Dolby is revolutionizing TV.

Every year, we get super excited about CES since it’s basically the Super Bowl of the digital world. This year is no different, with the major draw being new televisions technologies – 3D, 4K and curved screens. All of which sounds awesome but are mostly iterative upgrades to the HD TVs that were introduced 15 years ago.

Enter Dolby Vision, which is Dolby’s latest product. Although the company is best known as an audio giant, Dolby (one of our new most favorite clients) has unleashed a new way to visually experience television. Instead of focusing on resolution like so many other companies, Dolby has focused on brightness and how it can help mimic what the eye sees in the real world.

Without getting too technical, the unit of measurement for brightness is a ‘nit.’ Currently, displays have an average peak brightness of 100 nits, which is the same reference level from forever ago. Modern televisions take that signal and match it to their peak brightness – typically 400-500 nits. But to put it in perspective, the human eye experiences a much wider range in real life – anywhere from 0.0001 nits to 1.6 billion nits.

With Dolby Vision, Dolby has basically created a signal that allows viewers to experience a new kind of imagery that shows a wider range of colors, brightness and detail. In other words, it makes anything on TV seem unbelievably real by utilizing a signal that allows for a much larger range of nits and produces a true-to-life image. And yes, it is completely amazing when you see it.

We were lucky enough to team up with Dolby on this project, and trust us – Dolby Vision is off the hook. Check it out for yourself.

01. 13. 2014

Skateboards get artsy.

If there exists a more perfect pairing than Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei and skateboarding, you’d be hard-pressed to find one. Weiwei recently teamed up with SK8room to collaborate on three skateboard decks, which feature some of his most famous works.

Ai Weiwei, who is perhaps best known for his strong criticism of the Chinese government, joins the growing list of artists who have partnered with SK8room for similar projects, including Banksy and Damien Hirst. Weiwei’s decks pull from his installation pieces, Sunflower Seeds and He Xie, as well as his film, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, and feature quotes from the artist. To add to the awesomeness of the project, part of the proceeds goes toward Skateistan, a nonprofit NGO that helps empower youth through skateboarding and education.

The project combines three things that we are passionate about: art, skateboarding and doing good in the world. So for that, we give Ai Weiwei and SK8room two big fucking thumbs up.

10. 07. 2013

Saying goodbye to a jazz pioneer.

At THIS IS RED, we are passionate about jazz. We love its innovative and collaborative nature. We love how it pushes limits and invites everyone to sit down and join in. And we love that Marian McPartland was a true embodiment of the spirit of jazz.

The little girl that would grow up to become jazz pianist Marian McPartland started out in England as a music prodigy, surrounded by and trained in classical music. But jazz captured her heart and became her passion. After entertaining troops in her native England during WWII, Marian headed to New York City and its vibrant jazz community.

Marian was a groundbreaker – as a white, British woman breaking into the jazz scene in the 1950’s, she had the cards stacked against her. In 1952 she landed a permanent gig at The Hickory House, a noisy steakhouse on 52nd Street that was the center of the city's jazz scene. There she spent a decade collaborating and performing with everyone of note on the jazz scene – from Duke Ellington to Mary Wilson to Thelonious Monk.

In 1964, McPartland started spinning jazz records on a New York radio station where other pianists would drop by the studio unannounced, just to chat with their friend. A casual hello became a regular program in April 1979 with the launch of what would become the longest running cultural show on NPR - Piano Jazz.

Marian McPartland passed away last night, leaving us with the legacy of a woman who was as much a lady and beloved friend as she was a trailblazer and an inspiration. Her contributions as a pianist, radio host, educator, mentor, writer and composer will be treasured.

08. 21. 2013

Make your own Mini Me.

Like something straight out of Austin Powers, now you can get your own Mini Me. They’re called Mixee Me and while they’re not living miniature clones, they’re still pretty cool.

The figurines are the brainchild of Nancy Liang and Aaron Barnet, who make up the team at Mixee Labs. The Mixees are easily customizable through the free online design tool, which feels a bit like making a character on the Nintendo Wii. The design tool utilizes Blender, open-source software that allows people to design their Mixees without the knowledge required by traditional modeling software.

On a broader scale, Mixee Labs functions as a platform for people to create 3D products and sell them online. Currently you can find products from different creators, including jewelry, cufflinks and wallets.

The idea of 3D printing is catching on and is something that’s still primarily used to explore the technology. However, Barnet anticipates 3D printing will eventually focus more on custom manufacturing – but for now, the Mixees are enough.

08. 07. 2013

Viva la vinyl.

With the Nielsen SoundScan mid-year report being released, there are a few clear trends emerging in the music industry:

  1. Digital sales are declining
  2. And are being replaced by streaming services
  3. Vinyl sales are kicking ass

The first two points aren't surprising, but the last one? Vinyl is making a comeback thanks to bands like Daft Punk and Vampire Weekend. So far, vinyl sales are up 33.5% compared to the same period in 2012.

All of which makes Universal Music's latest project seem pretty damn smart. UVinyl, the label's vinyl branch, is launching "The Vinyl Project," a crowd-funded service that will release limited-editions of deleted albums if demand is high enough. Think of it as the Kickstarter of records. Currently, The Jackson 5's "ABC," Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and Sonic Youth's "Goo" are being considered for release.

So while dads and hipsters alike celebrate vinyl's return, we're still crossing our fingers that our piles of cassettes will someday be cool again. Just kidding – we're vinyl fans, too.

07. 23. 2013

Why you should resize that shit.

Let's start off by saying that as of last month, an estimated 56% of American adults own smartphones. Add that to the fact that tablet sales are expected to surpass PC sales by 2015 and you start to wonder why everything isn't optimized for mobile if more and more consumers are accessing the internet that way.

But the idea of creating an entirely different site for mobile users can seem daunting for companies from both a budgetary and analytical standpoint, which is exactly why responsive design has taken off in the last year. We've been shouting responsive design's praises since before it was cool and still consider it a great option for clients – but why?

In a nutshell, responsive design uses queries to determine the resolution of a device and then uses flexible images and grids to size everything correctly for that specific display. The end result is a single website that works well on just about every device – whether it's a desktop, tablet or smartphone.

The benefits of responsive design are pretty clear: you build and manage one website that works well across all devices. We could keep boring you with reasons to get on the bandwagon, but we'd rather you check out a game that shows off responsive design at its coolest. So go ahead – resize that shit.

07. 18. 2013

Calling all muggles.

If you're like us, you're still waiting for your acceptance letter from Hogwarts to arrive in the mail. Sadly, we're starting to think that we're actually muggles and will never get to be sorted (we'd definitely be Gryffindors). But thanks to Google Street View, muggles can still check out Diagon Alley, which is the wizard equivalent of Rodeo Drive.

Street View allows users to explore the Diagon Alley set that was used throughout the filming of the eight Harry Potter movies. The set itself is part of the London-based Warner Bros. studio tour where visitors can see various sets and props in-person.

Like previous Street View projects, Google's latest addition focuses less on actual directions and more on giving users a chance to virtually explore areas that they otherwise might not be able to, such as the Louvre or the Great Barrier Reef. And for us muggles, we think that's pretty damn awesome.

07. 10. 2013

Perrier adds some pop (art).

How does an iconic brand celebrate its 150th anniversary? – By paying tribute to an equally iconic artist. At the end of the month, Perrier will be rolling out limited-edition bottles inspired by Andy Warhol to celebrate the milestone.

The bottles also mark the 30th anniversary of Perrier’s original collaboration with Warhol. Back in 1983, Warhol was commissioned by Perrier to create a series of prints that evoked the beauty of the brand’s signature teardrop bottles. The collection will showcase four different label designs, which will also feature some famous Warhol-isms. Available on June 24, the bottles will be part of a larger campaign that will give one lucky winner an original Andy Warhol work – his 1978 “Space Fruit: Lemons” screenprint.

We’re anxious to get our hands on some bottles and for Perrier to kick off its sweepstakes. Until then we’ll just have to wait… but as Warhol claimed, the idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting.

06. 19. 2013

A Simple Solution.

At THIS IS RED, we are all about technology and we love our gadgets. But what we really love is when smart people use their big brains to create simple solutions to real problems.

According to the World Health Organization, 250,000 women die from cervical cancer every year. And 30% of those women are from India. A lack of resources, laboratory infrastructure and trained medical staff has made it impossible to create and implement screening programs.

However, the results of a clinical trial that the National Cancer Institute performed in India may change that number through the power of a very simple solution - vinegar. NCI researchers borrowed a tried-and-true method called visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) and used trained local women and a 4% vinegar solution. With this method, results of the test are visible to the naked eye within just one minute using a special light and if abnormal cells are noted, next steps are taken for formal diagnosis through the national health plan.

The results of the study, released Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago showed a 31% reduction in cancer deaths during the course of the trial.

The study results are a really big deal - something so low-tech has the potential to reach tens of thousands of women in developing countries. Not just saving their lives but also employing local women to perform the procedure. Empowering women and saving their lives.

That's not just smart. It's heroic.

06. 04. 2013

Skee ball for the internet age.

One of the best parts of summer is wasting time in an arcade trying to win enough tickets for some $5 prize. But since you’ve probably outgrown your arcade days, Google’s offering the next best thing: skee ball at home.

Officially called Roll It, the latest Chrome Experiment mimics the classic arcade game by turning your smartphone and desktop into a Wii-like setup across two screens. Utilizing the phone’s accelerometer, you can control the speed and release of the ball, which then makes its way to your desktop screen.

In addition to being multi-device, the game is also multi-player, allowing up to three players – because the only thing sadder than losing at skee ball is playing solo and losing.

05. 30. 2013

Memorial Day, aka Bluth Weekend.

It’s here – Memorial Day weekend, otherwise known as the weekend of cookouts and beer. But this year it also signals the return of the greatest cult television show, Arrested Development.

Arrested Development hasn’t been on the air since 2006 and since then, a little company named Netflix changed how people watch TV. The show’s trajectory has been a strange one that started with it being canceled by Fox due to low ratings. It then moved to Netflix’s streaming service, where it developed a crazy fanbase. And now it’s poised to return as Netflix’s third foray in original programming, with 15 new episodes set to release on Sunday.

For years, fans have been teased by the prospect of another season or a possible movie. And this Memorial Day weekend, they’ll lock themselves in their houses to binge-watch their favorite dysfunctional family for hours on end. After all, family first.

05. 24. 2013

Lamborghini built the Batmobile, basically.

Lamborghini is celebrating its 50th anniversary in style with its Lamborghini Egoista, which is basically the real life equivalent of the Batmobile. The car was designed specifically with architecture and materials in mind, and it is truly a thing of beauty.

The futuristic Egoista (which translates to ‘selfish’ in Italian) was designed by Walter De Silva, the head designer of the Volkswagen group, and features some badass architecture that was inspired by an apache helicopter. Case in point, the car features a single seat cockpit that can be ejected in case of emergency. The overall idea was to combine a jet aircraft with a road vehicle, creating a new hybrid travel option.

With its sleek carbon fiber design and killer features, the car was designed for people who only want the “most extreme and special things in the world,” according to De Silva. We’re pretty sure that Bruce Wayne would thereby approve.

05. 15. 2013

Doodles on doodles.

It’s that time of year again – Google’s sixth-annual Doodle 4 Google contest is upon us, and there are only a few days left to vote for which will be featured on Google’s homepage.

Every year, Google holds a drawing contest for kids aged K-12, who are asked to think big and redesign the iconic logo based on a theme. This year’s theme is “My Best Day Ever…” and the competition has been narrowed down from 130,000 to 10.

But the honor of having one’s doodle featured on Google’s homepage isn’t the only prize. The winner will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship as well as a $50,000 technology grant for their school. We can’t think of a cooler way to celebrate the creativity and imagination of Google’s youngest users.

05. 06. 2013

This is how geeks rock out.

If there are two things that we can’t live without, it’s awesome guitars and Star Wars. So what could be better than combining the two?

It seems that Tom Bingham also agrees with us. The UK-based printer created a series of Star Wars-themed guitars that are based on spaceships from the movie, including the Millennium Falcon, and are built from recycled parts of cars. But the coolest part is that the guitars are also fully playable, so you can pretend to rock out at the Cantina.

And that’s very badass if you ask us.

04. 23. 2013

Would you eat paper?

Hopefully you wouldn’t eat plain paper but maybe if it tasted like Fanta and was made to be edible, which is the case with Fanta’s tasteable ad.

The ad was created to introduce consumers to the new, more “orangey sights, sounds and taste of Fanta” and is printed on fully edible rice paper, which is then inserted in a protective sleeve. The ad debuted in the Middle East, where the soda was preparing to re-launch with its new formula – meaning that trial of the product was key. And what better way to get people to try Fanta than by putting the fizzy drink right at their fingertips?

Although it claims to be the world’s first edible ad, Volkswagen beat Fanta to the punch a few years ago with its “Eat the road” ad. And while we’re a little hesitant to eat paper, we’d much rather taste a Fanta than the road...

04. 17. 2013

Win it, he did!!!

The votes are in and Master Yoda is victorious!!

The 900-year old Jedi master has emerged as the winner in This Is Madness: The Star Wars Character Tournament, battling it out against Darth Vader to win 60/40.

The Star Wars fanboy (and girl) answer to March Madness, This is Madness was created by Lucasfilms to settle once and for all who is the most popular Star Wars character. The online voting tournament brought together characters from the three films that George Lucas wrote, those three others that he didn't, and even Star Wars animation. Not surprisingly, Jar-Jar Binks didn't get an invite...

As with all battles, there were some heartbreaking losses. Early in the competition Han Solo lost to Obi-Wan Kenobi - and it was the Ewan MacGregor one, not the real Alec Guinness one, which made the upset especially tragic. Other contenders fell appropriately early, like Mace Windu and Qui-Gon Jinn. And the Dark Side had it's own share of upsets - Emperor Palpatine defeated Count Dooku, only to be be taken out by Bobba Fett. Fett, by the way, had to trounce Jango Fett to advance, thus throwing a little bit of patricide into the tournament mix.

In the end, there can be only one. And of course it's Yoda, continuing to prove that no one should underestimate the little guy with the wacky syntax.

04. 09. 2013

Twitter turns 7.

It’s hard to believe that seven years ago, Twitter came into existence with one incredibly simple tweet from co-founder Jack Dorsey: “just setting up my twttr”

Over the past few years, Twitter has grown to over 200 million active users, and in the process has become more than a place for people to express trivial thoughts. In its goal to be the world’s town hall, it has become a breaking news source.

The Osama bin Laden raid? Twitter broke it. The Arab Spring? You can thank Twitter. President Obama’s re-election announcement? Well, that’s now the most re-tweeted message in history.

So here’s to Twitter’s 7th year – because it’s hard to imagine one without it.

03. 21. 2013

Polaroid gets physical.

How does Polaroid, a company built on instant camera prints, remain relevant in the Instagram era? - By opening physical Fotobars across the country.

Initially an online-only option, Fotobar stores will let people stop in and print their digital photos on anything from acrylic to bamboo. And on top of allowing users to select photos from various social networks, Fotobars will also let people edit and apply filters before printing. But the best reason for the Fotobar concept is that it lets people touch and feel prints in-store before ordering their own. Polaroid plans on launching several Fotobars in 2013, with the first store set to open in Delray Beach, FL in February.

