Archive for August 2011

Rube Goldberg Tells a Story

Posted by Robert Weitz on August 30, 2011 11:54 AM

Do you want to impress people with your view of the world? Do you want to tell them that you are bold or inventive? Then do something creative and smart!

Here are 4 lovely examples of storytelling that is a “set-up.” In other words, a mechanism is set up to—once set in motion—tell a moving story of cause and effect that has all the elements of a drama or animated sequence. After you watch each one, ask yourself: What feeling do I have about the filmmakers, and what story are they telling? The mother of all of these, The Way Things Go by Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss, inspired many followers. Its story is more meaningful than ever.

Similar in narrative and physical setup (so much so that Fischli and Weiss threatened Honda with legal action), “The Power of Dreams” by the agency Wieden+Kennedy is an expensive, brilliantly-executed ad that has a singular message: “Isn’t it nice when things just work,” which is intoned by radio celebrity Garrison Keillor. This is done in 2 takes and took months to figure out and execute. It was very expensive and is still driving traffic and brand exposure…it worked!

Next is something different but still echoes the joyful, technologically crazy, wildly expressive creation of Fischli and Weiss, and picks up on the brilliant production values of the Honda ad. The Sony Bravia ad “Balls” by Fallon UK is a meticulously executed set-up meant to thrill and fill our hearts with an irrepressible childlike joy. It compels us to dwell on the fact that the Bravia is brighter, more exciting, and a step above everyone else.

The final spot is so perfect. It is not for a major brand, it was probably made with the understanding that the Honda and the Sony commercial continues to be passed around without an end in sight. It will probably outlive the Bravia brand, and will amuse and spread Sony and Honda’s message for who knows how long? I would imagine that a lot of sweat equity went into this since the brand makes wood products.

Appropriately, the tune is “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by J.S. Bach because with such a convincing story told, everyone of us should be desiring a Touch Wood smartphone! Clients, fans and lovers are rarely seduced by a list of benefits, but light some candles, pour some wine, put on some music, and then wait and see what happens.

Not Brand Dilution – Brand Confusion

Posted by Robert Weitz on August 21, 2011 7:17 PM

I resisted the temptation to jump on this news story just because I did not want “The Situation” and crew anywhere near The Brand Wash. Unfortunately, 2 great blundering behemoths of macho brands have collided, leaving in place some interesting fragments of clarity and truth.

What happened? Certainly not dilution. The concept of dilution comes from trademark law. This is grabbed from Wikipedia and from my experience is a good general definition:

Trademark dilution is a trademark law concept giving the owner of a famous trademark standing to forbid others from using that mark in a way that would lessen its uniqueness. In most cases, trademark dilution involves an unauthorized use of another’s trademark on products that do not compete with, and have little connection with, those of the trademark owner. For example, a famous trademark used by one company to refer to hair care products might be diluted if another company began using a similar mark to refer to breakfast cereals or spark plugs.”

It is usually a conflict between 2 marks, and the confusion that might occur when 1 mark is in some way so close to another in look, feel or other attributes that the consumer is unsure as to whom they are dealing with.

The word from Abercrombie & Fitch is that, “We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image…We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast.”

Here’s my fly-on-the wall of the branding department conjecture: The problem is that Abercrombie & Fitch is, like the GAP and a number of other global brands, refocusing their brand message/image to speak to emerging global markets, as they should be. And “The Situation” does not represent Abercrombie & Fitch’s new brand image. So how do you stop them? You could engage in legal bullying, but these kids thrive on a good fight, have a substantial following and a lot of PR muscle. Or, you could get a bunch of good publicity for your shift in message and use the diss to bolster your brand. No more confusion and a lot of free press! Quite a play and well done.

Fahrenheit Studio Launches New Site

Posted by Robert Weitz on August 18, 2011 3:49 PM

In 1996, one year after Dylan Tran & I started Fahrenheit Studio, we designed our first website for Inscape for a game called Ravage. At the time, most websites had blue type, no pictures, and certainly no animation! Ravage, on the other hand, used 3D imagery, had some well-placed animation, and felt more like an environment than a spreadsheet.

Many, many websites and brands later, we are still leading the way with the 4th generation launch of our own website at Fahrenheit.com.


Each generation from 1996-2004 seemed to grow in format size, richness, animation, and sound. But this time, something has changed. It has neither gotten larger or smaller—it can now be any size you want it to be. Thanks to HTML5 and responsive design, it’s one site that adapts to any device. Got an iPhone, iPad, desktop, laptop, or large screen TV? It all fits.

Please check out the new Fahrenheit.com website and let us know what you think.

Tagging – Two Cultures Scribble Their Hopes + Wishes

Posted by Robert Weitz on August 9, 2011 1:06 PM

I popped downtown to take one more look at MOCA’s “Art In The Streets” show before it closed. It seemed that every artist, tagger, curioista and his sister decided to catch a final last minute look at the exquisitely scrawled installations by the master taggers turned sophisticated artists of the early 80′s.

Scrawling on walls, hanging scribbles and banners in the landscape goes back to the beginning of recorded history. In fact, the first scribble marked the beginning of recorded history! We do it carefully, we do it wistfully, we do it in anger (“Eat the rich” and “Down with Gaddafi”), and we express our hopes and aspirations.

So, I was delighted to bump into another expression of our instinct to scribble—Tanabata, also known as the “star festival,” was being celebrated in Little Tokyo (LA), and I had to walk through the main plaza to get to MOCA.

Hanging on specific trees were notes expressing people’s wishes: Wishes for jobs, wishes for things, and wishes for health, love and happiness. Some were obviously written by children and they evoked the same impulse to scrawl and scribble that the ancient cave paintings and our lovely street art does!