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Archive for February, 2007

It’s official: I’ll be attending Innoventure 2007 on March 27 and 28. (I’m pretty excited about it.) Muchas gracias to the fine, brilliant and pretty darned dapper hombres at Orange Coat for inviting me and making it really easy for me to register today.

InnoVenture is an annual conference of innovators and entrepreneurs building personal relationships to enhance products sold to existing customers, improve the productivity of existing processes, or create new markets

In the 50,000 square feet Innovation Hall, trade show style innovation displays highlight opportunities for collaboration

Who Should Attend?

* Innovators in large organizations seeking expertise and resources to grow revenue or enhance productivity
* Entrepreneurs leading high-impact companies in the Southeastern Innovation Corridor.
* Researchers and inventors seeking business partners
* Venture capitalists and angel investors seeking investment in high-impact companies in the Corridor
* Experts and professional service providers seeking to do business with companies commercializing game changing innovations

See? Pretty cool stuff.

The main site is here. Go check it out. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the event’s blog, (which is really John Warner’s Swamp Fox blog) here.

The weather is super nice here, so I’m going out for a run. Have a great Tuesday evening, everyone. :)

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It’s something we don’t do often here because we aren’t much into self promotion (at least not here) and there are far more interesting things to talk about out there than… what F360 is doing, but I will make a quick little exception today.

The background: F360 started out a little over two years ago as a collaborative project between a handful of Greenville, SC-based creatives with a passion for photography. Several of us had either been pro photographers at one time or were doing some commercial shooting on the side, and we thought… hey, why don’t we get together and start a little side project and see where it goes?

Well, it went.

Right from the start, our clients started asking us… “hey, do you guys do graphic design too?” The answer was yes. “Copywriting?” Yep. “Can you guys design catalogs?” Sure. “Do you do ads?” Why not. “Websites?” Well… we can help you with the look and feel, but we can hook you up with folks who live and breathe code. Before we realized what had happened, the side project had turned into a full-time gig, and commercial photography had become just one among many of the things we do.

The thing is… we’re small. Tiny, actually. Sure, some of our work has had national and international exposure, but for most of what we do is local or regional. Believe it or not, we kind of like it that way. Every one of us at F360 came from the corporate world, and yeah, we used to work with big brands… but, you know, we all kind of needed a little break from the madness, I think. We were getting a little burned out with the ties and the cubicles and having to work with plain-jane, vanilla, safe-by-default marketing strategies. Bleh. We wanted to work with passionate little companies. The struggling little diamonds in the rough who either couldn’t afford big ad agencies or had been burned by them and were looking to make some changes.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Truth be told, we actually like working with small businesses. The lack of bureaucracy, nepotism, and the occasional big C.E.O. ego allows us to connect with them better, and our work reflects that deeper connection. And it’s more fun. We all like it a lot.

But back to the point of this post: Our first international print ad. Two months ago, Set-Up Events (the country’s largest triathlon race production company) asked us to design an ad to introduce the 2007 South Carolina Triathlon Series in Triathlete Magazine‘s 2007 “Event Guide” issue. We met with them, and they told us what they wanted: A very simple, slightly gritty ad with a few postcard-looking photos of their races, the schedule, and some sponsors.

Easy enough.

The result was… a very simple, slightly gritty ad with postcard-looking photos I shot at some of their races last year, and a few sponsor logos.

We thought about pushing for stronger and edgier creative, but the client knew what they wanted, and were super happy with the piece, so we left it alone.


The March issue of Triathlete Magazine and the ad are on booksellers’ shelves the world over right now. (Yipee.)

And yes, we did buy the very first copy that flew in to Greenville, SC.

Since we never expected to go in that direction, we’re kind of excited, and we thought we’d share the love. 2007 is only getting started, but it’s off to a pretty good start.

Below: A piece put together by Jason Crosby, one of our favorite collaborators. (We just supply the photos, and he turns them into art. Genius.)


Have a great Monday evening, everyone. :)

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Question: Is there a reason why commercials shown during the Academy Awards are better than those shown during the (overhyped) Superbowl?

And I am talking about better by a fairly large margin here.