As digital photo enthusiasts, we like the idea and think it's a step toward reinventing Polaroid in the digital age - but we'll always have a soft spot for the original Polaroid prints.

01. 07. 2013

So long, 2012.

With the year coming to a close, we've been thinking about what we loved most about 2012. In a year that gave us the London Olympics (and Ryan Lochte's wisdom), binders full of women and the most popular tweet of all time, there's plenty to love. So to help you reminisce, we've put together a few of our favorite songs from the last year.

Here's to 2012.

12. 12. 2012

Laughing in the face of death...kind of.

Apparently we're not the only ones with a twisted sense of humor. "Dumb Ways to Die", the animated train-safety PSA for the Melbourne Metro, grabbed the #1 spot on YouTube's 20 Most-Shared Ads in November List.

The viral video, with over 31 million views, shows cute little blobs facing preventable deaths as they sing along to a catchy tune. According to the lyrics, a few dumb ways to die would be to "invite a psycho killer inside" or "scratch a drug dealer's brand new ride"-- but the dumbest way of all is to behave carelessly around trains.

But how do you warn people about a safety issue without letting them know that they're being warned? Apparently "Dumb Ways to Die" has it figured out. It's happy and funny (the opposite of what you would expect from a PSA), making it impossible not to share.

Moral of the story? When in doubt, adorable singing blobs will do the trick.

12. 06. 2012

Our favorite holiday spirit.

Mark Twain once said, "Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough."

We agree with Mr. Twain, which is why we think this Whiskey Advent Calendar from Drinks by the Dram is awesome. As you count down to Christmas, you can sample a 30ml bottle of whiskey for each of the 24 days. There's even a sample of a 50-year-old single malt Scotch (the full-size bottle is valued at €350). Don't like whiskey? They've got a Ginvent Calendar, too.

So now you have an excuse to drink every night – as if you need an excuse.

11. 30. 2012

Our ode to the Mars Rover.

The Mars Curiosity rover has officially been nominated as TIME's Person of the Year. And as a group of self-professed Star Wars loving, technophile nerds, we haven't been this excited since we saw the Iron Man 3 trailer.

Only three months into a two-year mission, Curiosity has already greatly advanced our understanding of Mars by providing new data and over 23,000 raw images from her drive around the Red Planet.

And let's not forget that Curiosity has her own personality. The rover has its own Twitter account (@MarsCuriosity) and has even checked in on FourSquare, where she let everyone know that "extra moisturizer and sturdy shoes would be a good idea, plus oxygen for those of you who breathe."

But the real reason we love Curiosity? - She's the Bill Nye of 2012, making science cool again and spreading the word.

11. 28. 2012

The power of storytelling.

If there's one thing we truly believe, it's that storytelling is paramount in marketing. With any successful campaign or ad,there exists a compelling story; but how do you measure that value? In other words, can you quantify the ROI of a brand story?

The answer is yes - just ask, a site that experiments with quantifying the power of a story at product level. The site buys objects from thrift stores, garage sales, etc. and then writes a storyabout each product, thereby adding value through pure fiction. On average, the original products cost $1.29 but retail on eBay for $36.12, which is a 2706% increase.

If that's not solid proof of the objective value of a story then we don't know what is. Storytelling isn't just marketing jargon - it's a way to connect with your audience and build your brand. And that's the real power of a good story.

11. 13. 2012

Congratulations, President Obama. And math nerds.

The 2012 election concluded at 11:14pm on Tuesday with President Obama sending out a simple tweet that read: "This happened because of you. Thank you."

No disrespect to the President, but the clear winner of the election is Nate Silver, the most triumphant math nerd in the last four years, made famous by his FiveThirtyEight blog. In the 2008 election, Silver correctly predicted all but one state (Indiana, which went to Obama by a thin margin). And in 2012? - Well, he went 50 for 50. Technically, 51 for 51 if you include the District of Columbia. That is no small feat.

We're sure Karl Rove is somewhere disputing this - but the results are in, and data is the new king. Math nerds everywhere, crack open a beer because you're the official badasses of politics.

11. 08. 2012

Obama v. Romney: brand edition.

With one week left until Election Day, everyone and their mother seems to be choosing parties. Facebook and Twitter aside, people are also showing their allegiance in true American fashion - consumerism. Throughout the election cycle, brands have been leveraging the political climate to market anything from chicken to dolls.

Although other brands like JetBlue and Cheetos have all conducted similar unscientific polls, the most interesting is 7-Eleven's "7-Election" poll. From the end of September through Election Day, customers can choose between Obama, Romney or nonpartisan coffee cups. Results are continually updated on 7-Eleven's website where users can view the breakdown in "votes" by state and city.

As of this posting, President Obama leads Governor Romney in the 7-Election poll in all but three states. And even though this is far from scientific, 7-Eleven has correctly predicted the winner since its first poll in 2000.

But can 7-Eleven go 4 for 4?

10. 30. 2012

TV's new best friend

It seems that television has found its new BFF in Twitter. Over the last few years, Twitter has quickly become a second screen to television - a storytelling companion of sorts.

Given that 95% of public social conversation about TV happens on Twitter and that 25% of the American audience tweets about TV, it seems like a logical conclusion. With every major television event simultaneously occurring on Twitter feeds, the social platform has moved from live TV's companion to a user-generated, real-time TV guide.

Fred Graver, Twitter's head of TV, put forth the idea that Twitter has the ability to move from TV companion to TV guide to a new TV rating system. It's an interesting idea that we think has merit, especially in the era of streaming services, but it will need to move well beyond sentiment analysis to have any real meaning.

But for now, we'll keep tweeting about The Walking Dead. #spreadthedead

10. 25. 2012

Print shows its digital side.

We've all heard the story that print is dead - but that's not entirely true. On one hand, there's no denying that print sales have declined due to their digital counterparts; but on the other hand, advertisers are finding unique ways to turn print into an interactive experience.

Take the recent CW ad in the October 5th issue of Entertainment Weekly, which featured a small LCD screen that showed previews of new shows. And to make the experience full-circle, the screen also displayed a live Twitter feed from the @CW_Network account.

Bigger brands like Lexus are getting in on the action, too. In the upcoming October 15th Sports Illustrated, the ad features a Lexus ES changing colors, turning on its headlights and even driving with the help of an iPad. It's multi-sensory - meaning it's basically a commercial on paper.

There's no doubt that print has to evolve to remain relevant - but is this the future of print advertising?

10. 10. 2012

Happy Birthday, John!

"I'm glad it's your birthday; Happy birthday to you." Happy 72nd, Mr. Lennon!

10. 09. 2012

YouTube gets political.

Social media played a key role in the 2008 presidential election, but in 2012 its influence and reach will be even broader as it makes its way into the mainstream with YouTube set to live stream all four debates, starting this Wednesday. Since 2008, there has been a 223% and 609% increase in Facebook and Twitter users, respectively. And approximately 82% of all adults get their election news online.

So why does it matter? For the first time, people will be able to view the debates live via phones and tablets, which also means that people can tune in around the world, despite geographic location. And with Twitter and Facebook, the sense of how the debates unfold occurs in real-time. Voters no longer have to wait for political columns to analyze the debates; all they have to do is check their feed for updates and opinions from pundits, news sources and peers.

In a nutshell, the election process is more digital than ever - and more available to the masses than ever. We're interested to see if the candidates can keep up…

10. 02. 2012

Google just blew Apple out of the water.

With all of the commotion over Apple's Salvador Dali inspired Maps, Google has quietly reasserted itself as King of Maps by launching its underwater Street View feature.

By adding the first underwater panoramic images to Google Maps, Google is continuing its mission to create “the most comprehensive, accurate and usable map of the world.” (Re Apple’s maps are pretty inaccurate.)

All Apple Maps jokes aside, the new underwater feature from Google is delightfully awesome. Users are able to explore six coral reefs from around the world, including Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii. To create the stunning images, Google teamed up with The Catlin Seaview Survey, which used a specially designed underwater camera.

Google has already made it easier to navigate and discover the world around us with its Art Project and Indoor Maps. And with the addition of underwater Street View, now we can explore the Great Barrier Reef – without ever having to get wet.

09. 26. 2012

Food trucks go footwear.

Cole Haan is combining the food truck concept with footwear, taking the brand's Chelsea pumps to the streets. As part of a larger social & events-based campaign, the mobile truck store provides VIP passes to exclusive events in NYC along with other prizes.

The campaign features the slogan 'Don't Go Home,' which emphasizes the Nike Air technology used. The claim? - That you can wear the shoe for 20 hours, making it easy to go out (and stay out) after work. More importantly, the campaign aims to get the brand off the page and on the streets by using the food truck and social media instead of traditional print.

Retailing at close to $300, we're not sure how many shoes the truck will actually sell. But for the city that never sleeps, the 'Don't Go Home' campaign seems fitting, if not entirely appropriate.

09. 20. 2012

Why we (and a lot of brands) still love Instagram.

Let’s not beat around the bush – we love Instagram even if it is teetering on the edge of overuse. But some brands have figured out unique ways to incorporate Instagram successfully – including Johnnie Walker & Sports Illustrated – with the help of some kickass Instagrammers.

Johnnie Walker, maker of delicious whiskey, recently turned its Facebook cover photo into an interactive Instagram stream. Three Instagrammers (@chrisozer, @philgonzalez & @awnoom) were commissioned to help tell the brand’s story by curating photos that feed directly to the Facebook cover photo. Each week will feature a different brand-related journey until the end of September, at which point fans will be able to submit their Instagram shots.

Similar to Johnnie Walker, Sports Illustrated commissioned @bmangin to bring the Instagram treatment to the pages of SI, which is known for its iconic sports imagery. In July, Sports Illustrated showcased shots from the MLB in a six-page feature. The magazine took to Instagram again for NFL training camps and curated pictures from its staffs’ personal accounts.

The growing use of Instagram by brands signifies an important intersection between socialization and branding. More importantly, it shows how critical storytelling is to the success of branded content – because at its core, a series of pictures is really just a well-told narrative.

09. 13. 2012

Zappos sells more than shoes?

Seriously – did anyone know that Zappos sells stuff other than shoes? Well it does and apparently the company is trying to expand its reputation beyond just shoes, which is why it launched PinPointing.

PinPointing is a new service that acts as a personal shopper, recommending products from the Zappos online store based on users' boards. People can search for boards created by Pinterest users, including friends and celebrities, and will get a list of products based on that user's pins.

While it's an interesting approach to social shopping, it still has a long way to go. The recommendation engine seems more concerned with keywords than the actual pinned image, which means that some recommendations make no sense. An image captioned “Nancy Reagan and Mr. T, circa 1983” (it exists!) produced an entire list of Circa shoes. Not quite, Zappos.

We're not sure how much this will ultimately help sales for Zappos' parent company, Amazon. But we somehow doubt Amazon is all that worried.

09. 06. 2012

Campbell's Soup goes hipster.

You may as well slap a pair of oversized black glasses on the Campbell's soup cans – the company is going hipster. In order to reach the younger demographic (think lazy college kids), Campbell's is rolling out a series of microwaveable soups that come in a pouch and feature flavors like Moroccan Style Chicken with Chickpeas.

To revitalize sales and differentiate, Campbell's turned to hipster hubs like Austin, Portland and San Fran to find inspiration via food trucks and local eateries. The result? The Campbell's Go! line, featuring six ethnic-influenced, gourmet-type soups.

Both the product and the packaging are a far cry from the traditional flavors and cans that we associate with the brand – but that could be a good thing. While the company will continue to celebrate the can, it will also expand to "simple-meals."

Although the line has yet to debut on shelves, we're sure hipsters everywhere have already tried it and think it's no longer cool. But we're still excited to try it anyway.

08. 29. 2012

Is Medium the internet's next darling?

Medium, which is the newest baby of the Blogger & Twitter creators at Obvious Corp., debuted last week as an alternative publishing platform. It's been described as a hybrid between Tumblr and Pinterest, which we think is accurate – at least on the surface. The platform features a killer barebones aesthetic with carefully structured templates; it's image-heavy but offers gratuitous white space. In short, it's beautiful.

But where it differs and where it aims to set itself apart is within the underlying structure. Whereas traditional web content structure dictates that reverse chronological order trumps all, Medium gives precedence to what's deemed as good content, not necessarily the newest.

Which means that Medium, fundamentally, is arguing that the web is littered with unimportant content that ultimately distracts from our reading experiences. And we kind of agree, but the verdict is still out on whether or not there's an audience for this platform.

Even if Medium isn't the next Twitter, it's still a breath of fresh air. It's pretty, stylish & no-nonsense — meaning, it can certainly be our next darling.

08. 21. 2012

Why Twitter won gold at the Olympics.

Goodbye, 2012 Olympics. We’re going to miss the (delayed) excitement, the Michael Phelps kickassery & the weirdly British ceremonies. But most of all, we’re going to miss having something to tweet about.

Over the course of sixteen days, the Games generated 150 million tweets, equaling about one for every Twitter user. And the event that caused the most tweets-per-minute wasn’t even a sporting event – it was the return of the Spice Girls, sans platform shoes, which generated 116,000 TPM.

And while Twitter provided plenty of spoilers for us in the States, it also provided a peek into the athletes’ lives and behind-the-scenes access through Instagram. This was the first Olympics where we felt a little less like passive observers and a little more like truly vested fans. We got to follow our favorite athletes on our own terms – making these Herculean competitors seem a little more human.

From Usain Bolt to Gabby Douglas to Hope Solo’s ridiculous diving save, we loved every minute – and every hashtag.


08. 14. 2012

Books + Beer = Drunk nerd heaven

It seems like a lot of crazy novelty stores have been popping up lately. Don’t get us wrong – we love Greek yogurt as much as the next person, but we somehow doubt an entire Chobani store is necessary.

One store concept that we can get behind is a used bookstore that sells beer and wine. Better yet, a used bookstore that lets you trade your used books for beer and wine. Brilliant.

Molasses Books is doing just that – combining literature with alcohol. The bookshop is located in Brooklyn and was started by Matthew Winn, who dreamed of opening a well-curated bookshop where visitors could spend some time & grab a good beer.

Winn believes that the physical bookstore is just as valuable in the 21st century – you just have to give people a reason to come and stick around.

We think beer is a great reason.

08. 09. 2012

Welcome to the digital age, NBC.

In case you missed it, the 2012 Olympics have begun – the key word being '2012,' which is something that NBC apparently forgot. Thinking that it's still 1992, the network is already under fire for using old school media tactics (just look up #nbcfail on Twitter). Instead of airing marquee sports live on television, the network has decided to delay many events until prime time in order to boost ratings and optimize advertising in hopes of recouping the $1.8B charged by the IOC for the rights to broadcast.

While this certainly isn't a new concept, the idea of social media playing a critical role in dissemination of results is. Meaning if you checked Twitter on Saturday morning, you already knew that Ryan Lochte beat out Michael Phelps – but you didn't get to see it until around 8pm EST.

And while NBC is offering live streaming of all events online, many still feel that the network should utilize its sister channels to broadcast the events as they happen instead of making users opt for a subpar streaming experience filled with pixelated images and excessive buffering.

As we see it, people have two options: ignore Twitter for the next two weeks or be forced to live stream all events. Neither is realistic and both spoil the fun of the Olympics. But as apparent slaves to old business models, what other choice do we have?

08. 02. 2012

Anthony Bourdain, consider this our love letter.

