were leaving the new office when we were hit with a... smell.  Only not just a smell, but a Smell.

"Uh, what's that?"

"I don't know, I've never smelled that before."

"Is it going to be like this all the time?"

"Maybe that's why we scored such good rent."

Turns out, the Smell is not an everyday occurrence, thank goodness.  It's the odor of gelatin making or, more specifically, part of the gelatin-making process known as rendering.  Let's not go there.

Fortunately, the Smell does not permeate the building, and only happens once in a while.  The trade-off is that we get the other gelatin scents on alternate days.  So far, Strawberry day has been the best.

So we're slowly getting unpacked and back to business.  Meeting with our web guy, Paul, this week to finally get ourselves really moving on the long overdue new web site.  We'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's On Television, It Must Be True

There are fake news videos, and then there are really great fake news videos.  I think this one, courtesy of The Onion, is really well done.

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

I've seen a couple of earlier Onion stories pasted up in the mainstream news as real stories, so I'm kind of hoping this one shows up somewhere, too.  

If you like this kind of thing, there are tons of examples on the internet.  One of the earliest - and best - is from 1957: the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Very Good Cause

We try very hard to give back to important causes whenever possible, providing services, time or money.  We just feel it's necessary to maintain a good life balance, and to promote awareness of issues that matter to us.

In that spirit, our very good, longtime friend Susan Harms Stover is participating in the 2-Day Boston Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and she needs to reach her goal of $2,500 by May 18th.

Every 3 minutes, a woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer.  Donations to support Sue's walk will go toward medical research into the possible causes of and cure for breast cancer, education and early detection programs, and clinical care and support services for women with breast cancer in communities across the country.

On a personal note, I have been on the receiving end of suspicious mammogram results and have undergone a surgical biopsy.  I am grateful that my results were benign, and I realize the essential need for regular testing and early detection.  I hope that efforts like Sue's will make that a possibility for all women throughout the U.S.

To help Sue reach her goal, you can visit her personal fundraising page here.  

Thanks for taking the time to read about, and hopefully contribute to, this worthy cause.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Words Fail Me

I was searching online today for a reference image of a remote control, and I found this shining example of (I'm assuming) American ingenuity. It's not new, about a year old, but it's truly thought-provoking. Read all about it here.

Our office is always in a state of minor disorganization, but I'm relieved to say we haven't reached this level of need. Although, should they come out with a "Portable Hard Drive Wrangler", I just might splurge.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Year, Old School

Happy New Year! This is a post I actually started back in December, but the time just got away from me and I never had a chance to complete and post it.

I was talking with Greg (Dole, our Associate Producer) about some of the lengths we used to go to to create special effects waaaay back in the days before digital, and how it was actually loads of fun to experiment. One time, I needed to create an "old film" look, so I bought some blank 8mm film, exposed it, put it on the ground and walked on it to scratch it up, had the blank film developed, ran it through a projector onto a white screen, shot the white screen with a video camera, and then keyed the resulting scratchy mess over my clean video and - voila! - dirty, old-looking film effect. Cost: $40 and roughly two days' time.

Now, there's a filter for Final Cut Pro that you can download in under a minute for less than a hundred bucks. Sometimes, I kind of miss the whole Rube Goldberg thing... it's important to exercise your creativity.

I've found a few commercials that I think are extra-cool precisely because all of the effects are done (allegedly, but I believe it) without digital trickery.

The first is this advert for Guinness. I don't think it was shot in a continuous take (in fact, I'm sure it wasn't), but supposedly this domino effect was achieved using the actual items you see, and without any additional fakery. The villagers you see in this spot are all actual residents of this remote town in Argentina. The shot with the car falling over was done in a single take. I also found this additional info:

Domino effect was developed by Weijers Domino Productions, Woerden, The Netherlands. Setting the dominoes on the table from the start of the advert took a team of three experts two days, but took just 14 seconds to topple. Toppling items included: 6,000 dominoes, 10,000 books, 400 tires, 75 mirrors, 50 fridges, 45 wardrobes, 6 cars.*

This same director (his name is Nicolai Fuglsig), also directed this commercial for Sony Bravia. It probably could have been done with CGI, but instead they actually released 250,000 superballs onto this hilly street in San Francisco. Relieved not to have been on that clean-up crew.

The Sony campaign also used a traditional approach for two other commercials: Paint and Play-Doh. I highly recommend checking out the site, which includes details of how the ads were done.