marketing

They’re Weird, But These T-shirts Actually Have a Point, Usually.

They’re Weird, But These T-shirts Actually Have a Point, Usually.

The world is positively swimming in people who see themselves as t-shirt designers/ illustrators. Ads for their puntastic-abominations are everywhere on the internet, and in most cases, the stuff is pretty much… well, you get it. One exception is a chap from Malaysia by the name of Chow Hon Lam aka Flying Mouse, who lets people have it with both barrels when he unleashes a t-shirt design. There’s an element of absurdity as there pretty much always is with this stuff, but the concepts and illustrations go farther than the usual pun stuff. They’re pretty funny!

The Truth About Social Media Advertising

The Truth About Social Media Advertising

…and other urban legends… It was the best of times to be in marketing, it was the worst of times to be marketing… Or at least, that's how I imagine Charles Dickens might have started A Tale of Two Cities if he was writing it today. The paradox is true. It's a tough time to sell marketing services – everyone's looking for an expert, while the terrible reality is that trends are shifting too quickly for true expertise to exist. On the other hand, there's never been a better time to be “mad men” because there are no limits, no boundaries, no set of rules to follow anymore. At a time like this, a commodity like certainty is worth its weight in gold. A “marketing expert” who can guarantee a campaign's success will go far, until, that is, it becomes clear that – just as you suspected – there are no guarantees when it comes to promotion and advertising. Unlike […]

Best Disney/Marvel Mashup Galleries

Best Disney/Marvel Mashup Galleries

Now your childhood IS just one big jumble of images! As my many thousands of readers know, I like to keep things fresh around here, so while yesterday we discussed the future of the printing industry, today we'll have a look at some hilarious graphic design awesomeness brought to you by yesterday's announcement that Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment and the 5,000-or-so characters of the Marvel Universe. Intending to write a little post speculating on the design of a Disney/Marvel logo, I was blown away to discover that the web is already awash with hundreds of pieces of Disney/Marvel mashup art. This has got to be the corporate merger that has generated the most design inspiration in history. Sketchers are sketching, painters are painting, and even writers are fast writing out new crossover storylines. You can check out some of the best Disney/Marvel mashup galleries on Super Punch, BleedingCool, The Fire Wire, and of course, flickr and DeviantART. No word yet […]

What Do People Want From Printers?

What Do People Want From Printers?

That is the question. Monday is always a great day for printing news. If you care about printing. Which, let's face it, not a lot of people outside of the print and design industry do. I mean, people care. Print buyers care. Companies across all industries that use print advertising care. YOU care, of course. But as far as lives are impacted by the future and enduring health of the industry, do people outside of said industry care? Not deeply. The upshot of all this is that most discussion pertaining to the future and enduring health of the print industry happens within that industry, much as it will next week at Print '09. The digital people will preen their feathers, the oldschool guys and the new wave 'marketing service providers' will raise their eyebrows at each other, everybody will scratch their heads over why the heck the social media wiz they hired to Twitter for them 8 hours a day […]

Mad Men Season 3 Key Art Production

Mad Men Season 3 Key Art Production

From another era? Or is a great ad always a great ad? If you're a designer, if you're a printer, if you're involved in the advertising industry in any way, chances are you're getting pretty stoked for the beginning of Season 3 of Mad Men, a great show (if you've somehow managed to miss it so far) about the advertising business as it played out in 1960s New York. AMC, the channel running the show, knows it's design-nerdy demographic. To promote the new season, they just released a little 'making of' the season 3 promotional imagery, which is going up on billboards and in magazines as we speak. The key art for their promotion – the show's star sitting in an office full of water – is interesting, and the video is very cool to watch. In an era where so much of print design work is done in Photoshop, it's surreal to see a team of 50 people actually […]

Death of the Brand, or a New Age of Sustainable Branding?

Death of the Brand, or a New Age of Sustainable Branding?