Nowadays, everybody seems to have a favorite chef. Sure, Giada is pretty and says “mozzarella” like it's nobody's business, and yeah, Bobby Flay's food always looks delicious; but here, we prefer Anthony Bourdain (we even have a Pinterest board named after him). The chef-turned-author-turned-TV host is the Keith Richards of the kitchen—he's badass and he just doesn't give a shit what you think.

Naturally, we like him because of his culinary knowledge and all-around snarky remarks. But with the release of his first graphic novel, “Get Jiro!” we think we're in love. The graphic novel follows sushi chef Jiro around a semi-futuristic L.A. and functions mainly as a culinary satire about society & America's obsession with food. The comic is written by Bourdain and illustrated by Langdon Foss.

“Get Jiro!” is basically Ratatouille + Kill Bill with Bourdain's signature touch. Honestly, does it get much better?

07. 25. 2012

Hi, we're THIS IS RED and we're addicted to The Cools.

If you haven't signed up for The Cools yet, we highly recommend that you do. Why? Imagine if Tumblr and Etsy had a kickass, beautiful baby. That's why.

The site is a little bit social, a little bit ecommerce and a lot of curation. Similar to other social sites, users are able to customize their feed to feature certain types of products. The Cools also emphasizes organic discovery of clothing and lifestyle products, something that most ecommerce sites, like Amazon, fail to do.

But what really sets The Cools apart is that it's a one-stop destination. Unlike Pinterest, users never have to leave the site to purchase a product. And with its sleek interface, it's easy to get lost in the continuously scrolling feed for a few minutes… or hours.

It's addicting. But don’t worry—we won't say, “I told you so” whenever you check into rehab.

07. 19. 2012

3 reasons to get excited about the Olympics.

If you haven't heard, the 2012 Olympics start on July 27. And while we loved everything about the Beijing Games, there are 3 important things that we're overly excited about for the London edition:

1) Sir Paul McCartney
C'mon, do we need to say more? It's Macca, people. We'd watch the opening ceremony just for him.

2) Socialympics
Throughout the last four years, social media has grown like a bad weed and is expected to change the way we, and athletes, experience the 2012 Games. To put it into perspective, there were only 18.9m smartphones in 2008, compared to 106.7m now. And tablets? Well, they weren't even around for Beijing.

3) Live streaming
Everything, and we mean everything, will be live-streamed for the first time. That equals roughly 325 hours per day and is a 121% increase in coverage from 2008. So if you have 5,530 hours to spare, you can watch every minute of the Olympics.

We're also pumped to watch Michael Phelps kick some ass—but mainly because we want to live tweet about it. We're so 2012.

07. 16. 2012

Beer makes the world a better place.

If there's one thing we enjoy more than beer, it's drinking beer that makes us feel like standup citizens. And that's exactly what Molson Canadian is doing with its Red Leaf Project, which is comprised of 100 park projects across Canada.

The premise is simple: do some good, get some awesome. Meaning if you help out at one of the parks, you get rewarded with concert tickets. Too busy to get out to a park? All you have to do is pick up a case of Molson, which comes with a free PIN printed on a tree seed-loaded coaster. After you enter your PIN for a chance to score tickets, you can plant that bad boy in the ground.

So go pick up a case of Molson, plant your tree and kick back with your brew. Because that's what good citizens do.

07. 10. 2012

Louis C.K. is sticking it to the man.

We would just like to say that Louis C.K. is awesome. In addition to the return of his show Louie on Thursday, C.K. has just announced his upcoming tour dates.

Taking a cue from the digital self-distribution of his $5 comedy special (which raised $1 million in 12 days), C.K. is going to exclusively sell tickets on his website for a flat $45, regardless of venue. By cutting the middleman, C.K. aims to make his shows more affordable for fans by nixing the ridiculous fees & taxes.

We love that C.K. is challenging the traditional model of ticket sales, because let's face it—nobody likes buying tickets from Ticketmaster. But more importantly, we think it's pretty cool that C.K. is focusing on doing well by doing good.

So grab your tickets because they're sure to go fast. And as Louie says—see you on the road, bitches.

06. 26. 2012

Spend your doodles like cash money.

It's a well-known fact that everybody loves free stuff and the things that people would do for a free t-shirt are probably downright shameful. But thanks to the Clarion Hotel in Stockholm, people can score a free hotel room without having to do anything embarrassing.

As part of its Room For Art initiative, which was inspired by NYC's Chelsea Hotel, visitors can exchange artwork for one night in a room as long as it's signed by the artist and can fit onA4-sized paper. The program fits with the hotel's MO to live for art & music (or at least incorporate both into the design of the space).

So go ahead and get your stick figure doodling on because the Clarion Hotel will apparently accept meaningless squiggles. After all, art is subjective.

06. 13. 2012

Hey, Times Square—Las Vegas just one-upped you.

If there's one thing we're sure of it's that Las Vegas isn't exactly known for its modesty. So when we found out that the city would soon be host to the country's largest Ferris wheel, standing at 500 feet tall, we weren't surprised.

What did surprise us is the fact that the Ferris wheel will also include a 50,000 square foot LED sign on both sides of the wheel, making it the largest physical branding vehicle in the country. But signage alone would be too little, which is why the wheel will turn each of the passenger gondolas into their own brand showrooms.

A little much? Perhaps. We think that the developer, Howard Bulloch, put it best by comparing the mammoth wheel to “experiential marketing on steroids.” But hey, that's Vegas, baby.

06. 07. 2012

The badass circle of life: From skate to surf.

There are cool ways to recycle and then there are badass ways to recycle. Björn Holm, a Finnish designer, prefers the latter. After collecting broken skateboards from the streets and skate parks, he began his RETO (REcycle for TOmorrow) project, which transformed the old decks into one insanely beautiful surfboard.

The hollow fish surfboard stands at 6'4 and is fully functional. And best of all, it keeps old skateboards out of landfills. As Mr. Holm would say, “Don't throw those boards away, keep them and make something beautiful!”

We advise you check out his site. He seems pretty cool—after all, his nickname is Bobo. And for some US love, check out Art of Board, an equally awesome skateboard recycling meets design initiative.

06. 01. 2012

The view from 29,029 feet up.

At one point in your life, you probably said that you wanted to climb Mount Everest. Granted, you were probably ten—but still. We've since given up on our goal, but thanks to National Geographic and The North Face global athlete team, we can vicariously live through them.

The team documented their climb, which concluded on Friday, using Instagram and the hashtag #oneverest. People were able to track the 2012 Everest Expedition's progress as well as check out photos from the trek, which are all pretty badass.

Since we've already put away our winter gear due to the 90 degree temperatures, we'll settle for electronically reaching the summit. That still counts for our bucket list, right?

05. 29. 2012

Steal Like An Artist.

We stumbled across the work of Austin Kleon and can't stop obsessing over it. Kleon, who describes himself as a writer who draws, has written two wildly successful books, Newspaper Blackout and Steal Like An Artist. The latter is an illustrated manifesto that was inspired by 10 things that Kleon wished he had been told after graduating college. In the spirit of Friday & America (happy Memorial Day!), we thought we'd pay it forward.

05. 25. 2012

Holy viral marketing, Batman!

Summer movies are upon us and as Uncle Ben once said, “with great summer blockbusters come great marketing campaigns.” (Or something like that.) And this year, The Dark Knight Rises & Prometheus are both doing it right with killer viral campaigns.

Focusing on social, The Dark Knight Rises had fans tweet pictures of Batman graffiti, which was placed in cities worldwide, to unlock frames of the official trailer. And Prometheus has created an equally buzz worthy campaign by turning an abandoned subway station in Paris into the creepy pre-Alien looking cave from the film.

Both campaigns have been highly successful at generating buzz leading up to the release dates. And while we're willing to bet this will be reflected in opening weekend numbers, we're also pretty sure that fan boys are drooling over the added excitement. And you know what? We don't blame them.

05. 23. 2012

Google, you're so smart.

The new Google Search is ready to roll out and it is just as creepily smart as we had hoped. So smart, in fact, that online search may never be the same again. Without getting too nerdy, we've outlined the major upgrades:

Goodbye, ambiguity
Searching for something with multiple meanings? Google will now ask you what you meant. So if you search ‘Penguins,’ you can tell Google to filter your results based on the hockey team, not the adorable animals.

Think things, not strings
Gone are the days of simple keywords. Your string of words will be understood as a ‘thing’ by Google and given context. Type in ‘New York’ and instead of seeing ‘New’ and ‘York,’ Google sees the US state.

Get your cheat sheet on
Say hello to Google summaries, aka the cheat sheet of search. Search for Andy Warhol and Google will spit back a brief bio, photos & related things that you may be interested in.

Google plans on releasing its brainchild across the US in the next few days. And did we mention that we're ridiculously excited to try it out? Because we are.

05. 17. 2012

Oh, you like Vampire Weekend? Let’s date.

It seems that new dating sites are being launched every day and each one focuses on another, unique way to connect future lovebirds. But while sites like Match & eHarmony typically match users based on personality tests, sites like find potential partners based on music taste.

The site is based on the simple idea that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like; and that an individual’s interests, especially music, say a lot about a person. And while that sounds a bit shallow, there's probably some truth in that.

So how does it work? Tastebuds just rolled out its Spotify app, which seamlessly integrates with your library & playlists to find users with similar taste. And of course, results can be filtered by gender, age & location.

But the absolute best part of Tastebuds? Once you deem a match worthy, you can channel your high school self and send them a mixtape. And since we all have two ears and a heart, make sure to include some Phil Collins.

05. 11. 2012

Storytelling in the social age.

Social media continues to shape and change how people interact and communicate, and the art of storytelling is no exception. We live day to day by storytelling and think that there’s something beautiful about telling stories though social platforms. But how do you leverage social media to create a cohesive narrative? Two social platforms, Cowbird & Storify, have a pretty good idea.

Behind every story lies a human experience, and Cowbird hopes to capture that. Cowbird has created a social platform for members to share, exchange and engage in stories. The goal? To pioneer a new form of participatory journalism that focuses on human stories behind major news events. Users can share their stories through photographs, text and audio as a sort of interactive, digital diary within Cowbird.

Storify differs in its approach. Whereas Cowbird functions more as a way for users to share their personal experiences, Storify allows users to curate from the web to create a social narrative surrounding an event. Members can aggregate updates, tweets, YouTube videos, photos, etc. and embed them in a dynamic article, which can then live on an external site or be shared through social networks.

Although their objectives differ, both sites are beautifully designed, easy to use, and incorporate striking visuals. Both allow users, whether an individual or a company, to create a more compelling story that begs to be shared and retold. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what great storytelling is about?

05. 09. 2012

History gets more permanent.

2011 was a crazy year full of cultural and historical significance. We witnessed everything from the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the Casey Anthony trial to the Dallas Maverick’s NBA Championship. In other words—that shit cray.

To celebrate and document some of the most newsworthy events of 2011, the masterminds at Chaos Crew Tattoo Studio in Munich, Germany created a massive mural tattoo on calfskin. The poster depicts the most important events of the year, including the Japanese earthquake & tsunami, the bombing on Utoya Island and Oslo in Norway, and the downfall of the Egyptian government. It also incorporates elements of pop culture by including illustrations of late cultural icons Steve Jobs and Amy Winehouse.

While creating the mural, Chaos Crew aimed to stay true to the motive of all great tattoos— to tell a story. By tattooing the design on real skin (albeit not human), it also promotes the art of tattooing in its most authentic form. And all of which is done with the simple message of “we get history under your skin."

The video says and shows it all. So get your instant popcorn ready, sit back and watch the awesomeness unfold.

05. 02. 2012

Denim is for beer lovers.

If you haven’t caught on, we like beer. We like beer so much that we wear our beer on our sleeves (when we spill, that is). But thanks to Bonobos, now we can wear our beer as jeans. The men’s clothing company has come out with its Bottle Rocket line, which features White Oak Cone Denim made from recycled beer bottles.

The denim itself is made from a blend of beer bottles, cotton, polyester, and x-ray film and gets its color from the recycled plastic. Each pair of jeans boasts 3-5 bottles, otherwise known as a Friday Happy Hour. And besides being cool on premise alone, these jeans look amazing, too.

So do your part for Mother Earth and society—drink up and look good while you do it.

04. 25. 2012

Coke gets fancy.

When Jean Paul Gaultier was named the new creative director of Diet Coke in Europe back in March, we were stoked. Coke + fashion icon = one happy agency.

And we can’t say that the legendary designer has let us down. The new limited edition bottle designs are beautifully crafted and reflect Gaultier’s signature Breton sailor stripes, corsets and tattoos. Best of all? The designs highlight Coke’s trademark bottle shape by showcasing its elegant, slender physique.

In short, we want these; we need these. We have a few Karl Lagerfeld bottles in our office and think they would be the best of friends. Very fancy friends.

04. 19. 2012

Welcome to IKEA Land.

Admit it, you’ve contemplated camping out in an IKEA store at least once. And you’ve probably wanted to buy every well-designed minimalist piece of furniture from the catalogue whenever it arrives in your mailbox. Don’t worry—we do, too.

So whenever we heard about IKEA’s plan to build an entire neighborhood in East London, we started packing our bags. The neighborhood, called the Strand East, will feature 1,200 rental homes along with commercial office space. The area will also boast a shared community space, a creative zone for businesses, a restaurant and a hotel.

Still need some convincing? Strand East will be free of vehicle traffic (minus buses & ambulances) since all cars will be directed to an underground garage upon entering. Like something out of the Jetsons, garbage will be removed by a series of underground suction tunnels. And power? Well, that will be supplied via hydroelectricity.

Pretty, eco-friendly and cooler than Legoland? It’s as if IKEA knows the way to our heart. Put us on the waiting list.

04. 17. 2012

Music makes us lose control.

With spring officially underway, we’ve been daydreaming of BBQs, beer and ice cream. And what goes better with those things than some good ass music? So we went around the office and asked our crew what their favorite jams are and compiled this fine playlist for you to go obsess over on Spotify. You can thank us later (we prefer beer).

04. 06. 2012

Walt Disney schools us in brainstorming.

We recently read an interesting post over at Idea Sandbox that talks about Walt Disney’s brainstorming process, which eventually lead to some monumental creative works such as Steamboat Willie and Disneyland. So how exactly did Mr. Disney come up with these ideas?

In short, he divided the process into three distinct parts: the dreamer, the realist and the spoiler (which all kind of sound like Disney characters, right?). Each stage would balance one another, allowing big ideas to happen and then be refined.

1) The Dreamer: The big, wonderful, fantastical idea stage. This is the stage where impossible is possible. No idea is too absurd.

2) The Realist: The stage where dreams start to become reality. Positivity is the name of the game—the Realist focuses not on why ideas can’t be achieved, but how they can come to life.

3) The Spoiler: The villain stage. Flaws and shortcomings are pointed out. The Spoiler becomes the harshest critic. And if any ideas make it out of this phase? Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

It’s also rumored the Walt Disney would use three separate rooms for each stage of the brainstorming process. Since we’re in the midst of expanding our own office, maybe we’ll take a hint from Walt—our beanbag room would make a pretty badass Dreamer space.

04. 05. 2012

Storytelling through retail.

How do you make retail less boring? And we don’t mean online shopping—we mean actual retail spaces. It’s clear that e-commerce is successful, often at the expense of brick and mortar stores. So how do you reinvent the wheel and persuade consumers to make the trip to your physical location?