Even the McDonald’s ad was good.

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This morning, I found this headline in my morning paper: “Man sentenced to die in ant-breeding scheme.”

Once I got past absurdity of the ant-breeding scheme part, it hit me: This is for real. Somebody is actually going to be executed for having committed fraud. Wow. Here’s the article:

Beijing – AP -

“A chinese executive was sentenced to death for swindling $385M from investors in a bogus ant-breeding scheme. Wang Zhendong had promised returns of up to 60 percent for buying kits of ants and breeding equipment. he sold the kits (which cost $25) for $1,300, the Xinmin Evening News reported. Ants are prized for medicinal concoctions.”

Sentence to death. Forget ten years of hard time with full restitution to the defrauded investors and $20M in fines. Forget minimum security country-club prisons. Forget cable TV in your cell, kosher meals in the cafeteria, and weekly unsupervised conjugal visits. Forget house arrest and community service.

Death.

This guy is going to die because he sold $25 ant farms for $1,300 and managed to convince enough investors to give him $385 Million for… a bunch of ants. It would be pretty funny if it weren’t so tragic.

I can’t help but wonder what the penalties are for false advertising, securities fraud and accounting fraud in China. But… more importantly, I wonder how the business/corporate landscape would change in the US if laws here suddenly became as tough and unforgiving as they are in other parts of the world.

Would anyone at Enron or at any of the companies on the seemingly endless list of corporate scandals that have rocked our nation’s economy in the last ten years have dared to cook the books or rip-off investors and shareholders had the death penalty been a very real possibility if caught?

Hmmm. Food for thought.

I just think it’s pretty lame that we’ve come to this: Countries having to impose desperately harsh penalties to discourage executives from being dishonest and ripping people off.

It’s just sad.

Ultimately, creating remarkable, positive, enriching products and experiences for your customers and clients seems like a much better game plan. Especially in the light of this nonsense.

Have a great… honest weekend, everyone. :)

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Some brands have a hard time making clear statements about what they’re about.

Others don’t.

For the most part, I don’t think I am going out on a limb by saying that brands that embrace specific lifestyles (to the point of embodying them) tend to be a lot stronger than those that don’t.

Why? Because they mean something. And people like to look for meaning in things. Their coffee. Their cars. Their clothes. Their toys. Their food.

Nike knows this. So does Jaguar. And so do North Face, RayBan, Apple, Stetson, Levi’s, Thule, Opinel, Smith & Wesson, Tivo, Gucci, Fossil, Starbucks and DKNY, for starters.

No, Specialized’s little declaration of independance from desk jobs isn’t enough to steer me towards a purchase, but I understand the company a bit better now – and I like the fact that they take their work seriously: Designing bikes and gear for folks who know what to do with themselves when they’re off the clock… and demand a certain level of passion for design from the people behind those designs.

What you have to ask yourself if you’re a brand manager or work as a brand planner, is this: Does your (or your client’s) brand embody a particular lifestyle? Does it mean anything to anyone? (If not, don’t you think it should?)

And if you could print your brand’s mantra on a T-shirt, what would it say?

have a great weekend, everyone.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Still trying to get a few projects wrapped up here this week, which is why the posts have been a little light so far this week.

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, everyone. :)

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My last post (see below) showcased some pretty smart and exciting product designs, but upon looking over the images just a minute ago, what struck me was the complete lack of brand marks/logos on these products… which makes sense since they’re just concepts and haven’t actually been thrown into the market yet.

As soon as I realized this, my brain started filling-in the blanks, and I ended up with a short list of brands that these products and the way they are designed would be good fits for. It’s actually kind of a fun exercise if you want to take a few minutes to play along.

My list looks like this:

Eraser: Staples
Cutting board: Cuisinart or Architec
Interactive timepiece: Nike or Adidas
Party plate: Pfaltzgraff
Hourglass Timepiece: Casio
Cookie mug/cup: Rubbermaid
Locker organizer: Rubbermaid
Lego ice cube maker: Lego & Rubbermaid (co-branded)
Zen Disc player: Bose or Tivoli
Heels: (Mass market)

What does your list look like?

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