Intangible value doesn't equal no value. During a period of recession, there are always two schools of thought on print advertising. Number 1 – More print advertising is needed as a cheap way to communicate with consumers during this thrifty period. Number 2 – Dang print advertisers all to hell. They're the ones that got us in this mess by convincing us all to overspend. More and more, the trend amongst pundits on business and culture is to blame advertising and it's evolutionary progeny – branding – for a myriad of social woes, and then to declare it way past its prime. To be replaced, I'm assuming, by their particular flavor of b-to-c communication that is absolutely nothing like what has come before it. The way some of these writers are spinning the situation seems to imply that the very concepts of 'marketing' and 'branding' are nothing more than trumped-up get-rich-quick schemes devised by a printing and design industry with […]

2008 Branding and Marketing Trends

2008 Branding and Marketing Trends

What worked last year, and what will work in 2009. Often, commercial printing involves being part of a large-scale branding effort. Our print design and web design departments also need to stay up to date on the latest trends. So when Advertising Age came out with its list of brand winners from 2008, it seemed like the perfect time to do a little trend tracking… Balanced Ad Channels One thing that really stood out for me was the balance popular brands seem to be maintaining between different forms of advertisement. TV commercials are almost always accompanied by outdoor print buys, while direct mail printing channels consumer attention towards a website with games or video to created extended brand engagement. Brand Activism The biggest trend, in print, online, and on the air over the last year seems to have been brand activism. Companies as diverse as Jim Beam, American Express, and Haagen-Dazs launched campaigns to raise brand appeal and awareness through […]

Is It The Dawn of A New Era Of Advertising?

Is It The Dawn of A New Era Of Advertising?

Are we ready to bring meaning to consumer-land? Deep down in the distant past of every advertising hack and marketing guru lies a childhood dream of being a writer, an artist, a musician, or some other form of storyteller. In short, although we didn't know it at the time, we dreamed of becoming a “creative.” The unfortunate result, as Chief Marketing Strategist Bob Gilbreath points out in this month's issue of AdAge, is that we somehow become members of one of the most despised professions on the planet. The typical media-savvy consumer sees advertising as tricky, manipulative, time-wasting, and worst, in the case of print advertising, an eyesore. That being said, those of us involved in full color print design are pretty lucky. We often get to exert our creative talents in the development of concert posters, DVD covers, vehicle wraps, and event invitations – all pieces of media that straddle the fence between advertising and art. However, in many […]

Writing Good Ad Copy

Writing Good Ad Copy

Read the previous post for part one of this series. Odds are not everyone is going to overthink the bit of sign printing discussed in the last post quite to the degree that I have. In fact, as good as that copy is, it's not the kind of copy that's designed to really catch anyone's attention. Rather, the slogan, in all its skillfulness, is probably striving to avoid drawing too much attention to itself by being utterly apolitical. In the world of TV advertising, on the other hand, Obama's ad copy folks are all about making us sit up and pay attention. In two new ads, one for West Virginia, and one for South Dakota, a voiceover by Obama concludes with the words, “I approved this message BECAUSE…” Isn't that neat? It made me react right away, because I'd never really heard anything like it before. We all know that the candidate voiceover of approval is necessary to the vaunted […]

Design Critique of the YouTube/CNN Dem Debate

Design Critique of the YouTube/CNN Dem Debate

When design and politics get into bed together… When good design becomes a must in the political process, that process becomes increasingly accessible for the voter. But does the expense and savvy required for good design also equal decreased access to a fair electoral process for candidates? At Hotcards, we print promotional and advertising materials for political campaigns and election campaigns of all sizes. We've worked on everything from national election campaigns, to very small, very local election campaigns taking place in our own backyard. Differences in budget and resources make large vs. small-scale campaigns two very different animals, which is something I often tell customers when they ask about the elaborate print displays used by, for example, the current Presidential candidates. Over the last week, I've done a lot of talking to Hotcards customers about the big YouTube/CNN Democratic Debate. Obviously, a lot of work went into the design of that debate forum. The atmosphere was all fuzzy light […]

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