Rachel Shechtman, founder of Cube Ventures (the retail consultancy behind Gilt and Tom’s Shoes), may have a solution. By changing up the retail model to create dynamic content, Shechtman hopes to tell stories through merchandising with her newest retail space, STORY. If that sounds like a bunch of business jargon, here’s the skinny: STORY will basically function as an art museum, featuring rotating products (ranging from clothes to candy) every 4-6 weeks, which are sponsored by various companies.

By changing the entire inventory, look & theme every month, STORY aims to “curate like a magazine, change like a gallery, and sell like a retail store.” After opening in December, the store’s first "story" was Love—which was appropriately sponsored by online dating site

STORY is a novel concept. It’s a bold idea that blends the constant change of e-commerce with the branding experience of physical stores. And who knows? It might just be crazy enough to work.

04. 03. 2012

Louis Vuitton, meet music. Music, meet Louis.

Whoever said that you can’t have your cake and eat it too clearly never met Louis Vuitton designer Kim Jones. The menswear designer has teamed up with VERBAL to introduce the Spring/Summer 2012 Playbutton project, which pairs fashion with music in the form of an elegant button-style mp3 player.

The branded mp3 player comes neatly packaged in a Louis Vuitton Damier-inspired box, complete with brushed metal headphones, and consists of play, pause and skip buttons. And just in case you want more of an LV brand experience, it also comes preloaded with a playlist put together by Jones and VERBAL.

LV’s Playbutton is a prime example of the old adage “form follows function.” A simplistic mp3 player meets sleek, minimalistic Louis Vuitton style. The only thing that could make this cooler? If the Louis Vuitton Don himself, Kanye West, buys a few hundred and writes a verse about it.

03. 29. 2012

Tattoos go mobile.

Thinking of getting a new tattoo? For starters, let’s avoid all of the cliche tats (we’re looking at you, tribal bands). You could go the usual route and get a boring tattoo dedicated to your mom... Or, you could get a tattoo that vibrates.

Nokia has just filed a patent for the world’s first vibrating tattoo. The tattoos use ferromagnetic ink, which contains iron and is magnetized after you’re all inked up. So the next time you get a call, text or email, your tattoo will alert you. And if you’re the type who customizes ringtones for specific people, don’t worry— you can assign different vibrating alerts for your contacts. So if your wife calls, you can set your tattoo to feel like a flutter (or an itch, it’s your call).

If the sound of ferromagnetic ink reminds you of some experiment out of a comic book, we agree. We’re a little unsure about a vibrating tattoo— but the possibility of becoming the next Captain America sounds cool.

03. 27. 2012

Coke keeps the happiness coming.

It’s no secret—we love all things Coke. But we especially love Coke’s “Happiness” projects and were excited to hear that the company is launching its “Happiness Refill” project in Rio de Janeiro.

What’s the “Happiness Refill” project, you ask? It’s a Coke dispenser that dispenses… cellphone data credits (say what?!). Coke aims to target Brazil’s young, emerging middle-class, who typically use prepaid phones that lack affordable data packages.

Now you’re wondering how it works, right? All users have to do is simply hold their phone to the dispenser and a Coke browser and 20 megabytes of data (or as Coke calls it, “20 liters of happiness”) are downloaded. The browser is simple yet relevant—with only three buttons, users can listen to Coke FM radio, access social networks, and check the weather.

And I bet you’re assuming that there’s a catch to this—but Coke is doing well by doing good. Each 20 liters of happiness is free and refills don’t cost a penny. And what’s better than free refills?

03. 22. 2012

Beer me, Twitter.

Can this year’s South by Southwest get any better? Along with Meeteor’s networking app, you can Tweet-A-Beer to your friends attending the conference so that you're their “beer benefactor.” Brilliant? Definitely.

Tweet-A-Beer, a Waggener Edstrom Worldwide & tenfour creation, uses Chirpify to link your Twitter account to PayPal so that you can send your totally sober friends $5 in beer money. And if you don’t want to miss out on the shenanigans, you can add your current location or meeting location so that you can share a toast together.

Just remember, please tweet responsibly.

03. 09. 2012

Cupcakes all day, every day.

Everybody loves convenience and everybody loves cupcakes (at least we do!). So when the two come together, it’s almost too perfect. Beverly Hills-based Sprinkles Cupcakes has launched its '24-Hour Sprinkles' vending machine so that you can satisfy your sweet tooth around the clock. So if you’re craving a freshly baked cupcake for you or your pup (that’s right, they make Fido treats) at midnight, you can stuff your face until your heart is content. To make the deal even sweeter, 24-Hour Sprinkles is continuously restocked throughout the day with an assortment of flavors. We only have two questions: 1) is red velvet an option? And 2) when is Pittsburgh getting a 24-Hour Sprinkles?

03. 08. 2012

SXSW meets its social counterpart.

We’re all getting excited for this year’s South by Southwest Conference. But once you’re there, how do you network and find people? Every year, over 45,000 people register for SXSW, meaning that location-based apps are probably more of a hassle. But thanks to Meeteor, sorting through that crowd just got easier. Meeteor’s app uses Facebook Connect to introduce you to people who share common friends, schools, work histories, etc. The app also suggests other users who share common interests, which are defined by the user and based on SXSW’s panels. Even though the initial sign up has been small, we think this is a great idea—instead of simply matching you with people who are near you, Meeteor connects you with people you’re interested in meeting.

03. 05. 2012

Bubbles, Rings and DJs

We always love to see that our clients are doing fantastic things, and Coke really hit home with this one. Coca-Cola, Attik and Mother London teamed up with DJ Mark Ronson to create the ultimate soundtrack for the 2012 Summer Olympics this year to be held in London.

In an attempt to grab the younger demographic through their social campaign, the team reached out to prominent new athletes to showcase their ability to create a beat through their talent. Ronson worked on taking rhythm from each of their sports and transforming that sound into a dance track.

The ad accompanies a 60-minute documentary that follows Ronson on his journey to track down young star athletes and his ability to find rhythm in their sport.

We have high hopes for this one. And with vocals by popular English singer, Katy B, the soundtrack is sure to gain acceptance from the Olympic Game fans. “Could be sort of...the sound of the London Olympics if we get it right,” suggests Ronson. We agree. So pack your bags and head with us to London this summer for some cold bubbly soda, warm flat beer and one HOT soundtrack.

02. 28. 2012

Data Addicted

It didn’t take long for the new Facebook timeline to be loved by all, the iPad, well that’s still flying off the shelves…we might not always be open to change, but brands have to do it, they need to innovate, they need to be interesting, they need stay relevant.

The challenge is asking the right questions to consumers and brand loyals to figure out if in time, the change you are making will actually be good. Don’t be a slave to data; use it to support your goals and objectives. Ask specific questions about the changes instead of the all to broad "what do you think of this change?" The later will certainly lead to disappointment.

At the end of the day, you know your brand better than anyone else out there, follow your gut, support it with specific data points and make it happen…it’s like Steve Jobs said about market research for the iPad, "It's not the consumers' job to know what they want."

02. 24. 2012

Make way for s-commerce

Facebook commerce or F-commerce might be dead in the water, but out from the rubble comes s-commerce or social commerce and according to fashion gurus, it is going to explode in 2012.

In addition to rolling out the timeline to company pages, Facebook is adding social action buttons, you’ll now have more choices than just "like," now you can "love it," "want it," "own it," opening the door for brands across Facebook to better integrate merchandise and influence sales on a social platform.

Early adopters of social commerce aren't waiting on Facebook to catch up though, brands like Levi's and Smashbox have created stores on their brand websites that allow you to "shop with friends." You can see what your friends "like" and then shop from those selections, or expand your options to see all the products that have received likes by anyone on Facebook…the only caveat is you have to login using Facebook, but really who doesn’t ask you to do that these days?

Of course, brands aren't solely pinning their social commerce efforts on Facebook, we can't forget about our latest obsession, Pinterest, along with Twitter and newly emerging Pinwheel…I guess we just need to hope that the delivery trucks can keep up with us!

02. 23. 2012

It really is a small world

We love a good social app, and as hard as it might sound, it’s our job to try them all. Pinwheel is a new location based social network developed by Caterina Fake of Flickr and Hunch fame, and is in invite only beta testing right now (we know you got our requests for invitations Caterina).

Pinwheel will let users leave public or private virtual messages pinned on a map for others to find. Now the possibilities are endless, restaurant reviews, pictures of yourself in that very location, love letters pinned to the Eifel Tower, ein prosit pinned to the Hofbrauhaus, you get the idea.

It’s true; we are already hooked on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, to name a few, and shame on those who are not following us! But Pinwheel adds that whole new level we were looking for, what better way to log our business trips, or maybe create a reason for a few more exotic locations, Hello Bali.

02. 21. 2012

How to Be Social

In a world of countless social media platforms how does a brand fit in with users? Ad Age recently featured an article breaking down the most effective social media tactics for your company; the “social skills” you need to interact with your customers.

Facebook has 800 million users; 800 million users that don’t give a damn about you or your message. So how do you communicate with these users without blowing up their news feed? It’s actually a lot simpler than most people think...

Tell a story.
Storytelling is one of the fundamental (and often overlooked) tactics of advertising. Stories should be illustrative and memorable while engaging your fans. This creates an emotional bond, which inevitably builds brand loyalty.

Become a part of the real world.
Extend your campaign into the real world; engage your fans online and offline. Heinz’s “Get Well Soup,” is a great example of interacting with fans on a deeper level: users could send their sick friends a personalized can of soup on the Heinz Facebook page, purchase the can through the page, and have it shipped to their friend. Fans interact with the brand and their friends, online and offline.

Be a human being.
Jeff Benjamin, JWT’s North American Chief Creative Officer, said it best "Brands need to evolve culturally and become social brands. When a brand is on Facebook and you feel like it probably shouldn't be there, it's that the brand hasn't figured out how to communicate in 2011. If that brand wants to survive, it needs to become a more social brand and figure out how to communicate socially."

Have some common sense and learn how to truly be social, because there really is no silver bullet to social. It’s a commitment to a conversation that stretches out over time, a slow burn not a blazing fire.

02. 10. 2012

Fashion Forward Facebook

The time has come where Facebook users are being switched to Timeline. It’s not all that bad folks! And now, digital start up company Pose (a mobile style community,) will be launching an app that users can add to their Facebook Timeline. The Pose mobile app will allow people to showcase their personal style, while embedding the looks into their timeline and sharing that experience with friends.

Pose was introduced to help people share their style and inspire others, bridging the gap between social, mobile, shopping and fashion. With Pose, users can tag photos with multiple category and brand details (like location and price,) allowing people to interact with each other and increase opportunities for brand discovery. It’s basically like Foursquare and Svpply had an app baby.

Another feature of Pose is the "Posers" feed, (yeah the name could use some work,) which features items shopped by a select group of fashion experts, including casting agent Natalie Joos, celebrity stylist Melis Kulis, style blogger Geri Hirsh and designer Norma Kamali.

Pose is great for when you need some last-minute fashion advice while shopping sans friends, wardrobe inspiration or a place to #humblebrag about your style. This could be a dangerous new addiction for some of the THIS IS RED team.

02. 02. 2012

Starbucks: now selling alcohol

The world’s biggest coffee chain has decided to attract another crowd apart from the latte obsessed, the social drinker. The company plans to start selling beer and wine in a number of stores in Atlanta and Southern California in hopes of expanding the Starbucks experience beyond morning coffee and the afternoon caffeine buzz.

In addition to alcoholic drinks on the menu, they plan on expanding their food menu to savory snacks, cheese plates, and hot flatbreads (all necessary accompaniments for wine.) This extended menu will be added to those stores in four to six outlets in the market.

"As our customers transition from work to home, many are looking for a warm and inviting place to unwind and connect with the people they care about," Clarice Turner, Starbucks' senior vice president of U.S. operations, said in a news release.

Five stores in Seattle and one in Portland, Oregon already offer the extended menu (obviously.) Coming off of a very successful restructuring, Seattle stores have reported some of the industry’s strongest sales trends.

We love the idea of a laid-back atmosphere coffee shop where you can drink wine, especially because they have a better music selection than most bars. Could a Starbucks bar be coming to Pittsburgh? We sure hope so.

01. 27. 2012

Shoes Have Gone Social.

Custom Keds are a thing of the past. Show your true love for your favorite social media site via YOUR SHOE. If you’re into that kind of thing.

Venezuela-based designer Lumen Bigott created seven different shoe concepts based on social media outlets. Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia, and Dribble were all represented in the Keds shoe designs down to the color schemes and icons.

Her inspiration for the designs are evident, fun, and actually pretty practical, We don’t know if anyone is that die hard about social media....but if we had to choose a pair, it would be the Fail Whale Keds.

01. 25. 2012

Big brands and Instagram:

In its short life, Instagram has become an over night social media sensation. The app has accumulated 400 million photos and 15 million users since its launch in October 2010.

While Instagram currently only runs on Apple devices, large brands have started to take notice of the power the app is wielding over the social media community. Nike has just recently joined the ranks of companies like Starbucks, Red Bull, Burberry and Kate Spade New York.

Companies and brands leverage the app to give users a peek at what's going on behind closed doors. General Electric shared with users a technician working on an engine in an aviation facility. But beyond just sharing pictures; Levi's is running a casting call via Instagram, by having users post a picture and use Levi¹s hash tag, #IamLevis. Tiffany & Co teamed up with fashion bloggers The Sartioralist and Garance Dore to create a campaign about true love. Users share pictures of themselves and their significant other to Instagram using the Tiffany and Co hash tag, and that picture is then shared to the "What Makes True Love" campaign site.

Also, Instagram has NINE employees. It is absurdly awesome that a small company is doing big things like intersecting various parts of the spectrum, from science and news to fashion and technology, all in a visual and artistic way. Kudos Instagram.

01. 23. 2012

10 things you should know.

Forbes had a great illustrated article on becoming more interesting in 10 simple steps. as if you already aren’t interesting! Here’s our take on them, (they are kind of similar to the big, giant, awesome 7 rules we govern ourselves by).

  1. Step away from your desk. It’s a dangerous place to live. Go explore anything and everything.
  2. Sharing is caring. (Or something like that.) People are bored, and they want to know what cool shit you are getting into.
  3. Do something, besides sit around. Try something new. Painting. Jumping. Creating. Reading. Dancing. Writing.
  4. Be weird. Being different is what makes you interesting, sorry if this is starting to seem like an episode of Sesame Street...
  5. Give a damn. If you don’t have passion for something, no one will give a damn about you.
  6. "Swag" doesn’t work for everybody. Control your ego hombre, egos get in the way of great ideas.
  7. Leave your comfort zone. Go balls out. No one ever accomplished anything playing it safe.
  8. Don’t join the bandwagon. Nothing good comes from jumping on a wagon. Like that time Johnny got dysentery crossing the rockies...
  9. Be brave, like that little toaster. Have an opinion and stick to it.
  10. "Haters gonna hate." Boring is safe, don’t be afraid to do something unexpected.

We’re gonna go start working on number 1. and 3. and probably 4. Join us in our quest, you get to ride in the sidecar.

01. 13. 2012

Time for a change?

We’re all familiar with the Gregorian changes every year, dates always end up on different days, and the most exciting thing about it is probably the leap year. Although leap years are really just annoying.

Richard Conn Henry, a John Hopkins University astronomer, and Steve Hanke, an economist for Johns Hopkins University have proposed a calendar to replace the Gregorian calendar which would standardize the world’s calendar system.

The Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar works like this; each month would have 30 days, except for every third month which would have 31 days. Every year would be identical starting on Sunday January 1st. The Hanke-Henry Calendar would provide regularity, get rid of the leap year and ensure that my birthday is always on a Saturday.

Changing the calendar that we have been using since the 1500s is about as likely as the world ending in 2012, even if the Hanke-Henry Calendar would provide some regularity.

01. 10. 2012

Welcome to the Relationship Era.

Could we be saying goodbye to traditional marketing tactics like positioning, segmentation and unique selling positioning? Marketing is now tapping into the Human Element according to AdAge. It could sound a lot like a bad sci-fi movie featuring Nicolas Cage...

Mass advertising shifted from marketing focused on the product to getting into the heads and hearts of consumers, and it’s going to transform itself once again to focusing on relationships with consumers. Consumers are members of the community, and the essence of your brand is transmitted via your relationships with consumers, employers, shareholders etc.

Advertising can be costly, and for some brands requires a different approach that is sustainable and personal. (Often leveraging social media) No matter what trends emerge in mobile apps, social is already at the center. Giving your consumers what they want, no matter where they are is essential, along with building a long lasting relationship with that consumer.

We have always seen the brand experience and user experience working through customer experience, it is nice to see more brands recognizing this holistic and sustainable approach. See, your consumers are a devoted, loyal bunch y’all. Treat them well.

“A 2011 study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology by Shirley Y.Y.Cheng, Tiffany Barnett White and Lan Nguyen Chaplin concluded that consumers tend to take criticism of their most-admired brands personally, and circle their emotional wagons around the brand under attack.” via AdAge.

01. 05. 2012

Green for the Holidays

Is this what global warming feels like? Because we’re kind of okay with it. These unusually high temperatures and excess of leftover gift wrapping paper got us in the eco-friendly mindset. We love great design that’s both practical and pretty, so when we stumbled across PSFK’s article on packaging and paper-based items that reduce waste without sacrificing function or aesthetics, we were pretty excited.

Here are the examples of innovative green design:

Compleat cups are disposable coffee cups without a plastic lid. The Jetson-like cups are an all paper design with a fold-over top, reducing waste while still being functional. Designer Peter Herman made Compleat made these modern cups easily adoptable by businesses and consumers, with room for branding and messaging.

Grow Books are a line of compostable handmade children’s books that are made of recycled materials. The books focus on telling stories to children of important issues like the importance of social justice and urban environmentalism.

Boxsal is a series of post-consumer cardboard picnic boxes. The picnic sets include compostable plates and utensils, while the box itself is fully recyclable. So for those of us that want to take a break from waiting in lunch-time crowds we can have a picnic!

The Spud Coat is a totally compostable, biodegradable raincoat. Rain ponchos won’t ever be cool but this one keeps you dry and can be planted! Wait what? The Spud Coat has seeds imbedded within the fibers, so when you are ready to get rid of it you can just plant it in the ground. And Voila! A new plant, and fertilizer courtesy of your Spud Coat.

Maybe we didn’t get a white Christmas, but there’s always New Year’s. Instead of making the typical dieting New Year’s resolution, enjoy your holiday cookies and go green!

12. 28. 2011

Trending now:

As an agency we are obsessive about the future in advertising, music, design and fashion and what it means to our clients brands. We’ve read AdAge’s 2012 forecast and we thought we would provide a short synopsis for y’all.

Your inner circle (that’s very cult-y of you)
Social networks have forced us to combine our social, professional and family lives all in one place, but new filters allow us to separate these groups more easily and decide what portion of our friends can access these posts. Ad Age tells us to “look for greater sophistication in filtering techniques on social networks over the next 12 months.

We are constantly bombarded by information on the internet, and we currently produce more in a year than ever before. Overwhelmed by this stockpile of information, people need new ways to navigate through the relevant information and what they wish to read. Applications that sort content based on digital friendship will continue to emerge, making social reading the new standard in online content consumption.

Renting things is fun again
You can rent anything (basically) you want to these days, most notably entertainment. Digital has changed the world of ownership. Renting is extending into categories beyond media and cars, and into the realms of infant clothes and art.

Quick, easy transactions...What took everyone so long?
Some of us were just complaining about what a hassle online shopping can be. But a valid complaint, transactions need to become more efficient, quicker and safer. They are in the process of becoming fully integrated, and we can expect to see additional shifts in how we go about banking and finances.

Healthier lifestyles starts with technology
NikePlus was just the beginning of our interest in leading healthier lifestyles through technology and sharing our results. Technology is both small and affordable enough for us to monitor our physical activity and adapt to our environment automatically.

All hail the cloud
Our demand for data and data accessibility is huge, and with cloud, physical storage space is becoming obsolete. (It’s about damn time.) The development of cloud allows us larger online storage and access to data from multiple devices. This storage solution will become more prevalent as companies allow cloud access and prices drop.

Location based everything
We’re always searching for something new in the area, some hidden gem near the office. With websites and apps creating archives based on locations, we can catalogue our discoveries and geo tag them. Thus involving us in a public portrait of a place, creating a collective multimedia experience.

As the new year approaches we can’t help but think, we got this. Time to relax and have a toast the new year.

12. 21. 2011

Luxury Wristwatches: the war between skinny/chic vs. substantial/sophisticated

When it comes to chic watches, it’s all about being skinny. Say goodbye to enormous gauche Rolexes, because thin is in again.

This trend is nothing new, either. It all started in 1904 when Gruen, a Cincinnati-based pocket-watch maker, introduced their “VeriThin” watch in an effort to increase their market share. Soon, a global race to market slimmer watches began. Watch maker LeCoultre debuted a 1.38 mm pocket watch in 1907, followed by a 1.32 mm watch produced by Piaget in 1925. Thin became the hallmark of wristwatch design, but shortly after the trend wore off.

What’s true for marketing also holds true for fashion; everything old is new again. “Nostalgia for streamlining is coming back, so it’s extremely chic to wear a low-profile watch again,” explains watch expert Edward Faber via Adweek, owner of Manhattan's Aaron Faber Gallery and the author of American Wristwatches: Five Decades of Style and Design.

For those of us not willing to spend $8,500 on a svelte Piaget there are other options. The Swatch Skin is made out of the world’s thinnest plastic and will only run you around a hundred dollars, but if you want something a little swankier, check out Skagen Denmark’s collection of watches. By the way, we really like watches and it's the season of giving, so check out the THIS IS RED Holiday Gift Guide at for some ideas on what we specifically want!

12. 14. 2011

Oh the Weather Outside is Weather...

Let’s face it, the weatherman has the greatest job ever(besides us). Any profession where you are consistently presenting inaccurate information and nobody even CARES is kind of awesome. But sometimes we need to know what the forecast has in store for us within the hour (so we can figure out if it’s worth it to walk to Market Square for lunch or let someone else freeze outside and deliver food to us...)

Adam Grossman and Jack Turner are hoping to fix this uncertainty for everyone with their Dark Sky app. The app is intended to be a hyper-local forecaster that will predict weather in short bursts of time, from 30 minutes to an hour in the future. Neither Grossman nor Turner are meteorologists, but they have figured out a way to utilize smart phones with GPS, open-source algorithms and cloud computing services to predict the weather.

They use data and images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (which operates 140 stations across the US) as well as the National Weather Service to generate local forecasts. First, they clean up the images they receive to filter out noise (like movement from birds), then they use computer vision algorithms that creates a map of velocity based on the radar data. After that, they use those maps to try to predict which way a storm is moving and how it will behave. Ugh. Meteorology is intense.

They hope to release the application in the coming months for use in the US. But will it be as soothing as the elevator jazz on The Weather Channel? Maybe not, but at least there’s a chance it will be more accurate.

12. 09. 2011

The Day that AI Became Self-Aware...

The day is fast approaching when you will talk to your smartphone, your television and even your computer as much as your co-workers. With the inception of Apple’s Siri, it seems like everyone is trying to incorporate voice command software somehow. Hasta la vista human interaction!

Apple is planning to adapt its Siri voice command software to its planned Apple TV (and even the next version of the iPad and future updates to the iPod), but Microsoft has crossed the finish line first.

Microsoft announced that Xbox Live will allow subscribers to watch a wide variety of mainstream television programming from the Xbox 360. Users will be able to utilize voice commands and hand gestures to search for shows on their Xbox using the Kinect. Microsoft will be adding multiple sources of programming that will respond with the service, including Verizon FiOS, Comcast’s Xfinity, HBO, Hulu Plus and Netflix. Imagine a world where you don’t lose your remote control in your couch for weeks...

“There are methods to talk to computers that are even simpler than things like voice,” Yael Maguire, a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, explained in a phone interview via bits. “Every movement of our body, our hands, our eyes can all become digital and will convey and fill in little gaps of information.”

Yep, this is where Skynet becomes a real thing and takes over the world.

12. 07. 2011

Are Angry Birds the next Tickle-Me-Elmo of Christmas?

Nothing screams Christmas quite like getting mauled on Black Friday for your child’s favorite toy-of-the-moment. YOU ARE MAKING MEMORIES FOR YOUR CHILDREN, PEOPLE. And this holiday, you can look forward to finding Angry Birds in plush form for your precious offspring.

Merchandising for an online game or app is a wise marketing tactic to help increase loyalty for the brand, especially with children who thrive on physical contact to make a real connection. Not that Angry Birds needs any help with brand loyalty. The online app has been downloaded more than 500 million times worldwide. The line of plush animals, balls, pillows and keychains are expected to continue to fly off the shelves.

Retail sales of toys and games totaled $6.36 billion in 2010 (down from 2009), but after this year’s Black Friday insanity, hopes are high for a strong holiday season. Angry Birds will be going up against some tough competition this season, including top sellers like Disney’s Princesses and Cars 2, Star Wars, Sesame Street, and even the comeback kids,The Smurfs.

But, Angry Birds has an edge on their toy and gaming competition: their appeal to a widespread demographic. The Angry Birds have taken on a life of their own from app to toy to pop culture phenomenon. The only problem with the toys’ popularity? Retailers can’t keep them in stock, so it looks like you might be camping outside sometime this holiday season.

11. 30. 2011

Mainstream Mobile Ticketing

With all of the capabilities of smartphones, it blows our mind that mobile ticketing still hasn’t become a more accepted technology. Airlines have begun utilizing the technology, but it’s dependent on individual airports (thankfully Pittsburgh FINALLY started accepting mobile tickets this year). The music industry seems to be slowly moving in the mobile ticketing direction through entrepreneurial companies like ShowClix. But, one place we think should be doing more with mobile ticketing is the movie industry.

Well, according to Fandango, our wish is their command. Recently, Fandango announced that they would begin offering digital tickets at participating theaters. In an effort to help consumers skip the box office lines, tickets can be purchased on Fandango, sent to a mobile device and shown directly to the ticket taker. It’s that simple.

Just like the airline industry, it will be necessary for theater chains to get on board and purchase the scanning equipment for individual theaters. Of course, there are no theaters participating in Pittsburgh as of yet. While this will annoy us to no end, we’re hopeful that it won’t be long before the technology is available in our neck of the woods. In the meantime, we’ll just have to continue using the lobby kiosks to print our tickets before going to buy our Coke and giant tub of popcorn with the yummy and oh so disgusting fake butter.

11. 23. 2011

Is Bezos now King of the Hill?

RIP Steve Jobs. We will miss you and all of your incredible genius. As they say, though, the King is dead, long live the King! But, who is the CEO that is going to step up and take that title? We think it’s pretty simple....Jeff Bezos from Amazon.

In just 15 years, Bezos has grown Amazon into the standard for e-commerce companies. If that statement alone isn’t impressive enough, this should knock your socks off: if you bought Amazon stock at it’s first price in 1997 and haven’t sold those shares, they are now up 12,397% (compared to 100% for the Nasdaq). 12,397%!!!! But that alone doesn’t tell you why or how Bezos developed his own Amazon kingdom.

In a recent Forbes article, the author lists the six key brand strategy beliefs that have been the keys for the company’s massive growth. Among the highlights:

  1. When you have the opportunity, go for the jugular. This is true even if it means you have to put large resources against it.
  2. Long term thinking is 5-7 YEARS, not months. We love this one at THIS IS RED because it confirms our vision for our own company and our growth plans.
  3. Long-term market share is more important than short-term. The short term may bring faster gains, but there’s a good chance they won’t be sustainable!
  4. It’s better to make mistakes than to be timid. Be bold and don’t be afraid to fail.
  5. Obsess over Customers. This is another key mantra at our agency as our clients are our reason for being and we always go to the ends of the earth for them.
  6. Be first in a big market. If the opportunity is there....seize it and don’t look back!

We’ve written a lot about Amazon in our blog in recent months, but after reading this article about Bezos’ vision and strategic capabilities, it’s easy to see why. Long live the King!

11. 18. 2011

Push Snowboarding: A Mobile App

November in Pittsburgh is basically winter... because winter is really November-March. Winter for THIS IS RED either means snowboarding or hibernating with some hot chocolate and Baileys while watching reruns of Elf and constantly refreshing the tracking order on our Kindle Fire, obviously. So, for those of us that are boarders, we're going to be testing our latest tech find, Push Snowboarding.

What is Push Snowboarding all about? Nokia collaborated with snowboarding manufacturer Burton to create a mobile app that incorporates wearable sensors that communicate with Nokia’s N8 smartphone via Bluetoothfor a real-time performance capture and readout. The mobile app uses the phone’s GPS capabilities along with the data collected from the sensors embedded in the snowboard to provide snowboarders with live tracking of their ride. The data includes speed, heart rate, airtime, rotation and “rush,” a measure of how stoked/not stoked the rider was while snowboarding.

Push Snowboarding has made all of their insights open from the raw test data to the details of the technology behind it all. The app is still in its trial phase, and the technology is still being refined which is why they decided to test the app openly and welcome feedback from consumers. Cool, they actually care about what we think! Push believes this app isn’t just a collaboration between Burton and Nokia, but also a collaboration between snowboarders and developers worldwide.

So, if you are serious about the sport or technology, Push Snowboarding might be your new favorite app. And while some of our team is out on the slopes, the others can analyze their data with a Hot Apple Toddy...

11. 17. 2011

So you think you need a QR code?

QR codes are creating quite the buzz in marketing lately, but are they really an effective method for your company? These codes are a mobile-friendly way to bridge the online-offline divide with just a click of your phone, and they can be applied to almost any surface too. Sounds pretty cool, right?

They offer a unique (and highly creative) opportunity for brands to interact with customers, and drive brand or product awareness. This technology is being utilized by marketers to provide an “insiders’ view” of a brand or product, send immediate updates to consumers, offer loyalty programs and enhance customer service.

One important thing to keep in mind: QR codes and the apps that scan them are still foreign to most people. So what does that mean for brands? First, spell out WHERE consumers can get scanner apps and HOW to scan the QR code. Also, keep in mind that QR codes should provide some kind of value to the scanner. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CONSUMER. Many companies are using QR codes to direct scanners directly to their website, but that’s hardly engaging for them. The site brands take them to should offer info they can’t get anywhere else.

Check out PSFK’s Future of Mobile Tagging, a special session conference held featuring key trends in mobile tagging, creative uses of tagging and how to use mobile tags in marketing. But if you are a die-hard QR code lover, scan ours at the top. Are we tech-savvy enough for you yet?

11. 11. 2011

It’s not easy being green.

Each person in the United States produces 4.6 pounds of trash every day. That’s like a full grown chihuahua or a bag of flour. Anyway you look at it, it’s not very green of us... Even if we buy every “organic, natural, vegan, green” product under the sun, Americans often skip out on the most important part of the process; reducing their waste or recycling.

In 2009, 132 million tons of municipal solid waste were discarded in landfills and about 35% of that waste was recycled. So, why isn’t it easy to “be green?” Laziness? Forgetfulness? Or, is it just the worst chore ever?

Waste management is a $75 billion dollar industry, with about 20,000 players, and one new tool being utilized is technology. Who would have thought? One interesting method being tested is RFID Tracking.

RFID allows for nonhuman interaction of providing data related to solid waste pickup and collection. Here’s how it works: with an RFID on trash cans and an RFID reader on the garbage truck, a city can verify where and when pickups are being done. There’s also an electronic record of the truck’s route along with a time stamp and a geospatial stamp. This would be great on those days when you over sleep, forget to put your garbage out and have to figure out what to do with your trash can that’s bursting at the seams.

RFID can also be used on recycling bins which can track participation rates, which would allow a city to determine who recycled, how many recyclables were in that load, how many homes the items came from and inevitably calculate how many recyclables per household. Why would you ever want to do that? IDK, maybe to determine how well your city is recycling and to help create future incentive programs.

Technology is everywhere and soon it will be changing the future of recycling and waste management worldwide. Ah, technology and trash, a match made in heaven.

11. 10. 2011

Choosing your own ad

We’ve all been there; casually searching YouTube videos while on your lunch break until you get slapped with an advertisement that you can’t click through. UGH! How annoying, right? Just sitting there. Waiting to watch some video of Boston Terriers diving in a pool, but you have to sit through another car commercial. Well, some advertisers have decided to try something a little more enjoyable: a choose-your-own-ad venture which lets the viewer pick the ad they are forced to endure. Sometimes you’ll get to choose between a list of brands, or whether to watch several short ads or one long ad. Because viewing ads is pretty unavoidable.

Hulu’s new “Ad Swap” button lets you switch to an ad that’s more pertinent to you. Sounds pretty nice, right? Advertisers don't pay for the impression if their ad has been vetoed, and users are two times more likely to remember an ad they swapped to, according to an effectiveness study conducted by Hulu. Unfortunately, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Skipping through ads often leads to longer commercial breaks, and users have been reluctant to pick the 150-second ad option in the place of other shorter ones.

YouTube is also testing out a similar process that allows the user to choose from three commercials when watching a longer clip, but few brands have signed up to be a part of this. The “Skip This Ad” feature is a much more popular feature all around, allowing users to bypass boring spots, and leaving brands feeling more confident that the ads they paid for are being watched more willingly. What’s the key to people actually paying attention to your ads? Making a good one. It’s as simple as that in our opinion.

11. 04. 2011

Scavenger Hunts, why not?

Scavenger hunts aren’t just for kids anymore. Figuring out a series of clues, puzzles and pictures leading to an unknown is basically like playing a real-life version of Clue, but nobody dies.  Brands and organizations are even catching onto this trend and creating their own versions. These scavenger hunts leverage the GPS capabilities of mobile phones, creating a unique experience for users which will not only inform and motivate individuals but will also reward players for their efforts, thus deepening engagement. So how about a scavenger hunt to familiarize yourself with a new city?

Stray Boots, a New York City based start-up, encourages urban exploration and educational experiences through mobile-powered scavenger hunts. Sounds pretty awesome right? Users sign up for interactive tours (only available in 13 cities currently) and receive challenges sent directly to their phones.

“Here’s a quick rundown of how they work: you receive challenges on your own cell phone that take you to hand-picked spots around an area of the city; for every challenge you complete, you send the answer to a question; when you get an answer right, you earn points and learn fun facts about the area; if you have trouble, you can ask for a hint or skip a question. What’s more, the experience is completely at your own pace, so you can stop at any point just to take a break, grab a snack, or check out something that interests you along the way.”-Avi Millman founder of Stray Boots via PSFK.

An interactive experience that’s actually engaging and enjoyable? Sounds like a great use of our agency Fun Fund!  Looks like our team might have to take a field trip to NYC.

11. 03. 2011

Amazon changes the game

Amazon is slowly taking over the world; the PUBLISHING world that is. So what will happen when writers have the option of a one-stop shop: agent, publisher AND bookseller? Well, we don’t really know...but this might give some starving writers a chance to succeed!

Amazon will publish 122 books this fall in a variety of genres, in both physical and e-book form. This decision will put Amazon squarely in competition with many New York publishing houses that also happen to be some of their most prominent suppliers. Amazon is also aggressively trying to lure some of their top authors into publishing with them, providing many of the services that publishers, critics and agents used to all in one fell swoop.

“Everyone’s afraid of Amazon,” said Richard Curtis, a longtime agent who is also an e-book publisher. “If you’re a bookstore, Amazon has been in competition with you for some time. If you’re a publisher, one day you wake up and Amazon is competing with you too.”

After the debut of the KindleFire, publishers got a taste of a future that might have no role for them. Amazon could potentially be an end-to-end service, where they develop, promote and deliver products. Our take on the situation?  Well, we love a battered old Penguin Classic paperback to take to the beach, but we also love our Kindles and iPads, so we just wish everyone could get along.

10. 27. 2011

The Blogger Effect

We all know bloggers have become a surprisingly influential force in the marketing industry. It’s important, even as a department store, to create a web presence, which often means reaching out to blogs and websites that cater to your specific niche.Today, fashion bloggers are “right up there with editors in helping to mold what the consumer is going to buy,” said Alexis Borges, director of Next Model Management to The Times.

As part of their effort to become a trendy luxury department store, Barneys has decided to jump on the blogger bandwagon. They will host seasonal beauty events where bloggers are invited to spend time with Barneys’ resident makeup expert Jason Ascher.

Guests will learn about the best up-and-coming products and sometimes get a chance to meet the creators of products. They will also learn the rigorous selection process of products, where only the highest level of packaging, thought and usability make it out on the store floor at Barneys. Relationships with bloggers can build awareness, trust, and eventually loyalty for the company as well as the sub-brands they are trying to promote. It’s a win-win situation for Barneys and the bloggers.

Maybe someone at Barneys will read this blog....(Pleased to meet you Barneys...we are THIS IS RED. We have expensive taste in shoes, without the stuffiness, a knack for storytelling and just the right amount of quirk. Wanna be friends?) Just kidding, sort of.

10. 20. 2011

The End of Qwikster

Remember when Netflix unveiled its plan for Qwikster, the separate DVD-only renting service? And customers instantly hated the idea of two different services to rent DVDs and stream videos? (Let’s not even get into the price hikes...) Even with all the backlash from their customers, Netflix still planned to launch Qwikster. Shortly after, Netflix stock fell from $155 on September 16th to $117 last Friday, and the Qwikster controversy erupted on Twitter.

Finally, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced on Monday via a blog post that Qwikster has been canned. This decision was reached even though Hastings posted a video message last month stating that, “over time, both DVD and streaming will be much better, because they’re separate.” The video also included that Netflix would be getting out of the DVD business sooner rather than later, and that their streaming content would become more substantial.

Luckily, Hastings came to his senses, listened to this customers, and decided to kill the Qwikster operation. After some stumbles, he finally realized that the customer is always right! Market research anyone? This whole situation could have easily been avoided with some good ol’ surveys and focus groups with loyal customers before these decisions were made. Everyone makes mistakes, but at least Hastings fixed the situation before any more damage was done. And, in the end, Qwikster made a quick exit.

10. 12. 2011

What’s next for Apple?

Today Apple hosted the ‘Lets Talk iPhone’ event where the iPhone 4s, Siri, and new iPods made their debut. iPhone 4S? Yep, you read correctly. We were all hoping Tim Cook would unveil a sleek iPhone 5, so we were a little disappointed when we heard “4S,” but we’ll take the fast processor, 8 megapixel camera (with an improved light sensor) and longer battery life!

So, what’s next for the largest technology company in the world? Rumors have been circulating about Apple coming out with a TV for a while now, and apparently we will be seeing one in late 2012. Nothing has been officially confirmed by Apple but there’s evidence that they will indeed launch a TV soon. Steve Jobs even hinted that the company will be building a TV at the All Things Digital Conference in July 2010 stating, “The television industry … pretty much undermines innovation in the sector, the only way this is going to change is if you start from scratch, tear up the box, redesign, and get it to the consumer in a way that they want to buy it.” Okay so a bunch of rumors that Apple MIGHT come out with a TV, because our favorite dude in a black turtleneck said so? Cool blog post.

Don’t worry, we aren’t the only people that believe that Apple will launch a TV, Businessweek even agrees. This will potentially be the first product line to debut without Jobs and there are a few important reasons why Apple will come out with a TV. TV still remains the king of all media. Even if we are glued to our iPhones and iPads, the typical U.S. consumer watches five hours and nine minutes of TV a day. But most people hate their cable providers (we know we do), and this could be Apple’s attempt to offer a better quality service while reaping the benefits of TV advertising.

Could they create a TV as revolutionary as the iPhone? Well, in 2010 Apple won a patent for a revolutionary 3rd screen system that would not require glasses and could be viewed by multiple people at the same time. Apple called this a “hologram.” We’re calling it one step closer to feeling like we are living in Star Wars, and we are TOTALLY okay with that.

10. 04. 2011


Sustainability is important to the THIS IS RED team, so when we heard about the eco-friendly Puma Suede sneaker we were anxious to see the redesigned classic. We also have a business casual dress code, so this is something we can incorporate into our wardrobes.

Last week Puma introduced the “Re-Suede,” a new take on the iconic suede sneaker, made of completely recycled materials. The shoe’s upper is made up of 100 percent recycled polyester fibers using a process that reduces energy consumption and CO2 emission. The sole of the sneakers are made of a rice husk filler which reduces the overall rubber needed, saving fossil-fuel energy in manufacturing and agricultural resources.

The shoe is also 140 grams lighter than the original, which will reduce carbon emission up to 15 tons for every 1,000 pairs shipped. The Re-Suede sneakers come in Puma’s Clever Little Bag, the company’s sustainable packaging that replaced traditional shoe boxes. The Clever Little Bag makes carrying around your shoes a lot less awkward and the award winning packaging uses 65 percent less cardboard.

Puma is among the four clothing giants to commit to Greenpeace’s Detox campaign, which aims to eliminate toxic chemicals from its entire product lifecycle and across its whole supply chain. Puma hopes to manufacture half of its collection using sustainable materials by 2015.

The Puma Suede’s, issued in 1968, have yet to go out of style, and with innovation like this, they likely never will.  If somebody writes a hip-hop song about them, we’d bet good money that it would land on the Village Voice’s Top Ten Hip Hop greatest sneaker songs list .  Time to give that intern a new project!

10. 03. 2011

The Streaming Battle

After a sharp price hike and a change of service, the mass exodus from Netflix began. Irritated movie lovers have been stranded looking for a more affordable streaming replacement, so when Amazon announced that they were working on a deal with NBCUniversal, it was a sign that not all hope was lost.

Amazon recently signed a contract with NBCU to increase their already substantial streaming library, which could create some serious competition for Netflix. This deal allows Amazon nonexclusive rights to Universal Pictures’ entire movie library. Amazon Prime users will be able to access the library free of cost with the annual subscription fee. Amazon already has an existing contract with CBS that added 8,000 television titles to their content, so viewers can now stream thousands of TV shows and movies commercial free at no additional cost. Netflix has acknowledged that Amazon and Hulu Plus have entered the marketplace but said that they haven’t detected an impact on their business. But after all this Qwikster confusion, Amazon might just take the lead.

For $79 a year as a Prime member you can instantly watch movies and TV shows from Amazon on a Mac, PC or directly on your TV with any of the 300 compatible devices. Classic CBS television, NBCUniversal Pictures’ library, free 2-day shipping, and expedited delivery options? That seems like an incredible deal to us. So will Amazon become the next streaming giant? I guess we’ll have to grab some popcorn, start streaming and see who comes out on top.

09. 22. 2011

A proper airport nap

There’s nothing like being stranded at the airport; whether it’s for an unexpected snowstorm (Snowmageddon anyone? We know, we hated the name too...) or the seven hour layover in Charlotte after catching the red-eye from Vegas. After grabbing a mediocre meal at the food court, sitting in every chair at Brookstone, and testing out the automatic sinks in the bathroom, sometimes you just need some sleep.

But between screaming babies, some dude coughing uncontrollably, or the fear of waking up in your own drool in front of strangers, who can possibly take a nap in an airport? Well now you can rest peacefully in the Sleepbox. It’s much better than the names implies, we promise. The “capsule”, designed by Russian architectural firm Arch Group, allows travelers to catch some zzz’s. Arch Group developed the sleeping capsule to provide people with the opportunity to rest or relax while on the go, without wasting time searching for a hotel. The Sleepbox is basically a tiny hotel room in a box fully loaded with WiFi, luggage storage, and a comfy bed.

Other cool features include a ventilation system (cleanliness and no funky smells), sockets for laptop and phone chargers, LCD TV, and even sound alerts to wake you up! After you exit, an automatic change of bed linens starts and a light comes on when it’s done. Sleepbox allows anyone to spend the night safely and cheaply in case of an emergency, or when you have a few too many hours to spend at the airport.

Uhh, can we get a few of these for the office? We never understood why you had to stop taking naps after lunch in kindergarten anyway...

09. 20. 2011

Luxury brands losing cache?

Could it be that luxury brands are losing their cache? A recent Adweek article examined this question. As upscale brands increasingly make their way into the digital space, they are finding out that the digital space is a democratic medium. In brand spaces designed to be very exclusive, the masses are suddenly able to access and find ways to connect with high-end brands.

Until recently, most luxury fashion brands kept digital at arms length because they feared losing their upscale status. But, the recession and changing demographics (80% of people with an income of over $250,000 are social media users and millenials are expected to become the next major luxury buyers) changed all that and they have realized it’s a medium they need to tolerate, if not embrace. Brands like Armani and Vera Wang are now allocating additional marketing dollars to build and support digital initiatives.

But just spending more money on digital doesn’t guarantee success. First, many luxury brands are realizing that if it’s done poorly it could erode their brand image. If a brand loses its personality, the impact could be felt at the bottom line. Second, online discounting continues to pose a problem as consumers who couldn’t afford these brands before suddenly have access to them. Lastly, they need to find a way to maintain an aura of exclusivity. Oscar de la Renta actually built exclusivity into its website by offering a members-only area with access to a shopping portal that offers private sales and one-off items. It will be interesting to watch how luxury brands continue to navigate the online space. While there is definitely the issue of making their brands truly accessible to everyone; if managed right, there are still only a minority of online users who can consistently afford to pay for their products.

Unfortunately, we’re not in that minority, so we’ll just admire that Armani suit from afar while keeping up on all the New York Fashion Week gossip on Twitter.

09. 15. 2011

Traditional Media: A Survivor's Story

For all of us technology geeks, we are somewhat surprised by the findings of a research study on the technology habits of affluent Americans released by Ipsos Mendelsohn today. According to the study, fewer than half of the richest Americans (those with incomes of over $100,000 annually) own new technologies like tablet computers, smart phones and flat screen TVs. Some of the specific findings include:

• Only 9% of affluents own tablet computers (however, 13% own e-readers)
• Only 45% of affluents own smartphones or flat-screen TVs
• Twice as many affluents use Myspace (at least once in awhile) than use a tablet computer to watch a movie
• Affluents overindex the general population on the use of social media (59% to 52% on Facebook)
• Affluents remain heavily engaged with traditional media and advertising

With the speed of technology advances and new product offerings, we would have thought that wealthier Americans were adopting some of these products at a faster pace. This continues to show that even though the products are available, just being new, cool and hip isn’t enough. It’s up to marketers and their agencies to show consumers how and why these products will improve their life. We’re going to go get to work on that now. And rest assured, we’ll be using our tablets, smartphones and flat screen displays to make it happen.

09. 13. 2011

Back to the Start

Willie Nelson recently covered Coldplay’s “The Scientist” for a public service-like advertisement commissioned by Chipotle. The video tells a story of a farmer who hoards livestock into pens and pumps them full of hormones, but after a change of heart he returns to his roots as a sustainable farmer. Nelson was the perfect choice being an animal activist and a founder of Farm Aid. But, kind of random, right?

Chipotle isn’t just one of our favorite lunch spots, they are also a company that has an incredible mission; food with integrity. They strive to change the “fast food” culture by finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment, and the farmers. They source organic and local produce, use meat and dairy from animals raised without the use of hormones, and support local farmers. Delicious more nutritious food that also preserves the long-term health of our environment? Sounds good to us.

Animator Johnny Kelly and his team paid incredible attention to detail while making this spot. Using an elaborate process to produce the stop-motion animation; they began with a 3-D printer to make miniature pigs, then manually shuffled the pigs along a conveyor belt, and finally created the correct lighting design that showed the progression of the seasons and the evolution of the farmer’s outlook on farming.

An interesting approach to advertising for Chipotle, this video will certainly turn some heads. Keep your eyes peeled, “Back to the Start” will start running in theaters sometime in September. So don’t feel bad about eating that tasty barbacoa burrito, it was made with integrity! And integrity cancels out calories, obviously.

09. 09. 2011

Time Traveling with Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire is already one of our favorite shows, but we are even more excited for the season premiere after hearing about HBO’s latest marketing campaign.

To promote the second season of Boardwalk Empire, HBO has teamed up with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to run a Prohibition-era train along the 2/3 line in Manhattan. HBO paid MTA more than $150,000 to run the vintage train four weekends in September.

HBO approached MTA looking for “something nostalgic” to hype the return of the 1920s Atlantic City drama, said Eugene Ribeiro, the transit agency’s director of promotions. The train will run the express line between 42nd Street and 96th Street.

New Yorkers and tourists who have the opportunity to hop on the vintage train will travel back in time to the roaring 20s with authentic details such as rattan seats, ceiling fans, drop sash windows, as well as custom branded interior featuring Boardwalk Empire decor. Pictures of Nucky Thompson(Steve Buscemi eyes...everywhere!), the illusive criminal kingpin who controlled Atlantic City, can be seen throughout the train.

Brand ambassadors will be around giving complementary Metrocards on the weekend of the shows premiere, September 25th, courtesy of Nucky. We might just have to plan a weekend trip to NYC.

09. 07. 2011

When Fashion and Technology Collide

After viewing Valentino The Last Emperor in our office we were excited to find an article in Wallpaper magazine about the archiving of fashion houses, Valentino’s virtual museum, and what happens when fashion, culture and technology combine. Archiving fashion houses? Virtual museum? Nice.

Archiving fashion houses is just the collection of work done by a fashion house. These top designer fashion houses (Chanel, Dior, Armani you know the designers you could only afford after your sold your kidney or something...) will have an exhibit to showcase everything that has been created from sketches to garments to videos. This clever marketing approach allows for that work to be shown to everyone, not just celebrities and oligarchs.

But, instead of doing a traditional museum exhibit Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino’s long-time partner, planned something a little more edgy...a virtual museum show. The Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum will use iPad’s to give a teaser presentation of the digital archive, arranged in a series of Modernist Italian ‘galleries.’ This collection will contain specially commissioned short films, photos, drawings, fashion show videos, and various other accomplishments to commemorate Valentino’s career. While Valentino is retired, his vision will live in perpetuity in the virtual world. This makes fashion feel like its accessible to everyone by putting it on a platform most are familiar with, the iPad. Technology and fashion living in harmony. We like.

09. 02. 2011

New Coke

Diet Coke is our drink of choice, (full disclosure, yes, they happen to be a client, but it also happens to be DELICIOUS) so when we heard that Coca-Cola will be debuting a limited edition design for their Diet Coke cans, we were anxious to see it.

Diet Coke was introduced in 1982 as the first product extension of Coca-Cola, and it's the best selling diet soft drink in the world (Also it recently beat big blue for the #2 soft drink overall). So, what does an iconic American brand do when they want to keep their brand portfolio looking fresh? Work with design firm Turner Duckworth to keep it simple and keep it bold.

Turner Duckworth's designs are a mix between heritage-homage with trendy minimalism and are the force behind the rest of the Coca-Cola packaging line . They retained the can’s familiar bare-aluminum background, but the new design magnifies a segment of the existing logo right where the “D” of Diet rests atop the “k” of Coke. Clean, simple design that everyone can appreciate.

William White, Group Brand Director for Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero said, “Fall is all about new looks and new energy, making this a great opportunity to give the Diet Coke can design a refreshing uplift that celebrates the season.” They even plan to send out cases to trendsetters in the fashion and design world, so we're assuming we will get a case or two.

08. 31. 2011

Sitting together

Ticketmaster meet Facebook. Facebook meet Ticketmaster.
Ticketmaster might be one of the most hated brands in America, but they are seriously striving to turn everything around. So come on guys, lets give them a chance.

They have teamed up with Facebook so you can choose your seating at Ticketmaster events. This feature was created in hopes of spurring word-of-mouth marketing to reduce the amount of unsold tickets while generating a more positive brand image for Ticketmaster. For once, consumers will be in control rather than leaving it to Ticketmaster to choose the “best available seating” (remember that time you got to sit RIGHT behind a pillar? cool. really cool).

The enhanced Facebook connectivity will allow users to choose your exact seats on the interactive seat map. How do you do it?
Connect to Facebook while you browse for seats on the Ticketmaster site, check out who has already tagged themselves at the event, and finally choose your seat accordingly. This way you can sit with the people you want, and avoid people who might not be the best choice (i.e. your tone deaf friend, an ex...).

You also have the option to tag your friends on Facebook for the seats you have purchased. Tagging your friends will send them an alert asking if they want to tell people they’re going, and tag the specific seat they want to sit in. This activity will be shared on users’ walls, creating more buzz for the concert and potentially more ticket sales. Now everyone can know exactly where you are sitting. Kind of creepy....but kind of cool.

08. 25. 2011

Whiskey Rebellion

The first artisan whiskey distillery enters Pittsburgh since the Prohibition. That’s right since the PROHIBITION, 1920’s style.

Wigle...Like Wiggle..? Not really. Wigle Whiskey is named for Phillip Wigle, a man convicted of treason and sentenced to death for his immense love of whiskey, during the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794. Wigle is a family-owned artisan whiskey distillery located in the Strip District committed to using the best local ingredients to create quality old-fashioned whiskey. They just received their last few shipments of equipment and hung their sign last Friday, and will begin to mill on site sometime early fall. And we cannot wait.

Wigle Whiskey contracted architects from Edge Studio to turn the empty garage and warehouse space into something modern and light, yet playful and raw. They will produce the whiskey on the ground floor of the Pittsburgh Wool Co. building near 24th and Smallman streets. To begin the process they buy wheat and rye grain unprocessed from local farmers, pound it into grist in the distiller’s hammer-mill, ferment with high quality yeast, and finally distill.

Wigle Whiskey is bringing an exciting Pennsylvania tradition back to the area that hasn’t been around in almost a century. Die hard whiskey lovers and history buffs? We like Wigle already. ¡VIVA LA REBELLION!

08. 22. 2011

Great Stories @ Places

Have you ever been walking down the street, seen a really cool old building and wondered what its original use was? Or seen a historical marker and wanted more detail? Well, you’re in luck. Tagwhat has just launched an app named “Great Stories at Places” that will provide users with hidden stories about the area surrounding them.

Tagwhat has created a library of info, both original and sourced, about neighborhoods all over the country. When you open the app on your smartphone, it acts as a window to the surrounding area. If something within that window has a story, it will pop up and allow you to explore it in more detail. In addition, by using your location, it will also provide icons that will provide info to nearby places of interest. Tagwhat also provides digital postcards for each story that allows the user to personalize and send to friends via email or social media (Facebook & Twitter).

Stories are grouped by subjects like Art, Food, Music, Movies, Heritage, Sports, and Nature. Additional stories are being added on an ongoing basis, so the service and content will continue to expand. “Great Stories at Places” is a unique product for consumers that will allow them to learn, explore and understand more about the community they live in or are visiting. It’s a great example of technology not just looking toward the future, but incorporating the past as well while enhancing cultural significance and meaning. While we can’t wait to see what it has to say about the neighborhood our office is in, we are a bit reticent since it is next to a building that in the 1800s was a brothel.

08. 19. 2011

The Gotham Triangle

A few weeks ago, downtown residents looked up into the dark evening sky and saw a welcome sight over the city of Pittsburgh: the bat signal. While some were wondering if Wayne Industries had relocated to the Golden Triangle, the truth is it’s a temporary visit.

Over the next few weeks, Pittsburgh is being transformed and playing the role of Gotham City during the production of the final film of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises.” Nolan has indicated that one of the reasons he chose to film in Pittsburgh is because of the architecture, saying that the downtown architecture will be “incredibly valuable” to the look of the movie. While a much smaller city than either New York or Chicago (two metropolises that are usually linked to Gotham City), Pittsburgh does offer a wide-variety of architectural styles for Nolan to make use of from gothic (Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh) to neo-gothic (PPG Place) and Romanesque (Allegheny County Jail and Courthouse). Considering Nolan’s different depictions of Gotham City in the first two films, it will be interesting to see how he portrays the fictional city in the final installment of the series.

With the movie’s production trucks parked right outside our offices, we’ll be making visits to the set during the filming over the next few weeks. Is it to see the Caped Crusader as he battles the dregs of Gotham? Well, yeah, to a certain extent. But, most of us are actually just hoping to catch a glimpse or two of Catwoman (Anne Hathaway)....Meow!

08. 12. 2011

Link, Like, Love

Deals being offered online (via companies like Groupon & LivingSocial) is no longer just a trend. It’s now a fact of everyday life in which companies are trying to figure out how to monetize it to their advantage. Enter American Express. Through it’s new “Link, Like, Love” social media campaign, the company will match AMEX deals with Facebook users that are customized based on their social tendencies.

When Facebook users link their account to the Link, Like, Love app, cardmembers will be able to view offers that correlate to their likes, interests and check-ins. To capitalize on a deal, users will select the deals they like and link it to their card. However, unlike Groupon and LivingSocial, there is no need to pre-purchase the offer. Instead, the user will simply use their AMEX card when they are ready to redeem and AMEX will apply the discount to their card statement.

AMEX is also in the process of building a new self-service tool (Go Social) for small local businesses that will allow them to offer deals and discounts on a variety of social networks. Eventually, AMEX expects to offer Membership Rewards points with the offers as well.

A few of the initial companies participating in the program are Whole Foods, Virgin Atlantic and Dunkin’ Donuts.

The consumer benefit of this program is that it allows AMEX to provide more relevant offers to its cardholders since it is based on their social activity. Instead of getting random discounts for laser hair removal treatments or white water rafting lessons, Link, Like, Love personalizes offers on what you actually want discounts for: your morning coffee, your dinner, some jeans, maybe even some groceries. Link, Like, Love makes getting deals easy, convenient, and not so extreme-coupon-lady-crazy. Because saving money is cool, unless you have an unnecessary amount of dry goods stored in your basement...that’s a little creepy.

08. 11. 2011

The Container Store(s)

Dekalb Market in Brooklyn, NY opened recently with 22 salvaged shipping containers re-purposed as market stalls for various vendors at the new market. Urban Space, developers based in the United Kingdom and architects Young Woo & Associates, was responsible for the concept and installation at the market in downtown Brooklyn. The market’s aim is to “bring together Brooklyn’s creative entrepreneurs in a community setting that will include an incubator farm, food market, events and performance venue, and a collection of eateries and work-sell spaces.”

The market opened last weekend and will be open year-round seven days a week. Some of the uses for the 22 shipping containers include cafes, restaurants, retail outlets, and even an internet radio station (BBox Radio) that won a contest for most innovative use of one of the shipping containers. Other stores at the market include food stalls, artists, craft stations and a record store. The market also provides ares for classes that include a vegetable garden and kitchen.

While outdoor markets featuring locally-sourced foods and sustainable products are nothing new, leave it to Brooklyn to hipster up a metal box. More news about their events and some good looking food on their website:

08. 05. 2011

Pick Me Up

Developers at Carnegie Mellon University launched a new mobile app for commuters in the greater-Pittsburgh area this week. Tiramisu is a bus tracking system that can show how buses are running in real-time, when it will arrive at a stop and how many seats are available. But, there’s a catch. In order for the app to function properly, actual commuters on the buses need to use it. By “checking-in” when you get on the bus, a signal is sent to the server showing when a commuter boarded and how crowded the bus is at that stop. Using the Port Authority’s bus schedules, the app can predict when it will arrive at subsequent stops.

The Port Authority, which is facing budget issues, currently has no plans to develop a similar tracking system for commuters, so scientists at CMU decided to develop this technology in collaboration with the University of Buffalo. Success of this app will depend on strap-hangers getting on board and embracing the technology on an consistent basis. Eventually, CMU plans on rolling Tiramisu out to other markets as well. Of course, if Tiramisu succeeds, we’re hoping that it won't just be an enabler for PAT buses to continue to be late.

08. 02. 2011

Heart Smart Phone

Richard Price, Fire Chief of the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, was at dinner one night when he heard sirens go by. After learning the incident took place next door to the restaurant where he was dining, he realized he could have helped since he knew CPR. If he had known what was happening, he may have been able to get to whomever needed help quicker than the ambulances.

This realization led him to develop an app for the San Ramon community that alerts users trained in CPR of incidents and their location. If a user is nearby, they can provide assistance if professionals have not yet arrived.

According to statistics provided by Price, response times have a huge impact on survival rates, especially those suffering from cardiac arrest. Within a few weeks of the apps launch, the San Ramon Valley Fire Department also noticed more people signing up for CPR courses. Technology has always had the ability to change lives, but when it enables us to help save a life we get to see its true potential.

07. 27. 2011

Sun Screens

Working with Transitions Optical, we often get to nerd out on advances in the optical industry. A partnership between Dynamic Eye and the University of Buffalo has produced a new eyewear product that electronically reduces glare from the sun is one of those said advancements. But we hear some of you saying, "that’s not new, many optical technologies reduce glare"...yes but, this is different.

Using LCD screens for the lenses, the glasses create a small grey square in front of the eye that targets blinding light. That light is analyzed for glare by a tiny camera embedded in the bridge of the glasses. If the glare is excessive, the LCD lenses can produce extra shade in parts of the lens (in about 50 milliseconds) in which it is needed. The lenses will also move the square if the user moves their head or the light source shifts.

We can’t wait to try these out. Now if we can just pipe in True Blood onto these screens we will be set.

07. 25. 2011

Equity for Punks

BrewDog, a Scottish brewer of craft beers founded in 2007, has announced the second wave of its critically-acclaimed “Equity for Punks” program. In 2009, BrewDog launched the program that provided its fans with a chance to buy shares and invest in the company. Now, they’re offering another round of shares to the public to help them build a new eco brewery in Scotland that will help them keep up with the demand for their product.

What does part ownership of BrewDog entail? Well, a lot of the same things you’d expect when you invest in any company, but this is for a company that brews badass beer. Not only will you benefit financially through dividends, but you’ll also get lifetime discounts at their bars in the UK (and in the US sometime soon, hopefully) and at their online store, first options on limited and new releases and input in how the company is run, just to name a few.

East End Brewing, located in our global headquarters of Pittsburgh, PA, is offering a similar (yet completely different) program. To help with his move to a bigger brewing space, East End owner Scott Smith decided to offer the “Good Beer Investment Program”. Unlike BrewDog, investors will not be buying a part of the brewery. Instead, they will be buying future product now. By purchasing $1,000 of Beer Money, investors will receive a booklet of beer bucks (in $10 increments) that can be used to buy growlers and merchandise while also getting first crack at limited and new releases.

As craft brewing has become such a huge industry with extremely passionate consumers, this is an intriguing approach for brands to literally let consumers become part of the brands that they believe in. Cheers, Slainte, Prost! to these brewers for engaging their loyal fans and continuing to innovate on the consumer experience.

07. 19. 2011

Touring Manhattan via Chrome

New York’s Ace Hotel and Google have joined forces to create a new digital service for travelers visiting the Big Apple. Every guest at the hotel will be greeted in their room by a Google Chromebook with a “Virtual Concierge” loaded onto the tablet.

Partnering with Superfuture (“urban cartography for global shopping experts”), the Ace Hotel developed a detailed Field Guide of New York City that provides information on the best restaurants, bars, museums, shopping and architecture hotspots throughout the city. Google then developed an app with an interactive map that easily directs tourists to each destination (bonus points to each of the partners for allowing consumers to download the Field Guide even if they’re not staying at the hotel). The Ace Hotel even takes it a step further by providing a hip carrying case for the tablet that guests can use during their stay.

The Virtual Concierge is a great example of brands thinking of new ways to provide a more valuable experience for consumers. We expect to see other hotels and tourism companies providing similar services in the near future. And if it can help you locate a reasonable price for a Martini in Manhattan we will be doubly impressed.

07. 14. 2011

Heinz Ketchup goes green—again

First, Heinz ketchup went green—literally. Although the introduction of the colored condiment in 2000 was an initial hit, particularly with kids, its discontinuation in 2006 made it clear that the world wasn’t ready for anything but the classic red stuff. However, in a move that hopes to leave a more lasting impression on consumers and more importantly, the earth, Heinz has gone green again- this time by partnering with The Coca-Cola Company to use their PlantBottleTM, a plastic bottle that is made partially from plants.

Coca-Cola introduced the PlantBottleTM in 2009, making the bottles by mixing traditional plastics with up to 30% plant-based materials. This technology is working toward eliminating fossil fuels from the production of food packaging. (read more at FastCompany) Coca-Cola is no longer just a leader of the beverage industry; it’s also pioneering new technology in many areas of the CPG and energy business. These efforts often fall under Coca-Cola’s Live Positively platform which positions sustainability in the foundation of their business, not just as an add-on or another green washing campaign.

Heinz is rolling out ketchup in its PlantBottleTM by the millions this year, and by the year 2020, hopes to manufacture the bottle globally. Cheers to two of our favorite clients- Coca-Cola and Heinz for leading the way in distributing eco-friendly packaging and creating a partnership sure to break new ground in the food and beverage industry!

Additional p.s. to Heinz: if you have any of the green ketchup left over, we can take it off of your hands. We thought it was quite fun.

02. 24. 2011

Bill Strickland becomes an even bigger deal :)

We'd like to offer our congratulations to our friend, Bill Strickland! Bill, who has dedicated the past forty years to creating Manchester Bidwell Corporation, has been appointed to the Council for Community Solutions by President Obama. Manchester Bidwell’s philosophy is simple and straightforward—environment shapes lives. In the 10 years we've been working with Bill, we continue to be inspired by his power to enable adults and children to change their own lives through art, music & career training.

As a member of the Council, Bill will advise the President on solving community issues, and work to find effective solutions to engage citizens, business leaders, and government to work together and meet community needs across the country. Bill will be in the company of other exceptional community and philanthropic leaders including rocker Jon Bon Jovi, President and CEO of eBay John Donahoe and CFO of Gap, Inc. Bobbi Silten. Read the entire article on Bill’s appointment and his work with the Manchester Bidwell Corporation here. Huzzah, Bill!

02. 02. 2011

Happy Birthday E!

01. 08. 2011

Comedy Central has a New Logo

If you’re as big a fan of Stephen Colbert as we are, you’ve probably noticed Comedy Central’s revamped logo, which was revealed at the start of 2011. Comedy Central hasn’t touched its logo in quite some time, and like many well known companies with long-standing iconic logos, the change was met with some initial resistance (Gap...need we say more?). Rather than caving to the pressure, however, Comedy Central is standing behind their new direction. The new logo does everything the old logo didn’t and more. It shows their humorous side (half the logo is upside down) and perhaps most importantly, it positions Comedy Central where it truly belongs - in the company of today’s major networks. So hats off to Comedy Central, and to thelab in NYC. It’s clear that the change was based on a solid strategy and as it continues to play out, we think the initial haters will agree. Nice work to everyone involved. We get the joke, and we love the new logo.

01. 05. 2011


Even though 2010 was a very good year, we are setting out to make 2011 a very special year. Happy new year everyone!

01. 01. 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

From all of us at THIS IS RED
Special thanks to DGunz for the photo of turkey cupcakes. Gobble, gobble.

11. 25. 2010

All for TEAM COCO?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in recent months, you've probably heard that Conan O’Brien is back on late-night television. The media buzz around his new show has us all wondering what to expect. Well, put your worries aside. Conan O’Brien and Diet Coke present "SHOW ZERO". This short video gave viewers a taste of what’s to come. We’ll let you decide, but it might have been the best five-minute talk show we’ve ever seen. Then again, it’s probably the only five-minute talk show we’ve ever seen. Bazinga.

Whether you can’t wait to see him or can’t wait to see him flop, Conan is invading TBS on November 8th at 11:00pm. Competing with the local news might not be a big concern, but Letterman and Leno are a different story. Regardless, if “SHOW ZERO” is a good indicator, the Conan we all knew and loved is back with his brand of humor in tote.

By the way, we tried that lemon in the Diet Coke. We approve.

11. 08. 2010

True Mud

If you haven't seen Sesame Street's True Blood parody, True Mud, you have to watch it for a few reasons. You will learn about rhyming. You will learn about having a positive attitude. And you will wonder why the puppets have better southern accents than the actors. It’s pretty awesome and we do love anything True Blood (although we were greatly disappointed by the season 3 finale. You thought it was lame too, didn't you?). Watch the parody here.

But we also found it interesting that Sesame Street pulled their Katy Perry sing-along with Elmo. Apparently, parents found Katy Perry singing "Hot N Cold" with Elmo to be too sexy. Singing and playing dress up is too sexy, but parodying a show that has super natural creatures, murder, sex, drug use, homosexuality, and witchcraft is A-Ohkay!

This will make for an interesting election year.

09. 24. 2010

2010 Wheelchair Grand Prix

Not only do we spend our time helping to build our clients’ business, but we do like to contribute to our local community as well. So we pitched in and put together a little spot for the 2010 Wheelchair Grand Prix, hosted by Variety Pittsburgh.
Participants won’t be driving stock cars, but they will be pushing empty wheelchairs through Pittsburgh's lovely South Park to raise awareness for Variety Pittsburgh’s Kids on the Go! program. One of many Variety programs, Kids on the Go! provides mobility equipment and assistive technology devices for children in the Pittsburgh area with mental and physical disabilities. Check out the spot on our Facebook page.

08. 30. 2010

Boy Scouts of America Centennial Gala Event

This past Saturday, we attended the Centennial Gala Event for the Atlanta Chapter of Boy Scouts of America, held at the Cobb Energy Center in Atlanta. It was lots of fancy food and drink. And we looked pretty fetching in our black tie attire and corresponding fleur-de-lis pins. It was a great opportunity to see our Boy Scouts clients in the context of a black tie event. Over 500 people were in attendance and the Scouts raised over $150K. Hooray. Go Scouts!

08. 24. 2010

Graphic Geeks

Last week, we attended the 2010 SIGGRAPH Conference in LA. For all of you that aren't graphic geeks, SIGGRAPH is a conference for computer graphics and interactive techniques. We saw a lot of great things: keynote speech by Jim Morris, the general manager of production at Pixar; behind the scenes of production on Alice in Wonderland & The Last Airbender; and the stop motion techniques from the guys of Robot Chicken & Celebrity Death Match. Overall a great conference. Slightly disappointed by the swag. (The most interesting thing we received was Pixel Farm sweatband.) But we did get a chance to break away one afternoon and see the Dodgers play the Mets. Go Dodgers!

08. 02. 2010

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce

While we're out flying around the country doing business things that agency people do, we fell in love with this month's Delta Sky magazine. Now we must admit, that's a strange statement. But follow this logic: the cover features John Slattery and Christina Hendricks who play Roger Sterling and Joan Harris, respectively, on AMC's Mad Men. Not only does the magazine recap the best moments of Mad Men and teases the new season, but the entire magazine is devoted to the advertising industry. Articles and call outs from the some of the nation's best agencies remind us of how exciting our industry really is. (It's like reading Luke Sullivan's Hey Whipple Squeeze This in magazine form.) There's even a featurette from one of our favorite copywriters, Jason Kreher, from Weiden & Kennedy/Portland who is old high school buddies with our Creative Director, Ty Wong. You've seen Jason's Target tv spots and his Old Spice campaign. So if you're flying on Delta this month, put the iPad down and pick up Sky magazine. You'll be energized and inspired. We definitely were.

07. 27. 2010

Social Media Guide

We all know how important it is for our clients to have an active social presence online. It's not about just growing your own business, but if you have trade and distribution partners, it's about helping them grow their business. And we at THIS IS RED know it so well that we produced a "Social Media Guide" on behalf of Transitions Optical. This manual outlines the benefits of the various social media applications and how to grow your business and manage your brand online. Besides tons of facts, tips and case studies, it's chalk full of images of our friends, family, clients and cats. (We like cats.) If you enjoy cats and geeks in glasses too, connect with us here.

07. 06. 2010

Happy 4th of July

We're on holiday celebrating the AWESOMENESS of America!
Have a happy and safe 4th of July.

07. 02. 2010

Banksy: Exit Through The Gift Shop

We don't know about you guys, but we really enjoy a good team building event. Not in a -- fall backwards with your eyes closed kind of way (because forearm strength is not our forte)-- but in a -- lets hang out, do something fun and be inspired to be better at our jobs-- kind of way. So we went and saw the new Banksy film Exit Through The Gift Shop. The film with the tag line "The world's first Street Art disaster movie" was an interesting presentation and commentary on the world of Street Art. What is graffiti? What is Street Art? Who in the hell is Banksy? Is this the new Modern Art? Social commentary? Or intelligent vandalism? See if for yourself and then lets discuss.

THIS IS RED movie rating: 4 out of 5 bacon strips. (Ummm bacon!)

06. 30. 2010

Congrats Marcelino

Our old buddy, Marcelino Alvarez, won another fancy award for his work on Nike's Chalkbot. On his way to New York from Portland to collect his Webby Award, Marcelino made a Pitt stop to visit us. If you aren't familiar with Nike's Chalkbot, it's a campaign inspired by the Tour de France tradition of ‘chalking' the pavement, giving web users around the world the chance to leave messages of hope in the fight against cancer via text message along the tour route. A robotic chalker - or Chalkbot - delivered 36,000 messages during the 25 day event. Marcelino, along with peers at Wieden + Kennedy, and Pittsburgh agencies Deep Local and Standard Robot, worked tireless for months to make this happen. It's an incredibly innovative idea and you can see how it works here. Congratulations, Mlino. We've enjoyed knowing you these past 10 years. And we're continually inspired by your success.

06. 24. 2010

Moving On Up?

We here at THIS IS RED like to get around. We love traveling. We love visiting our various clients across the US (and around the world). We also love trends. And with the 2010 Census, we are fascinated by where and why people are moving. And apparently more than 10 million Americans have moved these past few years. recently launched this wonderful interactive map showing where people are moving.
Pick your county or city and see how many people are moving in or moving out. Wow. LA is losing some people. Who knew? And more importantly-- why?

06. 17. 2010

Team Coco

Friends at TBS got a special treat today when Conan O'Brien stopped by to say hello. Although it was a balmy 94 degrees in Atlanta, everyone still made it outside to greet Coco in true southern fashion. Banners, signs and lots of love for Team Coco. We're also glad to note that FedEx has confirmed our shipment of free "Coco is with TBS" shirts. Thanks for the t-shirts, TBS. We do love us some swag. Check out more photos on our FB page.

06. 14. 2010

Thunder. Thunder. Thundercats, Ho!

Nothing makes us happier than to see the Thundercats return to tv. I mean, come on. Lino-o. Cheetara. Tygra. (Tygra's white cousin, Bengali). Who doesn't love them? And to return to television on one of our most favorite tv channels, Cartoon Network. Staying true to the mythology, but with updated character designs--we have faith that the show creators of Ben 10, Teen Titans, & Avatar: The Last Airbender will do us proud. Go Thundercats.

06. 02. 2010

Over the Bridge and Through the Woods

If you find yourself in downtown Pittsburgh, stop by our new office located at 4 Smithfield, by the Smithfield Bridge. If you know the secret code to get past Joyce, our resident Steelers fan and security guard, you'll find yourself on the 10th floor at our new space. Stop by anytime, but bring gifts. Momma says it's polite to bring gifts. And we like gifts. Rich, expensive gifts.

05. 03. 2010

True Blood, Cyndi Lauper & THIS IS RED

Nothing makes for a better weekend than Cyndi Lauper and Vampire Bill. While out in LA for an event with one of our most favorite clients, Transitions SOLFX, we had the opportunity to mingle with the most random assortment of celebrities. That guy from "Two & A Half Men". Not Charlie Sheen, but the other one. Yeah. That guy-- Ducky from "Pretty In Pink". Also with Hiro Nakamura from "Heroes". Who knew he likes to drink at Pali House too.

04. 30. 2010

Congrats to David Butler

David Butler, one of our most inspiring collaborators, and Vice President of Design at The Coca-Cola Company, gets mad props in the Oct issue of Fast Company. Not only does David make a great case for holistic design and how we as designers are shaping the future, he goes on to mention our spot we created for him-- "The Fountain of the Future" video. Read the article and watch it here.

11. 04. 2009

Made in the Shades

While looking for different ways to help promote Transitions SOLFX, we figured we would combine two things we enjoy. Sunglasses, meet Guitar. Guitar, meet Sunglasses. This introduction lead to a feature article in Guitar Aficionado magazine, thus helping to further promote the Transitions SOLFX brand. And we know you all read Guitar Aficionado. (And if you're not, you need hobbies. Stop surfing the internet and learn how to play an instrument.)

08. 04. 2009


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